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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] [Dev] Misleading information in EOMA68 news

From: Paul Kocialkowski
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] [Dev] Misleading information in EOMA68 news
Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:01:30 +0200


Le jeudi 25 août 2016 à 04:42 -0400, Christopher Waid a écrit :
> The laptops we sell currently @ ThinkPenguin are not RYF'd and shouldn't 
> be RYF'd, but we are working on something better than LibreBoot in that 
> it solves the free software problems in a more permanent long term way: 
> EOMA68. X86 is dead and we do not need LibreBoot for non-X86 systems. 

I'm very surprised to read this. How do we not need Libreboot in general?

Having a fully free bootup software distribution is IMO crucial to pave the road
for free software support. Note that U-Boot includes proprietary software and
should not be included as-is in or recommended by any FSDG-compliant dsitros.

Also, Libreboot is currently based on Coreboot (which, by the way, supports an
increasing number of ARM devices, with Chromebooks) but there's not reason it
can't handle U-Boot in the future too, or whatever other free bootup software.

So with upcoming ARM Chromebooks, the very large number of ARM devices that can
boot up with free software and other interesting platforms such as POWER8 and
POWER9, Libreboot still has a bright future ahead.

> The reason this issue hasn't been solved by us is because it's simply 
> not possible given Intel's hostility and refusal to cooperate. Reverse 
> engineering is a non-trivial task and the resulting code would not run 
> on modern Intel systems due to digital signatures.

Of course, we all agree that x86 is a dead-end, at least in the long run. There
are still possibilities with somewhat old Intel and AMD hardware, but these will
be outdated eventually. Also, note that most of these old x86 platforms are
much, much faster than the A20.

> We can do a lot more  than what is feasible with LibreBoot, but it has taken
> years. Now that EOMA68 crowd funding campaign has succeeded though or is about
> to succeed we can do a 100% free software system

Note that the level of free software support brought by the EOMA68 is not really
something new. There have been dozens of computers, some of which come with a
free board design, using platforms that are as good for freedom, especially with
Allwinner (but there are lots of others). The linux-sunxi community has been
working hard on those for years and years, so this is nothing new or specific to
the EOMA68.

Many ARM Chromebooks even go a step further, with a free software embedded
controller firmware.

> (that is LibreBoot doesn't magically make a computer 100% free, there are
> other problematic components).

Of course, but nobody claimed that it does. It is only a very significant piece
in the software freedom puzzle.

> We've got the source code for LCD/Keyboard controller firmware,

Regarding LCD: are you talking about a MIPI interface done in software with a
MCU? Please feel free to share details about this LCD controller firmware, I'd
be very interested to learn more about it, it sounds unusual!

> bootloaders, CPU micro code

Huh? Again, please share details about the CPU microcodes. I am not aware of any
ARMv7 implementation using a microcode at all, nor of any that was liberated.

> and similar for the EOMA68 laptop housing and Libre Tea Computer Card. That's
> huge. And there are more significant developments coming including the release
> of schematics and higher end CPUs.

I fully agree that this is great and I support your project. However, keep in
mind that this is nothing new or groundbreaking (not to undermine the project
and the efforts associated with it).

Paul Kocialkowski, developer of low-level free software for embedded devices

Coding blog:
Git repositories:

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