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[libreplanet-discuss] EOMA68 and freedom in digital technology

From: Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] EOMA68 and freedom in digital technology
Date: Sat, 10 Sep 2016 20:38:34 +0100

sorry, i'm receiving this as digest mode, from libreplanet, and
haven't been watching it (or the other lists cc'd).  i'll try to
recreate the cc set of lists, apologies in advance if this doesn't get
through to all of them.  also, please be aware that i'm leaving for HK
in about 10 hours time and it's an extremely long flight, so i'll be
offline for at least the next 2 days.

also i'm adding arm-netbook (needs subscription) because i'd like to
make people on that list aware of this discussion, which appears to
have been ongoing for some time.

>> I disagree. There is simply nothing you can compare this project to. We
>> are achieving results that can't be demonstrated via any other means. If
>> we could get here some other way at a lower cost with the same long term
>> impact I would have gone that route.
> See what Olimex has been doing for years then.

 you're aware that olimex operates as a criminal cartel, from shipping
GPL-violating A10 bootloaders and kernels provided by Allwinner, back
around 2011/2012?   you're also aware that with the sole exception of
the olimex laptop's PCBs the only thing that they provide is
auto-generated PDFs *from* the schematics source code... not the
actual schematics and certainly not the PCB design files?

> They're also coming up with a laptop design.

... where they've taken off-the-shelf china-sourced (proprietary)
casework: i started the GPLv3+ casework project for the EOMA68 15.6in
laptop housing *two years* ago as a completely and fully libre
project.  you can verify that by looking at the git commit logs.

tsvetan has caused a hell of a lot of trouble for the EOMA68 project
and has sponged off of the resources of a *lot* of people.  he truly
doesn't understand the word "libre".  at all.

also, the A64's processor - which tsvetan is using for the olimex
laptop - requires a proprietary early-bootloader.  in fact, the first
A64 SDK that came out was an absolute mess, comprising several GPL
violations in both the early-bootloader, the u-boot source *and* the
linux kernel.  the SDK was even exclusively distributed over a chinese
illegal filesharing network (this is an "official" released SDK from

over a considerable period of time, pine64 and the sunxi community
worked to eliminate as many of those GPL violations as they could, but
Allwinner insisted on keeping the early-bootloader proprietary.

so at present the A64 is classified as a "non-libre" processor.  that
it's the basis of the olimex laptop tells you everything you need to

to tsevetan's credit he is doing his best as he understands it, but
there's nobody taking him to task on the things that matter to
software freedom.  he's happy to take your money even if it means
selling you product that requires proprietary software.  he's *less*
happy to then *invest* that money into helping solve the issues which
create all the problems that go *with* proprietary software.

now, whilst tsevtan is making money selling you hardware that requires
non-free components to operate basic functions, i've put my foot down
and said NO, i will NOT sell GPL-violating product.  i don't care if
that means it's harder to deliver ethical products, i'll deal with
that on an ongoing basis, but here's the thing: it means i've
established a reputation for setting some ethical rules *AND STUCK TO

> I agree that you went steps further than most before, but this is
> incremental improvement, not something truly new and groundbreaking compared 
> to
> what existed before.

 hmmm, an interesting perspective, which i feel may be based on not
being aware of the sheer overwhelming number of issues being tackled
(all at once).

 yes it's "incremental improvement" but it's a MASSIVE stack of
MULTIPLE "incremental improvements", all done at once.

 *nobody* has tried to do that before.  not Dell, not Olimex, not IBM
- *nobody*.

 for example you compare the EOMA68 Housing to the olimex laptop.  the
olimex laptop's casework is proprietary (the EOMA68 Housing's is
GPLv3+ libre-licensed).  so automatically you can see that it's
nowhere near being a legitimate comparison.

>> The issue is your looking at one thing. A few specs. It's not the specs?
>> that matter. It's the standard, it's the modularization, it's the?
>> response and cooperation we are getting already as a result of our?
>> actions here, etc. Intel and AMD are not going to cooperate and building?
>> off of other companies products (higher up the chain) is not a reliable?
>> long term solution.
> Again, I don't see how modularization changes anything here.

 you can't focus on just the one aspect and conclude that "it's not
significant".  bear in mind that this has been a 5 year project, where
i've had 15 years of working near-exclusively with software libre,
looking at the endemic and systemic problems and coming up with a
*long-term* strategy to tackle *all* of the issues associated with the
consequences of proprietary computing... *all at once*.

 modularisation (and having open standards despite what the
wikipedia-page-that's-already-scheduled-for-deletion would have you
believe) is one - *one* - critical - *critical* part of that strategy.

> Hardware availability has never been the problem.

 libre hardware availability has *always* been a problem.  entropy
guarantees that it always will.  you actually have to make a concerted
continuous effort to push back against the corner-cost-cutting of the
mass-volume industry.

> For laptops, we only had minor
> annoyances,?like Wi-Fi chips that require proprietary firmwares,

 proprietary firmware for WIFI is a bit more than a "minor" annoyance, paul!

> with the most
> advanced designs for freedom like ARM Chromebooks. So you took a step forward
> there. It's not a revolution, it's a step forward: solving the (minor) Wi-Fi
> issue. For single-board computers, you didn't bring any specific improvement
> over Olimex's Allwinner boards.

 at least we waited until we could get the entire set of sources for
as much of the hardware as we could get (the only exception being that
we haven't got a libre MALI driver yet, but there's even a plan to
deal with that).

 no, paul, what you're missing here is that there's an *active
committment* to tackling the pain, cost burden and inconvenience that
proprietary software (and hardware) causes.

 everybody else - Dell, IBM, HP, Asus, Olimex, they're all
*sleep-walking* - making MONEY off of you (and everyone else) because
you really don't know any better, you think it's *okay* to throw away
a perfectly good printer because its proprietary driver is no longer
"compatible" with modern OSes.

 there's no *active* committment from any of these companies to
*actually* try and solve the problems.... because they don't
understand that there *is* even a problem!

> Again, I don't want to sound like your project doesn't matter to me, because 
> it
> really does. Only that it's an improved iteration over what exists rather than
> whole new ground. And that's totally fine by the way, it is a very sane way to
> go. It also shows that you're not the only person on earth caring about these
> issues and producing hardware that solves an increasing number of them (even
> though I suspect some other players produce devices with such results without
> really aiming at that goal).

 exactly.  there's no coordinated committment.  they sell you product
because you buy it... because you don't have any other choices, so you
don't ask, so you keep buying more product, which gives them money to
keep on doing what they're doing....

 .... it's a vicious self-sustaining cycle that has to be broken by an
*active* committment.

ok i leave it at that.


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