Coreboot + Linux-Libre could bring TONS more users

Discussion in 'Pyra OS (Debian GNU/Linux)' started by tkm625, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. tkm625

    tkm625 Still Fresh

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    Almost everybody knows the words "open source" draws developers and users, much more than "proprietary/closed source". Adding "completely" in front of "open source" would draw even more users, as would certification from the Free Software Foundation. If it the DragonBox Pyra could be made to run on completely free and open source software, it would draw a lot more attention, would sell more units, and would draw many more developers. Is it a possibility, given the current hardware purchased? I know if open source drivers can't be had, that reverse engineering drivers isn't easy, but it still can and has been done. I think if the software could be made completely free and open source, and I mean completely, then the positive effects on software development, units sold, and the Pyra community in general would be unpredictably greater.

    Edit: Perhaps even using Coreboot or Libreboot and Linux-Libre with only the necessary proprietary drivers added would still draw more users and developers, if no better option is viable. It certainly wouldn't draw as many though, since it couldn't receive FSF certfication with any closed source code.
     
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  2. milkshake

    milkshake Advanced Member

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    This discussion has been had before I hope we don't go there again :)
     
  3. bzar

    bzar A Commando

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  4. moxie

    moxie The voice of reason, sense and exasperation Staff Member

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    Ah. B-Zar was faster than me :)
     
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  5. lunixbochs

    lunixbochs Moderator Staff Member

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    Can you find me a single developer who doesn't develop on the pandora now, but would if it were certified fully open source? Otherwise it's just speculation and I as a developer feel I have much more important things to work on than futzing with coreboot etc :)


    I vote anyone who cares that much about completely open stuff is the best candidate for actually *doing* so.
     
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  6. _wb_

    _wb_ Microbe Staff Member

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    I don't think there are many devs who would not buy a Pyra just because it is not RYF-certified.

    I also think that an official FSF-endorsement, perhaps combined with a Slashdot story about how the Pyra is now the preferred portable device of Richard Stallman, would probably help quite a bit to increase its popularity and attract lots of new devs.

    The main problem to get RYF-certification is the closed-source GPU driver. Since it is a widely used GPU (IT PowerVR SGX), but it still has resisted all reverse engineering efforts so far, I doubt this will change any time soon. You could of course install a GNU/Linux system without GPU support if you want, but it would not be a good idea to ship it like that if one of its selling points is gaming.
     
  7. ekianjo

    ekianjo Hardcore Member

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    Many people make fun of Stallman though. And nobody reads Slashdot anymore :/ 

    Devs are not just attracted by whats free and open. Most, if not all developers work on not 100% machines. How many of you guys here run a Free BIOS on your PCs?
     
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  8. comradekingu

    comradekingu Glowing ember

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    Im waiting for http://libreboot.org/ to get out of beta, but its only for x86 and x86_64 hardware.  To my knowledge uBoot is already fully open. Depending on if you need to load closed firmware to get the board going, uBoot is all sorts of fine.

    Open source is a quite meaningless term, because it only enables you to study code, but not do anything about it. Saying OSI-OS or FOSS is as cumbersome as the often confused 'free software' which is more descriptive, but doesnt work in English.

    While the FSF might think it does, they are also the ones that fail to attract devs to the powerVR reverse-engineering project. I think if you want more devs and users having as much copyleft software as possible is preferable.

    The ability to run for example BSD would be an additional userbase to that point. There is no exclusion other than what powerVR drivers entail, ironically something that limits BSD-use.

    And also it is a valid point to make to communicate licensing in a nice manner. I think doing so directly rather than relying on a 3rd party to do so is best. Currently aiming to have that as an intro-point on the wiki.

    If wifi-drivers are FOSS then the system is free of ugliness in places it could spy on the user.

    And using the device without PowerVR drivers is a small price to pay for the convenience it gives over other non-spying solutions. Use empathy and be nice to such people, however many they are, they buy devices just the same.
     
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  9. WizardStan

    WizardStan Mega GP Mania

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    32 pages summarized: it is within the realm of possibility, the only thing that isn't open source is the GPU driver. The reverse engineering effort has been ongoing for so long with arguably little success that it probably won't be available anytime soon. We would be stuck with 2D framebuffer access.There was a suggestion of offering two versions, one "free" and the other with the GPU binary blob, but RYF certification requires that the two versions be completely distinct with no chance of confusion, ED would literally need to have two different case moulds (at least) to make them unique enough for one to qualify.

    Further discussion pointed out a lot of the restrictions on advertising that were a logistic nightmare for EvilDragon to try and follow. He could, but it would require more conscious thought than it's probably worth.

    Finally there was a huge discussion about whether it would actually bring in any more devs: the Pandora (and by extension the Pyra) is a niche market, selling a few thousand but filling it's niche fairly perfectly. If "100% free" is required for someone to purchase it then the feature set is probably not what they were looking for in the first place and they probably would have been happier with another device.

    That's how I remember the discussion anyway, does anyone remember things that I've forgotton?

    I just had an epiphany. The Pandora/Pyra is a niche product and is probably the closes handheld anything to fully open source available: not just the operating system, but ED is even planning to release the hardware source files. Because of the niche and the willingness to pursue "freedom", it is in the FSFs interest to come here and try to get ED on board with the RYF, not the other way around. If they want a pocket computer/handheld game console that is 100% free out there, attempting to compete with all the Android devices out there, then they should step forward, pledge some resources to reverse engineering the powerVR, and make "us" (the collective us that is Pandora users) want to be part of the FSF and RYF.
     
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  10. comradekingu

    comradekingu Glowing ember

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    Well the requirement is for packaging for retail. So a simple RYF sticker, and distinctly different wording on the e-shop should suffice. Im in favour of just plain cardboard packaging because it means more money saved on shipping. Also it means the box isnt 'official' enough for one to keep onto it.

    There was a whole heap of arguments that didnt hold water in the RYF thread.

    You cant know any more people will purchase it or develop it rather than what is effectively the case in other any sense. Other than the people who say so of course, and there were quite a few.

    The effort is well worth it i think, because its an inclusive argument.

    You are selling more devices to more people, who are generally informed people. These people are also the people who _wouldnt_ buy it otherwise, whereas buying a regular unit is still an option.

    Having one device, which is RYF in the sense that it isn't gimped, would be the goal, but then again powerVR and SoC choice limits that. At the time of the RYF thread, this wasnt so much set in stone, but some arguments are still valid.

    It would be nice if the mainboard had no proprietary drivers, so that maybe in the future, a moduleboard could be produced that is all sorts of nice.  And for the case of argument, it could be something really low-fi freescale stuff that is fully in mainline.

    The FSF doesn't give by the doors, nor has it got any foothold in making powerVR drivers.
     
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  11. Binky

    Binky Death's Steed Staff Member

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    I am sceptical that there are many people who refuse to buy tech unless is is completely free and open.

    If you want a usable pocket computer, the pandora/pyra is already the most open and hacker-friendly device out there, so there isn't really a competitor to draw customers away from

    People who really care about software freedom will be used to doing their own research into obscure tech, so I don't really see and marketing advantage either.
     
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  12. comradekingu

    comradekingu Glowing ember

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    Use empathy. Think like other people. With respect to support and how much money it commands at purchase, all open drivers matters. A prime example is Lemote - Yeeloong Notebook.

    Apart from the freedom aspect, there is _nothing_ good about this thing in comparison to other devices. Gnewsense has support for it, and are even targeting it in their next release.

    I dont understand whats to lose from selling more devices? No matter the amount, it has to be done right, be it technically or communication-wise. Just being the best is not a reason to be less good.

    Also, it isn't a niche issue. Post-snowden security has become something everyone and their informant is concerned with.

    It is hard to communicate why your regular cellphone is compromised to someone who doesnt care very very much, and thats why the treshold of doing something about it is hard to get over.

    Instead this: From hardware to the software, the whole device is not snooping on you. Done.

    Dont have to think more about it. Perhaps wasnt thinking about it to begin with, but yes, thats convenient, and a selling point.
     
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  13. TrashyMG

    TrashyMG Sarcasm Dispenser Staff Member

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    I'm sure if there was a good PowerVR substitution already we would have it and enjoy that it's most likely done better than Ti's solution.. unfortunately it isn't and we have to deal with it.. FSF Certificate doesn't seem worth the headache.. Paranoid folks are "Free" to uninstall the SGX driver.
     
  14. comradekingu

    comradekingu Glowing ember

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    It isn't irrelevant because its unfortunate.

    Refusing to install a proprietary 3d driver isnt paranoid. Refusing to support Imagination Technologies isnt paranoid. Being able to run BSD isnt paranoid.

    If those people would buy it if it wasnt preinstalled, or with another SoC, then their money is as valid as anyone elses. Keep in mind those greatly outnumber the current userbase. If a little additional work is what it takes to establish that as a userbase then woah, pyra more successful. And cheaper for everyone. If it takes more work, then one has to look at that with more scrutiny, especially if it requires work upfront, but the pyra has by no means already found its userbase.

    You are not presenting an argument or reading the thread when you say headache.

    TI is only a licensee of IMGtec IP.  And Imagination Technologies probably cant do anything about it if they wanted to, and they dont.
     
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  15. TrashyMG

    TrashyMG Sarcasm Dispenser Staff Member

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    They're "Free" not to buy a device too..
     
  16. Silent-Hunter

    Silent-Hunter Hardcore Member

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    I think a FSF only version of the OS should be provided as a second option, but not be the default.
     
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  17. sebt3

    sebt3 homebrew player (P. & C.)

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    err, no. At least not an official projet.
    If the freetard want a bugged down (but fully "free") OS. They will need to do it by themself. And if the pandora is a good hint it wont happen.

    Why ED would spend time and money on something that nobody care about but a few vocal that wouldnt take the time to do it for themself ?
     
  18. _wb_

    _wb_ Microbe Staff Member

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    Spending time and money? It's probably just a matter of removing some kernel module. Something like


    sudo rm /lib/modules/*/kernel/drivers/gpu/pvr/*
    will probably do the trick if you want a "bugged down but fully 'free' OS". I'm not sure about the 3G/GPS/wifi drivers, perhaps those are binary blobs as well.

    We could add an option to the first-boot wizard to do this automatically for you. That would be easier than having two firmware options.
     
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  19. comradekingu

    comradekingu Glowing ember

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    sebt3:

    Have a look at http://boards.openpandora.org/topic/16218-superzaxxon-v161-released//URL]

    Download SuperZaxxon Final v1.61
    Download SuperZaxxon Final v1.61 without internal Wifi drivers

    The pandora is both sold and supported in this variety, officially. Seemingly without you noticing.

    Calling people names is hopefully not the level of seriousness ED listens to, as it hasnt been so in the past.

    A plausible way ED would spend time on something that someone cares about is because they pay in cash, as was presented above.

    Also these people present valid arguments.

    _wb_:  Im wondering what kind of wifi chipset is used. That presents the only issue to selling the whole device as 'unencumbered in places it matters'.

    3G is optional, but it would be nice to have the details there too.
     
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  20. ekianjo

    ekianjo Hardcore Member

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    Note that the Pandora is only sold without the wifi drivers in Japan. (Because of import restrictions). That option is not available if you buy it from DragonBox - even though it's simple to reflash it yourself.  
     

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