[Gta04-owner] Status GTA04 EA

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Mon Sep 19 11:06:40 CEST 2011


Hi,

Am 19.09.2011 um 09:52 schrieb Butrus Damaskus:

> On Mon, Sep 19, 2011 at 9:13 AM, Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller
> <hns at goldelico.com> wrote:
>> 4. FSF is interested in removing the non-free libertas firmware from the
>> rootfs. So they suggested to put it into a small MCU. If you are interested,
>> please read the project proposal and apply:
>> 
>>        http://projects.goldelico.com/p/gta04-main/page/FirmwareInjector/
> 
> Hm, how big is the firmware? Cannot this be solved in another way then

approx. 128 kByte.

> by adding components -
> (e.g. reserving a special RO partition in the flash reserved for the
> firmware and distributing the boards already with it)?

I have discussed that with RMS - and it is not permitted to be user-changeable
by not so easy means. The idea is that is must be "like hardware".

The OMAP SoC only has a preprogrammed BootROM and everything
else is either fetched from NAND, SD card or through RS232. So we can't
(and don't want to) install some really "RO" partition...

> Or, if really a MCU needs to be added make it an option (e.g. the CPU
> could wait at boot and try to detect whether the MCU is downloading
> the FW, if not, it would - in the case it is installed - upload it
> itself...)?

Yes, this is our idea. Some MCU sits on the MMC/SDIO interface and
tries to inject the WiFi firmware. The OMAP driver must cooperate somehow
and tristate it's interface. After firmware is installed, the MCU powers off
and triggers the OMAP to resume.

I think it is possible that the libertas firmware download driver can detect
that there is no MCU (e.g. timeout or monitoring if the MCU does its
job) and can do the fallback approach by checking for firmware on the
file system.

> (Yes, I am not excited with increasing the costs for virtually no effect...)

I am also not happy with a complex hardware solution for a copyright
issue...

But freedom has its price, hasn't it?

I think that MCU chip could be an optional install. And the one we do
propose is small and mostly self-contained. And has 128 KByte memory
for a compressed binary firmware.

> 
>> An alternative could be to write an open firmware stack for the
>> Marvell WiFi chip. This was already discussed by OLPC some years
>> ago and they have collected some material, but it wasn't finished.
> 
> How realistic is this?

The OLPC project started to work on it and, if you follow the links, they
already have collected quite a lot of information. But for reasons I
don't have researched, they stopped work 3 years ago. I think
it were not technical reasons.

BR,
Nikolaus



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