[Tinkerphones] GTA04A5 and News from the Kernel

Jonas Smedegaard jonas at jones.dk
Fri Oct 28 01:56:45 CEST 2016

[whoops, sorry for hitting send to early a moment ago]

Quoting Paul Boddie (2016-10-27 22:24:20)
> Cutting the GTA04 list because it isn't directly relevant, although I'm not 
> really sure of the relevance here anyway...
> On Thursday 27. October 2016 19.43.27 H. Nikolaus Schaller wrote:
> > 
> > Now back to the topic of FLOSS. This driver is of course free. But 
> > it will need / load firmware binaries into the GPU part of the SoC. 
> > These binaries are on one hand some "microkernel" running on the SGX 
> > GPU and the ARM libraries for OpenGL etc.
> Given what was said about the Broadcom SoC used in the Raspberry Pi, 
> the claims of "fully free" drivers and yet the continued presence of a 
> non-free microkernel, I can easily imagine the SGX functionality being 
> rather similarly structured, regardless of the larger SoC being 
> ARM-based (like the DM3730) or MIPS-based (like the JZ4780).

As I understand it, there are 3 camps:

 a) refuse any non-free code, even difficult to replace soldered-on.
 b) refuse non-free runtime-loaded code executed anywhere.
 c) tolerate non-free code not affecting main CPU or its memory.
 d) Tolerate non-free code.

I believe FSF is in the b) camp,and Debian is in the c) camp (and 
Debian+non-free is in d) camp).

Problem with Raspberry Pi is not (only) that its GPU requires non-free 
code, but that its boot sequence is tied to the GPU so that it is not 
possible to even _boot_ without loading that non-free blob for the GPU.

If I understand you correctly, Nikolaus, then the situation for this 
board is that it fits even FSF requirements (the phone works but slower 
without GPU, I guess), and those wanting GPU can simply enable the 
non-free packages provided unofficially from Debian (which is the main 
grudge FSF holds against Debian).

That is far better that the situation for Raspberry Pi which cannot be 
approved by FSF nor Debian - only works with Debian+non-free.

 - Jonas

 * Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
 * Tlf.: +45 40843136  Website: http://dr.jones.dk/

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