Posted Jul 20, 2006 9:34 UTC (Thu) by copsewood
In reply to: Reverse engineering
Parent article: OLS: Open source graphics drivers
"How feasible is it to run Windows and the Windows binary driver inside some sort of virtualised environment, and observe what PCI registers are written/read when various graphic operations are performed on the card?"
Can't comment on the technical feasibility of this (though with a suitable debugging environment this should be possible), but IMHO observing what something you buy does should be legal nearly everywhere.
"A free driver could then replay the appropriate sequences ..." I think doing this would classify as copying, and therefore would be a breach of copyright, so it wouldn't be a free driver unfortunately. My understanding of the cleanroom procedure to follow here is to for one engineer to study the observations taken from the debugger and to draw up a product specification, and another engineer creates the free product from this spec, not knowing the detailed implementation of it in the proprietary product. Replay would be copying at too low a level, but reverse engineering is legal in most places, though some local regulations vary, e.g. the DMCA prevents reverse engineering of certain products in the US.
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