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LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 16, 2013
A look at the PyPy 2.0 release
PostgreSQL 9.3 beta: Federated databases and more
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(Nearly) full tickless operation in 3.10
Great. The gNewSense folks should be happy with this.
Posted Sep 20, 2007 17:17 UTC (Thu) by proski (subscriber, #104)
I don't know, maybe they are crying now :)
Posted Sep 20, 2007 17:47 UTC (Thu) by JoeBuck (subscriber, #2330)
Still, there's a problem in the strict GNUist attitude toward firmware. While I respect their principles, they argue that a device that allows firmware to be loaded is somehow "less free" than a device whose firmware is in ROM and is therefore cannot be updated, if the firmware is not free software. It seems to me that the reverse is true, since there is hope that someday the device can be loaded with free software (e.g. by a project like RockBox or the like).
Posted Sep 20, 2007 18:07 UTC (Thu) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
Posted Sep 21, 2007 2:48 UTC (Fri) by gdt (subscriber, #6284)
I reserve my opinion because we haven't seen the obstacles a vendor who did choose to do the Right Thing would face. For example, how long would it take to get the code for the proprietary "CPU" into the gcc tool chain? I can quite understand why a vendor might choose not to be the first one down that path.
Posted Sep 21, 2007 6:19 UTC (Fri) by JoeBuck (subscriber, #2330)
Posted Sep 27, 2007 18:29 UTC (Thu) by iabervon (subscriber, #722)
Posted Sep 27, 2007 19:38 UTC (Thu) by zlynx (subscriber, #2285)
You know the saying that C is portable assembly. Well, a good assembler makes it as easy to write as C, it just isn't portable.
Posted Sep 27, 2007 20:06 UTC (Thu) by moxfyre (subscriber, #13847)
But that's not necessary. All they really need to do to be Linux-friendly is release the source code under GPL in *some form*. Maybe it's assembler code. Maybe it's C code. SDCC is a Free software compiler targeting 8-bit microcontroller architectures, including 8051, Z80, and even PIC (which has the worst instruction set imaginable for C compilers). GCC is aimed at 32/64-bit architectures, and I think that SDCC is a REALLY valuable complement to it for the low-end embedded space.
When hardware vendors provide basic device information and initial code, the Free software community can usually run with it. For example, Linksys released the code for its Linux-based routers... and now there are several polished and powerful distros for those routers. ATI has just released programming information--not even code, really--for their GPUs, and suddenly there's a veritable blizzard of open-source display driver development.
As Greg K-H pointed out, "if you release specs, the Linux community will produce drivers"... often, they'll be better than the proprietary drivers!
equal treatment, or equally bad treatment
Posted Sep 21, 2007 6:11 UTC (Fri) by JoeBuck (subscriber, #2330)
You are asking for equally bad treatment, subtracting a capability if that capability is only useful to a proprietary software developer.
Free firmware would be great, but replaceable firmware beats a device that cannot be fixed at all if it has a flaw.
Posted Sep 21, 2007 13:59 UTC (Fri) by epa (subscriber, #39769)
This 'all or nothing' rule is characteristic of the GPL (version 1 applied it to copyright, v2 to patent licences, and v3 to allowing updated versions to run). I think it has had some success in getting more free software and is worth continuing.
Bad analogy time: in many countries with forest fires it is illegal to build on land that has been cleared by burning, even if the fire was entirely natural. Clearly in any individual case this benefits nobody - it would be better to use the land rather than waste it. But as a general rule it helps to discourage people from starting fires deliberately.
Posted Sep 23, 2007 18:33 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
I would not care too much about gNewSense.
A free distribution makes users aware of the problems with implementations of public standards, patented algorithms, closed hardware, programs protected by lame secrets and other similar weird stuff. When using proprietary systems, those same users are not aware of any of that; when their freeware CD recording software says they cannot do an operation unless they purchase the full version, those people think it is just a problem of investing money. When using free distributions with proprietary bits, those problems are similarly swept under the carpet.
Yes, it is sometimes a pain in the groins to use them, but free distributions make us aware of how bad the state of some things really is.
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