Posted Sep 27, 2007 20:06 UTC (Thu) by moxfyre
In reply to: gNewSense
Parent article: MadWifi developers move to ath5k
Doing the "Right Thing" doesn't necessarily mean that the vendor has to do all the extra work. Sure, it'd be nice if device vendors would release firmware source code that could be modified and rebuilt with the standard toolchain.
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!
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