Raspberry Pi VideoCore driver code released
Posted Oct 25, 2012 13:23 UTC (Thu) by pboddie
In reply to: Raspberry Pi VideoCore driver code released
Parent article: Raspberry Pi VideoCore driver code released
but if you were talking about open-sourcing the application and software running on the first CPU, I would say that yes, the system on the first CPU was open-source, even though it called an independent system that lives on the second CPU.
I think the objections people have to this announcement are mostly centred on the assertion that Broadcom have opened up access to the underlying technology when in practical terms all they have really done is acknowledged the nature of the API for specific functionality provided by the SoC. And all of this publicity downplays the fact that they've moved software behind the curtain and onto the proprietary CPU core.
So although this release helps people to write software against that narrow API, it's very much business as usual.
Does it make Linux any less free if it's running on a Transmeta CPU than on a 80386 CPU?
Although you can have CPUs with loadable microcode, I don't think these arguments really help the discussion along because they inevitably lead to remarks like "You can't fabricate your own CPUs, and I suppose you extremists won't be happy until the proletariat have seized control over the means of production!"
Far more illustrative is to consider things like printers supporting standard interfaces like PostScript. It's a positive thing that you can (or could) get a printer that any system could talk to using a well-defined (and hopefully standard) communications mechanism, but it's a different matter from being able to enhance the printer's own operation, if this is desirable.
And it's always necessary to question the redefinition of system boundaries because you can easily end up with a dumb terminal talking to a proprietary mainframe that does all your graphics and printing for you. Or you have all your applications running in a proprietary cloud. And so on.
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