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Device drivers and non-disclosure agreements

Device drivers and non-disclosure agreements

Posted Oct 11, 2006 9:02 UTC (Wed) by smitty_one_each (subscriber, #28989)
In reply to: Device drivers and non-disclosure agreements by shemminger
Parent article: Device drivers and non-disclosure agreements

One wonders if at some point this all won't come to a head.
What if the FSF, the OpenBSD community, and a few other suspects ran a fundraiser to:
a) buy the rights to some existing hardware, or
b) design something from scratch
and just have done with it?


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Device drivers and non-disclosure agreements

Posted Oct 12, 2006 2:26 UTC (Thu) by drag (subscriber, #31333) [Link]

Well it's already started, sorta.

Open spec'd hardware design for a video card. The actual logic and such won't be realy open, but everything about the card is going to be well documented.
http://wiki.duskglow.com/tiki-index.php?page=Open-Graphics

And Solaris has openned their Sparc CPU design. They licensed it under the GPL even!
http://news.com.com/Sun+to+release+open-source+Sparc+desi...

Then a couple other places people have pointed out open designed for that Balloon system.
http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS8608269433.html

And there is lots of stuff like that.

Neuros technology is interesting.
http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS4532837874.html

They actively engage Linux and open source folk as part of their hardware design. They are very open about everything and even have things like beta programs for people to hack around with hardware before the general public release.

Open source doesn't realy apply well to hardware often. Hardware by definition is propriatory, there is no way around it. And there is no real reason around it either as long as everything is interchangable parts.

But I think that some elements would probably be benifitial.

I think that maybe Linux inroads into embedded devices may be a good thing. As fast hardware gets smaller and smaller hardware gets faster it may help convince hardware developers not only to be open with how to program their devices, but also affect the way they design it to avoid having to expose trade secrets to third parties while still embracing open source software.

Unfortunately right now in embedded-land they (the hardware makers) seem very paraniod about commodizing embedded designes like the 'IBM compatable' pcs did for the personal computer. They are trying to avoid that by going ultra-propriatory.

Device drivers and non-disclosure agreements

Posted Oct 12, 2006 11:22 UTC (Thu) by smitty_one_each (subscriber, #28989) [Link]

>Hardware by definition is propriatory, there is no way around it.

This is my point: if you don't like the definition, and find it insurmountable, *then change it*.
While I wouldn't contend that it's likely that the F/OSS community can beat nVidia or ATI head-on in a graphics shoot-out, hopefully the Open-Graphics effort will culminate in something that runs 2d graphics at reasonable resolution.
I realize that some people are deeply into games, and there will always be an nVidia to push them 31337 hardware.
Others, however, see the compiler as the ultimate game...

Device drivers and non-disclosure agreements

Posted Oct 12, 2006 13:44 UTC (Thu) by grahammm (subscriber, #773) [Link]

Hardware (or rather the interface to it) does not have to be proprietary. Take UARTS for example. There are a vast number of UARTs, whether discrete or emulated in FGPA etc, or even the interfaces to GSM etc modules, which use the register interface originally used by the NatSemi 8250 - often with the 16550 FIFO extensions. Similarly up to and including VGA, the register interface to video cards was standard across manufacturers.

Device drivers and non-disclosure agreements

Posted Oct 19, 2006 12:03 UTC (Thu) by renox (subscriber, #23785) [Link]

About the spec for the SPARC: they are totally useless for SW developpers, what is needed is the spec of the interface for the *chipset*.

And Sun didn't open this part, I remember it quite well: Theo complained quite loudly that Sun tried to look cool by open-sourcing the SPARC, but they didn't open-source the important part..


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