User: Password:
|
|
Subscribe / Log in / New account

And Rockbox on the iPod nano 2?

And Rockbox on the iPod nano 2?

Posted Nov 9, 2012 15:40 UTC (Fri) by coriordan (guest, #7544)
In reply to: what about running VLC on an iThing? by dlang
Parent article: Let’s Limit the Effect of Software Patents, Since We Can’t Eliminate Them (Wired)

What about the iPod nano 2 interfaces? They were secret (encrypted even, IIRC), but after a few years the RockBox guys figured them out and there are now free software systems for those devices. Does Rockbox's work make the iPod's interfaces public?

(If not then Rockbox would have patent risk.)

I also wonder if a library cover secret interfaces with open ones, thus creating a loophole in the law. (This is only possible for certain definitions of "secret".)


(Log in to post comments)

And Rockbox on the iPod nano 2?

Posted Nov 9, 2012 19:59 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

> Does Rockbox's work make the iPod's interfaces public?

No, If it did it would make everything on the iPod safe.

I would say that Rockbox documenting what they _think_ the interfaces are should protect Rockbox, but it would not protect Apple software (after all, there is no way of knowing is Rockbox got things right, or just 'right enough to work')

As for a library to hide secret interfaces. As long as the open ones are documented and can be used by others, I don't have a big problem with this 'loophole'. Either the library makes enough available for people to use it to write other software (in which case it is functionally equivalent to the 'secret' interface), or it doesn't, (in which case it can't be used for things that want to take advantage of the 'secret' commands)

I'll note that I am one of the people who doesn't consider a system non-free just because it has loadable firmware blobs.

Probably a bad gamble

Posted Nov 9, 2012 21:30 UTC (Fri) by coriordan (guest, #7544) [Link]

...but then the Rockbox developers and users (me) have patent risk.

The API approach is a gamble, but I think it's probably a bad gamble.

With the transition from PC/Laptop to carryables/wearables, I think we're heading into a decade where a lot of free software users will be putting free software on their devices against the manufacturer's wishes.

Offering patent protection in return for documentation probably isn't enough. If software patents were that big an issue for the hardware manufacturers, they would be working on their own campaign to get that protection without having to document their interfaces. The current relative silence on the issue suggests it's not that motivating, so the gamble is risky.

(That said, the general v. special distinction also has problems. What's "special" about an mp3 player? It just does a subset of what my PC does. Is "special" supposed to refer to medical devices? How do we make that clear in a legal text?)

Probably a bad gamble

Posted Nov 9, 2012 22:48 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

given that the librarian of Congress just denied the right to jailbreak tablets because it would have included the ability to jailbreak e-readers as well, I don't think that you are going to have any luck trying to get patent protection for running software on such devices.

That being said, in the case of Rockbox, all the software that actually had a real potential for being hit by patents is going to be the same on all devices. It's only the bootloader and drivers that will be special for the iPod.

Probably a bad gamble

Posted Nov 10, 2012 14:53 UTC (Sat) by coriordan (guest, #7544) [Link]

If Rockbox is to be ok (except bootloader and drivers), the proposal should say "a program *that can be effectively run* on generally used computing hardware".

But I'm not sure that that's broad enough. It could leave a problem for video acceleration in drivers. I'd stick with looking for ways to ensure that mp3 players are wholly included in "generally used computing hardware".

The terrible decision about tablets does prove that legislators can make anti-citizen decisions, but the goal (enforce companies' DRM against computer users) shouldn't bind them to making bad decisions on patent questions.

Probably a bad gamble

Posted Nov 10, 2012 23:05 UTC (Sat) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

> the proposal should say "a program *that can be effectively run* on generally used computing hardware".

why do you need to include the word 'effectively' here? that is subjective.

> It could leave a problem for video acceleration in drivers.

I'm actually Ok with that being a problem.

A closed source driver with closed ABIs like NVIDIA should be a problem

A closed source driver with open ABIs like ATI is Ok with me. I will try to avoid using it and instead use the open source driver that will be written instead.

A open 'shim' driver with open ABIs like the Raspberry Pi is also Ok with me. Everyone uses the same ABI and any 'secret stuff' is in the firmware.

being able to replace the firmware and have the ABI from the firmware to the hardware be open is even better.

> I'd stick with looking for ways to ensure that mp3 players are wholly included in "generally used computing hardware".

I wish you good luck with that, however in the current political climate, I think you will run into the same problem that they had with tablets including e-book readers


Copyright © 2017, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds