Quote from Svartalf on August 31, 2011, 00:06
Quote from jamesh on August 30, 2011, 19:09
Well, Linux ABI changes are rather out of our control, but you are under no obligation to upgrade your kernel to a point where it's no longer supported! In fact, you are more likely to run out of distros that support ARMv6 instructions than finding the GPU driver not working!
Oh, so you're going to advocate people running without security fixes?
Seriously, the space is littered with devices that otherwise work well, but can't work with later versions of the Kernel, X11, etc. I can point to a lot of them if you don't think there are- the ones that are supported or supportable past a threshold are the ones with FOSS support, either provided or reverse engineered. Doesn't matter if you're talking a Webcam, Scanner, Printer, NIC, GPU, etc.
Let's say, that as sold, the device will work, and the GPU will be supported!
Which is why I say I've only SOME issues with the situation. You're better off with it being FOSS (And you might just find yourselves with a tiger by the tail- if it's as good as advertised, a FOSS driver might just get you some Android design wins, etc... Seriously.) but I'm not going to be one to pressure your employer over it at this time. I might, down the line, if I succeed at my plans (Sorry, can't disclose the big plans...wouldn't do any good violating my own NDAs...
)- but that's at least 6-18 months down the road before that becomes a subject to contemplate.
My hope is that the kernel side stuff will be OSS but that is a director level manager decision, so well out of my remit! That would mean users are safe from kernel changes. Since you cannot 'upgrade' a raspi to a different GPU, the other point is moot.
Heh... Kernel level stuff HAS to be GPLed or compatible BSD (So it can be GPLed...) or you'll violate the GPL license on the kernel if you ship with it included in a distribution. As for users being "safe" from kernel changes, depends on how much critical path is in the Kernel code.
I expect (but I cannot give assurances - my personal view) there will be a steady stream of binary blob releases, as bug fixes are introduced, and more features added. One of the really cool features of the videocore is it's combination of software and hardware, so you can upgrade it - for example, by adding new codecs, or supporting new cameras, or new LCD panels. These software changes leverage the HW blocks to add new HW acceleration. Not possible (to the same extent) with other GPU's.
I'd have to say it'd be a poor choice of an SoC if you didn't at least expect that.
Sorry, when I said Kernel side stuff, I mean to say Linux side stuff - i.e. the stuff that runs on the Arm. This is entirely implemented as libraries (I think) at the moment, and depending on your reading of the GPL may or may not be required to be OSS. Actually, I think there is one kernel object.
We use a vanilla kernel, so there are no GPL implications there. And as an aside, there are very few security fixes that change the Linux ABI.....
You are preaching to the converted. I think the Linux side stuff should be FOSS, I'm just writing with my employee hat on. I can certainly see where Broadcom are coming from in this. You are unlikely to be able to put pressure on Broadcom BTW - you need to be selling chips in the millions before pressure starts to take effect. The cost to develop and support chips like this is very very high (you wouldn't believe how high), and the money to do this has to come some somewhere.
You don't have to worry about design wins either. Good chippery sells itself...well, a bit!! Remember, there is already product out there with the same chip in (Roku2 is one example), and many more with Videocore tech in (in the tens of millions), including Android. Raspberry PI is benefiting greatly from those existing customers - without them paying for the development of all these Linux libraries (by buying the product in the first place), the Raspi would not exist.
Principal Software Engineer at Raspberry Pi (Trading) Ltd.
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