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Old 08-09-2012, 04:17 PM   #1
hydraMax
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Free firmware for ATI Radeon... ever?


So I'm a FOSS purist. That means I have to have access to source code for every piece of software I run, or I won't use it, period. It's great that we have free Direct Rendering drivers for ATI Radeon, but what good is that if the firmware for the chips themselves are non-free?

The strangest part is that I looked in the latest stable kernel source code, and the license attached to the closed-source Radeon driver blobs (see firmware/WHENCE) is BSD-style, with permission to copy, modify, distribute, et cetera. So, why not go ahead and include the source code?

So, when will we get truly free firmware for ATI Radeon chips? Does AMD care? Does anyone care?

Last edited by hydraMax; 08-09-2012 at 04:24 PM.
 
Old 08-09-2012, 05:34 PM   #2
serafean
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Hi,

I understand your stance, and have to admit that I backed down at firmware and BIOS regarding source availability. AFAIK there are no plans to opensource the firmware. Even the nouveau project doesn't have OSS firmware, they just found a way to generate it.
I know of one reason why it would be hard to make OSS ati firmware : Atombios. Atombios is a layer that supposedly simplifies driver development, by not requiring specific register programming.

Take this with a grain of salt, as this is put together from what I've read and understood, no official statements.

Serafean
 
Old 08-10-2012, 05:06 AM   #3
adamk75
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Most pieces of hardware require some sort of firmware. In some cases, the firmware is stored in ROM on the hardware itself. Do you also require that firmware to be open source? If so, I'm curious what hardware you are using that only uses open source firmware.
 
Old 08-10-2012, 04:25 PM   #4
hydraMax
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adamk75 View Post
Most pieces of hardware require some sort of firmware. In some cases, the firmware is stored in ROM on the hardware itself. Do you also require that firmware to be open source? If so, I'm curious what hardware you are using that only uses open source firmware.
You bring me to a difficult issue, difficult only because of the twisted world in which we live. In my view, every piece of hardware I own and run should be completely open to me, in the sense that

1. I should be able to get detailed specs on all hardwired electronic components, so I can understand exactly how they work and every aspect of what they will do.

2. For firmware stored on ROM, I should have a full copy of the source code, so that I understand exactly what the firmware does.

3. For firmware stored in re-programmable memory, I should have a full copy of the source code, as well as the legal ability to modify such code and the access necessary to load modified code on the device.

Obviously these are high ideals in a world in which technology is generally considered a trade secret to be secretly hoarded away from every possible competitor and kept exclusive by any legal means possible. As far as goals (1) and (2), I am not aware of any hardware distributors anywhere that have embraced these ideals. But if I knew of any, I would be glad to support them and prefer their products.

The Free Software movement (Stallman camp) has, however, focused on promoting goal (3), in particular with new conditions in GPL-3. I endeavor to support this aim by only loading Free firmware in those cases in which I am control of what firmware is loaded.

Hope that helps.
 
Old 08-10-2012, 04:30 PM   #5
hydraMax
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Back to my original question: Are Nvidia and AMD the only players in the market of graphics cards providing 3D acceleration? I tried looking for other brands/projects in the past, but I wasn't able to find anything in the production stage.
 
  


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