Re: ARM and shipping of various binary firmware / boot bits

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On 03/08/2012 10:55 AM, Peter Robinson wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 3:33 PM, Tom Callaway <tcallawa@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> On 03/08/2012 10:16 AM, Peter Robinson wrote:
>>
>>> In some cases they do and we don't need to worry about it, in other
>>> cases like the PandaBoard they're likely just being too tight to put a
>>> flash chip on the board to hold the FW/BIOS so you have to have a
>>> small partition at the beginning of the SD to hold it and the SoC
>>> basically searches for a location that is set by pin combinations for
>>> the SoC boot code off serial/mmc/usb,
>>
>> So, the existing firmware exception is tightly worded, it says:
>>
>> "The files must be necessary for the functionality of open source code
>> being included in Fedora."
>>
>> I'm not sure this BIOS/FW code actually meets that criteria, can you
>> make that case?
> 
> Without these files the device will no boot and there is no Fedora on
> them? These aren't say files for flashing Fedora onto the device such
> as an Android style updater utility. These initialise the device's HW
> and then load the kernel into memory so the OS can boot. By including
> them it will allow us to integrate the writing of the SD cards with
> tools like livecd-tools (or equivalent) to ease the creation of images
> for use. Eg the MLO file needs to be the very first file on the vfat
> partition in the first block of the filesystem otherwise it just won't
> boot.

I think you're both missing the point here. The intent of that clause
was to say that Firmware $FOO is necessary for Free Software $BAR to work.

Free Software $BAR works fine on x86 without Firmware $FOO. It works
fine on some ARM systems that do not need Firmware $FOO. In fact, $BAR
doesn't have any knowledge of $FOO whatsoever. So, to claim that $FOO is
"necessary for the functionality of open source code being included in
Fedora", well, that's not right. It doesn't say "must be necessary to
boot some hardware".

I don't think we want to be packaging up system BIOSes (or their
equivalent). Our firmware exception is intended _only_ to enable FOSS
code that wouldn't work without it.

I realize that it would be easier to have these files packaged so that
you could make easy images, but I just don't think this is in keeping
with the Free Software goals of Fedora.

I think you're going to have to ask the Board whether they wish to
extend the Firmware exception to explicitly include packaging of
non-free BIOS files (or BIOS-like files). I'm not willing to make that
call (and I'm not sure I support it).

~tom

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