Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Making Sense of the OLPC Proprietary Software Row

Filed under
OLPC
Interviews

Theo de Raadt, the leader of the OpenBSD project and a vociferous crusader for hardware (especially networking) documentation, recently went public with his concerns about the One Laptop Per Child project's choice to use a wireless networking chip from Marvell, a company with an unusually poor record of supporting free software operating systems, in the 2B1 laptop computer that it is developing. Marvell is unwilling to freely supply hardware documentation so that programmers can create device drivers that properly interface with its wireless chips, and beyond that, Marvell also refuses to allow OpenBSD and other free software operating systems to freely distribute firmware binaries that are necessary to use Marvell wireless devices. So why, then, was it chosen for the OLPC project, which claims to "support open source?" If de Raadt's email was the first you heard of the conflict, you're probably confused as to what's going on. Below are explanatory interviews with various people who were or are involved with this situation: Theo de Raadt, Richard Stallman, Jim Gettys, and Jonathan Corbet.

Understanding the OLPC project's choices

I exchanged several emails with OLPC's vice president of software, Jim Gettys -- who was also one of the original designers of the X11 windowing system and the W3C editor in charge of the HTTP 1.1 specification, among other achievements in the computer technology industry -- in an effort to figure out what the uproar was about and what was actually going on. Excerpts follow:

Full Interview.

More in Tux Machines

Ubuntu Touch Finally Gets a Regression Fix for Nexus 4 and Aquaris Phones

Canonical has recently released a new OTA update for Ubuntu Touch and it brought a large number of new features and improvements, but also a nasty regression that caused the telephony function to fail on BQ phones and Nexus 4. That fix has finally landed. Read more

OpenDaylight dawn: Open-source software defined networking goes into production

OpenDaylight, the open-source, software-defined network, is moving from the lab into full-scale production. Read more

Battle of the sub-$450 Android phones: ZTE Axon vs OnePlus 2 vs Moto X Style

Over the past two weeks we have seen three new Android phones announced that are priced to challenge Samsung, LG, and HTC devices typically found starting at $600. Read more

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury Is Currently A Disaster On Linux

When AMD announced the Radeon R9 Fury line-up powered by the "Fiji" GPU with High Bandwidth Memory, I was genuinely very excited to get my hands on this graphics card. The tech sounded great and offered up a lot of potential, and once finally finding an R9 Fury in stock, shelled out nearly $600 for this graphics card. Unfortunately though, thanks to the current state of the Catalyst Linux driver, the R9 Fury on Linux is a gigantic waste for OpenGL workloads. The R9 Fury results only exemplifies the hideous state of AMD's OpenGL support for their Catalyst Linux driver with a NVIDIA graphics card costing $200 less consistently delivering better gaming performance. Read more