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#26 2018-11-28 14:12:29

kuleszdl
Member
Registered: 2018-11-03
Posts: 20  

Re: Sources List all Non-Free ?

@golinux: Definitely. I will try to fix that once I find the time.

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#27 2018-11-28 16:46:53

cynwulf
Member
Registered: 2017-10-09
Posts: 198  

Re: Sources List all Non-Free ?

kuleszdl wrote:

Of course, there is other firmware that runs on auxillary chips (such as optical drives or NICs) but as far as I understood the discussion here is about non-free software/firmware that runs on the main cpu, not elsewhere.

Well you were discussing firmware for wifi chips?

There is no real distinction.  For example the proprietary firmware in an intel NIC is quite relevant, as is the chipset.  Parts of the management engine are also built into the northbridge and later the "platform controller hub" in intel chipsets.

The management engine should be a lesson to anyone that proprietary firmware which is running on a device, which is often obfuscated and undocumented, cannot be trusted - and can be an "out of band" OS in itself (in the case of Intel ME - based on MINIX 3).  Being on a NIC or a hard disk controller or a graphics card doesn't make it less of a concern to that running on a CPU.

x86 are a horrible mess of firmware, even if you go for the oldest practical hardware, you will still find closed source firmware.

Libreboot and projects like it can barely hope to scratch the surface.  x86/intel is just broken by design.

Libreboot support a handful of desktop/laptop motherboards, most of which are 10 year old hardware.  It's essentially polishing a turd...

And the last decent AMD core which did not include the PSP was the "steamroller", as I recall - so even that fight is lost.

But good luck finding open hardware and good luck finding decent enough modern hardware without the above crap which doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Even if you did manage to have fully open source firmware on every single device, you would still not have open hardware.  The hardware itself is closed source in most cases.  For example, Intel, AMD and Nvidia have not simply released all the specs for the hardware as that would expose their proprietary IP - this is why producing drivers where there is no vendor support is far from simple, this is why there is reverse engineering (projects like the nouveau Linux kernel driver).

Though you may not like it, it's the harsh reality.

The separation of some firmware from the kernel by the likes of the Debian project and some others is just fanciful lip service to software freedom.  It amounts to it being removed on a mere technicality so that someone can tick a box and state that it's "free" for no practical purpose or tangible benefits.

Someone who gets a freedom buzz out of running such a system has been reading far too much Stallman and is missing the elephant in the living room...

Last edited by cynwulf (2018-11-28 16:53:17)

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#28 2018-11-28 17:45:42

chris2be8
Member
Registered: 2018-08-11
Posts: 37  

Re: Sources List all Non-Free ?

It's worth fighting for access to source code whenever you can.

Eg if you are involved in a product liability lawsuit make sure your side's lawyers ask for full source code during the discovery phase. That makes life harder for whoever owns proprietary code (it's usually easy to find a few silly bugs in any sizeable amount of source code which makes them look bad in court).

Chris

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#29 2018-12-03 20:59:21

kuleszdl
Member
Registered: 2018-11-03
Posts: 20  

Re: Sources List all Non-Free ?

@cynwolf: I don't see the big issue with using the mentioned 10 years old hardware. This last generation of hardware with removable ME / without PSP should be powerful enough for most people and use cases even today. Also, there are many very interesting options in the ARM world (where Devuan also ships proprietary firmware by default as part of the embedded images). Regarding tomorrow, I am convinced that RISC-V and POWER will be viable alternatives to move forward.

Regarding the firmware in other chips: Well these chips should have limited control and usually be controlled by the CPU (provided you have proper IOMMU isolation and limit DMA access). Thus, the last thing you want is proprietary firmware running as root in kernel space on the main CPU - not mentioning any chip that has control over the CPU (like the mentioned auxilliary chips such as BMC controllers or stuff like a management engine that runs on a chip inside the cpu package).

Back to topic: Eventually I will find some time around new year to look into the installer issue, but if anyone has the time to resolve it earlier I would appreciate it.

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#30 2018-12-04 10:31:56

cynwulf
Member
Registered: 2017-10-09
Posts: 198  

Re: Sources List all Non-Free ?

As a "10 years old hardware" user, I can see the problem.  Performance is dire.  I would like to get hold of the last AMD core APU without the PSP, that will do for me.  Thus far I just haven't been able to get hold of all the bits to build a new box cheaply enough (2nd hand preferred).

The only real hope is in other architectures than x86, however ARM also tends to have the proprietary firmware problem in the implementation (e.g. Raspberry Pi) and you will still never get away from proprietary firmware in GPU's and other devices.

If you mean Raptor's "Talos II" POWER9 based systems?  I have to admit, they look good, however there is no powerpc64 arch port for my OS of choice (OpenBSD) and they are very expensive and targeted mainly at servers.  As I understand it, a desktop user wanting to run the X server, would be restricted to the vesa driver?

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#31 2018-12-06 18:59:42

kuleszdl
Member
Registered: 2018-11-03
Posts: 20  

Re: Sources List all Non-Free ?

Well, the Raspberry Pi is a bad example, but sunxi (Allwinner) and rockchip are much better ones, and in the meantime the GPU support is also getting better. Apart from that, the KGPE-D16 is one of the currently best options if you want to go for a cheap, powerful but also power-hungry x86 machine.

And no, I meant Raptor's "blackbird" POWER system that was for sale in Black Friday. It's like the TALOS 2 (lite), but in micro-ATX format with just two RAM slots and just one CPU socket, but apart from that still a real POWER machine. It's really a small board and not only targeted at servers.

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