Nanonote degrees of freedom

Daniel Clark dclark at pobox.com
Sun Jan 24 09:29:01 EST 2010


On Sun, Jan 24, 2010 at 9:02 AM, Bas Wijnen <wijnen at debian.org> wrote:
> On Sun, Jan 24, 2010 at 08:54:12AM -0500, Daniel Clark wrote:
>> (a) Wifi; yeeloong uses rtl8187b which doesn't need binary blobs /
>> works under linux-libre
>
> Doesn't it need binary blobs at all, or don't they need to be sent by
> the software?  I'm not too familiar with wifi, but I thought all
> chipsets required firmware to run.  I don't suppose the "blob" is free
> software itself?

I do not know what unmodifiable by the user software is on the
hardware itself; looked at holistically, the entire VLSI design could
be considered a blob.

However I do know that no nonfree software / binary blobs are required
on the user's hard disk for the rtl8187b to work, and specifically
that the rtl8187b wifi continues to work when
http://linux-libre.fsfla.org is used.

The only case I know off of the top of my head where a blob is free
software is the firmare for the atheros ar9170 (sort of ath9k usb) -
http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drivers/ar9170.fw - I have verified
that this also works on the yeeloong under linux-libre.

If you (or anyone) want technical details on the rtl8187b hardware I
can attempt to locate them for you; on the software side I know that
the newer drivers are going into mainline linux as of 2.6.33 -
http://www.kroah.com/log/linux/staging-status-12-2009.html -
http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.linux.distributions.gnewsense.devel/1795
.

Cheers,
-- 
Daniel JB Clark | http://pobox.com/~dclark




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