Contributed by deanna on from the let-them-eat-binary-blobs dept.
Today he decided to step forward and make public his criticisms of Red Hat Software, speaking out against the OLPC agreement to build the laptops with millions of non-free wireless devices manufactured by Marvell. De Raadt quoted Jim Gettys of Red Hat/OLPC:
"Free and open software is a means to an end, rather than the sole end unto itself for OLPC."
A copy of mail he'd sent to Gray was posted to the OpenBSD misc mailing list (misc at openbsd.org), where the discussion continues. Feel free to join in.
To: Jonathan Gray cc: dcbw at redhat.com, jg at laptop.org, mtosatti at redhat.com cc: rms at gnu.org cc: deraadt Subject: Re: Marvell 88W8388 documentation Date: Wed, 04 Oct 2006 12:38:34 -0600 From: Theo de Raadt deraadt at cvs.openbsd.org > Please correct me if I am wrong but it seems that documentation > for Marvell's 88W8388's is not publically available without > signing an NDA? > > If this is the case why did a project that seems to pride > itself of openess agree to deal with such a company? > Drivers written under NDA tend to be full of magic numbers, > near impossible for others to properly maintain and > totally against the spirit of open projects. > > I really think you should push for Marvell to give out > documentation without them forcing NDAs onto people. > Failing that I'm sure there are other vendors > who would be willing to be more helpful. Jonathan showed me this mail he sent you about your NDA "cooperation" with Marvell for the wireless chip that you want to use for the OLPC project, so that Marvell will write you special hacks to do low-power mesh networking while the main cpu is powered off. This does not gaurantee Marvell is going to be open and release documentation for mesh networking while the main cpu is powered off. This does not gaurantee Marvell is going to be open and release documentation for their chips though. When large players like you make such private agreements with such secretive vendors, you work against our common goals of getting more open documentation for devices. It is only with open documentation that OS groups can increase device support, and later -- keep the device drivers reliable after the device is EOL'd by the vendor. I've heard claims that you (OLPC members, Red Hat employees) think this relationship with Marvell will eventually prompt/teach them to be more open in time. Do you not realize how much of a DELUSION the history of free/open operating systems shows that point of view to be? Very few chip vendors have ever opened up unless they were pushed, let alone Marvell (who I am led to believe also has NDA's with Red Hat employees for the Marvell Yukon/Yukon 2 gigabit ethernet chips -- again one of the few closed chips). It is clear that your choices are not about opening up Marvell, but simply commercially expedient and hurtful to our common cause. You came to Marvell with potential sales of millions of units, and then completely wimped out in demanding ideals that you say you share with the community. Now other companies like Intel, Broadcom, and TI can say to us "Why should we open up, Marvell did not have to". So I must say I am extremely dissapointed you have chosen to work against the very obvious goals of "open", and I hope that in time you are made to feel ashamed of the choice you have made. ------------------------------------------------------------ A strong statement was also issued by OpenBSD developer Bob Beck. "No, it's real simple. Red Hat (and a number of other linux distros) are morally bankrupt. By that I mean the sit under the linux banner touting the GPL, and yet this is not how they act. They act in a way that helps to ensure that GPL'ed software can not continue to be written. I am not a GPL fan, but I'll defend someone's ability to write such software agressively. I consider it the same thing as defending freedom of speech - it's defending your ability to buy something and use it in the way you see fit, as opposed to buy something and use it only where and when the manufacturer tells you you can. The only reason you see only OpenBSD doing this is because the mass market and media out there is too busy being a linux fanboys to notice and ask the questions they should. All the media is seeing is "we can use this cool new thing in linux" and they are missing the point of "you have just been sold out". That's not a diss of Linux in general, it's a diss of a number of short sigheted developers who support that, and a diss of the techincal media who ignores the fact that your freedoms go down the tank by making these compromises. The attitude that the end (hardware support) justifies the means (complete sacrifice of the principles the thing was written under in the first place) has to stop. The fact that Theo can end up being a professional shit-disturber and find these things so easily is a huge inditement of the community and the media reporting on it that we read. Allowing developers to sign NDA's with companies to add support to an OS that purports to be free is letting them have a Munich conference with your freedoms. You aren't invited - and they're carving you up while doing a Chamberlain and saying "look - device support in our time - they'll be much better behaved now." We all know how well that worked out, and this is no different." -Bob
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