[Freedombox-discuss] Intel Compute Stick

Walter van Holst walter.van.holst at xs4all.nl
Wed Jan 14 13:07:56 UTC 2015

On 2015-01-14 13:17, Jonas Smedegaard wrote:

>> What is the take of the Freedom Box project on the boundary problem in
>> open hardware? Especially the lower boundary? At what lower level
>> would such a requirement stop being applied?
> Interesting question.  Seems you are knowledgeable in that area (which 
> I
> am not) - what is your own opinion?

My take on it is rather pragmatic: this project aims to enhance digital 
freedom for the masses, if my understanding is correct. Reaching the 
masses implies that you cannot restrict yourself to obscure pieces of 
hardware, but at least temporarily must include hardware that is widely 
available if not already lying around in at least geeky households. 
Reaching the masses means that you have to go where they start to be.

So it becomes more a question: how do we balance the importance of 
openness at the hardware level with the need to gain critical mass in 
adoption, now and in the foreseeable future. That means developing a few 
rules of thumb in the full knowledge that they have to be revised.

For example:

"We will not actively target platforms that require binary-only firmware 
blobs (which is a fairly objective lower boundary threshold), but we 
take exceptions to this rule for platforms that a) are widely available 
and b) have a clear and convincing roadmap for reducing if not 
eliminating those blobs or are otherwise likely to become more open in 
the foreseeable future."

BTW, the Raspberry Pi would meet this threshold. The Banana Pi less so 
(unless you count the likelihood of strongarming them through their 
GPL-violations to be more open as meeting the requirements), but the 
UDOO and the Parallella probably would.

"not actively targeting" meaning that contributions will be accepted, 
but by default will be treated as deprecated platforms.

The above should be read as me thinking out loud on how you could define 
a lower boundary for hardware openness in light of the goals of the 
Freedom Box project. Also, my views on both the GPL and Free Software 
advocacy are sometimes considered as heresy. Caveat emptor.



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