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Intel — Only "Open" For Business 213

Posted by kdawson
from the call-to-action dept.
Michael Knudsen writes, "Intel still refuses to work with open source projects such that they can provide their users with proper support for Intel's hardware products. As he has done before, Theo de Raadt once again asks users to take action by contacting Intel, telling them what they think of their current policy of not releasing hardware documentation and granting open source projects the right to distribute hardware firmware with their products. Failing to do so only harms users in the way that they risk having unsupported or malfunctioning hardware in their operating system of choice." Read more below.


It's really important that people understand that Intel is only trying to cooperate just enough to make people believe that they're open and doing the right thing. Don't fool yourselves: They are not.

What we need all users of open source software to do is contact Intel and let them know what you think of their current behaviour. If you run a big department and chose another vendor's products over Intel's because it doesn't work in your operating system, let them know, along with how many units they could have sold you. If you are an end user who has had problems when using Intel hardware because of poor support, let them know.

Let them know that their current lack of support will only harm them in the long run because you will be avoiding their products. Let them know that you want your hardware to work out of the box when you have installed your operating system of choice, and how Intel is preventing this with their lack of support.

Intel is not doing you a favor by requiring you to go to a website and download firmware for your hardware. You paid for the hardware, and Intel is thanking you by making it difficult for you to use it. Let Intel know what you think of this.
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Intel — Only "Open" For Business

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  • by macadamia_harold (947445) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:07AM (#16263773) Homepage
    Failing to do so only harms users in the way that they risk having unsupported or malfunctioning hardware in their operating system of choice.

    So we get unsupported or malfunctioning hardware with our operating system of choice, or we get supported and functioning hardware with a malfunctioning operating system. cool.
    • by hey! (33014)
      So we get unsupported or malfunctioning hardware with our operating system of choice, or we get supported and functioning hardware with a malfunctioning operating system. cool.

      Which only proves, as a friend of mine once said in the bad old 1980s, that "computers would be great if it weren't for hardware."

      If it were not for hardware I suppose that instead of posting to Slashdot we'd all be sitting around in togas doing ruler and compass constructions and arguing about the nature of the ideal state. And bitc
  • Yes, but: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kripkenstein (913150) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:23AM (#16263843) Homepage
    I couldn't agree more with the goal here, but the approach seems a bit unproductive. I refer to the parts like this:

    James is a big fat liar

    (It's in TFA, believe it or not.)

    This is no way to get the other side to play nicely with you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by udippel (562132)
      If you need to keep IP closed source (for example some whiz-bang algorithm), document the hardware sufficiently that the community can provide their own.


      James Ketrenos, Intel Open Source Technology Center

      Agreed, I wouldn't call him a big fat liar as long as I haven't given him the chance to respond and do something about the situation.
      I hope and guess this was done.
      James ?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jketreno (1008109)
        Well, if by 'giving him the chance to respond' you mean posting the original article to the net where he states what he stated, then yes.

        If, however, you mean that he engaged in a conversation with me where we discussed anything related to those slides (or anything else in the last year), then no.

        Oh well. At least my name will show up more on Google now :)

        James
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pimpimpim (811140)
      well, theo deraadt seemed clearly pissed indeed, but was also smart enough to realise that, and for a correct way to contact intel, he suggests the careful post written by another person that was done to TI [theaimsgroup.com] as an example how to write to Intel.
      • Re:Yes, but: (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GauteL (29207) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:59AM (#16265541)
        "well, theo deraadt seemed clearly pissed indeed, but was also smart enough to realise that, and for a correct way to contact intel, he suggests the careful post written by another person that was done to TI as an example how to write to Intel." .. and strangely enough stupid enough not to realise that everything he publishes on the Internet can have consequences. If Intel-executives have read this story (and it may have been presented to them by one of their employees) then no amount of polite letter from De Raadt is going to help, because the Intel people would have already made up their minds about De Raadt.

        His writing was unhelpful, unproductive, unprofessional immature, and downright slanderous.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kv9 (697238)

          His writing was unhelpful, unproductive, unprofessional immature, and downright slanderous.

          yet, his style always produces results, while perhaps offending some prudes. can you really blame him for that? i know i can't. RMS usually is very polite when crusading, and still people talk shit. i'm glad FOSS fellows like these are around, which just do their thing, and don't pay attention to the naysayers. i wish him the best of luck in this endeavour.

        • by JamesD_UK (721413)
          His writing was unhelpful, unproductive, unprofessional immature, and downright slanderous.

          I think you mean libelious.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by evilviper (135110)
          His writing was unhelpful, unproductive, unprofessional immature, and downright slanderous.

          It's only slanderous* if it's not true.

          *(libel actually)

    • This is no way to get the other side to play nicely with you.

      I think part of the problem is that "compromise" isn't in Theo's mental dictionary. The whole point of Mr. Ketrenos is that compromise is possible, a useful message for many hardware suppliers. Theo, on the other hand, seems to read "compromise" and think "unconditional surrender", and then he gets to feeling all betrayed when the other party goes and does what they said they would.

      It's ether that or Theo is a refugee from some parallel

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)
        "Compromise" with entities of great wealth and power generally means capitulation.

        When such entities sense weakness, they will ignore the other party or go in for the kill.

        The only way for consumers to deal with a corporation of great wealth and power like Intel is to let them know you are willing to stop using their products, and further, to organize a boycott against them. If they have any inkling that you are serious, then there may be compromise.

        It wasn't always that way, but that's how it is now.
        • "Compromise" with entities of great wealth and power generally means capitulation.

          Capitulation? I'm not sure the dominance-or-submission works very well in this context. I mean if have frame this as total war, then Intel started out victorious. Moreover, the only thing they need do to remain victorious is ignore the free software/open source movement.

          See, Intel (so far as I can tell, feel free to correct me) are not asking for any concessions from the community. What they are doing is making concessio

      • by ari_j (90255) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @08:01AM (#16264919)
        It's ether that or Theo is a refugee from some parallel universe Bizzaro World, where "up yours, scumbags!" is a polite way to open a formal dialogue and "good morning, gentlemen" is a killing insult. One of the two, certainly.
        Well, he is Canadian.
        • by Nimrangul (599578)
          Well, he's landed Canadian, he's actually South American by birth, Afrikaaner or whatever you'd prefer to call the South Africans of Dutch decent.
    • by Skapare (16644)

      Having never seen James Ketrenos, not even in pictures, I have no idea if he is fat or not. Maybe he's skinny and Theo is just trying to insult him. But if he says something that is false, and he knows it is false, then at least the liar part is true. Of course we may never know what he really knows. He could just be mistaken and skinny.

  • Be professional! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HRbnjR (12398) <chris@hubick.com> on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:27AM (#16263861) Homepage
    I tried to keep it short and to the point, my email to them read:

    Subject: Linux Wireless Firmware Distribution

    I was very happy to hear that Intel is working with the community to
    ensure that G965 graphics will work out of the box under Linux.

    I am very sad to hear that Intel isn't doing the same for their wireless
    products WRT freely distributable firmware.

    I am a developer in the Computing Services department at a 30 thousand
    plus student university. Community enabled Linux support is a huge
    factor in the purchasing decisions of our department.
    • by SnowZero (92219)
      Well written. You also explain what the heck the article was referring to, because it isn't clear in the summary. I had mod points a few hours ago, but alas they are no more. May you be modded above the junk and the trolls.
    • by arivanov (12034) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @05:36AM (#16264443) Homepage
      There is a reason for that.

      2D (and 3D) algorithms are commodity, they are well known (most are published 20+ years ago) and large part of the card is designed towards a rather old, but still valid common standard (VESA). In addition to that there is no regulatory regime to deal with it. Having "super duper secrets" in a low-to-mid sector video parts makes no sense whatsoever.

      Wireless chipsets operate with a mix of commodity and private algorithms, there is no common spec regarding the way the platform sees them and there standards specify only the external side and nothing on the OS side. In addition to that there is list of Frequency Nazies to deal in every country. All of them insist that any power, frequency and tuning parameters are private and inaccessible to Joe Average Luser. In a modern chipset these are done in firmware and having them secret and limited makes all the sense in the world to a manufacturer. They have to distribute it under strict conditions which limit its possible uses and forbid tampering. If they do not they will lose their license. This forces the license terms on Intel, Atheros, etc. They have no choice on the matter and writing billions of letters to them will be pointless. There will be no change of mind and the firmware will always be under a license that is OSS incompatible. The right addressee for the mail is FCC (and its analogues). It is their business to enforce frequency bands and they are taking the easy way out by passing this responsibility to the manufacturers. If we really want wireless OSS firmware (I doubt that) the enforcement method of the current FCC regime must change and FCC must allow the manufacturers to release such firmware.

      Until then, no point to bother and Theo should vent some steam elsewhere. Plenty of new crypto processors around without support in OpenBSD (or elsewhere).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by HSpirit (519997)

        If we really want wireless OSS firmware (I doubt that) the enforcement method of the current FCC regime must change and FCC must allow the manufacturers to release such firmware.

        You really need to read what Theo and others are asking, rather than making assumptions. If you did you would realise there are two things OpenBSD asks of Intel, and neither of them relate to your conclusions:

        1. Documentation for their hardware so that drivers can be written for it without reverse engineering.
        2. A licence for the fir
      • "There is a reason for that."

        So what?

        There is a reason for me too to choose give my money to company A or company B. There's nothing wrong with letting them now.

        "They have no choice on the matter and writing billions of letters to them will be pointless."

        While I happily accept your reasons, I warmly prefer seeing those billions of letters sent first, and see if there were really nothing to be done after that.
      • by Skapare (16644)

        So tell me, how does the firmware know which country it is in if the OS doesn't tell it? Or does the hardware have some secret way of knowing? How is it going to get the frequencies correct, otherwise?

        I don't know if there are any other wireless vendors that make things open source. If there are, or come to be, they will be the ones to get more business. And aside from that, if any OS is able to change the frequency of the device, then it will be reverse engineered, eventually. So unless the hardware has t

  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:27AM (#16263863)
    It should be noted that Intel manufactures the only technologically-current graphics processor which can claim to have open source drivers, and then Intel series of gigabit ethernet NICs is by far the best choice for use with Linux. Intel's wireless chips, the subject of the article, are not completely open but are rather more open than some of the competition.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      Intel is doing this for a good reason I am afraid.
      They believe, or their lawyers believe, or the FCC has told them that they can not release the full programing specs to those adapters.
      Those wireless adaptors use soft radios. You can change the frequency, transmission power, and goodness knows what else by just changing a register.
      Intel runs a huge risk of law suits, products loosing certifications, and possible criminal actions if they release those drivers.
      Will Theo indemnify Intel for all damages and cri
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by repvik (96666)
        The FCC requires unlicensed devices to be not easily modifiable to operate out of band. The ability to go in and change a const or DEFINE MAXPOWER from 0xFE to 0xFF may be considered easily modifiable by the FCC.

        That shouldn't matter. One can still reverse-engineer the firmware and figure it out. This is like banning hammers because they can be used to break into stores. The responsibility should not be on the hardware/software side, but on the user side. I can still choose the wrong country when installing
      • "Those wireless adaptors use soft radios"

        So what? That's Intel's problem, not mine.

        "The ability to go in and change a const or DEFINE MAXPOWER from 0xFE to 0xFF may be considered easily modifiable by the FCC."

        Unless, of course, the max emit power from the card were 0xFE, weren't it? So they want to be el-cheapo by going software and *then* they have the guts to say that if they don't release their specs is because FCC evil regulations, don't they?

        *I* am the consumer, and it's my power to choose going with
        • by LWATCDR (28044)
          "Are you implying that other vendors are not subjected to the same FCC regulations than Intel, so they manage to accomplish what Intel is unable to do?"
          No some manufactures don't use soft radios. That is why I spec the Orinoco cards for my open source projects. They have complete open source drivers available.
          There also seems to be some problem with BDS licences requirements and Intel. I would love to know exactly what that is but Theo isn't very forthcoming.

      • by jelle (14827)
        "The ability to go in and change a const or DEFINE MAXPOWER from 0xFE to 0xFF may be considered easily modifiable by the FCC."

        If that's the reason why they don't release source, that is a bogus argument, because it's equally easy to open a hex-editor and replace bytw xxxx from 0xFE to 0xFF. They're essentially using security by obscurity, and if that is sufficient to keep the FCC off their back, they could also use a '#define REGISTER_F654FFD3 0xFE' and be equally safe.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)
          Okay well not it isn't
          Which register is the one that you have to modify?

          Think if it as the difference between have a knob you have to turn and having to change a part.
          It is possible to modify just about any transmiter. It is the easy part that counts.
  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by t0qer (230538) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:30AM (#16263879) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure how to respond to this one without getting downmodded into the pits of hell, but here goes...

    This article was very scant on what exactly intel isn't supporting. All it says is some blurb about requiring folks to download firmware before they can use their OS of choice on intel hardware.

    WHAT HARDWARE ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

    CPU? Chipset? NIC? Router? Switches? What.. What the hell are you complaining about? Bios updates for Motherboards?

    I hate to bitch, but when you get some pretty good in depth stories rejected for lame hoopla like this, you get mad.

    --toq
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Nikademus (631739) *
      You should read deeper. Theo was focused here in firmwares for wireless chipsets. There are probably other firmwares needed (as for RAID cards)
    • by kv9 (697238)
      who cares? i think you've pretty much answered your own question.
  • Could someone with good writing skills come up with a template for said email? Thanks.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01, 2006 @03:03AM (#16264009)
      Dear Intel,

      I am humble Nigerian prince with a great wealth of BSD users in a locked-out community...

      Aw, shucks.
    • by joe 155 (937621)
      don't use a template, it'd make it look like it's just a bot doing it, it's better to have a slightly worse e-mail which at least looks personal than just a generic one
  • by Jekler (626699) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:33AM (#16263889)
    Intel's behavior won't affect the market one way or another. As a whole, the market is barreling towards an open source model. If Intel opens up, that's great. If they don't, it won't matter because someone else will enter the market that's willing to do so. The market will follow the demand, with or without Intel.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nutria (679911)
      As a whole, the market is barreling towards an open source model.

      What hard, current evidence do you have that the market is barreling towards open source?

      I see it meekly traipsing along, while MSFT earned $1400 every second of every day of fiscal year 2006, and is on pace to earn $1500 every second of every day of fiscal year 2007.

    • by canuck57 (662392)

      Intel's behavior won't affect the market one way or another.

      Coincidentally, I am shopping for a PC that will run open source software from day one. I was pondering is it to be a core duo or a X2?

      I think Intel can scratch me as a future customer. I am not going to email, I am going to quietly just buy the AMD system in the next few days as I figure market share will have the biggest impact.

      Take another brand I will not buy, Broadcom. Their reference design uses Linux for wireless, they even license it

      • "I think Intel can scratch me as a future customer. I am not going to email, I am going to quietly just buy the AMD system in the next few days as I figure market share will have the biggest impact."

        I'd bet you'd have the best impact by doing them both: buying a different vendor *and* telling the ones not chosen why you didn't buy for them. They will know that they're loosing market share and they will have hard facts about why they are loosing it so they can properly react.

        It is not as if you were making
  • by jorghis (1000092) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:34AM (#16263895)
    I dont totally understand whats going on here. What does intel stand to gain from refusing to publish hardware documentation? The article seems to imply that they are doing something shady and sneaky so that they can make more money but I dont see how this is to their advantage in any way. How do they stand to gain by having people writing software without proper documentation? I would think this would hurt them if anything. Can someone please enlighten me? Although I am ill informed on this issue, calling someone you are trying to influence a "big fat liar" and publishing anothers personal email so that they can be spammed hardly seems like a good idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fulkkari (603331)

      If the hardware turns out to be extremely buggy, then it might be Intel's advantage not to publish any documentation. Their drivers and firmware code might be full of software based workarounds for hardware flaws that the PR-department would not want the public to see. If this was the case, publishing these to the open source community would make a hole in Intel's credibility as a hardware manufacturer, and possible create monetary losses in selling new products.

      Note that I'm not saying that this is the

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by portmapper (991533)
        > If the hardware turns out to be extremely buggy, then it might be Intel's advantage not to publish any documentation.

        This was suspected as the reason why Sun did not release hardware docs for UltraSPARC III. Only very recently did
        OpenBSD have working device drivers for UltraSPARC III.
      • by evilviper (135110)
        Their drivers and firmware code might be full of software based workarounds for hardware flaws that the PR-department would not want the public to see.

        Workarounds would almost certainly be exclusively in the firmware, and NOBODY is asking for the source code of the firmware.

        Besides, Intel's notorious CPU bugs haven't made a dent, so why would bugs in their network cards matter more?

        It does seem likely, however, they are trying to hide something.
    • One more possibility I've read is that they might not have the documentation together in one neat file such that an outside developer can use it.
    • by Tjebbe (36955)
      I think this is something that confuses people like Theo too.

      Why do they refuse to publish the exact specs? Their competitors can (and will) reverse-engineer them. Any federal guideline should (and could) be enforced in the hardware itself.

      Somewhere in recent history (probably somewhere right before the "unix wars") something went wrong; it was somehow seen to be a good thing not to disclose how your stuff is actually built, even though you get no advantage from that. Even though you get a disadvantage from
  • ...logo once had the text Intel Inside.

    You'd have to be an insider to get the documentation.

  • not our enemy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by juventasone (517959) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:40AM (#16263917)

    If you compare Intel to other motherboard, chipset, or processor manufacturers, you'll find they arguably have better documentation and support for end-user and IT people than any of their competitors. They also are one of the only manufacturers I've seen to use open-source projects like FreeDOS and ISOLINUX. In their server lineup they support Linux as much as anyone.

    Since I'm not a developer I can't speak from a developer's perspective, but there seems to be a liking in this community to paint Intel with a brush of "evil tight-fisted corporation" when they're actually one of the few who act like they care.

    • by 0racle (667029)
      Well, unless you're trying to make a completley open OS. In which case 'better' documentation and support doesn't cut it when parts that are required to make hardware work are closed and are only accessable via a NDA if at all.

      Theo gets irritated because companies claiming to support open source do not when asked to.
  • My Suggestion (Score:3, Informative)

    by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@gmSTRAWail.com minus berry> on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:52AM (#16263963) Homepage Journal
    While I actually think TFA is virtually useless, I understand that people want better wireless support for their various open source OS's. Intel's drivers for this are really quite open when compared to most others, but if you want drivers that are more open than Intel's, choose ones with the RT2400, RT2500, RT2570, and RT61 chipsets by RaLink. The drivers were open-sourced last year and have progressed quite well. Find more info at http://rt2x00.serialmonkey.com/wiki/index.php/Main _Page [serialmonkey.com] and http://sourceforge.net/projects/rt2400 [sourceforge.net].
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sirambrose (919153)

      I've bought a rt2500 and the drivers are not really good. The code is messy enough that the kernel developers won't accept the driver and the driver is missing features such as WPA. They are rewriting it, but the new version will not be accepted into the kernel until the devicescape framework is. I still can't get WPA to work with the beta driver.

      I'm not saying that people shouldn't buy the card. I bought the card because there are no better option. It is one of the few that will be supported out o

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Daengbo (523424)
        I'm not claiming anything is perfect here, just that people who care about open drivers (what the article is about) should choose this card if they can, because it is completely open, with no binary firmware. If the community works on this one well enough, it will have all those "missing pieces" soon enough. Incidentally, WEP, WPA and WPA2 should be handled by the 2x00 Beta4, due out "real soon now."
  • http://intellinuxgraphics.org/ [intellinuxgraphics.org]

    http://ipw2100.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    but obviously not enough for *BSD

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by portmapper (991533)
      What OpenBSD asks for is hardware documentation, not source code.

      They also ask for the right to distribute firmware under an acceptable license, but Intel refuses. Ironically your link
      above describe exactly the Intel attitude: http://ipw2100.sourceforge.net/firmware.php [sourceforge.net]

      Upon selecting a link above you will be taken to the firmware license agreement. Agreeing to the terms
      presented on that page will direct your browser to the firmware download.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sirambrose (919153)

        Intel does distribute the firmware for the newer ipw3945 driver under a sane license [bughost.org]. Unfortunately, nobody distributes that since it requires a binary daemon to function. One has to wonder why Intel has not relicensed the other firmware files. They have acknowledged that the ipw2100/2200 license is too complicated and doesn't meet the needs of distributors, but they don't want to fix that problem. It would seem that Intel does not want their drivers supported out of the box on open source operating sys

  • by Karellen (104380) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @04:29AM (#16264225) Homepage
  • Upon the launch of the pentium D, some intel spokesperson was talking about how that chip somehow encorporated hardware based infrastructure for DRM.

    Microsoft's requirements for vista incorporate all sorts of DRM support requirements and requirements for hollywood approval of components.

    The latest intel 64 bit lines are supposed to work with microsoft's software to prevent use of debuggers and other program modifications (such "malware" as the windvd patch to allow DVD-A ripping) through encorporation of "n
  • From: Cal Paterson To: majid.awad@intel.com, peter.engelbrecht@intel.com Date: Oct 1, 2006 1:06 PM Subject: Intel Firmware for the Wireless chips As an OpenBSD user and "Intel Wireless PRO" owner, I would like you to release your firmware for the "Intel Wireless PRO" chipset. I have an IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad that uses this chipset, and I am unable to use it without the binary blob firmware you provide. You often say at conferences that you are committed to Open Source/Free Software, and that you release so
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cal Paterson (881180)
      Shite. Forgot about html ;)

      From: Cal Paterson
      To: majid.awad@intel.com, peter.engelbrecht@intel.com
      Date: Oct 1, 2006 1:06 PM
      Subject: Intel Firmware for the Wireless chips

      As an OpenBSD user and "Intel Wireless PRO" owner, I would like you to
      release your firmware for the "Intel Wireless PRO" chipset. I have an
      IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad that uses this chipset, and I am unable to use it
      without the binary blob firmware you provide.

      You often say at conferences that you are committed to Open
      Source/Free So
      • Hi, Cal:

        Not to say yours weren't a nice attempt, but I'm afraid the (not to be published) answer from Intel would be on the lines of "So you already bougth our hardware and your money is in our pocket? You can shout the hell out now, we won't give a damn".

        To be really effective your letter (and a thousand more on the same lines) should read: "I'm in the process to choose my new laptop (better if you were in the position to say "to choose the next 2000 laptops for my company" but, heck, nobody is perfect) b
        • Yes, I see your point. You're totally correct. I probably should have (at least) made the fact that I wouldn't be buying Intel again more direct.

          Well, hopefully, that's a framed letter for other people to use, and this will increase the level of mail that Majid and Peter recieve. Future use should probably pay-up lost Intel sales.
      • by Plunky (929104)
        However, this is a issue that is easily solved. Release the documentation for this chipset (or, even better, the original code).

        First, I will say. Thanks for writing a letter.. I would like to point out though, that from the PoV of a device driver writer, I would prefer the documentation than the original code. The specifications of hardware give lots more information that a different OS might need to know, rather than 'how the Windows driver works'

  • by vladimir_putin (1007955) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @07:28AM (#16264803)
    I work for some company developing wireless firmware for our ( completely unrelated ) product. Opensourcing the firmware or HW specs below it is not going to happen, ever, by any company. The reason is that wireless devices must comply with wireless standards. The firmware plays an important part in creating this compatibility. Opening the HW specs would mean that the original company would have to support some random hacker "optimizing" the algorithms in firmware to work better with his scenario forgetting other features that he does not think really matter, but are necessary for the wireless devices working toghether. HW specs are not designed to be easy to understand. They are designed to kick ass in performance or save 0.001mm2 from the silicon area. Usually the savings in silicon area come with the penalty of the interface being "interesting" to say it nicely. Also the HW versions change quite often and HW bugs are worked around in firmware. The amount of work to document all the bugs for open source firmware writers would be humongous. There are not really that many people working with the firmware. Gaining complete understanding of how our own firmware works takes years for for any novice entering the team. Nobody from our team wants to get into scenario where we must try to understand tens of different versions of the firmware and what are the implications of running each of them. The published interfaces need to be - quite stable across HW revisions. - Must not be able to compromize wireless standards compatibility Open source can work with drivers, but never with firmware. This is life. Deal with it.
    • by canuck57 (662392)

      You said:

      The reason is that wireless devices must comply with wireless standards. The firmware plays an important part in creating this compatibility.

      Theo said:

      We would also like Intel to GRANT us distribution rights for the binary firmwares of their 3 wireless chipsets.

      Theo is not asking to change the firmware, just the API to use it and the clear right to distribute it. So what am I missing with your statement?

      The hacking community already knows which chips are not FCC compliant (even with their labe

    • "Opening the HW specs would mean that the original company would have to support some random hacker "optimizing" the algorithms in firmware"

      Bullshit#1: de Raadt is only asking for a redistribution license that will allow the firmware, The Very Same Firmware Intel Already Distributes, within OpenBSD CD.
      Bullshit#2: I work dayin-dayout with vendors with support contracts. First thing they do is telling you that they only will support their shit on blessed operative system X version Y upgrade Z, with firmware
    • I know it's probably too much to ask of you, but read the fine article. He is asking for redistribution rights, not for the firmware to be opensource. In other words, he wants Intel to retain its copyright on the firmware, but wants to be able to distribute freely that firmware to users of open source operating system.

      Thus, your argument about how difficult it is to program firmwares or why they shouldn't be opened because they would allow hackers to play with the transmission frequencies is dead on arrival
  • or Dont buy Intel (Score:3, Informative)

    by zenst (558964) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @08:26AM (#16264999) Homepage Journal
    I will voice my opinion in the tried and tested way of consumer protesting. I will just not buy Intel for my OpenBSD box's.

        I will buy hardware that has an open support commitment and prove those vendors right in there move.
    • by canuck57 (662392)

      will just not buy Intel for my OpenBSD box's.

      Since all my boixes will eventually run OpenBSD either via VMWare or directly as the main OS, I will not buy Intel or any mobo with Broadcom on it.

  • by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @09:58AM (#16265533)
    See, this community bases everything off of a paradigm that everything ought to be free "as in libre". However, the current paradigm (which I admit is slowly shifting) is modeled around the though that information is worth money and power. Because there is secrecy surrounding the code that they use to guard their property, then they have control over how their property is used. They are able to make money off of it. This is their motive. This is how capitalism works.

    They see releasing that information as a threat to their MO. They think that if they start handing this stuff out for free their turning into a bunch of commies. And even though this community knows that isn't true, it doesn't help using ad homonym attacks against them by calling them 'big fat liars'. It looks childish and immature.

    As for emailing? I don't think they give hoot whether a few geeks boycott them because they don't get open source drivers, mostly because there will always be someone else who will buy their product without qualms. Only if someone like Dell dropped Intel for such reasons would they begin to notice. What would happen if Apple and HP dropped them too? Sure they would wake up. But you know why none of them will do that? Because, they operate under the same paradigm. And 99.99999999999% of their customer base doesn't care because (to them) it's irrelevant.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Because there is secrecy surrounding the code that they use to guard their property, then they have control over how their property is used. They are able to make money off of it. This is their motive. This is how capitalism works.

      No, capitalism works when 10% of people, realizing they can't get Intel hardware to work properly, buy from somebody else.

      Then, instead of losing the theoretical dollar value of their IP, they're losing real dollars in sales of the hardware.

      mostly because there will always be some

  • I work at UC Berkeley on ecological monitoring using wireless sensors. We have been collaborating with Intel Lab, Berkeley for the last 2 years and their wireless hardware, "motes", use an entirely open source OS/firmware: tinyOS. They made this a deliberate strategy, by collaborating with the university they get high quality fast developing firmware and they make the money on the hardware design. So far it has worked well for all of us. Intel is a big company. Not all of their divisions play badly.
  • I'd tell Intel that I didn't buy their hardware because there wasn't open source support for it, except that, in point of fact, I bought their hardware because there's open source support for it. Sure, it's a pain that Intel doesn't let distributions redistribute unmodified firmware, because it means that I needed a wired network connection to install Gentoo, but getting the ipw3945 to work was a matter of doing "emerge ipw3945" (there was more of a hassle getting the newer-than-mainline ieee80211 module bu
  • The worst thing about trying to deal with the open-source "movement" (as opposed to open-source users), is the tantrums coming from the people who fail to grasp is that their own choice to give code away does not create any moral imperative for anyone else to do likewise, nor does their wish to have documentation for a device create any obligation to the owner of that device to release said documentation.

    My own company is developing a PCI express board for video compression, which several prospective custom
  • There is a slight disconnect between Intel and the OSS world. I have had a VERY VERY VERY good experience with Intel's OSS employees. I figured out a way to make an IDS load balancer using Linux, Policy Routing, and EBTables. I used Intel GigE NICS and had an extremely positive experience. I ran into a few snags but Intel's OSS paid resource was a champ. I was provided a 'special' version of the drivers and then was able to get back into high gear. You can check my prior posts, I give Intel a LOT of f
  • If you arent a large enough customer, then you are just blowing hot air as they could really care less.

    Not falting them, they have to weigh the options of the time/mone spent to help you out, relative to the revenue gained. PR of being 'nice' doesnt always bring home the bacon.
    • by Nimrangul (599578)
      How much money does it cost to sed the BSD licence replacing BSD words with Intel words and then >> piping it into the new licence file, or just using vi if you want to. I can do it in under a minute so I am pretty sure it would take an hour at a business like Intel, yet, that's probably the minimum wage worker doing that and suddenly everyone can use the firmware however they like. So, it'd cost them nothing, what's this weighing you're talking about? There is no revenue gained or lost, since the

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