Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

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Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

Richard Stallman
Previous models of the XO have needed nonfree firmware programs which
were not buried inside peripherals, but rather were installed as part
of the operating system and had to be copied by it into the peripherals.
Because of this, when I used the original XO, I could not use its
network interface.

Will the XO-4 need any of these?  If not, the FSF might be able to
endorse it.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
USA
www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call

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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

James Cameron-2
G'day Richard,

There are to be two wireless devices available for selection by bulk
purchasers of XO-4.  One is the Marvell Libertas SD 8686 Network
Adapter (802.11g), and the other is SD 8787 (802.11n).

Yes, the XO-4 will need a nonfree firmware program copied by the
operating system into the wireless device.

The firmware program is in the file sd8686_v9.bin in Fedora package
linux-firmware, or libertas-sd8686-firmware, or
libertas-sd8787-firmware.  The 8686 firmware is also in the Debian
non-free package firmware-libertas.

It is also included within Open Firmware on the SPI FLASH chip inside
the laptop.  You can copy it from the SPI FLASH to the internal eMMC
storage at the firmware prompt:

ok copy rom:helper_sd.bin int:\boot\sd8686_helper.bin
ok copy rom:sd8686.bin int:\boot\sd8686.bin
ok copy rom:mv8787.bin int:\boot\mv8787.bin

These steps might be placed in the boot script of the operating system
in order to avoid nonfree infection of an operating system
distribution.

At this stage, there are no other devices built into the XO-4 that
require firmware download by the operating system before they can
function.

--
James Cameron
http://quozl.linux.org.au/
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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

Richard Stallman
    Yes, the XO-4 will need a nonfree firmware program copied by the
    operating system into the wireless device.

That is disappointing news.  It means we won't be able to endorse it.

      The 8686 firmware is also in the Debian
    non-free package firmware-libertas.

(What a perverse name!)

    These steps might be placed in the boot script of the operating system
    in order to avoid nonfree infection of an operating system
    distribution.

To make it ok, it would have to be buried inside the hardware such
that the user and the system don't touch it at all.  It is
possible to do that, but it might take some extra hardware.

Is it possible to make the circuit such that the internal wireless
device can easily be removed or permanently disabled without breaking
the rest of the machine?  If so, we could endorse machines modified in
this way.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
USA
www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call

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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

James Cameron-2
On Sat, Dec 01, 2012 at 02:31:18PM -0500, Richard Stallman wrote:

>     Yes, the XO-4 will need a nonfree firmware program copied by the
>     operating system into the wireless device.
>
> That is disappointing news.  It means we won't be able to endorse it.
>
>       The 8686 firmware is also in the Debian
>     non-free package firmware-libertas.
>
> (What a perverse name!)
>
>     These steps might be placed in the boot script of the operating system
>     in order to avoid nonfree infection of an operating system
>     distribution.
>
> To make it ok, it would have to be buried inside the hardware such
> that the user and the system don't touch it at all.  It is
> possible to do that, but it might take some extra hardware.
>
> Is it possible to make the circuit such that the internal wireless
> device can easily be removed or permanently disabled without breaking
> the rest of the machine?  If so, we could endorse machines modified in
> this way.

Yes, it is very easily removed, and this does not break the rest of
the machine.

(This was impossible on the XO-1, because it was soldered down.  We
began using a socket with the XO-1.5, XO-1.75, and XO-4.)

The internal wireless device is a daughter card in an SDIO socket,
with a single screw holding it down.

The laptop can be opened using our disassembly instructions [1], to
the point of removing the back cover, then:

- locate the daughter card using the annotated photograph [2],

- unplug the two antenna cables from the card,

- remove the screw on the right-hand side of the card; it may spring
  up by about 10 to 20 degrees,

- with light finger pressure lift the card up in the socket, until
  about 30 degrees elevation, then pull the card away from the socket,

- secure the two antenna cables so that they won't short against the
  motherboard; there are plastic mainframe cable guides that can help
  with this, along with wire ties or adhesives,

- store the card in an antistatic bag.

The laptop will boot without the card present.

[1]  http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Disassembly
[2]  http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:XO1.75_B1_mobo_annotated_bot.png

--
James Cameron
http://quozl.linux.org.au/
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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

Richard Stallman
In that case, this machine without that card might be an option
for people who want laptops they can use in freedom.
They would need to get an external USB network device.

If someone sells them without the card (NOT with the card separately
packaged), under another name, and if the cards are not easy to obtain,
that could be a product we could endorse.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
USA
www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call

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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

Martin Langhoff
Hi Richard!

On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM, Richard Stallman <[hidden email]> wrote:
> They would need to get an external USB network device.

Are there completely free USB network devices, from your PoV?

> If someone sells them without the card (NOT with the card separately
> packaged), under another name, and if the cards are not easy to obtain,
> that could be a product we could endorse.

I am curious, why "if the cards are not easy to obtain"? Non-free
peripherals, such as USB-WLAN devices, easy to obtain for this and
other computers, no...?

cheers,



m
--
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 [hidden email] -- Software Architect - OLPC
 - ask interesting questions
 - don't get distracted with shiny stuff  - working code first
 - http://wiki.laptop.org/go/User:Martinlanghoff
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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

Richard Stallman
    > They would need to get an external USB network device.

    Are there completely free USB network devices, from your PoV?

The question is whether the device requires installation of
nonfree software.  Several years ago, when I used an XO,
I used a USB WiFi device which didn't require any.

I have not checked recently whether they are still made.

A "free USB network device" would mean something else -- a device
whose plans, including any preinstalled firmware, are released under a
free license.

We don't need to insist on that.  (I want to write an article about
the free hardware issue, but I don't have time to explain now.)  All
we need is a network device that can be used without installed nonfree
software.

    I am curious, why "if the cards are not easy to obtain"?

If they were easy to obtain, the machine without one would
specifically invite people get that card in order to make it complete.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
USA
www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call

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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

John Gilmore
In reply to this post by Richard Stallman
> In that case, this machine without that card might be an option
> for people who want laptops they can use in freedom.
> They would need to get an external USB network device.

Yes, or they could even get a different SDIO network device, if they
can find one that's free and that has a compatible antenna connector.

> If someone sells them without the card (NOT with the card separately
> packaged), under another name, and if the cards are not easy to obtain,
> that could be a product we could endorse.

I don't think anybody plans to sell XO-4's anyway.  They're for
whole countries to buy in huge orders.  (I'm way out of the loop
on stuff like that -- maybe things have changed.)

If you personally happen to want one for development, you could get
one through the OLPC developers program.  But there probably won't be
anybody selling them in stores, or over the web.

FSF could advocate that countries should get them only with free
SDIO network cards, and some countries might even listen.  But to do
that effectively, FSF would have to find at least one free network
card that they could actually order and use; test it with the device
to make sure it integrates properly; etc.  I doubt that a country's
education department would buy thousands of XO-4s that depend for
their connectivity on dangling USB network sticks that kids are likely
to lose or break.

        John

PS: If you want to spend time on the freedom of OLPC products, first
get the FSF staff to enforce the GPL on OLPCs.  Major OLPC customer
countries are still providing hundreds of thousands of laptops full of
GPLv3 binary software to kids who can't examine, replace, or get the
matching source for that software.  These laptops are locked down with
"Secure Boot", with a remote disable switch (time-limited leases), and
also shipped with root access disabled, so the owner can't even do
simple software edits or upgrades.
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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

Richard Stallman
    PS: If you want to spend time on the freedom of OLPC products, first
    get the FSF staff to enforce the GPL on OLPCs.  Major OLPC customer
    countries are still providing hundreds of thousands of laptops full of
    GPLv3 binary software to kids who can't examine, replace, or get the
    matching source for that software.  These laptops are locked down with
    "Secure Boot", with a remote disable switch (time-limited leases), and
    also shipped with root access disabled, so the owner can't even do
    simple software edits or upgrades.

Please tell us specific evidence; then we will do what we can.
It may be hard to enforce copyrights in those countries,
but in order to try, we need clear-cut evidence.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
USA
www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call

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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

S. Daniel Francis
Hello Richard,

2012/12/5 Richard Stallman <[hidden email]>:
>     These laptops are locked down with
>     "Secure Boot", with a remote disable switch (time-limited leases), and
>     also shipped with root access disabled, so the owner can't even do
>     simple software edits or upgrades.
It's true. In Uruguay the laptops distributed by Plan Ceibal only
allow to boot signed builds without root access. The biggest part of
the software can be used and modified with freedom but not inside
those laptops.

> Please tell us specific evidence; then we will do what we can.
> It may be hard to enforce copyrights in those countries,
> but in order to try, we need clear-cut evidence.

The signed builds for Uruguay are distributed in this website:
http://ceibal.edu.uy/Articulos/Paginas/Flasheo%20de%20equipos%20Ceibal_.aspx

Some direct FTP links:

XO-1:
ftp://200.40.200.101/espacio_tecnico/imagenes/XO-1/
XO-1.5:
ftp://200.40.200.101/espacio_tecnico/imagenes/XO-1.5HS/
XO-1.75:
ftp://200.40.200.101/espacio_tecnico/imagenes/XO-1.75/

I don't know if there is another way to demonstrate it.

Best regards from Uruguay,
Daniel.
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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

Richard Stallman
    It's true. In Uruguay the laptops distributed by Plan Ceibal only
    allow to boot signed builds without root access. The biggest part of
    the software can be used and modified with freedom but not inside
    those laptops.

What I was told in Uruguay when I brought this up is that users
can get them unlocked if they ask.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
USA
www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call

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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

david@lang.hm
In reply to this post by S. Daniel Francis
On Thu, 6 Dec 2012, S. Daniel Francis wrote:

> Hello Richard,
>
> 2012/12/5 Richard Stallman <[hidden email]>:
>>     These laptops are locked down with
>>     "Secure Boot", with a remote disable switch (time-limited leases), and
>>     also shipped with root access disabled, so the owner can't even do
>>     simple software edits or upgrades.
> It's true. In Uruguay the laptops distributed by Plan Ceibal only
> allow to boot signed builds without root access. The biggest part of
> the software can be used and modified with freedom but not inside
> those laptops.

The question is who the owner is. Is the owner the national entity that paid for
them? or is it the child who it is given to?

If it's the child, they should be able to get it unlocked.

If it's the entity that paid for it, there's no good reason why anyone else
(including the person who is carrying it around) is required to have this
access.

It's very nice when the person carrying it has that access, but if they didn't
buy it, I don't afree that they have a right to change it.

David Lang
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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

S. Daniel Francis
Hi,

2012/12/6 David Lang <[hidden email]>:
> The question is who the owner is. Is the owner the national entity that paid
> for them? or is it the child who it is given to?
>
> If it's the child, they should be able to get it unlocked.
The agreement says the computer is owned by the child when it finishes
the courses.

> It's very nice when the person carrying it has that access, but if they
> didn't buy it, I don't afree that they have a right to change it.

Where I can remember, the main restriction in the agreement is that
the laptop can be opened (to fix a problem internally) only by the
authorized centres. If the user opens the laptop and crashes it, the
authorized centres don't fix it.

About Richard's message:

Users can't get them unlocked where I know and the (volunteer)
development community couldn't obtain development keys, but I'm not
totally sure about that. My main information source is the
olpc-uruguay mailing list and I can't affirm something like that
without a stronger evidence. John might have them...
The restriction never affected the _users_ and now it isn't affecting
the developers because there are documented some hacks to reset the
root password and disable the security.

Cheers,
Daniel Francis.
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Re: Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

Richard Stallman
    Users can't get them unlocked where I know and the (volunteer)
    development community couldn't obtain development keys, but I'm not
    totally sure about that. My main information source is the
    olpc-uruguay mailing list and I can't affirm something like that
    without a stronger evidence. John might have them...

When I was in Uruguay and investigated this question, I concluded
that the users could get their machines unlocked but that most of them
were not asking the right people.

If there is clear evidence of GPL violation -- such as, "They said to
ask XYZ, we asked XYZ, and here's the response we got" -- the FSF
could take action.  Vague reports of GPL violations are as unhelpful
as vague bug reports as far as fixing things is concerned.

--
Dr Richard Stallman
President, Free Software Foundation
51 Franklin St
Boston MA 02110
USA
www.fsf.org  www.gnu.org
Skype: No way! That's nonfree (freedom-denying) software.
  Use Ekiga or an ordinary phone call

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