Reverse or Creation?

Paul Kocialkowski contact at paulk.fr
Fri Mar 14 19:14:34 UTC 2014


> The free software and open source software works because software is less
> prone to obsolescence than hardware which allows armies of dev to work in their
> precious spare time on promising projects for years - even decades before
> they begin to be relevant (at which point financing appears... ironically).
> 
> You just can't do that with hardware. You must spend 150% of your time
> to quickly win the race against obsolescence and huge proprietary industrial
> producers and quasi monopoly. It's just not feasible. Maybe if research
> centers decided (or were ruled to) open source, creative common, open
> science or free software the results of their public funded results, I
> could consider it.

I totally agree. As a software developer working on embedded devices
that become obsolete in a 6-month time frame (well, that's according to
the industry, people make their devices last longer), I find it really
depressing how the software we write for a particular device can become
nearly useless when the device becomes obsolete (even though it's good
to have it as a reference for other devices, but that's a
chicken-and-egg issue).

I suppose one of the biggest problems with hardware is the need of
producing a new device to implement a new feature. I don't see any easy
way to fix this. Even if we decided to stick with a device for several
years, knowing its functionalities are not going to evolve, we'd still
be stuck with software being more and more demanding (in accordance to
new devices' abilities). For instance, take the latest Android versions:
it's harder and harder to make them run on "old" Android devices such as
the Nexus S, not to mention the HTC Dream. That's not only the case with
Android: look at GNOME-Shell abandoning its EGL-less fallback (AFAIK the
fallback gnome-shell is too slow to be usable). However, some software
still exists (enlightenment), but adapting it and a whole GNU/Linux
system for mobile devices (i.e. SHR) is more work that porting Replicant
to a new version on a new device.

> My 2 cents
> 
> Sebastien
>  
> > > Than, let me ask - wouldn't it be better to design a NEW system
> > > from
> > > scratch instead of spending years on reverse-engineering of what
> > > manufacturers are selling?
> > 
> > The real problem here is that we won't be able to have community
> > chips
> > manufacturing in the near future. The best we can do is to gather
> > chips
> > from free software-friendly manufacturers and assemble devices that
> > way.
> > This is already done with e.g. the GTA04/neo900.
> > 
> > Devices with good design also exist (e.g. Allwinner tablets/single
> > board
> > computers) and are about as good as what you can get with the GTA04.
> > 
> > > Personally i chose not to spend time on reverse stuff. Concentrated
> > > all my power on research for new design.
> > 
> > From a developer point of view, starting a new platform from scratch
> > is
> > not necessarily *less* work, it's just different work. Reverse
> > engineering stuff is currently doable (on selected platforms) and
> > well,
> > if we're already going that way, it's because it's the easiest path
> > to
> > freedom currently.
> > 
> > --
> > Paul Kocialkowski, Replicant developer
> > 
> > Replicant is a fully free Android distribution
> > 
> > Website: http://www.replicant.us/
> > Redmine: http://redmine.replicant.us/
> > 
> > _______________________________________________
> > Replicant mailing list
> > Replicant at lists.osuosl.org
> > http://lists.osuosl.org/mailman/listinfo/replicant
> > 

-- 
Paul Kocialkowski, Replicant developer

Replicant is a fully free Android distribution

Website: http://www.replicant.us/
Redmine: http://redmine.replicant.us/
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