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Shuttleworth Answers FSF Call for Free Software Drivers on Edge

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the believe-when-seen dept.

Ubuntu 112

WebMink writes "In an interview at OSCON, Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical spoke about the vision behind the Ubuntu Edge phone as a concept device to test features the mobile industry is too conservative to try. Notably, he agreed with the Free Software Foundation's demands that the device should carry no proprietary software and have Free drivers (transcript): '... we'll ship this with Android and Ubuntu, no plans to put proprietary applications on it. We haven't finalized the silicon selection so we're looking at the next generation silicon from all major vendors. I would like to ship it with all Free drivers.'" Although not a hard promise, it is a promising development.

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LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464165)

This way we do not have to pay anyone anything !!

Win !! Win !!

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464181)

When the article says "free", it means free as in "free speech", not in "free beer".

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464243)

Free: I.e., In The Public Domain. Let;'s not make things cloudy here.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (3, Informative)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about a year ago | (#44464269)

No, "free" in this context usually means copyrighted and protected under a license like the GPL (or something similar). The "free" that the FSF endorses is actually more restrictive than public domain, with the objective of forcing developers to share their improvements on the code.

And... (4, Interesting)

Pav (4298) | about a year ago | (#44464291)

...free from an NSA backdoor too I'd imagine. In the current climate that may be a real selling point... something people would go out of their way to order online etc...

Re:And... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#44464477)

As long as you trust the compiler [bell-labs.com] and all of the code that went through it.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464731)

That's just needless paranoia, to be honest.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464985)

If you have that sort of trust issues, it would be worth your time to write a compiler in assembly for the express purpose of bootstrapping a trustworthy and full featured compiler system like GCC or LLVM.

Re: And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465167)

> As long as you trust the compiler..
watch out, your double tinfoil hat is slipping

Re: And... (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44465353)

Exactly. If your paranoia reaches such levels, I suggest to unwind a bit by going backpacking and making some nice food in a pressure cooker.

Re: And... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#44465807)

Perhaps. Yet I'll note that all three immediate replies to GP were from black helecopter pilots who didn't take the time to log in. :-)

Re:And... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44466103)

While amusing and worth thinking about, it's unlikely to be a practical concern in this case. I'll one up you and say you have to trust your brain first. Fnord.

Re:And... (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about a year ago | (#44466493)

I don't dispute your point.

Re:And... (1)

Tridus (79566) | about a year ago | (#44464505)

Sure, right up until your calls/data hit your ISP.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464963)

Assuming that you can trust all that NSA (SELinux) code that's in Linux. Fun fact: RHEL is preferred Linux operating system of surveillance state! Look it up.

Re:And... (1)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | about a year ago | (#44465377)

Assuming that you can trust all that NSA (SELinux) code that's in Linux. Fun fact: RHEL is preferred Linux operating system of surveillance state! Look it up.

well, you can always review the code if you want/need to.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465583)

Assuming you have the expertise and resources to vet every single commit made to the source tree. The fact that the code could be audited doesn't mean that it is, and therefore is no protection against a well-funded state-sponsored attack to insert subtle weaknesses in the code that could be exploited by a sophisticated methodology known only to the organization that created the patches.

This idea was recently covered by Poul-Henning Kamp (FreeBSD dev) in his essay, "More Encryption Is Not the Solution"

Open source projects are built on trust, and these days they are barely conscious of national borders and largely unaffected by any real-world politics, be it trade wars or merely cultural differences. But that doesn't mean that real-world politics are not acutely aware of open source projects and the potential advantage they can give in the secret world of spycraft.

To an intelligence agency, a well-thought-out weakness can easily be worth a cover identity and five years of salary to a top-notch programmer. Anybody who puts in five good years on an open source project can get away with inserting a patch that "on further inspection might not be optimal."

The trust model of Linux is one of its greatest strengths allowing for an unprecedented global, collaborative effort, but it also is weak against a determined state actor who is intent on subverting its security.

Re:And... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44466111)

Or remove SELinux.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44467741)

Actually, given Red Hat's status as preferred Linux vendor of the NSA, I would submit that getting rid of all Red Hat kernel code would be the prudent thing to do.

Re:And... (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44469503)

Replace it with OpenBSD, if you are the tin foil hat type, and don't like the contributions the NSA has made to Red Hat. I doubt that Debian would have that same security

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464379)

(Swoosh)

Whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I've gotta be free
What else can I be but what I am

I want to live, not merely survive
And I won't give up this dream
Of life that keeps me alive
I gotta be me, I gotta be free
The dream that I see makes me what I am

That far-away prize, a world of success
Is waiting for me if I heed the call
I won't settle down, won't settle for less
As long as there's a chance that I can have it all

I'll go it alone, that's how it must be
I can't be right for somebody else
If I'm not right for me
I gotta be free, I've gotta be free
Daring to try, to do it or die
I've gotta be free

I'll go it alone, that's how it must be
I can't be right for somebody else
If I'm not right for me
I gotta be free, I just gotta be free
Daring to try, to do it or die
I gotta be free

Or as the black man says, GPL is just another lie perpetrated by the man to keep a brother down. It ain't no way free.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464457)

The objecting of the FSF isn't forcing developers to share improvements, the objective is promoting user freedom. If developers do not distribute software, they aren't required to share anything.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (2, Insightful)

dfghjk (711126) | about a year ago | (#44464673)

Only because they can't be. Don't confuse what a license doesn't do with with what it can't do.

RMS's motivation was always to get access to other people's work. It angered him that he was denied source to software that wasn't his but was free to use on a device he didn't pay for. The GPL IS about forcing others to "share", there are simply limits to its reach.

Now, it would seem that "user freedom" is somehow nicer that "forcing developers" but it is not. GPLv3 came about not because GPLv2 software isn't free but because RMS wanted to further leverage the license to restrict what hardware vendors do with their property. You can play games with the terms as you like, and FSF does, but it is what it is...further restrictions on freedom. What you can't do with GPL software is anything that RMS doesn't like.

If the GPL could also give RMS the right to take a bite out of your donut it would do that too and if you think RMS isn't that petty then you've forgotten his boycott of organizations that refuse his demand to ad hoc rename every linux product to honor GNU. Remember, RMS has never had to work for a salary. He is stuck in ivory-tower thinking and is on a crusade to deliver justice to those who'd take advantage of other people's collective work. He doesn't care about freedom so much as denying it to those who deny him. It's about his interests, not yours.

FSF is Animal Farm and RMS is the head pig. Sure, we are all equal but RMS is "more equal". Other open source licenses focus on what's really important and other groups put egos where they belong. The FSF is about the "freedom" agenda and is willing to sacrifice actual freedom to further it.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464741)

Out back with you!

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (4, Insightful)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about a year ago | (#44464907)

Again the tired old debate about "which is more free", GPL2 vs GPL3, GPL vs MIT etc. I'm amazed at how people keep falling for linguistic traps. "Freedom" isn't subject to gradation on a linear scale, necessarily marred by increased regulation nor evenly distributed. As a concept, it's as ill-defined as "love", so arguing about what license is "more free" doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you also fall for the cultural trap that "freedom" is the main moral goal in everything and a necessary attribute/buzzword for garnering support regardless of the issue at hand.

Having said that, I believe the GPL is better because it guarantees the possibility of forking.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#44465397)

Again the tired old debate about "which is more free",

It never gets tired. Oh and vi > emacs, FVWM > whatever you use, Picard > Kirk and Arch > Ubuntu. Any others? :)

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#44466269)

How does BSD not guarantee the possibility of forking?

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44466421)

Company forks BSD licensed software. Company makes changes to said software. Company distributes said software with a closed license. Users are unable to fork said software.

This isn't complicated.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

relive.mn (2464856) | about a year ago | (#44466479)

Because you may not have the code of a BSD license derived project?

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44467193)

Buy phone, phone comes with BSD-license derived operating system. Fork OS, can't run it because you don't have the device drivers.

I'm not going to argue about whether user's are entitled to customize the vendor's software, but the inability to load the original BSD base system due to a hardware signing key and no drivers or device documentation isn't particularly free.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

Raenex (947668) | about a year ago | (#44467397)

I'm amazed at how people keep falling for linguistic traps.

It's not a trap. It's a direct response to 1984-style propaganda.

unless you also fall for the cultural trap that "freedom" is the main moral goal in everything and a necessary attribute/buzzword for garnering support regardless of the issue at hand

Who chose the name "freedom" to describe being forced to release source code? Stallman did. What Stallman is advocating is more in line with consumer protection laws than freedom.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464951)

Can't believe this anti-GPL flamebait/troll has been modded up.

It's simple: If you don't like GPL (2 or 3 or whatever), don't use/modify/distribute the software, fuck off and write your own.

Those of us who think that GPL (2 and 3) is a guarantee of the freedoms we are interested in will use/modify/distribute GPL software.

Basically, you think the freedom to restrict others freedoms is essential. And that's fine. But don't try to pretend your view is more pro-freedom.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465119)

RMS's motivation is that the USERS (and their community) have control over their own technology; the point of the FSF freedom is promoting freedom for the USER; the point of USER freedom is that the USERS control their own computing which means the developers must not restrict the users by withholding source code (or hardware lockout keys) or restrict users to distribute the software. The balance of power is promoted as the USER who controls the software. The printer that he had was university property and so, the university users of the printer should have had the freedom to modify and share the source to their printer.

If you consider freedom to mean developers being able to restrict their users, then fine, don't be misrepresenting RMS's goal as being a crusade about himself, this shows a grave dishonesty about what he's actually promoting. Freedom, if it is just and equal, means that one party must inherently give up a certain right to respect another's freedom. RMS is promoting that the balance of power (freedom) should not belong to the developers and publishers of computer software but to the users of the software. RMS is promoting that developers should not restrict users of the right to control the software (run it, study it, modify it) and also, developers should not restrict communities to share unmodified or modified variants of their software.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465161)

What a fantastical make-believe fairy-land diatribe. You have to be an Evangelist right?

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465361)

Your (dfghjk) post history is nearly 100% anti free software on the first couple pages. Then I got into your anti-apple pages (but, pro-apple when it came to being against free software). Then, other random rants.

My first thought was that you were a paid shill, then going through your history, it seems more likely that you are just a troll. Been at it for a while too.

So, what the hell motivates you to pour acid on discussions?

Really, serious question. Please post an answer.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

andydread (758754) | about a year ago | (#44465463)

So in other words you are not for bsd or apache type licenses either because with those licenses allow you to take other peoples donut and effectively call it your donut. I guess you are just against all free software and open source. Since biting or taking other peoples donut is a no no in your book.
As far has him wanting people to call linux OS GNU/Linux that's not going to happen. however i think the proper name should actually be just simply "GNU" since that is the operating system and Linux is just the kernel.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (2)

preflex (1840068) | about a year ago | (#44465821)

GPLv3 came about not because GPLv2 software isn't free but because RMS wanted to further leverage the license to restrict what hardware vendors do with your property.

Fixed that for ya'.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44469549)

How is that even the case? TiVo makes a set top box where the flash is locked after the firmware is installed, but as per GPL2, TiVo publishes the sources - not that it's of any use to anybody since it can't be altered. But TiVo made this before selling it to the content provider: it's usually the content provider who includes this in their package. So you get the thing already with the flash locked. On a rare occasion that the content provider might want to upgrade something on the STB, they access your box, do it and then resume operations. Most people neither know nor care. Those who do probably got MythTV or something of that sort.

The reason TiVo did what it did is obvious. They've written a software, that captures the video inputs that they are getting, transcode them into something whose output goes to HDMI or an S-video port, and that's it. The content providers don't want it to send its output to, say, an MP4 file, which can then be uploaded on YouTube and splashed for the world to see, and so the only reason they agreed to let TiVo, or ReplayTV or anyone else in the same biz do it is so that TiVo prevents such an alteration of the hardware. Essentially, instead of a Flash, had TiVo put it on a masked ROM or even an OTP PROM, they'd have been fine, since the FSF engages in an exercise in sophistry by labeling it a 'circuit'.

Bottom line - FSF/RMS didn't bother to find out why TiVo was doing what it did, or didn't care. That's why they came up w/ the most business hostile version of the GPL to date, and described the anti hardware locking clause the 'anti-Tivoization' clause. Fine way to make yourself popular w/ a company. It's the reason not just companies, but even FOSS organizations, like the BSD ones, have abandoned GPLv3 versions of GNU tools and gone to alternatives, such as LLVM/Clang. Or, software that is released is sometimes dual-licensed i.e. under both the BSD licenses as well as GPL3. Things like Qt or ReactOS or osFree.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about a year ago | (#44466011)

Well, the nice thing is that if you don't want to use GPLed software, you don't have to.

Sounds like there are people on both sides of the equation who want to "access other people's work". The difference may be that the GPL facilitates that access in both directions.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44466125)

Yes, it's about forcing developers to share and share alike. How is RMS more equal? Is there a secret directive in the GPL that says RMS doesn't harve to share? Or perhaps that robocop can't arrest him?

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

relive.mn (2464856) | about a year ago | (#44466473)

It seems like you missed the whole point of GPL. The *software* should be free. If you can't use a GPL licensed piece of code in your non GPL project, it's because the owner of that piece of code knowingly decided exactly that when he/she chose GPL. You seem to think RMS forced anyone to use GPL for their software, so you can't use it to get back at you. He just made some software under GPL and as the rightful owner of his code according to existing laws, he decided to put such restrictions on it. If you don't like it then tough, maybe you have a problem with this whole copyright law? He is using copyleft to point out the pathetic consequences of having such laws in place. Instead you go and say how come I'm not free to use his code the way I want? So I'm not free and RMS is a hypocrite! Because he keeps talking about freedom and yet I'm not free to do what I want with his code! In RMS's utopia every program is under GPL so everybody can use any other software in his/her project. Anybody who chooses GPL for their software, takes another step in that direction, and as a reward for him/her, everybody else who have or will choose GPL for their software will reward him/her with giving permission to use their code. And if someone does not agree with this idea? No problem! You're just not invited in this private club. I don't get why people get bitter over this?

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

pieterh (196118) | about a year ago | (#44467123)

Your post is not accurate in any sense. The GPL exists to stop software written as an open collaboration being privatised and turned into close software. GPLv3 exists because people were cheating with GPLv2 software.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

Lennie (16154) | about a year ago | (#44468733)

It sounds more like a attack on RMS than on the license.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (2)

cyberthanasis12 (926691) | about a year ago | (#44468759)

You are obviously a troll.
I make GPL software. I want to help my neighbors, even you. You may not want to, or you may have other reasons for not making GPL software. More power to you. I respect your right, and I hope you respect my right to publish my software under the license I choose.
You can take my GPL software and use it freely and copy it to all the computers at your office. You can make changes to my software and you are not forced to publish the changes as long as you keep the changes within your office. I allow you to do so.
But if you want to publish my software with any changes you made, I want compensation for my hard work. I don't want your money, you may be a poor student. I want the changes you made, so that I can use them too. This is the license that I chose about my software, and I hope again that you respect it.
Otherwise, please don't use my software. Nobody is forcing you to do so, and certainly not me. There are more than plenty commercial options. Choose one, or make your own.
But the way I see it, is that you complain because you want to profit from my hard work without the compensation I asked for. To paraphrase your argument, you want to take a bite out of my donut, without paying.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44469659)

You miss a major problem w/ the GPL, which I've described a number of times. That it's a terrible shared-source license.

Here is a hypothetical. I wrote an HDL CAD software, which I sell to a number of my customers, who are in the business of designing ICs. I decide that I want to share my code downstream, so that the engineers of my customers know what I've done, and that my designers don't have to spend lots of time with them: maybe, my customer support people do. As a result of my sharing my work, my customers can fulfill freedoms 0, 1 and a part of 3 - modifying my software to suit their needs. Like say, adding a few libraries of their own that are specific to them, and not industry wide standardized. I have no problems w/ them doing any of that. So is the GPL the right license for my work?

I'd argue no. You see, I don't have a problem w/ my customers having my source code. I am more than happy to let them modify it, and chances are that if it's specific to their designs, I'm not likely to need them. I don't even have a problem w/ them installing my software over 5 workstations or 50 or 500. But there is one thing I do not want my customers to do. I do not want them to exercise the FSF freedom #2 - help their neighbor. My customers are not my sales distribution arm, and I do not want them selling or worse still, giving away it away for free to other potential customers of mine. If anyone else wants to buy my software, I am the one they should come to. I will work out w/ them any arrangement that's mutually agreeable, be it pricing, support T&C, number of seats, and anything else they desire. I do not want my other customers 'helping their neighbor' and becoming my de-facto competitors.

Reason for this is pretty simple. Let's say I spent millions in putting together this software, and I estimate that there are 100 companies in my potential market. I price my wares accordingly. But if my initial customers give away, or sell, something that they had no role in creating, they are eroding my available market. Yeah, there is always the argument that if it's not available for free, the end user won't buy it, but that's not my problem - I'm not running a charity. I'd be inane to allow my customers to erode my available market, which is why I'd not put it under any license that would allow them to do just that.

The BSD licenses have the same issue - no controls over downstream re-distribution, but at least, they can be mixed and matched w/ different software and put under different licenses. So I could take BSD code, put it under a shared source license, make my offerings available upstream (w/ the same restrictions on re-distribution), and there wouldn't be any issue. Under GPL, there would.

So here is the deal. Now, say, I needed to add to it your GPL software, under the GPL terms, I couldn't combine my software w/ yours, since the licenses wouldn't be compatible. But the things you described you wanted - me to share my changes - I'd be more than willing to do, and share with you upstream. Of course, I'd have to look at re-distribution arrangements w/ you, b'cos if you took my stuff, combined it w/ yours, put it under the GPL and splashed it in the market for free, I'd lose my shirt. OTOH, if you were to sell it at prices similar to mine, we could have our Biz Dev peeps look at what we'd have to do so that we don't end up stamping on each others toes. But if you wanted to give the combined stuff away, I'd go 'Uh, uh'!

So it's not that everyone who refuses to touch the GPL doesn't want to share their work w/ you. It's just that they don't want you giving away their work for free, if they're trying to close deals by selling that work at prices the market is comfortable w/.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464567)

No, "free" in this context usually means copyrighted and protected under a license like the GPL (or something similar). The "free" that the FSF endorses is actually more restrictive than public domain, with the objective of forcing developers to share their improvements on the code.

And yet, when compared to my prospects for distributing "improvements" on Windows or OS X (which would get me sued out of existence by Microsoft or Apple, respectively), the GPL seems downright generous.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

Lennie (16154) | about a year ago | (#44468731)

Which isn't a bad thing, they want to give users freedom even if that means developers might have slightly less freedom.

Also it does not mean you have to share your changes with the world, just the people you give (or sell) your program or code to.

It really isn't that bad.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44469715)

You may not have to share your changes w/ the world, but if the people you gave/sold to want to do it, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop them.

Other than not putting it under GPL in the first place

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#44464271)

Free does not require public domain.

Re:LET US DO EVERYTHING - FOR FREE !! (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44469493)

I am a big critic of RMS/FSF, but here, 'free' means freedom to do things w/ your own toy. It means 'free' as in being able to pull in apps from anywhere, not just a single store. It means 'free' as in having drivers include their source, so that one who knows can check on backdoors and the like. It means 'free' as not being tied to any single hardware platform, so that if a phone can be unlocked, it can be installed on anything - be it a Nokia Lumia, Samsung Galaxy, even an iPhone.

I think Ubuntu has identified the right market opening here. Those high on style have already embraced iPhone, and those who just want any smartphone w/ all the convenience and the greatest coverage of apps have already embraced Android. With RIM and Microsoft vying for third. So why would anyone want an Ubuntu phone? By promising them the mobile equivalent of a DuckDuckGo, Canonical is giving them at least one reason to care.

On a different note, I've noted that while Windows 8 is horrendous on laptops, it's great on the Lumia. Similarly, while Unity is ugly on a laptop, it may end up being great on such a phone. Canonical can then, in that case, focus Ubuntu on just the phones, and abandon the desktop completely to Mint and all the other Ubuntu knockoffs out there. Oh, and while they're ported to ARM, they can also come out w/ a competitor to ARM based Chromebooks - which ain't likely to run Windows RT.

Subtext is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464249)

We can't afford, sorry I can't afford to do all of this by myself. Help me please?

I know a lot of Ubuntu Fanboi's are foaming at the mouth at the prospect of getting their darling O/S on a phone.

As far as I'm concerned the farther my desktop is from my phone in terms of O/S the better. There is such a thing as 'putting all your eggs in one basket'
Canonical are in danger of making the same mistake that MS has done. History does repeat itself...

Re: Subtext is.... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#44464587)

Earning money in the billions, you mean? I'd bet canonical wouldn't mind such a mistake.

Re:Subtext is.... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#44464665)

I know a lot of Ubuntu Fanboi's [sic] are foaming at the mouth at the prospect of getting their darling O/S on a phone.

As far as i'm concerned, the boot is on the other foot. I can definitely live without Ubuntu, but the hardware they show in TFA is (IMO) very cool indeed, and I would happily have such a device. Now if only it could run Slackware... :-P

Re:Subtext is.... (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#44469759)

Canonical blew it w/ Unity on the desktop, but just as Metro is a fine UI for a phone, so is Unity, by the look of it. So Canonical can do well in the phone market, and depending on the hardware vendors willing to sign up w/ them, they may well have a shot

I do see a downside for them, or anyone else who wants to offer an Open/Free phone, at least in the US. The carriers. Since in the US, the phones are subsidized by the carriers, which is why the most expensive of phones can be had pretty cheaply due to the carriers being phone distributors for Apple, Mot, Samsung, LG, Nokia, et al, carriers are not gonna back phones that would allow their users to get off the carriers and go to another.

Outside the US, Ubuntu Phone has a better chance, since people purchase phones, and then put a plan on those. Which would work fine for any phone dealer who does it w/ Ubuntu. The carriers there will just be service providers, and won't care that these phones won't be locked down to them.

You can't make promises... (1)

silviuc (676999) | about a year ago | (#44464261)

When you know you depend on silicon designed by others. Here's the thing.I bet Canonical would very much rather have everything on that thing be open-source because if something breaks it's way easier to debug than having to bang your head against the wall that a binary blob of anything represents.

Re:You can't make promises... (2)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44464325)

When you know you depend on silicon designed by others. Here's the thing.I bet Canonical would very much rather have everything on that thing be open-source because if something breaks it's way easier to debug than having to bang your head against the wall that a binary blob of anything represents.

It won't happen. Minimally, the SDR (Software Defined Radio) will be required by the FCC, and other similar regulatory agencies around the world, to have a locked down image, or it won't be licensed for use, period. An SDR is defined to be a combination of the software and hardware, and you can't change one or the other without getting the thing relicensed, or requialified for use on the carrier network in the country in question.

My guess is that they will end up with some flavor of Qualcomm Snapdragon, which runs the baseband firmware in a TZone, which effectively puts it in a hypervisor in the chip, out of reach of any other software running on the chip. This is what Sony did with their recent "root unlocked" handsets, and it's the reason Sony *didn't* unlock their single CPU handsets.

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

HJED (1304957) | about a year ago | (#44464555)

They could release the source for the SDR and simply ensure that you can't actually flash the chip (or make it clear that by doing so the device becomes illegal to use)

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about a year ago | (#44464627)

The problem is that if someone actually manage do to this I belive Canonical is still responsible since they made the hardware.

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

HJED (1304957) | about a year ago | (#44464657)

Surely the individual would be the one breaching licensing regulations, it would be the same as if I took apart a walkie talky and made physical modifications to make it transmit on a different frequency. If they have to make physical modifications in order for the responsibility to change hands it should be possible to make a chip that can't be flashed or can't be flashed without soldering or unsoldering part of the circuit board.

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44466147)

So, if I solder a new crystal into an old CB radio and add a booster, is the manufacturer responsible according to the FCC?

if someone gets out the soldering iron and changes the firmware on any of the thousands of cellphone models out there, is the manufacturer responsible for that?

Re: You can't make promises... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year ago | (#44464603)

That means they'd better don't license it under GPLv3, not that it can't be open sourced. Granting support/compliancy to a given combination of hardware/software is business-as-usual so I don't really see what your point really is (unless FUD, that is)

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44464609)

People running Android and custom ROMs frequently replace the radios. This is probably not quite the same as it's mostly just using radios from other models or with minor changes I believe, but it is done. The equivalent for hardware radios would be like saying you have to release it in a steel box or something. People hack things and have since radios were invented. It's really the responsibility of the person who owns the device not to break the law.

Re:You can't make promises... (2)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44464771)

People running Android and custom ROMs frequently replace the radios. This is probably not quite the same as it's mostly just using radios from other models or with minor changes I believe, but it is done.

I assume you are mostly talking about tablets, not phones, here, since the modules are generally surface mount in phones, due to industrial design requirements that phones be relatively small. It's grey market at best to replace a GSM or CDMA module. WiFi modules, the FCC cares a lot less about. If you replace a GSM or CDMA module with another, however, you have to also replace the binary firmware blob with one whose signature the module can verify when you try to load it. So it's effectively a single piece of hardware at that point, since it's replaced as a unit.

The equivalent for hardware radios would be like saying you have to release it in a steel box or something. People hack things and have since radios were invented. It's really the responsibility of the person who owns the device not to break the law.

Sure, and if the seller of the device ends up with an end user being able to violate the law and hack it, then the FCC decertifies the device and forces the manufacturer to issue a recall until such time as the manufacturer remedies the ability of the end user to violate the law and hack the thing, and recertifies. This is expensive as hell for the manufacturer.

The bottom line is that the FCC and other regulatory agencies don't want you to be able to modify the software in an SDR in order to redefine it. They don't want you listening to GSM or CDMA traffic in promiscuous mode and gathering enough data to listen in, but they even more strongly don't want you to have a cell phone that all you have to do is run an app on it and it lets you intercept or jam police or military frequencies, but when not running the app, is totally indistinguishable from an unmodified cell phone.

Part of this is security through obscurity, which won't stop a determined and skilled reverse engineer, but really, you'd have a hard time encrypting your blob and signing it in such a way that a Qualcomm chip is willing to verify it, decrypt it, and verify the decrypted blob as well. It vastly reduces the pool of people capable of actually doing the job to a set small enough that they can "round up the usual suspects".

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44466165)

he meant the radio firmware. And it's done on cellphones all the time. Often it is an essential step to unlocking the phone.

Re:You can't make promises... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465199)

yep... and OSS gfx drivers are pretty crap compared to the proprietary drivers amongst other things...

This just made me decide that I'm going to sit and watch what happens with this thing now.

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

kumanopuusan (698669) | about a year ago | (#44465859)

The FCC aren't acting like fucking savages, having certified SDR equipment--with a modifiable software software component--since 2004.

http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/techtopics/techtopics4.html [fcc.gov]

http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-254463A1.doc [fcc.gov]

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

kumanopuusan (698669) | about a year ago | (#44465871)

I take that back. On further consideration (of about 10 seconds) it looks like you're right--the combination of hardware and software is what's certified.

Re:You can't make promises... (4, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44464533)

And as my grandpa used to say "Girls want ponies, people in hell want ice water, I want a million dollars...that don't mean any of us are gonna get it".

Unless they are gonna kickstarter the chips in the thing it'll be DAMN hard to make it FOSS, simply because the ones making the GPUs, wireless, etc, are about the most proprietary lot on the planet. Hell I don't even think you CAN make a FOSS GPU as everything from texture compression on up is patented up the ass, I know there was a project to make one using an FPGA but I never heard any more about it, probably ran into the legal minefield and ran aground.

So while it'd be nice with so few players in the top tier mobile chip business and with anything and everything patented and licensed from somebody the FSF can say "make it free" all they want, its gonna be damned hard if not impossible to make it truly FOSS and still get decent chips in the thing. Remember even the OLPC 1 couldn't get 100% free because they couldn't find a BIOS and wireless chipset at the time that wasn't proprietary and that was with X86, with ARM its even worse.

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#44465441)

Remember even the OLPC 1 couldn't get 100% free because they couldn't find a BIOS and wireless chipset at the time that wasn't proprietary and that was with X86, with ARM its even worse.

Significant deployments of OLPC 1 outside of Spanish speaking South America can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Participating countries [wikipedia.org] OLPC was a product of the Western media lab and it had problems "free" software and hardware could not solve.

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44467305)

What does that have to do with not being able to find a non proprietary BIOS and wireless that would work? This isn't about what the OLPC could or could not do, its about the fact that even a project built around FOSS and with plenty of backing couldn't make a 100% FOSS mobile device because too much of the tech used in mobile devices is patented up the ying yang and is proprietary as hell.

So like it or not unless they design their own chips from scratch, and even then somehow manage to avoid running into the patent minefields that are wireless and graphics, the odds of them making a 100% FOSS device using top tier chips? Pretty much non existent. Most of the GPUs being used are PowerVR, proprietary as hell, and I haven't seen a 100% FOSS phone wireless chip, hell I don't think its even possible to make one as mobile wireless tech is some of the most heavily licensed and patented tech on the planet.

The FSF can want all day long, if it can't be built it can't be built and that is that and I don't see how they could build a 100% FOSS phone and still use chips anybody would want, maybe if they used a phone design from the 80s they could build one that the patents have expired on, but nothing that goes into a modern smartphone is gonna be 100% license and patent free, that is just how that business works.

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

LourensV (856614) | about a year ago | (#44466249)

And as my grandpa used to say "Girls want ponies, people in hell want ice water, I want a million dollars...that don't mean any of us are gonna get it".

Unless they are gonna kickstarter the chips in the thing it'll be DAMN hard to make it FOSS, simply because the ones making the GPUs, wireless, etc, are about the most proprietary lot on the planet. Hell I don't even think you CAN make a FOSS GPU as everything from texture compression on up is patented up the ass, I know there was a project to make one using an FPGA but I never heard any more about it, probably ran into the legal minefield and ran aground.

Basically, it ran out of money; the main contributors didn't have as much time available any more and making an ASIC is expensive. Some prototype boards were manufactured, and the employer of the main developer (who allowed him to use their tools, and work on it some during office hours) made a commercial product based on the design. It never got to producing a consumer video card though. I see now that Kickstarter actually existed in 2010, but I don't think anyone of us had ever heard of it, and I don't think we could have got the couple million dollars needed to have the cards produced.

For those interested, there's still an active mailing list [duskglow.com] , the project isn't quite dead.

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#44468411)

Unless they are gonna kickstarter the chips in the thing it'll be DAMN hard to make it FOSS, simply because the ones making the GPUs, wireless, etc, are about the most proprietary lot on the planet. Hell I don't even think you CAN make a FOSS GPU as everything from texture compression on up is patented up the ass, I know there was a project to make one using an FPGA but I never heard any more about it, probably ran into the legal minefield and ran aground.

So? Why do we need a GPU? The goal is fully open hardware drivers. But that doesn't mean we need to have drivers for ALL hardware the SoC has. If the GPU cannot be open-sourced, so be it. It just means you don't use the GPU and stick with 2D acceleration. This saves the problem too in that a lot of GPUs require firmware that's loaded at runtime.

Wireless I describe below - remember the FSF doesn't consider firmware that's embedded in hardware to be closed, so if you ensure the radio firmware exists in flash memory for the radio, you're golden. If you have to load it, you're not.

It won't happen. Minimally, the SDR (Software Defined Radio) will be required by the FCC, and other similar regulatory agencies around the world, to have a locked down image, or it won't be licensed for use, period. An SDR is defined to be a combination of the software and hardware, and you can't change one or the other without getting the thing relicensed, or requialified for use on the carrier network in the country in question.

No, you don't need to do that. The FCC merely requires that if you have an SDR, that it cannot be programmed to run outside the band it's licensed on. Whether you do this via a locked image, or through hardware lockouts is up to you. Basically, the SDR cannot exceed its license.

So if you have a radio that can transmit DC to daylight, you must somehow limit it to transmitting on licensed bands through some measure. One measure is locking down the image. Another measure is to simply have filters in the transmitter output chain that will prevent it from exceeding its bands.

So it's perfectly acceptable to have open source transmit hardware, just the hardware has to ensure it's only allowed to transmit on the bands it's licensed for.

Then again, the FSF oddly considers firmware that's part of hardware to be hardware. So if the radio is preprogrammed at the factory and never touched, it's considered "open hardware". However, if the hardware requires you to load the firmware from a file into its memory, that hardware is no longer open. So another option is to ensure the modem firmware lives in flash that belongs to the modem..

Re:You can't make promises... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#44468489)

Because you might as well just make a 1980s style brick phone buddy?

Since you seem to be trying to make a legitimate point and not...well be a FOSSie and treat this like a religion I'll answer you...because without hardware acceleration? Your phone is gonna be made of ass and fail, okay? This isn't the 1980s, people won't put up with a laggy UI, no ability to run apps, it just won't fly. if you want to go that route again just make a brick phone as i'm sure the patents have run out on those.

You see this is why i put "top tier" in the statement because you have to at least compare favorably to the other phones on the shelf or people just won't fricking buy it hoss. You don't realize just how weak ARM cores are dude, we are talking a 2.2Ghz P4 from 2004 will curbstomp the latest ARM core on every test except for a few that are hand tailored for the ARM and then it BARELY inches ahead, without the GPU helping with the heavy lifting? yeah I don't see too many buying phones that feel like a Palm PDA from 03 in 2013, do you?

At the end of the day friend its really simple, if they want this to have even a snowball's chance in hell on the shelves? It HAS to have performance at LEAST high enough it can compare favorably with the other phones on the shelves or they are gonna get a warehouse full of them, just ask the OpenMoko guys about how much being "pure FOSS" helped their bottom line.

Just hit $8M at the fundraiser (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | about a year ago | (#44464265)

Hopefully Mark can make it happen, he should add some of this own fortune if the IndieGoGo campaign doesn't receive enough funds, but $8M is fantastic already.

Re:Just hit $8M at the fundraiser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464365)

He could make it happen today if he ponied up his own cash to fund it instead of bilking everyone else. He has the money.

Re:Just hit $8M at the fundraiser (1)

liamevo (1358257) | about a year ago | (#44464433)

so crowd funding is only for poor people?

Re:Just hit $8M at the fundraiser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464547)

More or less. Hopefully Apple will crowdfund the next iPhone.

Re:Just hit $8M at the fundraiser (1)

dfghjk (711126) | about a year ago | (#44464725)

No, it is for stupid people.

Re:Just hit $8M at the fundraiser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465035)

It doesn't work like that.

Once you slow down on Kickstarter/Indiegogo, you basically hit an asymptote. There's no way Canonical will hit $32 million. Unless an actual corporation buys up the phones or something.

"A promising developing"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464267)

Seriously, you guys don't even read what you write, do you?

Meaningless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464333)

It's a development, not a developing.

Free drivers would be great, but it's pretty meaningless for Mark to promise them when the project obviously isn't on track to get funded anyway.

Counterproductive Fixation (2)

balajeerc (1461659) | about a year ago | (#44464367)

I find the fixation on wanting to use proprietary hardware with FOSS drivers rather counterproductive. If you are buying a graphics card where the vendor does not give you the source for the driver, you have sacrificed your freedom right at the point of sale, where you bought the hardware, so you might as well accept a driver that is closed as well. If you really insist on freedom, you ought to demand hardware that has open specs as well. I am NOT however saying that the effort to write free drivers for proprietary hardware is not admirable. I am just saying that FSF fixation on open software (driver) without insisting on open hardware as well, a contradiction.

Re:Counterproductive Fixation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464525)

The things that are needed from hardware are specifications for the interfaces and/or free drivers, and possibly the keys that unlock any binary signing functions. If you have free drivers to hardware, it's not hard (relatively speaking) to modify the drivers to work on a different OS because you can get the specification from studying the drivers.

I wouldn't expect it to happen. (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | about a year ago | (#44464451)

You'd like wifi right? While there are wifi adapters that have free /open drivers, not many are in the ultra-low-power-cost SystemOnChip wifi adapters. Likewise the drivers for the telco data side of things are unlikely to be open/free, especially for sprint and Verizon in the US, can't speak for overseas.

I'm pretty sure that mark would like them to be free too. That doesn't mean that it's going to, or is likely to, happen.

Firmware vs. Software (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#44464471)

As many others I'm a firm believer in open source software and as some others I'm quite willing to pay for it.

Again many accept without discussion that Firmware is proprietary but at the same time they demand the software to be open, I am not so much against having a few proprietary blobs for drivers and things like the SDR, all depending on a well defined interface with said blob or firmware.
There were great hopes around the Nokia N900 development even though it too had it's closed sections.

What I DO want is to be able to run a mature GNU/Linux (likely a KDE flavour but I'd give Unity a chance) on my devices so all the well known (and tested!) applications can be ported easily, Android just doesn't hack it.

This latest news from Mark brings me closer to wanting an Edge but more assurance is needed.

Yeah yeah, bullshit someone else (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year ago | (#44464677)

There are 19 days left, if you don't signup before that deadline you lost your chance. NOBODY else will try AND NOBODY else will come even close to giving you what you want. Get over your sense of entitlement that EVERYTHING need to be just the way you want it. This is the real world and your mommy ain't around to cut the crusts of your bread.

If this project does not exist, the message is clear, the linux world is to divided for anyone to cater for because no matter what you do, they always want more and not just give an existing project a chance right now.

It is not even that much a risk, if the project isn't funded, you get all your money back.

Re:Yeah yeah, bullshit someone else (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44464801)

No, the message is: "We don't want your shitty phone Mark."

Re:Yeah yeah, bullshit someone else (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#44464989)

There's in my opinion nothing shitty about the Edge but without a workable interface to the hardware it does not cover my wishes.

Mark's remarks from the original article get very close to my and many other's wishes but more clarification is needed.

Re:Yeah yeah, bullshit someone else (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year ago | (#44464805)

Get over your sense of entitlement that EVERYTHING need to be just the way you want it.

How is it a sense of entitlement to voice your opinion or vote with your wallet? No one's holding a gun to anyone's head. The word "entitlement" just seems to be a buzzword these days.

Re:Yeah yeah, bullshit someone else (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year ago | (#44464977)

I don't know where you read anything in this or or posts of mine about me feeling entitled and I even more don't get your opinion in future there'll never be anything this close to my wishes than this Ubuntu Edge.

I think my message is very clear, I am prepared to spend good money for a a phone with a regular, thus open, GNU/Linux system and that's much more than a Linux kernel with Android or so.

If a company is brave enough to sell such hardware they can do it either with or without an OS, if the HW is worth it others will step in with the OS.

Due Diligence (2)

eric31415927 (861917) | about a year ago | (#44464561)

Does anyone know where duedil.com gets its Canonical data from?
If I am going to fork over $800, I want to perform at least some due diligence. Is Canonical simply going to use my money to pay downs its current liabilities, which were recently about 19,000,000 GBP higher than its current assets?

https://www.duedil.com/company/06870835/canonical-group-limited [duedil.com]

I hope they'll launch it in Europe (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about a year ago | (#44464647)

I would vote for such a development with my wallet.

Then learn to read (3, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year ago | (#44464681)

The phone has global support but if you do NOT buy it now, you won't buy it later. The phone will ONLY be available if it is fully funded and you can't buy it afterwards.

Re:Then learn to read (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about a year ago | (#44464691)

Thanks for the info!

What this sounds like to me... (2)

jonwil (467024) | about a year ago | (#44464827)

It sounds like the Ubuntu Mobile people are saying "hey, we want to ship this with no binary blobs but we recognize that in order to get certain features such as a cellular modem or a 3D-capable GPU we may have no choice but to go with a binary blob if we cant find hardware that is 100% open"

Google apps (1)

dhasenan (758719) | about a year ago | (#44465303)

That means no Google apps by default. I'm guessing they'll manage it the same way as flash and mp3 support on Ubuntu desktop -- offer a way to install the troublesome applications quickly and with no fuss.

Ewww, google docs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44465587)

And the video's on youtube. I guess I won't be reading that transcript either. You know, there are other services online besides google?

Stop loving the Big Brother.

I'm not a nutjob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44466137)

But I think at the very least the Ubuntu Phone OS should be open source

May not happen whether he wants it or not (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#44467347)

I can imagine somewhere along the line someone will get butt hurt about something and they'll be forced to use proprietary drivers. Shuttleworth can hope all he wants but he's in no position to bully people into doing what he wants.

So skip that phone then... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44467377)

Sorry, I'm not using anything the FSF had a hand in shaping.

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