[nycbug-talk] OpenBSD and blobs

Miles Nordin carton at Ivy.NET
Tue Oct 17 21:28:19 EDT 2006

>>>>> "njt" == N J Thomas <njt at ayvali.org> writes:

   njt> All in all, their position is quite reasonable and it's
   njt> disheartening to see Linux and FreeBSD devs take such a
   njt> nonchalant attitude towards the problem.

The atheros blob is a particular harmful case of this.  the ath_hal
shipped in FreeBSD, Linux, and NetBSD is built by Sam Leffler who has
signed an NDA with Atheros.  I suspect that Atheros considers Sam
``tainted'' by the sight of their code and probably insisted in their
NDA that he give up his right to work on the OpenBSD driver, which is
blob-free.  He's therefore glad to build a blob for anything you want
if it will convince you to avoid Reyk's open HAL.

Unfortunately the builds of the HAL Sam does are quite crappy and
prone to regressions.  Since there is no way for anyone but Sam to
separate bugfix changes to the HAL from experimental-feature changes
to the HAL, he has turned the free software community into his
playground of captive beta testers.  We cannot do our own release
engineering---we can only accept whatever piece-of-crap blob he chucks
at us and beta-test it for the benefit of his employer.

Wireless has become all but unuseable on free operating systems thanks
to a couple arcane decisions by a very small number of people.  We
really need a permanent way out of this disaster.
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