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Allwinner Publishes New CedarX Open-Source Code

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  • Allwinner Publishes New CedarX Open-Source Code

    Phoronix: Allwinner Publishes New CedarX Open-Source Code

    For months now Allwinner has been violating the GPL and have attempted to cover it up by obfuscating their code and playing around with their licenses while jerking around the open-source community. At least today they've made a positive change in open-sourcing more of their "CedarX" code...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...CedarX-New-OSS

  • #2
    As a growing company, we are doing our best to understand the needs of the open source software community. This is a learning process. We're working with different people across the Linux development community to better understand best practices...Open source software development is a collaborative process. It works because people genuinely want to help others improve and be successful. Some people are new and others help them learn the ropes over time. We hope that this same positive feedback process can be applied to GPL.
    Yet somehow the part where they were profiting off open-source code was understood without a hitch.
    After all, GPL is as simple as it gets: you change it, you publish the modified code. I highly doubt an organization needs several months to learn that.

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    • #3
      It's good that they are releasing some code, but I'm surprised that *anyone* is messing around with proper GPL code releases for the Linux kernel.

      Due to the way the GPLv2 works, once you violate it even once you lose the license. Combined with the way kernel copyrights are maintained, this means that *any* contributor can sue you for copyright infringement and get your Linux-using products import banned in any country. Recovering is basically impossible - you have to get a new license directly from each copyright holder. GPLv3 fixed this (by making recovery automatic once you come into compliance), and the Linux kernel developers have never used this power, but illegally distributing Linux is a dangerous game.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bug77 View Post

        Yet somehow the part where they were profiting off open-source code was understood without a hitch.
        After all, GPL is as simple as it gets: you change it, you publish the modified code. I highly doubt an organization needs several months to learn that.
        I don't doubt -Allwinnwers statements that much. After years of working for a large corporation I've seen people get pulled in all sorts of directions. Focus on projects change on a whim of management. Not to mention is the demands of customers that pull focus off what you would actually like to get done. In a nut shell it isn't like throwing a switch and everything falls into place.

        I've seen companies spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars on new equipment and then have it sit because there was nobody to force on the installation. I've seen whole organizations fall int a frenzy when a supplier stops making a critical material for the production process. These sorts of thing often shift schedules by months as critical things are addressed. So yeah I can see. It taking Allwinner months to respond to the complaints even if they honestly want to address the issue.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wizard69 View Post

          I don't doubt -Allwinnwers statements that much. After years of working for a large corporation I've seen people get pulled in all sorts of directions. Focus on projects change on a whim of management. Not to mention is the demands of customers that pull focus off what you would actually like to get done. In a nut shell it isn't like throwing a switch and everything falls into place.

          I've seen companies spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars on new equipment and then have it sit because there was nobody to force on the installation. I've seen whole organizations fall int a frenzy when a supplier stops making a critical material for the production process. These sorts of thing often shift schedules by months as critical things are addressed. So yeah I can see. It taking Allwinner months to respond to the complaints even if they honestly want to address the issue.
          Fair enough, but my point was: if they didn't understand GPL, why did they use the code?
          You know big companies routinely require employees to list all the libraries used in a project so that the legal department can check for compliance. Others won't even let you add a library that hasn't been cleared first. And the whole "obfuscate code and strip headers" move, doesn't sound exactly like Allwinner were struggling to understand how GPL works.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Chandon View Post
            It's good that they are releasing some code, but I'm surprised that *anyone* is messing around with proper GPL code releases for the Linux kernel.
            I'm more surprised that you are so happily spewing this ridiculous bullshit without checking the facts.

            Please first learn what is CedarX, which software license applies to it and whether all this fuss is related to the Linux kernel.

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            • #7
              Earlier today I went on a rant online with one of my co-workers.

              These SOC guys. I just don't get it. If they want to win and win big they at a minimum MUST get all the necessary parts of the SOC, including GPU, working to the point of inclusion with the mainline kernel. None of this "download our kernel sources" or "grab this patch set" and "also grab this pile of binary crap". Just real honest work to get their drives mainlined. If they must they can provide a "high performance" or "feature" driver that can be used instead of what's in mainline.

              Otherwise they face being ultimately squished by intel or whoever else does the right thing consistently. I had a lot of hope for the ARM guys when the cortex a8 came out but it's been a hugely disappointing ride so far.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by bug77 View Post

                Fair enough, but my point was: if they didn't understand GPL, why did they use the code?
                Obviously I don't know what is happening in detail at Allwinner but the decision to use the code may have been made by a different individual than the one that handled the code.
                You know big companies routinely require employees to list all the libraries used in a project so that the legal department can check for compliance. Others won't even let you add a library that hasn't been cleared first. And the whole "obfuscate code and strip headers" move, doesn't sound exactly like Allwinner were struggling to understand how GPL works.
                There certainly are issues here no doubt. The thing is AllWinner is a hardware company as such do they really gain anything at all by making a mess of the kernel? I'm just not sure we can attribute their behavior to company policy.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by bnolsen View Post
                  Earlier today I went on a rant online with one of my co-workers.
                  Poor coworker.
                  These SOC guys. I just don't get it. If they want to win and win big they at a minimum MUST get all the necessary parts of the SOC, including GPU, working to the point of inclusion with the mainline kernel. None of this "download our kernel sources" or "grab this patch set" and "also grab this pile of binary crap". Just real honest work to get their drives mainlined. If they must they can provide a "high performance" or "feature" driver that can be used instead of what's in mainline.
                  I suspect it has a lot to do with the embedded world and the mind set there. In that world the board maker is often responsible for the firmware and operating system if any. It may very well be that the team leading the company needs a mind set change. Ultimately I think you are right, getting patches, drivers and the such mainlined should be the goal. However mainlining such often leads to board (not chip) specific software. Last I knew there was no good BIOS facility for ARM boards, no plug and play, and no discovery method for SoC hardware that is portable across chips. If I remember correctly Linus himself complained about the state of ARM hardware.
                  Otherwise they face being ultimately squished by intel or whoever else does the right thing consistently. I had a lot of hope for the ARM guys when the cortex a8 came out but it's been a hugely disappointing ride so far.
                  Well I can't disagree here. I suspect part of the problem is that ARM and its licensees don't expect to compete on Intels turf. In the overall game these are small operations, nobody except for Apple, ships large numbers of ARM based tablets or other hardware. Especially tablets built around one architecture, there are hundreds of tablets on the market, almost all ARM based, but there are dozens of different chips implementing these devices. For the most part each and every board has a kernel specific to that board.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bnolsen View Post
                    Earlier today I went on a rant online with one of my co-workers.

                    These SOC guys. I just don't get it. If they want to win and win big they at a minimum MUST get all the necessary parts of the SOC,
                    It's all about priorities.

                    The vast majority of the end users do not give rats about the mainline kernel. They just want an Android device, which is a good value for the money and can run Android applications. Hence the primary priority is time to market. As soon as the SoC vendor has the necessary patches to get the device up and running, they can ship the device immediately to the end users. They may (and often do) at the same time start mainlining these patches, but it does not always go smoothly, sometimes requires many rounds of review and a lot of changes until the code is accepted. Sometimes the whole kernel subsystems need major changes. For example, the current NAND driver in the Allwinner vendor kernel is implemented as a block device. Normally, the kernel uses the MTD framework for NAND, but it does not support MLC NAND at the moment. It may take many months or years until the work is done in an approved way. Such huge delays are simply unacceptable and the SoC vendor will go bankrupt pretty fast.

                    On the other hand, some minority of the users are free software enthusiasts and prefer mainline kernel support. They also tend to be rather vocal. To appeal to this group of people, the SoC vendors do at least a little bit of the mainlining work (even if it's for a show), communicate with the community, etc.

                    Just more users need to start caring about having the firmware of their smartphones fully mainlined, open source and maintained indefinitely by competent people. As soon as the users realize that the vendors stop supporting their smartphones after a while and leave them open to security holes, something might change. We still have a long way to go.

                    Yes, I'm basically blaming the users for the current sorry state of affairs.

                    including GPU, working to the point of inclusion with the mainline kernel.
                    Even Intel had GMA 500 problems and could not do anything about this. In the case if the SoC manufacturer does not have a GPU of their own (and Allwinner doesn't), they can't do anything.

                    None of this "download our kernel sources" or "grab this patch set" and "also grab this pile of binary crap". Just real honest work to get their drives mainlined. If they must they can provide a "high performance" or "feature" driver that can be used instead of what's in mainline.
                    Yes, if they want to have you as their customer, then they are better to take your opinion into account. But so far it is much more profitable to target a much larger group of less picky users.

                    Otherwise they face being ultimately squished by intel or whoever else does the right thing consistently.
                    Why do you think so?

                    I had a lot of hope for the ARM guys when the cortex a8 came out but it's been a hugely disappointing ride so far.
                    Yeah, bad luck for you.

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