Another Month, Another Round Of Allwinner GPL-Violating Concerns

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 23 June 2015 at 06:48 PM EDT. 1 Comment
For the past few months we've been reporting on Allwinner's apparent violations of (L)GPL code primarily around CedarX/media-related bits. While it looked like things were taking a turn for the better last month when they published some new open-source code and joined the Linux Foundation, there's some fresh criticism this week.

Longtime open-source graphics developer Luc Verhaegen has written on the Linux-SunXI about further Allwinner misbehavior. Five days ago they updated their media codec framework with various new "proprietary" files that is then being built together with LGPL-licensed code and the binary is being dlopen'ed into the LGPL'ed code.

Luc also raised concerns about CHIP, the Kickstarter-backed project by Next Thing Co to produce "the world's first $9 compuer." This $9 computer raised over two million dollars in pre-orders and part of the selling point is providing a free and open Linux stack to run on the hardware, which is powered by an Allwinner SoC. Those behind the CHIP computer say they're having productive conversations with Allwinner and the company is working to address their GPL violations, etc. They mentioned on their Kickstarter page, "Our plan is to mainline support for user-space drivers for these binary blobs [the ARM Mali 400 driver for 3D, C2D for 2D acceleration, and CedarX for video hardware encode/decode]. But we're also actively exploring ways that we can eliminate the need for these binary blobs altogether. We will also provide Chipsters who want a completely FOSS C.H.I.P. OS builds that are blob-free!"

Not everyone in the Linux SunXI community is agreeing with Luc's latest assessment, but those interested can read the mailing list thread on Google Groups.
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