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OLPC under fire for proprietary components

Cyrus Farivar

Over the last week or so, there's been a big storm a'brewin' in the whole One Laptop Per Child community. The short of it is that a couple of the big players in the open source community have their code twisted in a bunch. What's the problem? Well, it turns out that the Marvell 88W8388 WiFi chip (selected for the 2B1) has a unique ability to create an ad-hoc mesh network without using the CPU, which keeps the computer consuming as little power as possible. However, this chip choice doesn't really jibe with the whole free software ethos behind OLPC. According to The Jem Report, Marvell "refuses to allow OpenBSD and other free software operating systems to freely distribute firmware binaries that are necessary to use Marvell wireless devices." This situation has turned into one big nerd cluster-cat fight, pitting Jim Gettys, the VP of software for OLPC, against über-hackers Theo de Raadt (founder of OpenBSD and OpenSSH) and Richard Stallman (who needs no introduction). Gettys defends the actions of the OLPC by saying: "If anyones feels 'betrayed,' it is because they are ill-informed, and that uninformed, biased and intemperate people informed them incorrectly of the situation." To which de Raadt countered: "Jim is obviously very clever at convincing people that children need proprietary laptops (OLPC has a greater percentage of undocumented hardware than a Thinkpad from 3 years ago). It is easy for Jim to convince people these things because he doesn't care at all about the future maintainance of drivers. I do. And I think most of you also do." Wow, them be fightin' words -- we're pulling up ringside seats already.

Read - The Jem Report
Read - Jim Gettys
Read - Theo de Raadt

[Via Slashdot]

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