Free software for an ARM tablet?

John Gilmore gnu at
Sat May 29 04:01:13 EDT 2010

If somebody gets Android running on a tablet and that somebody actually
honors the GPL, it's likely that much of the work of a "real" Linux
port has been done.

Except that I've heard from a very credible source that in existing
Android *phones* there are 9 pieces of essential yet proprietary
software, which they have shoehorned into the GPL kernel by writing a
GPL'd dummy driver that lets the real (proprietary) drivers run in
user space.

One, for example, calibrates the accelerometer, and is considered
highly proprietary by the *%&%&## who build the chip.

OLPC has dealt with this problem before (honorably), and it would be a
real shame for OLPC to give millions of units of chip sales to a
company that would do that to its customers and developers.  (But: the
VIA cpu chip and its companion chip in the XO-1.5 still don't have
published specs.  Nor the codec chip.)

Then you'd have to throw away the deliberately-differently-encoded
Android Java runtime and hacked-to-be-incompatible libc and such.  But
that part isn't much work at all.


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