open datasheets

John Gilmore gnu at
Mon Sep 19 20:07:41 EDT 2011

> John touches upon a sore subject around OLPC here.   On both 1.5
> and 1.75, OLPC obtained assurances from the companies that the
> data sheets for the processor/companion chips/SoC would be
> publicly availably by the time the laptop reached production.
> In both cases, the companies lied to get the designs
> started and have no intention of ever releasing critical
> documentation outside of an NDA.
> As a company with extremely limited means, what is OLPC to do ?

Trying to do business with people who lie is a classic reason
for contract law.

Write a contract before you start, which permits YOU to release the
specific documents that you care about (which you have received under
NDA).  You clearly have them in-house.  If your contract with the
company permits YOU to post them, then no amount of later lying by the
company can prevent you from posting them when the laptop goes
into mass production.

If the company refuses to sign that contract, don't use their chip;
use someone else's -- BEFORE you spend the multiple million dollars.
Since you tend to like ARM these days, there seem to be about 20
ARM chip vendors around; ONE of them should be smart or stupid enough
to sign such a contract to get your business.

In what form were the existing "assurances from the companies"
provided?  In writing?  If they are, or could be interpreted as, part
of the contract negotiations or committments, then OLPC may already be
free to post these documents.  Or, more likely, to sue the companies
to force them to honor their contract.  (That's why a better
construction for future contracts is one that lets you release it
yourself, without needing a lawsuit.)


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