Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

James Cameron quozl at laptop.org
Sun Dec 2 19:21:36 EST 2012

On Sat, Dec 01, 2012 at 02:31:18PM -0500, Richard Stallman wrote:
>     Yes, the XO-4 will need a nonfree firmware program copied by the
>     operating system into the wireless device.
> That is disappointing news.  It means we won't be able to endorse it.
>       The 8686 firmware is also in the Debian
>     non-free package firmware-libertas.
> (What a perverse name!)
>     These steps might be placed in the boot script of the operating system
>     in order to avoid nonfree infection of an operating system
>     distribution.
> To make it ok, it would have to be buried inside the hardware such
> that the user and the system don't touch it at all.  It is
> possible to do that, but it might take some extra hardware.
> Is it possible to make the circuit such that the internal wireless
> device can easily be removed or permanently disabled without breaking
> the rest of the machine?  If so, we could endorse machines modified in
> this way.

Yes, it is very easily removed, and this does not break the rest of
the machine.

(This was impossible on the XO-1, because it was soldered down.  We
began using a socket with the XO-1.5, XO-1.75, and XO-4.)

The internal wireless device is a daughter card in an SDIO socket,
with a single screw holding it down.

The laptop can be opened using our disassembly instructions [1], to
the point of removing the back cover, then:

- locate the daughter card using the annotated photograph [2],

- unplug the two antenna cables from the card,

- remove the screw on the right-hand side of the card; it may spring
  up by about 10 to 20 degrees,

- with light finger pressure lift the card up in the socket, until
  about 30 degrees elevation, then pull the card away from the socket,

- secure the two antenna cables so that they won't short against the
  motherboard; there are plastic mainframe cable guides that can help
  with this, along with wire ties or adhesives,

- store the card in an antistatic bag.

The laptop will boot without the card present.

[1]  http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Disassembly
[2]  http://wiki.laptop.org/go/File:XO1.75_B1_mobo_annotated_bot.png

James Cameron

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