Will the XO-4 need nonfree firmware

John Gilmore gnu at toad.com
Tue Dec 4 06:01:04 EST 2012

> In that case, this machine without that card might be an option
> for people who want laptops they can use in freedom.
> They would need to get an external USB network device.

Yes, or they could even get a different SDIO network device, if they
can find one that's free and that has a compatible antenna connector.

> If someone sells them without the card (NOT with the card separately
> packaged), under another name, and if the cards are not easy to obtain,
> that could be a product we could endorse.

I don't think anybody plans to sell XO-4's anyway.  They're for
whole countries to buy in huge orders.  (I'm way out of the loop
on stuff like that -- maybe things have changed.)

If you personally happen to want one for development, you could get
one through the OLPC developers program.  But there probably won't be
anybody selling them in stores, or over the web.

FSF could advocate that countries should get them only with free
SDIO network cards, and some countries might even listen.  But to do
that effectively, FSF would have to find at least one free network
card that they could actually order and use; test it with the device
to make sure it integrates properly; etc.  I doubt that a country's
education department would buy thousands of XO-4s that depend for
their connectivity on dangling USB network sticks that kids are likely
to lose or break.


PS: If you want to spend time on the freedom of OLPC products, first
get the FSF staff to enforce the GPL on OLPCs.  Major OLPC customer
countries are still providing hundreds of thousands of laptops full of
GPLv3 binary software to kids who can't examine, replace, or get the
matching source for that software.  These laptops are locked down with
"Secure Boot", with a remote disable switch (time-limited leases), and
also shipped with root access disabled, so the owner can't even do
simple software edits or upgrades.

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