[coreboot] Coreboot BSD-style Open Source licence (was: Re: Coreboot or UEFI, who will be the winner.)

Subject: [coreboot] Coreboot BSD-style Open Source licence (was: Re: Coreboot or UEFI, who will be the winner.)

From: Guillaume FORTAINE <guifort@live.com>

To: <coreboot@coreboot.org>

Date: 2009-12-24 08:56:18


Misters,

Let me introduce myself : Guillaume FORTAINE, Engineer in Computer=A0Scienc=
e. I am currently working on a Virtualization=A0Firmware and I would greatl=
y=A0=A0appreciate to go further into the ideas=A0mentioned in the coreboot =
GSOC project AVATT [1].
I am definitely aware about the UEFI Forum and especially the=A0Hypervista'=
s effort to implement an UEFI Hypervisor [2].=A0From my analysis,=A0Hypervi=
sta is of particular interest as business case for an SMB=A0trying to innov=
ate around UEFI. =A0Their effort has been a failure and I=A0am not surprise=
d, because three years ago (in 2006), I was the=A0first to post on the edk2=
 website to kindly ask some hardware support=A0from the UEFI Forum [3]. To =
quote the reply from an Intel engineer=A0[4]:

"The Edk2 project on=A0www.TianoCore.org=A0does not have silicon enabling=
=A0code but it does implement UEFI conformant interfaces. It currently=A0bu=
ilds under Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. So this code may be helpful=A0to y=
ou."

The first point is to show you that I followed the UEFI's effort since=A0th=
e beginning and that as a small organization, we tried to contribute to=A0s=
omething new. And I didn't receive any support. What is the point of=A0a Pl=
atform Initialization software that doesn't provide any hardware ?=A0At lea=
st an Intel Customer Reference Board with an initial UEFI port=A0would have=
 been an invaluable help to provide further innovation. Two=A0years later, =
the situation was the same for Hypervista. To quote [2] :

"During our recent search for a UEFI compliant PC motherboard, even=A0Intel=
=AE, AMI=AE, and Phoenix=AE had difficulty identifying PC motherboards=A0th=
at support UEFI 2.x in June 2008."


That's why I have chosen coreboot as my=A0hardware initialization firmware.

However, to date, there was no case of large scale adoption of=A0coreboot a=
nd Intel gave the main reason. To quote [5]:

"And with the GPL issues around intellectual property, hardware=A0vendors a=
nd OEM=92s will be unlikely to adopt LinuxBIOS going forward."

We can see that the main concern for Hardware Vendors to deploy=A0coreboot =
is not because it is open source, but, because it is under a=A0GPL License.

I believe that it could be valuable=A0to find a compromise for letting the =
big=A0players use coreboot technology. And my conclusion is that a=A0switch=
 to a BSD-style=A0Open Source licence could be a smart move, thus letting H=
ardware Vendors (CPU, Chipset,=A0OEMs, IHVs) protect innovation.
To prove the business case for a BSD-Licensed coreboot, I contacted two=A0p=
rominent hardware vendors from the UEFI Forum. To quote :

a)
"If you are able to make a clean break with the GPL-based Coreboot for=A0yo=
ur project to be BSD licensed, there may be elements that we may be=A0inter=
ested, or maybe it could be of interest to a special platform. We=A0don't n=
eed to open source firmware in that scenario and we can use any=A0of the co=
de for whatever reasons we want to. "

b)=A0
> "And with the GPL issues around intellectual property, hardware=A0vendors=
 and OEM=92s will be unlikely to adopt LinuxBIOS=A0> going forward." [5]

I think that's nonsense. VIA, AMD et al are quite happily contributing=A0to=
 coreboot. Not as much as we might like, perhaps, but they are doing=A0more=
 than X.

That's why despite all the work that X engineers are putting into=A0fast-bo=
ot work for Moblin, we still see people out there saying "If you=A0want it =
to boot fast, use AMD or VIA hardware".

There is absolutely no reason why a platform firmware couldn't be GPL=A0lic=
ensed. There's no real need for people to hide how the memory=A0controller =
is initialised. It's just baseless paranoia.

If there is _anything_ that actually _needs_ to be kept secret, then=A0it'l=
l be crypto (and DRM) stuff -- and if that stuff actually _does_=A0need to =
be kept secret then it's a clear indication that the hardware is=A0fundamen=
tally broken anyway.

> We can see that the main concern for Hardware Vendors to deploy=A0coreboo=
t is not because it is open source, but, because it> is under a=A0GPL Licen=
se.
>
> That's why we believe that=A0to switch to a BSD-style=A0Open Source licen=
ce could be a smart move, thus letting Hardware=A0> Vendors =A0(CPU, Chipse=
t,=A0OEMs, IHVs) protect innovation.

This is still a good move anyway, I think. People are too entrenched in=A0t=
he idea that the world will end if they actually tell people how to=A0initi=
alise the hardware, which is insane. We'll never cure that brain=A0damage a=
ll in one go and get to a fully open implementation; I think it=A0_has_ to =
be done piecemeal, which a BSD solution allows.

We can start off with some binary-only parts, and then pin the=A0nay-sayers=
 down on one at a time, and make them tell us _precisely_ what=A0form the a=
pocalypse will take if we publish the source code to each one.

> Our question is fairly simple. Would X consider any interest to=A0coreboo=
t AVATT under a BSD License ?

I cannot speak for X on such matters. But there are certainly=A0individuals=
 who would _like_ the company X to be interested, because we=A0believe it's=
 the right approach.



My question is fairly simple : Would people from=A0the coreboot project agr=
ee to release the=A0source code under a BSD-style Open Source licence inste=
ad of=A0the GPL ?
I look forward to your answer,
Best Regards,
Guillaume FORTAINE
[1]=A0http://www.coreboot.org/AVATT[2]=A0http://x86asm.net/articles/uefi-hy=
pervisors-winning-the-race-to-bare-metal/[3] https://edk2.tianocore.org/ds/=
viewMessage.do?dsForumId=3D139&dsMessageId=3D13751[4] https://edk2.tianocor=
e.org/ds/viewMessage.do?dsForumId=3D139&dsMessageId=3D13804[5]=A0http://www=
.uefi.org/learning_center/A_Tale_of_Two_Standards.pdf 		 	   		  =

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