[maemo-developers] [maemo-developers] RE: Nokia 770 sources...

From: Riku Voipio rvoipio+maemo at movial.fi
Date: Thu Aug 31 11:51:06 EEST 2006
Michael Wiktowy wrote:
> IANAL but it is my understanding that most countries have RFI laws 
> that do not allow RF chip manufacturers to allow their users to modify 
> their chips to switch to licensed bands or use an amount of power that 
> brings it into a licenseable realm. It is not just the case of the law 
> saying that a user can't operate in certain realms ... the user can't 
> even be allowed to *possibly* operate in certain realms. So if an 
> embedded chip is flexible enough, the manufacturers nerf it with a 
> binary blob.
If that would be the case, HW vendors should put the transmission power 
restrictions in the hardware. a binary blob doesn't prevent 
modification, it's security via obscurity. And since this blob is often 
just arm instructions, it's not particularly good obfuscation either. 
This is only slightly more effective than actually releasing the C code, 
if the code uses all the HW registers via hex values and other 
undocumented magic numbers, instead of using #define:d values[1] to 
actually describe what the driver does.

More likely manufacturers feel that there is valuable IP in their blobs 
and would prefer not to give it around to everyone for free, especially 
in a highly competitive market like wlan chipsets are.


[1] It can be argued that such form is actually not the "preferred form 
of modification" required by GPL.

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