Subject: Re: [ppc-mobo] Re: GPL-like hardware design license?
From: Geert Uytterhoeven <>
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999 10:30:32 +0200 (MET DST)

On Mon, 4 Oct 1999, John Metzger wrote:
> > On 10/4/99 10:24 AM, intimated:
> >>I think this is basically impossible; I wrote an article
> >>explaining the reasons, which was published in Linux Today.
> >>It may be in as well.
> >
> > The specific URL is <>.
> Richard Stallman wrote in the article:
> > Whether or not a hardware device's internal design is free, it is
> > absolutely vital for its interface specifications to be free. We can't
> > write free software to run the hardware without knowing how to operate it.
> > (Selling a piece of hardware, and refusing to tell the customer how to use
> > it, strikes me as unconscionable.) But that is another issue.
> To me that's the really big issue too. If the documentation which describes
> the register set for the devices on the motherboard aren't available on the
> net it makes programming those devices just a whee bit harder.
> The south bridge in POP does have the information available on the web,
> while the SIO chip (national's PC87308) does not (at least I could not find
> it. If you get a hold of the right people in side National they'll send a
> hardcopy of the documentation on the register set, but that's not as "open"

I have the PC87308 doc in PDF, mailed to me by someone from NS IIRC.

> as simply downloading a PDF file from National's Web site.). Both the
> hardware information, like pinout, signal definitions, timing and electrical
> specs are need. It does help to know what pin 103 is supposed to be when
> looking at it with a scope or logic analyzer. The software specifications
> are also needed.

Yes, manufacturers must provide programming specs for their chips to be used on
an `Open Hardware' project. The chip itself's internal design need not to be
free. This is similar to running GNU software on top of proprietary OSses, like
someone already pointed out.

Usually getting specs for motherboard chips isn't a problem (except for video)
because all the manufacturer is interested in is selling more chips.



Geert Uytterhoeven ----------------- Sony Suprastructure Center Europe (SUPC-E) ------------------- Sint Stevens Woluwestraat 55
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