Category Archives: Licensing

Open source licenses

Open platform but not free tools

As I suspected and guessed in my blog post yesterday, Jason Kridner of Texas Instruments responded to the mailing list and confirmed that the “open platform” currently doesn’t even have a free-to-use assembler for the DSP in the DaVinci (which thus has less free tools available than the DM320 series!) and the gcc port seem to be mostly an idea so far:

I’m not aware of any solid plans on a gcc port yet, but I can confirm that TI plans to offer C64x+ C compiler and assembler tools similar to the way we provide the C54x tools for the current OSD. The restrictions and registration might not be exactly the same, but my view is that the important thing is to get something out there that any hobbyist can use for free. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for someone doing coding for use in their own living room to need to pay $3000+ for a full set of development tools when all they need is a C compiler they can run on their Linux box.

I acknowledge that Neuros really seem to make efforts to make things truly open and free, but TI’s ways are often far from straight-forward and obvious. Jason refers to his presentation from Lugradio live, but I don’t see how that clarifies anything on the openness front.

TI and Neuros but is it open?

Neuros put out a press release yesterday saying that
Neuros and Texas Instruments create new bounty program for next-gen Open Internet Television Platform“, and Joe Born of Neuros said on their mailing list that “it will be a complete open platform that will allow developers of all levels to contribute and port applications.”. You can also read some additional thoughts and ideas in the ARS Technica article called “TI and Neuros team up to build open source media platform“. It is basically a hardware platform based on TI’s TMS320DM644x DSP system-on-a-chip line, also called DaVinci. There’s no coincidence of course that the Neuros OSD 2.0 will feature that.

Personally, I’m not convinced when I see TI speak of Open Source since I’m fully aware of their history and I even believe that this brand new “open” platform still requires TI’s restricted-but-free compiler for the DSP. Of course it is more open than many other platforms, but I dislike when someone tries to sound all fine and dandy while at the same time they’re trying to hide some of their better cards behind their back.

A truly open platform would not give TI an advantage. It would offer anyone wanting to do anything with it the same chance. This platform does not. After all, having it built around one of SoC flagships should be enough for them and should be a motivator for them to make this as successful (and thus as open) as possible.

I think it is sad that Neuros repeatedly does this kind of statements. Their original “open source” player was never open source (to any degree). Their OSD player is largely open source but huge chunks of it is not. Now they try to announce even more openness for an entire platform and yet again they fail to actually deliver a truly open product. Neuros shall forever be known as the company who seems to want to do right, but always fails to in the end nonetheless.

Update: Joe replied on the list to my question about the DSP tool(s) and it certainly sounds as if TI may in fact release a more open tool and/or even a gcc port!? If that turns out true it will of course squash most of my complaints here!

AOL UK uses curl in disguise

Information to this was mailed to me from a friend but is easily verified as I’ll describe below.curl tiny

America Online in the UK (AOL UK) is using our cURL application (without including the license anywhere) as part of their automated broadband router configuration CD for their AOL UK customer base. The CD is provided to all AOL UK customers and the automated router configuration component using cURL has been included with it for a couple of years.

The software includes the cURL application renamed to “AOL_Broadband_Installer.EXE“. There is no license included or mention of the license anywhere on the CD or installer, contrary to what’s required at

The md5sum for AOL_Broadband_Installer.EXE matches the win32 binary in the release package I personally built and offer for download…!

If you want to check it out yourself, the direct link I figured out to the installer is here and I found it on this page (download the “easy installer” for Netgear DG834G).

Update: see my reply below.

Ainol License Violation

Ainol V2000 is one of them Chinese portable media players we see pop up every now and then in a never-ending series – most of them never really reach the western markets.Ainol V2000

For this particular player the firmware is available, and by simply inspecting the contents of that we can see that it is packed with open source and free software, but nowhere is the source for this package to be found… (not all of these packages are GPL licensed of course)

GEMDOS, Mplayer (various parts), unzip by Gilles Vollant, MAME, Snes9x, FLAC, wxMusik, VisualBoyAdvance, SDL, FFmpeg, Avifile

The image also seems to contain code from Real and possibly also from Microsoft (based on a guess on the file name strings)…

And if you want to dig around more, here’s the 5.2 MB firmware file available for download. It seems Ainol’s official web site doesn’t even mention this V2000 model?

(Marcoen brought most of this to my attention.)

GPLv3 pains start now

rockbox Yeah, Rockbox ships as a GPLv2 licensed package, without the “or later” option for users to switch license at will. This has been all fine and dandy for a long time and Rockbox includes source from a busload of different other projects, licensed as GPLv2 and BSD etc.

Now, some of the projects Rockbox uses or wants to use are slowly turning GPLv3. First out being espeak, and the corresponding Rockbox patch for using it.

GPLv2 and GPLv3 are not compatible. We cannot ship binaries built with a mix of these licenses.

So, we’re now starting to see the real-world effects of the GPLv3 license. Slowly some projects are going v3, and we (as in the Rockbox project) must remain with their older v2 sources until we take the jump (more or less forced) to v3 – only to then have the reversed situation as then we can’t use projects that are licensed strictly GPLv2 (without the “or later”)…

Sigh. The world is a complicated place.