Radeon driver in linux libre

Rubén Rodríguez Pérez ruben at es.gnu.org
Wed Jan 28 20:45:10 UTC 2009

>> Someone at this forum said that this parser can be avoided via a (less
>> powerfull) MMIO method, thus providing 3D support for ATI cards in the
>> linux-libre kernel, which would be great. I'll ask this person about it.
> Hmm, interesting, I hadn't realized that.  This would indeed be awesome.

I've got a response from John Bridgman, AMD's responsible for GNU/Linux
drivers, and it seems that whithout the microcode we can only achieve 2D
(and partial 3D) acceleration, but just for old cards. New cards need the
firmware for both 2D and 3D routines, and even Xv extensions. I'm not sure
if it's worth maintaining a deblobed driver, as those cards are usable
without DRM anyway (with no acceleration). An additional response from
Alex Deucher (xorg.org developer) confirms the technical difficulties.

Mr Bridgman also ask's me why embedded firmware is ok for us while the
same binary in a file is not.

I think a correct answer is this:
If the firmware is invisibly burned inside the hardware in a way I cannot
access to it, then I don't need a software license to use my video card.
If I need to get and use a file from a software provider (the card
vendor), then it's fine as long as its license respects my freedom.

As my response can be taken as GNU's one, I prefer to ask you before
replying to him.

I think it would be nice to convince them about this issue, is a tiny
piece of code that will render the driver non free, thus forcing us to
give AMD not credit for their freedom efforts.

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