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Liberating MediaTek bootloaders and modem firmware
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-04-16 01:49:43

On the right you can see photos of a Coolpad Modena 2, which was built around MediaTek's MT6735P SoC (System on a chip). In case you are wondering why we're not showing a picture with postmarketOS running on it: we can't! This is because the vendor decided to ship it with a closed down bootloader, which prevents users from running custom kernels.

The postmarketOS team details how they are cracking open the bootloader and the cellular modem firmware on MediaTek-based devices.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-15
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The only sane move...
By Kochise on 2018-04-16 04:54:58
...would be to let these chipmakers "die" (pun intended) once for all instead to waste so much time and resources trying to revive them into relevance. Let the natural selection operate and concentrate your efforts on more open and friendly alternatives, like AllWinner (aka Sunxi).
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RE: The only sane move...
By bitwelder on 2018-04-16 08:07:49
Sad to see how low we moved the open source bar, if now AllWinner is pointed as an positive model.
Permalink - Score: 4
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RE[2]: The only sane move...
By Kochise on 2018-04-16 08:42:26
Sorry to say that, but if they are not the strongest performance wise, they are the more open platform wise. Broadcom is good in both, even Rockchip do a pretty good job in the later. It's up to nVidia, Qualcomm or even Apple to be more open about their chips.

Just like AMD did with most of the former ATi chips and publicly released their datasheets for a broader adoption in the open community. So yeah, AllWinner have to be positively considered, regarding their positive efforts in that matter.

Edited 2018-04-16 08:43 UTC
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RE: The only sane move...
By kurkosdr on 2018-04-16 12:02:24
Yeah, good luck convincing most people to boycott MediaTek because they can't do something they don't even understand with tools they can't to use. Most people just want an integrated product and that's it. Even if a "right to repair" bill is passed it probably won't cover third-party software modifications.

So no, boycotts don't work, just be glad that geeks and nerd who care about this stuff are still a large enough market to allow the existence of products that cater to their needs.

Basically, someone needs to tell those Linux nerds that ARM is not like the "evil" x86 world of Intel and AMD where you can buy any bargain-bin machine and get at least a successful kernel boot on it, so they stop buying bargain-bin ARM hardware.

Edited 2018-04-16 12:05 UTC
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RE[2]: The only sane move...
By viton on 2018-04-16 13:16:45
> Basically, someone needs to tell those Linux nerds that ARM is not like the "evil" x86 world of Intel and AMD
AMD presence is insignificant, so x86 world is a monopoly.
No one is allowed to produce modern x86 chips (except VIA, haha)

> where you can buy any bargain-bin machine and get at least a successful kernel boot on it, so they stop buying bargain-bin ARM hardware.
Why not to buy “bargain-bin ARM hardware” with open boot loader?
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: The only sane move...
By Alfman on 2018-04-16 13:59:09
Kochise,

> Let the natural selection operate and concentrate your efforts on more open and friendly alternatives, like AllWinner (aka Sunxi).

Natural selection isn't always fair.
If we didn't have rules and regulations and adopted a pure economy of natural selection. The incumbent companies would trounce the startups each and every time, not because they're the best, but because they control the deck. There would be no alternatives. If we gave up on regulation and went by "survival of the fittest", then there would be no viable competition: no apple, no amd, no google, nothing. It would be rockafeller level dominance where control is absolute and nobody has a chance to compete.


Obviously I'm highlighting the extremes here, but I suggest we opt for merit based selection that directly encourages innovation over power grabs.
Permalink - Score: 7
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RE[2]: The only sane move...
By Kochise on 2018-04-16 14:44:40
Yeah, I dream of a 68k world over a x86 one.

Seriously, I do understand the necessity of a regulation to allow innovative products not be crushed by unfair/monopolistic position.

If only paying just a light fine wouldn't allow such unfair/monopolistic position to continue, mostly because those are US based, and nothing should interfere in US'/big companies' interests.

Same about fruit companies, you get the idea.
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE[3]: The only sane move...
By kurkosdr on 2018-04-16 16:48:47
> Why not to buy “bargain-bin ARM hardware” with open boot loader?

My point is you can't just go to the bargain-bin of Best Buy, buy a tablet or phone you found there and expect to get a kernel boot on it just like that.

Edited 2018-04-16 16:49 UTC
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE[4]: The only sane move...
By Alfman on 2018-04-17 13:26:16
kurkosdr,

> My point is you can't just go to the bargain-bin of Best Buy, buy a tablet or phone you found there and expect to get a kernel boot on it just like that.

You can file this under the "people don't care" category. Still, realistically it's precisely this property of PCs that enabled linux to become viable. People just didn't go out and buy a niche computer to try linux, not at all. If they had, it would have ended like commadore and atari. People like me were able to start with linux on a pre-existing commodity PC that we already had available. The live CDs couldn't have made it any easier. We were lucky with dual booting on PCs, they didn't have to evolve this way.

As much as I want to support ARM, we aren't so lucky with the evolutionary track it is on, it can be very difficulty to run open operation system software on commodity ARM processors, partly because of lack of standards, and partly because of deliberate lockout mechanisms. And no, it's not enough for me that a device runs "linux" if it's not an unrestricted linux I can get into and update on my own terms. GPL3 would have given us those rights.
Permalink - Score: 5
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RE[5]: The only sane move...
By Kochise on 2018-04-17 17:46:21
But where are the "open" ARM "toys" ? Why the N900 haven't succeeded ? Why not the GP32 ? Why not those 7" android netbook with open bootloader ? Sure Amiga and Atari were different beasts, but at least all people owning them had the same hardware and thus use the same software without worrying about driver compatibility and shit.

Is there a really open ARM device powerful enough ? Oh, yeah, the Raspberry Pi Zero...
Permalink - Score: 3

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