[LEDE-DEV] FCC killing open platforms and inovations

Simon Wunderlich simon.wunderlich at open-mesh.com
Thu Nov 17 02:19:48 PST 2016

Hi Petr,

On Thursday, November 17, 2016 11:07:17 AM CET Petr Štetiar wrote:
> Simon Wunderlich <simon.wunderlich at open-mesh.com> [2016-11-17 10:49:01]:
> Hi Simon,
> > No, firmware (at least in ath10k) doesn't solve the problem. You can still
> > set a country code, DFS pattern matching is still done in the host-side
> > driver part (and not in the firmware), and you can still disable radar
> > detection.
> please correct me if I'm mistaken, but you should be able to get ath10k
> firmware sources under NDA, at least Candela Technologies was able[1] to
> obtain it. Then you can just prepare locked down version of the firmware for
> US market, so you're not able to change country code, fiddle with DFS
> pattern matching or disable radar detection from host-side driver.
> I know, this is not robust solution either, someone can then swap the
> firmware blobs and have unlocked version again. But you can do this with
> U-Boot also, swap the locked down version with unlocked version if you
> really want to do this.
> To make it robust solution, WiFi chipsets would need to support uploading of
> signed images only.

As you pointed out, the firmware blob is stored in the flash part. It is trivial 
to update it or replace it with the upstream (unrestricted) version. Even if 
we were to modify the firmware to do all the regulatory stuff inside (which is 
non-trivial), we can not argue that it can not be circumvented easily (by just 
using the mainstream firmware, or replace the whole firmware).

On the other hand, swapping the u-boot is not so trivial, at least without 
opening/soldering/modifying the flash from outside, which is considered a 
reasonable hurdle.

> > In my personal opinion, binary blob firmware (at least as its used today)
> > just creates more problems regarding open-ness that it could possibly
> > solve.
> Well it's sad state of the things, but we're slowly getting used to have
> binary blobs in GSM modems, WiFi chipsets and in GPUs for example. But for
> me it's still far better to have one binary blob in the system(in WiFi for
> example), then completely crippled and locked down devices like we're
> seeing now with OpenMesh products.

I completely agree.

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