A Marvell wireless card
In September 2006, Theo de Raadt, the founder of OpenBSD, was not happy with One Laptop Per Child.
He accused OLPC of not being Open Source, going so far as to call the developers "morally bankrupt" because they signed non-disclosure agreements (NDA's) with Marvell, the suppliers of the OLPC wireless mesh hardware.
Theo was mad that Red Hat's developers acquiesced to NDA's to gain access to documentation required to write and maintain a kernel drivers for the proprietary firmware used in Marvell's wireless networking hardware, making independent driver maintenance and usage extremely difficult.
Now Marvell has seemingly opened up a bit, and released the 88ALP01 data sheet. This documentation covers the camera, Secure Digital, and NAND flash controllers. A LWN.net commenter asks the best question around the change in documentation:
It would be interesting to know whether the creation of this document was in response to a condition of the choice of component, or to a condition on the NDA, or just due to seeing the benefit of openness (i.e., if they release the datasheet, people buy their components and use them without a large support burden or contract negotiation).
Theo de Raadt of OpenBSD
In an email to me he dismissed the 88ALP01 chipset documentation as not relevant, since its only in the OLPC and not even the wireless chipset, which he and others have now mostly reverse engineered. He confirms that SD driver support is nearly complete but SDIO is taking a bit longer to reverse engineer.
And yet, he is still disappointed that while the entire PC ecosystem is full of open devices, a few vendors still don't want to open up and Red Hat is not pressuring them to do so.
Personally, I'd love for OLPC to have real Open Source software and hardware to further allow and promote locally managed mesh networking support. That would be just one of many other XO computer support ecosystem businesses that enable OLPC to generate local employment opportunities - arguably just as important as educational opportunities - to increase a country's long-term growth and development.