2B1: We Have Cameras


Christopher Blizzard's photo - unflipped
Christopher Blizzard has revealed yet another exclusive over at his 0xdeadbeef site: a picture of the 2B1's on board camera in action. Its rather difficult to tell how good the imaging is from a photo; that doesn't look like the revolutionary dual mode screen in action - but according to Christopher:
[...] it looks great. Good frame rate, Xv overlay in X and with a really good resolution.
As the camera sensor is another Marvell device, this news risks adding fuel to the recent furore over OLPC seemingly violating their open source manifesto. OLPC's readiness to sign NDAs with Marvell to work on their wireless cards caused ripples across the open source community. Jonathan Corbett, the camera driver developer, has said that he signed an NDA with OLPC; an admission that seems to do little to staunch the (closed) source of Theo de Raadt's ire.

However, in a recent jemreport piece - the excellent and much re-blogged "Making sense of the One Laptop Per Child proprietary software row" - Jem Matzan asked Jonathan Corbett about this driver work and got the following reply:

Jonathan Corbet: [...] the first version of the [camera] driver was posted on the OLPC development list this very day. You can see the full source there if you are interested. A look at that driver will confirm (1) that it is a GPL-licensed driver, and (2) that it is not dealing with any firmware under any license.
[...] As for what's in the driver, I would invite you to look at the code (see http://mailman.laptop.org/pipermail/devel/2006-October/002557.html) and decide for yourself. The driver itself is not immediately portable -- it is a Linux driver, not a BSD driver - but the principles of operation for the controller device should come through very well. I'm not much of a fan of "magic numbers" in any code.
Whether this does anything to placate the gathering open source pitchfork brigade remains to be seen, although the argument does seem to have died down somewhat of late. To give OLPC credit, the camera and wireless drivers have been developed at breakneck speed, so perhaps there is something to be said for their "sign NDAs and get things done now" approach. After all, it's not like they don't have some rather tight deadlines on the horizon- Quanta have already started test production and test units are due out next month.

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