Raspberry Pi Gets More Open Code

Today, in a post on its Web site, the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced that the source code for the video drivers used in its $35 single-board Linux computer would be available under an open-source license.

As of right now, all of the VideoCore driver code which runs on the ARM is available under a FOSS license (3-Clause BSD to be precise).

According to Alex Bradbury, author of the post and lead Linux developer at the Foundation, all the software running on the Pi’s ARM processor is now open source.  (The post has a link to the source repository.)

This development will please advocates of free and open-source software.  It should also make it easier for developers to make use of the graphics acceleration capability that is part of the Pi, including those who are porting various OS environments to the device.

We’ve been excitedly following the progress of FreeBSD, NetBSD, Plan9, RISC OS, Haiku and others. All these projects could now potentially port these libraries and make use of the full hardware accelerated graphics facilities of the Raspberry Pi.

I have seen some grousing that some of the code that runs on the graphics chip itself has not been open-sourced.  I don’t know enough about the hardware to evaluate this claim, but it seems to me that half a loaf is preferable to none, especially since the original goal of the Raspberry Pi project was largely educational.  In any case, Broadcom, the chip vendor, has taken a significant step in the direction of openness, and deserves credit for that.

Ars Technica also has an article on this announcement.

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