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ODROID-C2 and board support in general

On 2016-05-06, peter green wrote:
> On 06/05/16 20:59, Phil Endecott wrote:
>> It interests me to speculate as to why, at both a technical and an
>> organisational level, these people are doing their own things, rather
>> than making "real" Debian work on this board.  Are any of the
>> people involved in this even reading this list?
> To get "plain Debian" working on a board with a new SoC requires a LOT 
> of effort upstreaming patches (since the Debian maintainers 
> understandablly don't want to put random vendor crap in their packages 
> and try to support it locally).

There are also boards where there is some mainline support in u-boot and
linux, but the appropriate features have not yet been enabled in the
Debian packages. Much of what I've done is testing what kernel options
are needed and requesting they be enabled in the linux packages.
Occasionally, I attempt to backport minimal patches from linux-next to
whatever linux version is currently in unstable.

On a great $TIME_UNIT, I report bugs upstream, or nudge the right
people, and someone eventually, miraculously fixes them!  But that takes
time, patience, testing, and often more time, and more testing, and more
patience, and more time still, usually.

> Even when it does work there are often functional limitations due to
> code that is either non-free or is free but needs major reworking
> before upstream will take it.

Indeed. Numerous boards will work with mainline kernel and even mainline
u-boot, but require non-free "firmware" (raspberry pi, odroid-xu4) to
even boot. In the "Debian will remain 100% free" section of the Debian
social contract (https://www.debian.org/social_contract):

  "We will never make the system require the use of a non-free

Many boards simply won't boot without non-free components.  This
basically means we can't create fully working debian-installer images
for those boards, unless someone reverse-engineers a free alternative

The definition of "work" is another issue. I've largely been testing
serial console machines for building software as part of the
reproducible-builds project, so mostly verify serial console, all CPUs
are detected, memory is correctly detected, ethernet, sata, mmc/emmc and
usb support. Other features get limited, if any, testing from me.

Obviously, that doesn't support all use-cases that people might expect
most of these boards to work with, given that many have HDMI, audio and
other ports.

> Whereas to get a mostly Debian system with a few custom bits (kernel, 
> bootloader, possiblly custom versions of a few libraries) going is much 
> easier.

Convenience of the moment wins almost every time.

live well,

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