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Re: Starting a debian-cross mailing list

[Cut follow-ups to debian-embedded only]

On Tuesday 23. July 2013 10.34.51 Jeremiah Foster wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 8:44 AM, W. Martin Borgert <debacle@debian.org> 
> > 
> > Note: I assume, that debian-cross will not only cover
> > Debian-to-Debian cross-compiling, but also cross-compiling to
> > other targets, e.g. Android, 8-bit-microcontrollers or
> > proprietary systems such as MS Windows. Please correct me, if
> > I'm wrong.
> Actually, I suspect there won't be a lot of that for two reasons; Firstly,
> Debian ARM folks tend to be Free Software advocates. This may be due to the
> prevalence of cheap hardware with "linux" on it. One begins to hack on
> these machines and discovers some scary things -- missing licenses,
> incorrect kernel versions, hacky drivers, etc.

This kind of thing is pretty widespread, both at the Linux level and at the 
microcontroller level. It's a consequence of people thinking that they have 
done their job once the code they found on the Internet compiles and can be 
shipped as a binary.

> It is so much easier if
> there is a corresponding source code repository and a one-to-one
> correspondence of code to binary and good Free Software distributions
> provide this. Of course many of us prefer software licensed under the GPL
> so that will likely have an impact on list discussions.

I'm following debian-embedded because I'm still trying to get to grips with 
cross-building as well as cross-bootstrapping, the latter mostly working for 
me at the moment. I suppose that once you go below the level of the Debian 
package and just start building random sources, the only connection left with 
Debian is the toolchain, but that's one reason why I'm reading this list!

> Secondly, I've not seen a lot of discussion on microcontrollers (do many of
> them run Linux?), Wince, or even Android. I suspect the Debian tools tend
> to be Debian specific, i.e. debbootstrap creates a new Debian (or Ubuntu)
> chroot and doesn't have a lot of usefulness for Fedora for example, let
> alone Windows.

Microcontrollers seem to be more or less defined these days as the kind of 
thing that won't run Linux, but I see a certain benefit to trying to build a 
infrastructure for such hardware that is analogous to what Debian provides 
with its repositories for more powerful computers. So, it might be nice to 
"apt-get source" some libraries for Arduino and actually have decent source 
with well-defined licensing that can be combined with other libraries and 
built for a device. Naturally, these libraries would be distinct from anything 
you'd be running on your personal computer, so one might argue that you 
wouldn't be deploying something strictly Debian on your Arduino, and thus it 
would be some kind of parallel repository infrastructure and perhaps not even 
"Debian" as such, but I'd hope that many of the tools would be the same.

I'm sure I've seen people shipping binary-only libraries for Arduino, and I've 
definitely seen code which came from somewhere mysterious and has nothing 
other than a copyright statement (which is most likely fraudulent in some 
respects given that the code can be seen in reliable tutorials), so there 
seems to be a need for some kind of "Device Debian" if people are going to be 
able to put any trust in the code they share with others. One complicating 
factor is that things like the Arduino Yún are Linux-capable devices - similar 
to but somewhat more powerful than the Ben NanoNote, so they will be able to 
run Debian - but they also have AVR microcontrollers as part of the device. I 
can see a need for properly cultivated packages for the microcontroller part 
of such solutions as well as the Linux part.

> As usual, YMMV, but I don't think there will be a lot of non-Debian
> discussion.

Yes, there really has to be some kind of Debian angle.


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