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Raspberry Pi graphics gets open source drivers

Broadcom takes the lead
Wed Oct 24 2012, 15:05
Raspberry Pi

TINY COMPUTER MAKER the Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that the system-on-chip (SoC) used in the credit card sized computer now has open source drivers.

While the Raspberry Pi Foundation has promoted the Raspberry Pi computer as a device to teach programming, it has become a hit with hobbyists and developers due to its low cost and Linux support. Now the foundation has announced that all drivers for the Broadcom BCM2835 used in the device has been open sourced.

The foundation's announcement means that all the components of the BCM2835 SoC have open source drivers that are provided by Broadcom rather than reverse engineered like the open source Nouveau graphics driver that attempts to work around Nvidia's decision not to disclose specifications for its chips. The Raspberry Pi Foundation said that all of the Videocore driver code has been released under a three clause BSD license and is available from its userland repository.

Alex Bradbury, the Raspberry Pi Foundation's lead Linux developer said, "The open sourcing of the userland libraries is of course going to be massively helpful to those of you who have been either actively porting or wanting to use alternate operating systems on the Raspberry Pi. 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."

Bradbury urged other SoC vendors to open source their drivers, which will significantly help developers. But Bradbury's wishes are likely to fall on deaf ears as GPU vendors in particular have shown throughout the years that they will continue to keep their drivers closed source and provide incomplete documentation to try to outdo each other. µ


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