[flashrom] LGPL

Carl-Daniel Hailfinger c-d.hailfinger.devel.2006 at gmx.net
Thu Apr 26 00:54:03 CEST 2012

Hi Jay,

some time ago I looked into adding VxWorks support to flashrom, but I
couldn't find any VxWorks user who was interested in that.

Am 25.04.2012 15:29 schrieb Rolette, James (Jay):
> [...] The reason I'm asking about LGPL is that I'm interested in porting
> flashrom to VxWorks and using it in an embedded system.
> Historically we've written our own custom code for programming the various
> programmable parts we use and it makes more sense to work with something
> like flashrom if possible.
> More than happy to contribute back our changes, but need the license to be
> something we can use in a system with flat memory space, etc.

I don't know anything about VxWorks internals, so my suggestions may be
a bit off. If this is just about linking flashrom against the standard
VxWorks system C library, the GPLv2 system library exception looks like
it would fit the bill without any need for license changes:
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLIncompatibleLibs . That
said, I'm not a lawyer and this does not constitute legal advice. The
FSF may have an opinion

> libflashrom is really what we'd be more interested in, but looks too early
> for that.  Might be something we could help build if we can work out the
> licensing issues

libflashrom is still in its infancy as you correctly observed. The idea
behind libflashrom was to allow multiple GUIs for flashrom without
having to ship a modified copy of flashrom as part of the GUI. The
current libflashrom interface is just a convenient way to allow two
slightly different CLIs for flashrom (the default one and the variant
used by Google in their devices). We are working on cleaning up the
flashrom codebase to make the libflashrom code more self-contained and
more library-like (i.e. no exit(1) calls), but that will take time in
absence of any serious advanced libflashrom users. I'd be happy to help
with designing a proper libflashrom interface, but such an endeavour
will need time to be done the right way.

> Given how common programmable parts are in embedded
> systems, seems like LGPL would end up netting more contributions from
> companies as they add support for the parts they are using on their designs
> Although I'm sure I'm not bringing up anything you guys haven't discussed.

I know that some vendors use flashrom internally for
manufacturing/repair/..., but they don't distribute flashrom to their
Kontron and Google have contributed directly to flashrom, and some
hardware manufacturers (Nuvoton and ITE) have contributed code via
Google. Some flash chip vendors have offered samples and/or datasheets.
That's pretty much all the manufacturer involvement we've seen in the
last 10 years since flashrom development started.
I haven't seen any requests for alternative flashrom licensing since I
started working on flashrom in 2006. Due to that, I doubt a switch to
LGPL would result in a sizable number of contributions from companies.



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