At the LFCS (Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit) recently, some of the discussion was about system on chip (SoC) vendors including IP blocks (basically special circuitry to interface to the world in a specific way, like for outputting 3D graphics) in their designs that require non-free kernel drivers. By non-free, I mean that the source code is not available without some type of non-disclosure agreement. LWN mentioned this. It's basically an accepted fact of life in the embedded world right now that if you want certain kinds of hardware, you're stuck with non-free kernel drivers.

I don't want to deal with non-free IP blocks. The whole point of using Linux on embedded devices is because stuff works, and when it doesn't, you have the source and can see why. This enables delivery of a system faster and more effectively.

Are there any low cost embedded development boards out there that do not include any non-free hardware? I'd prefer a board where all the drivers exist in the mainline kernel, but stuff in -staging is OK, too. An ARM processor isn't a requirement, I'm open to MIPS, PowerPC, SuperH, x86, or any other type, just as long as I can use all of the hardware without needing any non-free code. Oh, and it should cost $150 or less.



17 April 2011