[Arm-netbook] Side-Topic: Liberating PocketCHIP

mike.valk at gmail.com mike.valk at gmail.com
Thu May 4 16:13:23 BST 2017

2017-05-04 9:04 GMT+02:00 John Luke Gibson <eaterjolly at gmail.com>:

> Since it seems like a trivially simple task that for some reason no
> one has taken up, I would like to take the opportunity to exercise a
> learning experience and simultaneously benefit the community, by
> liberating PocketCHIP by deblobbing the source and re-compiling.

The PocketCHIP is powered by their SoM:

That is apparently a Allwinner R8 pared with an external rtl8723bs Wifi/BT

The R8 is a rebranded A13.

If you look at

You'll see:
On the left image the RAM (Hynix) and Wifi+BT (Realtek) and Power module
(Allwinner AXP209)
On the right the SoC (R8/A13) and NAND (Samsung)

The A13 does not need blob's to run anymore, the WiFi+BT chip does.  AFAIKT

Display output needs some checking in Linux and U-boot mainline. But most
should be available or somewhat easily hacked in.

GPU needs a BLOB which does not work on mainline AFAIKT. Luc Verhaegen did
get quite far before he burned out.

But looking at the SUNXI wiki the CHIP products could need some TLC.

The PocketCHIP does not have it's own page there and probably needs a DT
overlay. I doubt that runtime can autosense the hardware on that.

> Browsing the archives to see if this had been talked about before, I
> find it very incredibly humourous I got name dropped on the mailing
> list by Parobath:
> > Date: Sat, 29 Oct 2016 20:13:10 +0200
> > From: Parobalth <parobalth at gmail.com>
> > To: arm-netbook at lists.phcomp.co.uk
> > Subject: closed-source BootROM and RYF certification
> > User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.23 (2014-03-12)
> >
> > At the forum of NextThing Chip is a thread about Chip and a
> > possible RYF certification. I wrote there that I think that is unlikely
> > to happen and linked to https://www.crowdsupply.com/
> eoma68/micro-desktop/updates/fsf-ryf-background.
> > Then someone else mentioned that a closed-source BootROM is used for
> Chip.
> > Another guy with username "eaterjolly" wrote about this BootROM: "The
> same type of SOC is
> > used for the EOMA croud project which is vying for ryf-endorsement quite
> > openly [...]"
> >
> > You can find the forum thread here:
> > https://bbs.nextthing.co/t/ntc-thoughts-on-ryf-endorsement/4490
> >
> > Because they use Discourse to power their forum which relies heavily on
> > JavaScript I also attach a Pdf version of the forum post.
> >
> > I wonder if the mentioned statements are correct and how it relates to
> > the RYF certification of the EOMA68-A20 Libre Tea card.
> >
> > kind regards
> > Paro
> Like reading that URL, I was like? didn't I start that thread? then I
> re-read the post and noticed I was quoted in the email xD I didn't
> participate in the list back then, cause I was afraid my ignorance
> would be spurred, of course I know that not to be true in hindsight.
> Feels a bit melodramatic being name dropped on a linux mailing list,
> usually you only see legends get mentioned by name when they aren't
> around xD
> Anywhoo, I more or less just wanted to start this thread because I
> wanted to know if any one could point out anything that would need be
> removed besides the wifi firmware. I searched the sunix-uboot
> repository on github for the word blob and got a few interesting hits
> for the code in the folder binman:
> https://github.com/linux-sunxi/u-boot-sunxi/search?q=blob
> Particularly in files mentioning the devil:
> "# Entry-type module for Intel Chip Microcode binary blob"

That contains a full copy of U-Boot, not the Linux kernel, and thus
initialization for all type of hardware. Most of which requires microcode
of firmware to work.

> I suppose this is just another aspect of mainlining, meant to be
> parsed out once it's discovered that there are no such blobs in the
> kernel, but personally I'd feel more comfortable with a script
> removing these sections of the code altogether.
> If I had been actually reading the list digests back when I could have
> posted more accurate information in that thread rather than just
> guessing. Well, I suppose I can do so now.
> How humorous it is though too that I've run into the same 40k file
> limit? Small tiny things suggesting the work of the vicissitudes of
> fate, much like deja vu in the matrix.
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