[libre-riscv-dev] Alex Oliva's intro, and RFC on mission

Alexandre Oliva oliva at gnu.org
Wed Nov 18 23:00:51 GMT 2020

Hello, there,

I thought I'd long missed this boat, but Luke tells me I'm still welcome
to join, so, here I am, very excited at that :-)

I've earned my living working mainly in GCC for a little over 20 years
now.  I've worked on some base ports and processor major revisions
(including binutils and libc) in the earlier days, then I spent a fair
amount of time on improving debug information.  Though I've done some
optimization work, I've often been more of a bug-fixer focused on
correctness than performance.  I've got strong logical reasoning skills,
I'm fluent in C and C++, I could use some more practice in Python, and I
can grasp a number of other programming and scripting languages.

I currently contract part-time with AdaCore, working on GCC; I volunteer
time as Free Software activist and as a board member at FSF Latin
America and at the original FSF; and I'm involved in GNU Linux-libre and
in the 0G Project (see <https://www.fsfla.org/ikiwiki/blogs/lxo/pub/0G>
and <https://libreplanetbr.org/0G/> AKA

I hope my skills can find some use here, though I've always thought of
myself as more of a (free) software person than a hardware person.  I'm
particularly motivated because I see Libre-SOC not only as an end in
itself (which is already incredibly empowering and liberating), but also
as an enabler for 0G devices, so I feel that, by contributing to
Libre-SOC, I'm also contributing to 0G.

I've read the charter and the discussion about it, and I'm at ease to
express my agreement with it, though I was surprised to see so much meta
and none of the concrete mission in there.

I found the mission statement elsewhere, and though I like what I see, I
perceive a tension that I'm not sure you've already discussed, let alone
decided on.  I've downloaded the full archives, but haven't gone through
them yet.

Specifically, I'm concerned about "maximize the degree of trust a
customer can place in their processor".  I suppose "customer" refers to
that who buys designs or chips directly from us, but not to downstream
customers of those who integrate them into their products.

Considering how several parties are looking into turning computing
devices into consumer-controlling artefacts, for purposes of DRM,
banking, voting and whatnot, I'm a little wary of the apparent
incompleteness of the mission statement, that seems to empower our
direct customers to mistreat downstream users.

This reminds me of the difference between copyleft and lax permissive
licenses.  While the latter shares the problem of potential abuse
described above, the latter is designed to enable all users to place
trust in it.  Could we possibly build that express wish of leveling the
empowerment field into our shared mission?


Alexandre Oliva, happy hacker  https://FSFLA.org/blogs/lxo/
   Free Software Activist         GNU Toolchain Engineer
        Vim, Vi, Voltei pro Emacs -- GNUlius Caesar

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