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[liberationtech] Fwd: [b2g] open-source vs proprietary RIL stack

Danny O'Brien DObrien at
Tue Oct 16 09:48:17 PDT 2012

On 10/15/2012 05:55 PM, Lee Fisher wrote:

FYI, Mozilla clarifies policy on B2G RIL blobs.

[The platform might become a handset option, someday, in some countries,
starting with Latin America, AFAIK. Today you can dual-boot it on a few
Android v4 phones.]

That's really interesting, thanks for posting. At the not-actually-that-mysterious[1] CPJ online press freedom event in San Francisco last week, Sid Stamm from Mozilla met with some activist technologists to talk about FirefoxOS. I wasn't at that particular breakout session, but I heard issues about the RIL were very high up in people's concerns (as well as the resilience of FirefoxOS's security model against an infrastructure-owning attacker). I think it's fair to say he came away with a big wishlist.

I am supposedly writing up my notes on the whole event, and will ping libtech when it's online.I think one of the more positive conclusions of the wider discussion of the threat to privacy and press freedom posed by the switch to a mobile Internet was that platforms like Android, FirefoxOS and iOS can all work reasonably well on devices without a baseband processor.

Of course, saying that the most positive conclusion of the state of mobile security is that at least we can use some devices that *aren't* mobile phones is not that great a position to be in. There was a fairly consistent rumble in the discussions of WiFi and open spectrum networks as alternate infrastructures. As people here know, I'm really not confident about that as a genuine alternative, but I did find it interesting in connection to this that Tomi Ahonen claims that 25% of the installed cellphone base supports WiFi. I'd really like to know how he comes by that figure.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [b2g] open-source vs proprietary RIL stack
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2012 17:28:13 -0700
From: Andreas Gal <gal at>
To: dev-b2g at <dev-b2g at>

A wanted to send out a quick clarification about the RIL (radio
interface layer) stack. We are implementing an open-source RIL layer in
Gecko. Some silicon vendors might opt to offer their OEMs to use a
different commercially hardened non-open source reimplementation of our
RIL stack. Such blobs are pretty common in the OEM space, and its a way
for chipset vendors to differentiate at the software level and convince
OEMs to use their chipset over some other chipset.

I don't want to discuss on an open list whether our first device will
use our open source RIL stack, or a propriety one. It doesn't really
change much for us either way. We will continue to develop our open
source RIL stack. Some OEMs might opt to use our stack instead of
proprietary ones, and some silicon vendors might not provide their own
proprietary stack to begin with. Also, as our stack is improving over
time, at some point there won't be sufficient room to
innovate/differentiate, and I would expect all phones to fall back onto
our open-source stack eventually.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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