Qualcomm launches Open Source subsidiary

As several news sites have been reporting (here a report from LinuxDevices.com), Qualcomm has announced the launch of an Open Source Subsidiary.

As usual, I very much welcome such a move. Qualcomm is one of those companies who have a very bad reputation in the Open Source and particularly Linux community. They have so far failed to provide user manuals or other reference documentation for any of their parts. They haven't even managed to publish reference documentation on the external interfaces such as the AT command dialect or the binary shared memory protocols that are used to interface the GSM/CDMA/WCDMA baseband in their product.

So when it comes to an Open Source project that wants to interoperate with Qualcomms hardware, they have so far been doing everything to make that as hard as possible. Neither the community as large has access to the information that it needs, nor do the Qualcomm customers get the respective document under a license that allows them to actually contribute to Open Source projects.

If that documentation was available, or if Qualcomm was actually working on FOSS licensed drivers and contributing those mainline, the support for Qualcomm's hardware in Linux would be much better - resulting in less time to market for companies interested in using Qualcomms parts in their products.

The actual press release does not indicate that this newly-founded subsidiary truly understands this. It speaks of hardware-optimizing the performance of mobile operating systems. That sounds like "we'll take the existing code, make a fork, do non-portable micro-optimizations and ship that to our customers". It does not mention actually contributing to the community or understanding the benefit that the Open Source development model.

I remain to be convinced. Let's hope Qualcomm has scored somebody with a lot of actual hands-on Open Source community experience to advise them properly.