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Braiins OS: An Open Source Alternative to Bitcoin Mining Firmware

Braiins wants to redefine open-source mining software.

The company behind Slush Pool recently rolled out the initial release of its ASIC miner firmware: Braiins OS. The operating system is advertised as “the very first fully open-source, Linux-based system for cryptocurrency embedded devices,” an alternative to the factory-default firmware that comes with most popular mining hardware.

Upon visiting the project’s website, visitors are greeted with a clear message, a mantra that resonates with its related industry’s ethos: “Take back control.”

Rethinking Open Source in an Open Source Space

Further down on its website, the project invites community members to “[say] goodbye to backdoors, closed systems and hidden features.” This promise of transparency is an implicit reference to the contrasting opacity of its biggest competitor’s mining software.

Bitmain advertises its software as open source. But Jan Čapek, CEO of Braiins, the company behind the eponymous OS and Slush Pool, explained to Bitcoin Magazine that too many features of Bitmain’s code are covertly closed off, making it impossible to provide a proper software image — a record of the state of the mining system at a given time.

Essentially, Čapek indicates that a few key components are missing to make Bitmain’s code full open source, such as the FPGA code. Without these pieces, users cannot parse together a full image of the mining client.

“The problem is that most of the people out there are not able to build a complete S9 image as it is not quite obvious that all the components are provided by Bitmain. To build a complete system you need the first stage bootloader (sometimes called SPL), u-boot, Linux kernel, Linux system (buildroot/openwrt?), FPGA bitstream (+ sources) and cgminer sources. So, there is quite more things that are to be reviewed that are still closed source and open quite a few questions,” he said, “For example, why is the FPGA code still close...

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