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  • Kernel Developers Say No To Binary Blobs

    Phoronix: Kernel Developers Say No To Binary Blobs

    The Linux Foundation and over 140 kernel developers have today issued a message reaffirming their position on binary-only drivers within the Linux kernel. Their positional statement reinforces that any closed-source Linux kernel module is harmful and undesirable...

    http://www.phoronix.com/vr.php?view=NjU0Mw

  • #2
    Love the wording they chose - harmful and undesirable. Couldn't be more apt if you sat up all night with a thesaurus. Death to the blobs!

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    • #3
      I'm not really sure how this is supposed to make anything different. They have being saying that loudly since the inception of linux (perhaps even longer).

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      • #4
        I don't see Linus in the list..

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        • #5
          linus is pragmatic - he doesn't object as long as it doesn't interfere with kernel development. he had no objections against tivo, so he might not be totally against blobs, because sometimes they are the only way (think about firmware required for some tuners/usb modems/other stuff - these are blobs too).

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          • #6
            Aye, that will really help - just like UN's angry letters has in other issues.

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            • #7
              I think this is NOT enough. They must prepare a campaign against binary blobs in the kernel with their own site and get more people, companies and groups supporting it.

              Keep on, I totally agree with them and just want they to put more pressure on hardware makers.

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              • #8
                AFAIK, Linus says closed development is OK, but open-development is much better. I don't think he a FOSS fanatic (like the rest of us humans )

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                  linus is pragmatic - he doesn't object as long as it doesn't interfere with kernel development. he had no objections against tivo, so he might not be totally against blobs, because sometimes they are the only way (think about firmware required for some tuners/usb modems/other stuff - these are blobs too).
                  firmware for tuners and such is an ENTIRELY different thing, as that runs ON THE DEVICE..

                  before people just put the firmware on some rom device, nowadays its moving towards being loaded to the device due to easy firmware upgrades, and cheaper hardware..

                  I dont give a rats ass if there is a firmware blob being loaded to a tuner or such a piece of hardware, however, i do care about crappy blobs being loaded into my kernel, completely fucking everything up (think nvidia/fglrx)

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                  • #10
                    firmware for tuners and such is an ENTIRELY different thing, as that runs ON THE DEVICE..
                    ah, but of couse. that's totally irrelevant. but the pc is also a device, isn't it?

                    think for a moment about custom open-source firmware for routers (esp linksys wrt54gl series). do you still think it's irrelevant if the firmware remains a blob, or is it better to provide an open firmware, which often provides more features than standard stock blob?

                    some modems/tuners/wi-fi cards require firmware, that you have to forcefully extract from windows drivers in order to obtain it.what if that would mean violating the software licence? (actually it might be this way already, as most driver licenses prohibit you from messing with the files).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                      ah, but of couse. that's totally irrelevant. but the pc is also a device, isn't it?

                      think for a moment about custom open-source firmware for routers (esp linksys wrt54gl series). do you still think it's irrelevant if the firmware remains a blob, or is it better to provide an open firmware, which often provides more features than standard stock blob?
                      I have it (DDWRT)

                      Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                      some modems/tuners/wi-fi cards require firmware, that you have to forcefully extract from windows drivers in order to obtain it.what if that would mean violating the software licence? (actually it might be this way already, as most driver licenses prohibit you from messing with the files).
                      AFAIK, they prohibit redistribution(unless some sort of agreement it made (think laptops)), and modification+redistribution

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by yoshi314 View Post
                        some modems/tuners/wi-fi cards require firmware, that you have to forcefully extract from windows drivers in order to obtain it.what if that would mean violating the software licence? (actually it might be this way already, as most driver licenses prohibit you from messing with the files).
                        Really dependent on the company, ralink for example is one company that has proprietary firmware that is freely available for their wlan cards.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by some-guy View Post
                          AFAIK, Linus says closed development is OK, but open-development is much better. I don't think he a FOSS fanatic (like the rest of us humans )

                          Linus has reponded in the past on the issue;

                          On Wed, 13 Dec 2006, Greg KH wrote:
                          >
                          > Numerous kernel developers feel that loading non-GPL drivers into the
                          > kernel violates the license of the kernel and their copyright. Because
                          > of this, a one year notice for everyone to address any non-GPL
                          > compatible modules has been set.

                          Btw, I really think this is shortsighted.

                          It will only result in _exactly_ the crap we were just trying to avoid,
                          namely stupid "shell game" drivers that don't actually help anything at
                          all, and move code into user space instead.

                          What was the point again?

                          Was the point to alienate people by showing how we're less about the
                          technology than about licenses?

                          Was the point to show that we think we can extend our reach past derived
                          work boundaries by just saying so?

                          The silly thing is, the people who tend to push most for this are the
                          exact SAME people who say that the RIAA etc should not be able to tell
                          people what to do with the music copyrights that they own, and that the
                          DMCA is bad because it puts technical limits over the rights expressly
                          granted by copyright law.

                          Doesn't anybody else see that as being hypocritical?

                          So it's ok when we do it, but bad when other people do it? Somehow I'm not
                          surprised, but I still think it's sad how you guys are showing a marked
                          two-facedness about this.

                          The fact is, the reason I don't think we should force the issue is very
                          simple: copyright law is simply _better_off_ when you honor the admittedly
                          gray issue of "derived work". It's gray. It's not black-and-white. But
                          being gray is _good_. Putting artificial black-and-white technical
                          counter-measures is actually bad. It's bad when the RIAA does it, it's bad
                          when anybody else does it.

                          If a module arguably isn't a derived work, we simply shouldn't try to say
                          that its authors have to conform to our worldview.

                          We should make decisions on TECHNICAL MERIT. And this one is clearly being
                          pushed on anything but.

                          I happen to believe that there shouldn't be technical measures that keep
                          me from watching my DVD or listening to my music on whatever device I damn
                          well please. Fair use, man. But it should go the other way too: we should
                          not try to assert _our_ copyright rules on other peoples code that wasn't
                          derived from ours, or assert _our_ technical measures that keep people
                          from combining things their way.

                          If people take our code, they'd better behave according to our rules. But
                          we shouldn't have to behave according to the RIAA rules just because we
                          _listen_ to their music. Similarly, nobody should be forced to behave
                          according to our rules just because they _use_ our system.

                          There's a big difference between "copy" and "use". It's exatcly the same
                          issue whether it's music or code. You can't re-distribute other peoples
                          music (becuase it's _their_ copyright), but they shouldn't put limits on
                          how you personally _use_ it (because it's _your_ life).

                          Same goes for code. Copyright is about _distribution_, not about use. We
                          shouldn't limit how people use the code.

                          Oh, well. I realize nobody is likely going to listen to me, and everybody
                          has their opinion set in stone.

                          That said, I'm going to suggest that you people talk to your COMPANY
                          LAWYERS on this, and I'm personally not going to merge that particular
                          code unless you can convince the people you work for to merge it first.

                          In other words, you guys know my stance. I'll not fight the combined
                          opinion of other kernel developers, but I sure as hell won't be the first
                          to merge this, and I sure as hell won't have _my_ tree be the one that
                          causes this to happen.

                          So go get it merged in the Ubuntu, (Open)SuSE and RHEL and Fedora trees
                          first. This is not something where we use my tree as a way to get it to
                          other trees. This is something where the push had better come from the
                          other direction.

                          Because I think it's stupid. So use somebody else than me to push your
                          political agendas, please.

                          Linus
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                          • #14
                            Sorry to Linus Torvalds, but I don't agree with him at all. I really don't care if the wants binary blobs in kernel to exist, I don't like them at all and always try to avoid them when possible. I think Linus' opinion here is totally irrelevant for centering the discussion on it, I think we should talk about the main topic instead.

                            I think a list like that solves nothing, they must be a lot more aggressive.

                            I said in the other post about making a campaign with their own website and find groups and involved individuals (that is, FLOSS developers) that agree with the cause.

                            They don't need to be Linux-only, they can be from other FLOSS Operating Systems too.

                            So what the involved part against the binary blobs think? Are there some website for this campaign?

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                            • #15
                              wow, this is the short-sightedness he was talking about.

                              Linux has the final say of whether some thing goes in or not, Linux is Linus's Minix, his opinion is highly important.

                              Though I don't believe binary blobs should be in the kernel, I also am not extreme on it

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