GNU Linux-Libre 4.10: GPU Drivers Remain The Most Frequent Offenders
Written by Michael Larabel in GNU on 26 February 2017 at 05:55 PM EST. 20 Comments
GNU --
The GNU Linux-libre 4.10 kernel was released last weekend just after the official Linux 4.10 kernel release while I hadn't noticed the de-blobbed kernel release until today. The Linux-libre folks continue to criticize the open-source GPU DRM drivers as being offenders for using binary blob firmware/microcode.

GNU Linux-libre for those that don't know is the FSFLA effort to de-blob the mainline Linux kernel by removing support for loading binary-only modules as well as stripping out drivers or portions of driver code that rely upon closed-source/binary-only firmware/microcode images, which is quite common among newer hardware.

As with most kernel cycles, the graphics drivers are what gets most criticized for their lack of freedom.

Alexandre Oliva of the Free Software Foundation Latin America wrote, "GPU drivers remain as the most frequent offenders for new blobs: i915, adreno, amdgpu and radeon all introduced new blob requirements for (presumably) previously-unsupported hardware variants."

A new driver to the 4.10 kernel, st_fdma, also requires binary blobs. The st_fdma driver is for ST Microelectronics FDMA DMA Engine support.

The GNU Linux-Libre 4.10 release announcement can be read in full via the FSFLA mailing list.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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