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GNU Linux-libre 5.3 Continues Deblobbing & Dealing With Firmware Trickery

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  • GNU Linux-libre 5.3 Continues Deblobbing & Dealing With Firmware Trickery

    Phoronix: GNU Linux-libre 5.3 Continues Deblobbing & Dealing With Firmware Trickery

    Hot off last night's Linux 5.3 release, the GNU folks have this morning released GNU Linux-libre 5.3-gnu as their downstream flavor of the kernel that strips out support for loading proprietary kernel modules and the ability to load binary-only microcode/firmware files, among other steps for aiming at a pure free software kernel...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...-libre-5.3-gnu

  • #2
    Really this Linux-libre still annoys me. Lets stop the Linux kernel from loading firmware and lets run on platforms where the firmware is in fact embedded in hardware and is out of date instead that we still don't have the source code to so now we have extra known security faults in the low level firmware that we are not updating.

    Either do it fully or not at all. There are platforms where all of the firmware is in fact open source be it the kernel loaded or the default in the hardware.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, by my understanding, if they make the "source code" legally available, even if it's just a blob pasted inside an array, wouldn't then anybody be legally allowed to "refactor" the code and make it "more readable" by, say... decompiling the entire blob?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Unt0 View Post
        Well, by my understanding, if they make the "source code" legally available, even if it's just a blob pasted inside an array, wouldn't then anybody be legally allowed to "refactor" the code and make it "more readable" by, say... decompiling the entire blob?
        Yes. In this case it's not a legal issue.

        The issue is that the hardware running this blob (whatever custom processor is inside the device) does not usually have any register or instruction documentation available (most of the times not even under NDA as the manufacturer does not allow third parties to develop a firmware for it, period).

        So decompiling it is kind of hard or even impossible even if it's ARM or Mips or another known architecture.

        While if you are decompiling x86 binaries... yeah the hardware, the registers and the instructions are (mostly) documented.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
          Really this Linux-libre still annoys me. Lets stop the Linux kernel from loading firmware and lets run on platforms where the firmware is in fact embedded in hardware and is out of date instead that we still don't have the source code to so now we have extra known security faults in the low level firmware that we are not updating.

          Either do it fully or not at all. There are platforms where all of the firmware is in fact open source be it the kernel loaded or the default in the hardware.
          Why would it bother you if it's not your system? Incremental steps by others toward hardware and software freedom is somehow a problem in your life?

          You should consider for a moment that many users of Linux-libre are on systems that support libreboot.

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          • #6
            Michael that space on the article name broke my RSS reader...
            Last edited by tildearrow; 09-16-2019, 05:53 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by andyprough View Post
              Why would it bother you if it's not your system? Incremental steps by others toward hardware and software freedom is somehow a problem in your life?
              Really the problem is its not really incremental steps disabling loading firmware and instead depending on what was put into the rom chips.

              Originally posted by andyprough View Post
              You should consider for a moment that many users of Linux-libre are on systems that support libreboot.
              libreboot has the same problem that quite a few platforms where it runs are in fact low level firmware infected.

              What I class as freedom is like Talos II systems where you don't have hidden crap.

              Really deciding not to load binary blobs so running out of date binary blobs embedded in parts is stupid.

              I remember until Intel with ME decided to set 30 min time out if me did not replace it internal firmware libreboot people were great we have no binary blob loaded when in fact they were running the insecure default binary blob in the ME with full system access.

              If there is a security update to a binary blob your system is using and you refuse to load it you are taking a stupid security risk under the idea of software freedom.

              I don't disagree with the idea of open source firmware. But items like libreboot should really bite the bullet properly as in X motherboard requires us to load binary blobs or depend on embedded blobs its scrap if you want freedom.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by andyprough View Post
                You should consider for a moment that many users of Linux-libre are on systems that support libreboot.
                There are dozens of us! DOZENS!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by andyprough View Post
                  Why would it bother you if it's not your system?
                  It's not what you do in the privacy of your home, but what bs you say to others the issue.

                  The belief that not loading updated blobs at runtime makes your system "libre" for example.

                  That's a downstream decision that has no effect on the manufacturers, and is therefore mostly masochistic.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by oiaohm View Post
                    Really the problem is its not really incremental steps disabling loading firmware and instead depending on what was put into the rom chips.



                    libreboot has the same problem that quite a few platforms where it runs are in fact low level firmware infected.

                    What I class as freedom is like Talos II systems where you don't have hidden crap.

                    Really deciding not to load binary blobs so running out of date binary blobs embedded in parts is stupid.

                    I remember until Intel with ME decided to set 30 min time out if me did not replace it internal firmware libreboot people were great we have no binary blob loaded when in fact they were running the insecure default binary blob in the ME with full system access.

                    If there is a security update to a binary blob your system is using and you refuse to load it you are taking a stupid security risk under the idea of software freedom.

                    I don't disagree with the idea of open source firmware. But items like libreboot should really bite the bullet properly as in X motherboard requires us to load binary blobs or depend on embedded blobs its scrap if you want freedom.
                    So no one should do anything to move towards increased freedom because reasons. Because you say so. Makes sense. I'll tell everyone to give up their projects and install Windows 10. Or buy Macs.

                    I guess you've never thought for a moment that you would have zero non-proprietary options if there weren't these crazed neck beards sitting in their basements working on these incremental hardware and software freedom projects since Stallman was writing emacs and the GNU tools at MIT in the 70s. A lot of the advances you take for granted are because of those crazed neck beards. There would be no GNU/Linux systems if your viewpoint had been predominant.

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