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GNU Linux-libre 5.9-gnu Released After The Usual Deblobbing

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  • GNU Linux-libre 5.9-gnu Released After The Usual Deblobbing

    Phoronix: GNU Linux-libre 5.9-gnu Released After The Usual Deblobbing

    Within hours of Linus Torvalds releasing the Linux 5.9 kernel, the GNU folks maintaining the GNU Linux-libre downstream released their version of the kernel that prevents the loading of binary-only modules as well as the loading of binary-only firmware/microcode blobs...

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pag...inux-Libre-5.9

  • #2
    Another pointless endeavour unless they actually plan on replacing the blobs with something else

    Car analogy: Fossil fuels are bad, remove all the parts of the car that touch the fuel, don't replace them with anything else, results in a non-functional car

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    • #3
      Originally posted by FireBurn View Post
      Another pointless endeavour unless they actually plan on replacing the blobs with something else

      Car analogy: Fossil fuels are bad, remove all the parts of the car that touch the fuel, don't replace them with anything else, results in a non-functional car
      Better Car Analogy: Firmware Blobs are Bad so lets take out the ECU since we can't vet the sources and lets remove the stereo since it includes Microsoft Sync which is proprietary software.

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      • #4
        What I don't get is, didn't stallman himself say that the firmware running on some device inside the PC does not matter much to him?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Alexmitter View Post
          What I don't get is, didn't stallman himself say that the firmware running on some device inside the PC does not matter much to him?
          Yes, but only when it's on a ROM (which makes it non-upgradeable). He only has issues with it if it's upgradeable.

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          • #6
            Anyone knows which distros are using this?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bug77 View Post
              Anyone knows which distros are using this?
              more importantly, what kind of hardware works with this?

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              • #8
                Might as well delete the entire AMDGpu driver code while you're at it since it relies on firmware to work. Plenty of other drivers should go too. At least this kernel would be lightweight after you take everything out.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Calinou View Post

                  Yes, but only when it's on a ROM (which makes it non-upgradeable). He only has issues with it if it's upgradeable.
                  You see ... I really don't understand this logic. It's so dumb.

                  So it is totally OK to have some proprietary code running on the system, as long as no one, not even the vendor, can ever change it, meaning it is impossible to fix any issues/bugs with it.

                  Why is that more acceptable than a blob which can be updated? Then, there is a chance it could get bug fixes (or hell even perhaps be reverse engineered and "freed"/replaced by a motivated hacker). Certainly, nobody is forcing you to update it. If you are afraid that the vendor might suddenly try to push something malicious with an update, just don't update it. That's practically the same as if it was a ROM. Updatable firmware gives you *more* freedom, if anything.

                  I mean, I understand the opposition against any kind of proprietary blobs at all, I just don't understand how making them read-only suddenly makes them OK for some reason.

                  I have read/heard his logic. I know that he literally said that a blob that cannot be updated feels like it might as well be part of the hardware, whereas blobs that can be updated feel more like software and something that should be part of the OS. I just think this is nonsense and based more on some subjective "gut feeling" rather than rational reality. Where do you draw the line? Hardware can have bugs or hidden malicious functionality too, you know.

                  It is sad that so many people follow his logic, as Stallman is somewhat of a celebrity and certainly an influential figure.

                  As an absurd example to stretch the point: If someone made a computer with some static never-changing version of MS Windows on a ROM, would Stallman be OK with that?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tajjada View Post

                    I have read/heard his logic. I know that he literally said that a blob that cannot be updated feels like it might as well be part of the hardware, whereas blobs that can be updated feel more like software and something that should be part of the OS. I just think this is nonsense and based more on some subjective "gut feeling" rather than rational reality. Where do you draw the line? Hardware can have bugs or hidden malicious functionality too, you know.
                    I think that the point is that he would prefer to have the source code even if it's embedded, but he definitely wants the source code if someone gives him a random blob to install on his machine.

                    Deblobbing the Linux kernel is an interesting exercise in determining "just how much functionality is in the blobs", but I suspect fairly academic in practice. Maybe there'll be open hardware in future that doesn't need blobs. If nothing else, it's good to know if the Linux kernel will boot if your blob directory goes AWOL for some reason.

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