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GNU Linux-libre 5.19-gnu Released - Continues The Uphill Battle Against Firmware Blobs

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  • GNU Linux-libre 5.19-gnu Released - Continues The Uphill Battle Against Firmware Blobs

    Phoronix: GNU Linux-libre 5.19-gnu Released - Continues The Uphill Battle Against Firmware Blobs

    Following yesterday's release of Linux 5.19 stable the FSFLA folks maintaining the GNU Linux-libre kernel released their downstream version that strips out support for loading proprietary kernel modules as well as stripping out drivers/support that requires non-free/closed-source microcode/firmware files...

    https://www.phoronix.com/news/GNU-Linux-Libre-5.19

  • #2
    It probably is not malice and I get it's hard to try to show the full picture and be not somewhat biased or framing a news with it.

    But you only get listed in this articles the disadvantage not 1 word about why it could be a good thing, just all the worries about security this and that.

    As example somebody could mention that having such blobs loaded in this blobs there could be some sort of backdoor or intentional security holes, either by the company that provided you the hardware or some CIA person working in that company.

    Also just pointing to the X86 providers when the linux doesn't only support x86 hardware is also a incomplete information that implies that it therefor would be useless. Also I think there was other articles where you said it would be nice if company so and so does something better, the classic be nvidia, but just recently as example the "Lenovo AMD Laptops that only boot windows by default", where the intention is not to say well that's what hardware vendors produce and we have to deal with it, but clearly a framing that this is bad.

    Similar discussion would be news about nouveou, I don't at least exclusively hear that this driver is mostly useless for most people and therefor a waste of time but at least also that it's nvidias fault and that they should probably change it.

    It's not big difference and I doubt Michael intentionally frames this news differently but it's the small details where his oppinions/bias shines through and then also lands of course in the heads of the reader:
    Sadly no major progress to report on bettering the Nouveau driver support for recent generations of NVIDIA hardware.
    So here we see a clear judgement of the state, basically he says he wishes it would be better, we have no such language in probably any Linux-libre news. He uses the word sad again in that same article:
    https://www.phoronix.com/news/Linux-...ouveau-Display

    Also in the next nouveou article Micheal uses the word "sad" and "unfortunate".
    https://www.phoronix.com/news/Nouveau-Linux-5.20

    Here again "sadly" and "unfortunate":
    https://www.phoronix.com/review/nouveau-kepler-2021

    That is not meant as attack or big issue or I don't believe that is happening fully conscious I just think that you can hear out the opinion that Michael has not the best opinion about the linux-libre project, if he was forced to give a opinion he would probably say that is a waste of time and they should probably do something more productive with their time, deep down, he would probably not admit that but just saying. Now it's totally fine to have that bias, but I would rather hear it explicitly than the bias would be clear than on this low level where it creates a framing that more likely influences people to think the same, but pretending that it's only the facts that form the opinions of this readers, when clearly we have different framings (more positive or more neutral or more negative), depending on the topic.

    Maybe you think that is hair splitting but I think this project is very important even I am not able to use it a lot recently, but that argument would be like "linux on gaming sucks, back a few years ago, because there were very few games supporting linux" no we support projects if they are positive even if they are not yet very useful, if they are on paper superior morally and the way it should be, and they can become.

    China recently released a new gpu and there are several cpus like risc or arm that might at some point be it in 10 years be fast enough and good enough and work without such blobs to be more widespread usable to replace more of our daily used hardware. I mean you could do more of that, like saying there is no point in free drivers if you use proprietary steam and games that can include all sorts of anti-features. Yet just because 1 pc is "tainted" a pc you play on does not make all your pcs tainted and untrustworthy.

    So I don't like this either all or nothing aproach of freedom, yes this kernel is not useful to most modern hardware currently, so what, I would argue that nouveau is even a more controversial driver you could argue that it's bad to enable a vendor that actively fights with encrypted firmwares to make such drivers as bad as possible or not existent to make with such drivers the experience to have less black screens after distribution installations because of such driver to be negative, because it lowers the incentive for linux users to get rid of their nvidia hardware, and makes less customers hate nvidia. Yet there is none negative sideslaps (like with the security) against nouveau.

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    • #3
      It's not a battle against firmware blobs - as it doesn't try and replace them with open code

      It's a battle against users being able to use their hardware

      I really do hope one day they'll actually get the drivers they're disabling working, but it doesn't look like that's their aim so far

      Comment


      • #4
        Wasn't there not even a case where they changed in the kernel where just some binary numbers were as string in the kernel and linux-libre removed that and then they included the source to create this binary numbers in the mainstream kernel, so linux-libre helped to make even the upstream kernel better more free?
        So even for people that don't uses that kernel it has created some small advantages, by it's existence.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by FireBurn View Post
          It's not a battle against firmware blobs - as it doesn't try and replace them with open code
          This 2nd statement is moving the goal post, you can fight against firmware blobs without replacing them yourself. It makes transparant which companies suck, so if a new competitor comes around people can chose the hardware that works with linux-libre and the bad vendors could be eventually incentiviced to release more code because they loose customers, that of course is a long play but we saw it with some arm vendors, that bad press helps, it would be better if such news would list the evil companies more or frame more that this companies suck. Sure if you have x86 oligopoly where all 3 companies violate the freedom of the users in the same way, it's harder to create such customer leaving pressure / incentive, but in principle it can work and in arm or risc spaces it can work.

          Lenovo just talked about new arm laptops the Thinkpad X13s, but probably some other vendors will also bring Qualcomm Snapdragon laptops... maybe they are supported by linux-libre and need no blob, then you could advertise it with linux-libre support and have a good feature for people to consider this notebooks for that reason. And if they would sell more because of this more freedom, other vendors in the long run considers such steps, too. Allwinner is another name, but even Mediatek with the new partnership with was it Samsung? probably get more cooperative with opensource support.

          Shaming works sometimes. I see the Linux-libre kernel like a hardware test like a benchmark or testing tool, to test the freedom of your hardware, and if it works you are secure for maybe optional not important firmware to introduce backdoors or unknown new security holes.

          I wonder if librem smartphones would been possible or even more hard to do if not some people believed in the libre/coreboot system even basically 99.99% of the hardware was not working with it.
          Last edited by blackiwid; 01 August 2022, 07:58 AM.

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          • #6
            "Continues The Uphill Battle Against Common Sense"

            FTFY.

            Comment


            • #7
              It's a real shame that hardware support for the libre kernel is so limited, but I think the work they're doing is critical to the Free Software and FOSS movements. Even if their aim is unattainable today, it doesn't mean that the community shouldn't be reminded that a better world is out there. Closed firmware might be one of the largest security threats in computing today, and we should be reminded of that, even if it's an uncomfortable reality.

              Yes, the libre kernel is almost useless on modern hardware, but is that the kernel's fault, or the vendor's fault? The community behind this project knows damn well how little hardware is supported, but the fact that they continue to fight the good fight is a boon to the community, even if some in the comments section can't see that. Instead of jeering their hard work, maybe redirect that ire to companies who refuse to open their firmware?

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              • #8
                Hardware options for running a modern system with no closed-source firmware/microcode files continues to become an increasingly tough feat
                I'm surprised that you are unable to run it Michael, as I am generally able to run the Linux-libre kernel just fine on hardware of any generation. Have you actually tried, or are you just making an unsupported statement?

                Other than requiring an Atheros wifi chip and foregoing bluetooth, there are very few problems that result from running a blobless kernel. The basic kernel is actually quite powerful and feature-filled.

                Comment


                • #9
                  There's nothing wrong with a Kernel that doesn't allow closed firmware. They maintain a list of supported hardware - so you get to vote with your money.

                  There're plenty of Nvidia defenders around. Why all the hate for the open firmware/open hardware people?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by blackiwid View Post
                    That is not meant as attack or big issue or I don't believe that is happening fully conscious I just think that you can hear out the opinion that Michael has not the best opinion about the linux-libre project, if he was forced to give a opinion he would probably say that is a waste of time and they should probably do something more productive with their time, deep down, he would probably not admit that but just saying. Now it's totally fine to have that bias, but I would rather hear it explicitly than the bias would be clear than on this low level where it creates a framing that more likely influences people to think the same, but pretending that it's only the facts that form the opinions of this readers, when clearly we have different framings (more positive or more neutral or more negative), depending on the topic.

                    Maybe you think that is hair splitting but I think this project is very important even I am not able to use it a lot recently, but that argument would be like "linux on gaming sucks, back a few years ago, because there were very few games supporting linux" no we support projects if they are positive even if they are not yet very useful, if they are on paper superior morally and the way it should be, and they can become.

                    China recently released a new gpu and there are several cpus like risc or arm that might at some point be it in 10 years be fast enough and good enough and work without such blobs to be more widespread usable to replace more of our daily used hardware. I mean you could do more of that, like saying there is no point in free drivers if you use proprietary steam and games that can include all sorts of anti-features. Yet just because 1 pc is "tainted" a pc you play on does not make all your pcs tainted and untrustworthy.
                    You are spot-on about everything, but especially this part. The only "sad" thing here is people polluting these topics with braindead comments every. single. time.
                    As if Linux-libre supporters must be complete unabombers with a single Loongson device, and the project itself somehow isn't valid because "muh hardware". It's practically the same old argument, always o'clock.
                    Maybe depressed people must bash virtuous attempts at anything so they feel a little better?
                    As Sinatra used to say, "as funny as it may seem, some people get their kicks stompin' on a dream".

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