GNU Linux-libre 5.10-gnu After A Busy Time Deblobbing

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 14 December 2020 at 08:11 AM EST. 31 Comments
Following yesterday's release of the Linux 5.10 LTS kernel the GNU folks have released their "GNU Linux-libre 5.10-gnu" downstream that is the Linux kernel but without support for loading proprietary modules as well as preventing closed-source firmware binaries from being loaded on the system and related steps in the name of free software.

GNU Linux-libre 5.10-gnu remains popular in the FSF-endorsed distribution circles like Hyperbola, Trisequel, and GNU Guix, but for most modern hardware out there is simply won't work or less than optimally without the closed-source firmware/microcode support or in some cases missing out on security updates for hardware as a result.

You need to choose your hardware quite closely if wanting to run a GNU Linux-libre kernel otherwise the hardware might not work for its intended purpose...

With the Linux 5.10 cycle the GNU developers had a lot more "deblobbing" work to pursue due to the continued mainlining of new hardware drivers and additions to existing drivers that required reworking to their scripts to sanitize the kernel.

GNU Linux-libre leader Alexandre Oliva of FSF Latin America noted, "This was a reasonably busy cycle. A new firmware-loading primitive was introduced upstream, precompiled bpf code was added to the upstream tree along with corresponding sources; amdgpu had tree rearrangements beside the usual addition of new blobs; Intel i915 video and bluetooth hci drivers request new blobs (disabled); firmware loading was disabled in newly-added drivers for Cadence MHDP8546 DPI/DP bridge and for Marvell Prestera switch; IMX SDMA, MLXSW Spectrum; Intel iwlwifi; Qualcomm ath11k; Broadcom STM DPFE memory and Intel Haswell and HiFi2 sound had some rearrangement in their blob loading code; new blobs have been disabled in qcom aarch64 ports."

More details via the release announcement.
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