GNU Linux-libre 5.15 Released - More Deblobbing, Fixing "-Werror" Breakage

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 1 November 2021 at 05:06 AM EDT. 2 Comments
Right after last night's Linux 5.15 kernel release, the Free Software Foundation folks issued GNU Linux-libre 5.15-gnu as the newest version of their downstream that removes functionality dependent upon binary-only/non-free-software firmware/microcode as well as the ability to load closed kernel modules and other determined non-free-software restrictions.

This cycle the Linux-libre developers have been dealing with the Linux kernel's new -Werror Kconfig option to enable that compiler option that raises warnings to errors. While that option was set to not be enabled by default now for Linux 5.15, the Linux-libre folks have been trying to clean-up some of their machinery since when they go through the "deblobbing" process it often leaves unused arguments to functions and other changes that emit new compiler warnings. So the Linux-libre developers have been working to make changes there so such warnings won't be raised to errors.

There have also been other changes like taking issue with the "upstream" term of the kernel. "I adjusted the name that goes in snap packages (IMHO no project should label itself "upstream", and the project that we call upstream is no exception :-)"

As for what's new or different on the actual de-blobbing front for GNU Linux-libre 5.15:
As for the usual, this release needed updates to the cleaning-up of adreno, btusb, btintel, and brcmfmac drivers, as well as to a new aarch64 qcom variant's devicetree file. The prism54 driver was removed upstream (p54 remains), so we dropped its cleaning up. The rtl8188eu driver was also dropped upstream, in favor of the newly-added r8188eu. Though we appreciate the removal of drivers that only work in the presence of blobs, the replacement drivers are just as dependent on blobs as the removed ones.

Another new driver that got cleaned up is gehc-achc. I haven't been able to figure out what this driver is for, nor find a distribution of the firmware it loads to check for sources and license. The requested firmware does not appear to be user-supplied code, so I assumed it's vendor-supplied non-Free Software, and inactivated its loading. If you find it's Free Software, user-supplied code, or plain data, please send the evidence our way!

The GNU Linux-libre 5.15 kernel can be downloaded from
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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