GNU Linux-Libre 5.18-gnu Continues Its Battle Against Binary Blobs

Written by Michael Larabel in GNU on 23 May 2022 at 04:35 AM EDT. 15 Comments
Building off yesterday's release of the Linux 5.18 kernel, the GNU FSFLA folks have released GNU Linux-Libre 5.18-gnu kernel as their downstream that strips out support for using proprietary microcode/firmware or the ability to load binary-only kernel modules.

GNU Linux-Libre continues to be their blessed kernel for free software purists albeit leads to limited or no functionality in cases where the proprietary microcode/firmware is required. It can also mean the possibility of missing out on security updates/fixes compared to the microcode/firmware baked into the hardware.

As for the changes made by the GNU crew for their Linux 5.18 re-base, it's been a lot of the usual churn for battling these binary blobs:
This was a busy release, with 7 new drivers requiring cleanups to avoid inducing users to install the blobs they require: MIPI DBI panels, Amphion VPU, MediaTek MT7986 WMAC, Mediatek 7921U (USB) and Realtek 8852a and 8852c WiFi, Intel AVS, and Texas Instruments TAS5805M speaker amplifier. A bunch DTS files were added for new Qualcomm AArch64 SoCs, and had the blob names in them cleaned up for the same reason.

Other preexisting drivers also required updates because of new mentions of blobs: AMD GPUs, MediaTek MT7915 and Silicon Labs WF200+ WiFi, Mellanox Spectrum wired ethernet, Realtek rtw8852c, Qualcomm Q6V5 and Wolfson ADSP, MediaTek HCI UART.

Finally, lots of drivers were moved within the source tree, and the script that drives the cleaning up had to be updated to reflect those changes to media drivers, MHI bus and AMD GPU.

More details on the GNU Linux-Libre 5.18-gnu update via the release announcement.
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