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

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 1 August 2022 at 05:32 AM EDT. 37 Comments
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.

Of the GNU actions taken with Linux-libre 5.19 include:
The ATM Ambassador driver was removed upstream, so we could drop the corresponding cleaning up logic. HDCP helper and Mellanox Core cleaning up bits were split into their newly-introduced separate kconfig identifiers, out of Direct Rendering Management and Mellanox Spectrum.

A couple of new drivers required cleaning up: pureLiFi X/XL/XC and TI AMx3 Wkup-M3 IPC. Silicon Labs WFX graduated out of the upstream staging area, in spite of still requiring cleaning up.

Various preexisting drivers needed adjustments to their cleaning up logic, mainly out of new blob versions or names: amdgpu, Qualcomm WCNSS PIL, Realtek Bluetooth, Mellanox Spectrum, Marvell WiFi-Ex, and Intel AVS, IFS and ipu3-imgu. Blobs requested through several new devicetree files for Qualcomm AArch64 SoCs have been cleaned up.

New patterns have been added to our blob finder to match and accept a new file naming convention adopted by Sound Open Firmware.

Hardware options for running a modern system with no closed-source firmware/microcode files continues to become an increasingly tough feat especially with security updates often coming by way of updated firmware/microcode. Furthermore, as shown recently around the Intel GuC firmware requirements with Alder Lake P, for Intel ADL-P and future Intel hardware the binary-only GuC graphics micro-controller firmware is absolutely a requirement for graphics acceleration. NVIDIA and AMD Radeon graphics hardware have already hard requirements on loading firmware at run-time but now with this GuC mandate, Intel graphics too. Prior to ADL-P, the GuC firmware has been optional. Not to mention most modern WiFi chipsets and other modern hardware all becoming increasingly contingent on firmware for any level of driver functionality.

Those wishing to learn more about the GNU Linux-libre 5.19 kernel release can find out all the details on info-gnu.
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