FSF-Approved Hyperbola GNU/Linux Switching Out The Linux Kernel For Hard Fork Of OpenBSD

Written by Michael Larabel in GNU on 23 December 2019 at 06:21 PM EST. 68 Comments
In a rather unusual twist, the Hyperbola GNU/Linux distribution that is approved by the Free Software Foundation for being free software and making use of the Linux-libre kernel has now decided they are going to fork OpenBSD and become a BSD.

The Hyperbola developers allege that "the Linux kernel rapidly proceeding down an unstable path." Most readers probably aren't familiar with Hyperbola but it is GNU-approved for being comprised entirely of free software and using the Linux-libre kernel. It's based on Arch and Debian while using OpenRC as the init system. But they now are unhappy with the path of the Linux kernel and want to pursue being a BSD platform.

They are said to be doing a "hard fork" of OpenBSD's kernel and user-space while working on promoting user-choice and freedom. Future versions of their platform will be based on HyperbolaBSD and the Linux kernel version coming to an end when reaching its natural end-of-life.

Their allegations of the Linux kernel's "rapidly proceeding down an unstable path" though doesn't hold much weight and seems more than anything for this open-source OS trying to just gain relevance. They attribute this supposed downfall of the Linux kernel to be due to adopting Digital Rights Manager / HDCP content protection, proposed usage of Rust, the kernel being "written without security in mind", and applications/user-space forcing the usage of PulseAudio / systemd / Rust / Java.

These claims though aren't entirely accurate: the DRM/HDCP support doesn't restrict any user freedoms at all unless opting to run proprietary software making use of the proposed Linux HDCP extensions (and in the case of the new AMDGPU HDCP support, can be disabled at build-time), the proposed usage of Rust just amounts to unofficial discussions had about hypothetically supporting an optional Rust framework for writing Rust drivers for the Linux kernel, and the security claims are arguable.

Unless they happen to have a lot of untapped resources, it will be relatively hard for this lesser known Linux distribution from doing much as a hard fork of the entire OpenBSD code-base. But hey we'll see what happens in 2020 and for now their plans are up at Hyperbola.info.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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