FSFLA: Linux kernel is "open core"
Posted Nov 11, 2010 0:42 UTC (Thu) by dwmw2
In reply to: FSFLA: Linux kernel is "open core"
Parent article: FSFLA: Linux kernel is "open core"
The kernel neither knows nor cares about the licence of:
- The ACPI AML code it finds in the BIOS
- The SMI code in the BIOS which provides various system features
- The firmware resident in flash on peripheral devices
- The firmware loaded by the request_firmware() mechanism
It is completely ambivalent to all these things. I really have no sympathy for you when you insist that the kernel shouldn't ask
for a firmware file which doesn't currently have a free implementation when licensing isn't within the scope of the kernel, and that can be so easily handled by the firmware-loading mechanism in userspace.
I find it particularly unimpressive that your religious fervour renders that approach unacceptable to you, while you are simultaneously content to completely ignore three out of the four classes of non-free software mentioned above. (There may well be more examples; those were just off the top of my head.)
Are you planning to remove the ACPI AML interpreter, because it only ever runs non-free code? And often that code just traps into SMI, etc.?
Are you planning to remove the drivers which depend on an in-flash firmware on the devices they support? It's just as non-free if it's in flash. Arguably more non-free; isn't that what the 'Tivoisation' debate is all about? Although perhaps it isn't about Tivoisation, because while you accept device drivers that rely on in-flash firmware, you do seem to rip them out if they grow an option to replace that in-flash firmware with an updated version.
So of the devices which require firmware, it's only the Tivoised devices with non-updateable flash which you are content to support?
Your whole position seems massively inconsistent and impractical.
There are real technical reasons for wanting to separate the loadable firmware from the kernel source code and use request_firmware() to obtain it. There are good reasons to have those firmware files available in a separate repository from the kernel source, too. And certainly there are good reasons to have the licensing information clearly available for each, and I can understand your desire to avoid using (or distributing) those parts which are non-free. But that's the limit of what I'm trying to achieve, personally.
I'm almost ashamed to be associated with what you're trying to do; I consider it ill-conceived and counter-productive.
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