LinkSys and binary modules
Posted Oct 14, 2003 20:24 UTC (Tue) by JoeBuck
In reply to: LinkSys and binary modules
Parent article: LinkSys and binary modules
There are two cases: burning the Linux kernel and other programs into a ROM, or having a driver load firmware into a completely separate processor, such as the DSP chip in a modem or onto an external graphics processor.
In the latter case, from the point of view of the kernel, firmware
is data, or, to use the language from the GPL, "can be reasonably considered independent and separate works", since the identical firmware is loaded by a Linux or a Windows kernel. Even RMS would not argue that the GPL requires firmware to be GPLed in such a case.
Of course, the Debian folks might well decide that non-free firmware violates the DFSG, but that's a separate matter.
Now, in the former case, if the ROM can't be altered, then one could argue that we can't even call the user programs separate works any more and the vendor would need to provide source for the whole thing.
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