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Being honest with MODULE_LICENSE

Being honest with MODULE_LICENSE

Posted Apr 28, 2004 16:52 UTC (Wed) by rknop (guest, #66)
Parent article: Being honest with MODULE_LICENSE

Although the issue may sound trivial/harmless to people on the lkml, it was a frequent cause of confusion for the average person.

This is a good thing. There is a real danger of Linux working too cleanly and easily for the common user with proprietary kernel modules and with hardware that can't be supported by free software. Specifically, the drive to have any open-source supported hardware goes away. We've already basically got this with video cards; as far as I can tell, no video card manufacturer is supplying programming information any more. Rather, any recent video card requires proprietary drivers if you want to use 3d acceleration. (Somebody please prove me wrong.) The fact that so many distributions make it easy to do this means that only the fanatics like me and kernel developers notice any more.

If we can use licensing requirements to at least let the people who otherwise wouldn't notice realize that they're making a compromise, it might help avoid, or at least slow, completely damping out the motivation for there to be open source drivers for hardware.


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Being honest with MODULE_LICENSE

Posted May 10, 2004 17:30 UTC (Mon) by elanthis (guest, #6227) [Link]

"There is a real danger of Linux working too cleanly and easily for the common user"

That comment (yes, taken out of context) is pretty much exactly how many users, administrators, and developers already see Linux, thanks entirely the fact that it is already so hard to use proprietary drivers, and in fact even most Open Source drivers. The fact that any driver not distributed with the kernel itself is very difficult to use, thanks entirely to constantly changing ABI and API, makes it very difficult to just use new hardware. The only way to get things to work is to upgrade the kernel or the local driver source.

Most Linux drivers aren't available separately from the kernel release cycle, so in fact your only option with Open Source drivers is to upgrade the kernel, re-apply any local patches, rebuilding initrd images, reinstall any proprietary drivers, update the boot loader, etc. Again, for absolutely no good reason.

Using _any_ hardware, no matter the driver, is a pita on Linux, and will continue to be so until the kernel offers (at the very least) a stable API across the same release series (and preferably backwards compatibility across the major release serieis). A stable ABI would make life even easier. Again, this isn't just proprietary drivers, it's also affecting Open Source drivers.

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