[vdr] OT: issues about binary only code in GPLed programs [WAS] future VDR and Net??eiver OEM from Reelmultimedia

Clemens Kirchgatterer clemens at 1541.org
Sun Jul 1 18:47:18 CEST 2007


Georg Acher <acher at in.tum.de> wrote:

> No, it's not. Free is free, you can't make differences between
> hardware vendors using Linux as a basis for their HW and SW vendors
> using Linux as an OS for their SW. And that's exactly the intention
> of your wording ("zero cost"). 

strange interpretation of my words. where did i say, that there is any
difference from SW to HW vedors? "zero cost" implied, that some vendors
just try to get a free ride. otherwise there was no need for

http://gpl-violations.org/

> Oh, it helps a lot to tolerate opinions from people who don't know
> what's behind selling hardware with chips from others. There are
> things you can't change, eg. NDAs.

you can't change the GPL either.
 
> > free software does not care about how practical or profitable it is
> > for you to fulfill your distribution-license requirements.
> 
> Until now, there's AFAIK no legal decision that you are not allowed to
> include binary only modules in the kernel. If it gets that far, we
> will put in user space. No real gain, but if it helps...

you are nitpicking. if you have read the kernel license and you
understood its intention you can not think binary modules would not
violate it. the GPL was never really challenged in court (at least to my
knownledge), does that mean it's invalid? the FSF itself clearly
stated, that binray only modules violate the GPL, who would know better?

[..]

> > it is not you who has to decide what i do with my hardware. THAT is
> > the whole point of free software. get real.
> 
> Don't buy it and wait for a card with better Linux support.
> 
> I'm beginning to understand why big consumer hardware vendors won't
> do Linux support at all, if they get always this friendly reception...

the usual ranting.

what does linux support have to do with wether you obey a certain
license or not? we are talking about the os "on" a pci card here. you
decided to use free software for your benefit, to make the card cheaper
or better or whatever. cool, no problem. what? you signed a NDA that
does not allow you distribute the os in the first place? your bad.

if it is so easy for you to change the offending software part, why not
from the beginning? your product specs sound really good and the fact
that there is linux running on top of the hardware seems to make it a
nice toy, at least at a first glance. the firmware of the ttpci cards
are a good example of why i would love to have a more open firmware on
it. how long did it take until it was stable? too long. 4MB ram support
could only be added by someone with access to the source code. did it
help anybody to keep the source locked up? did it prevent sc? no.

so i'm all for a DVB/video card that does not have these
limitations. people like to tinker with their harware. even if it's not
me personally who does something unusual with that thing, someone
will. the pure possiblillity of beeing "hackable" adds value to it.
the linux kernel, being monolithic, can be a showstopper if it can not
be changed/upgraded.

> > many people don't care about their freedom as users. either because
> > they don't have the knowledege to fiddle with the software
> > themselfs or they rather have binary drivers for their expensive /
> > high performance video card than free drivers for a cheep one.
> > fine. but at least vendors MUST respect the will of the countless
> > developers who release their work under the license of their choice
> > for a reason.
> 
> Apropos "developers": How much do YOU already have developed for the
> Linux kernel, DVB-API or vdr? I've made the experience that the
> loudest people in this GPL issue have the least contributions...

regardless of wether this has something to do with the validity of my
arguments or not: i never contributet patches to the linux kernel
directly only some bugreports and patch-tests. i released one small
plugin and once or twice sent patches for vdr, but they got rejected
AFAICR, nevermind. besides from some small libraries and rather useless
tools from my early days i hope that i can convince my employer to
release my main project of the last 3 years under GPL3 [would be
hopefully rather useful for STB vendors or even xbmc]. nevertheless i
doubt i'm one of the loudest who endorses free software either. but i
truly believe that the one and only reason, why GNU/Linux is what it is
because of the GPL. otherwise it would be at best as "untot" as the
BSDs. 

> But it's getting tedious. Take it or leave it, that's all I can say.

a decision i will make when time has come depending on the
circumstances.

best regards ...
clemens



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