[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
Wed Jul 4 21:38:26 CEST 2007


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

> On Sun, Jul 01, 2007 at 06:47:18PM +0200, Clemens Kirchgatterer wrote:
> 
> > 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.
> 
> Once again, and now in capitals.
> 
> IT'S ONLY THE HDMI DRIVER. THE REST OF THE KERNEL IS GPL AND YOU CAN
> FIDDLE WITH IT AS YOU LIKE. 

maybe i should just shut up and let you believe whatever you want and
this is clearly my last mail to this thread. i guess others or even you
are already bored to death by this topic anyway. but its summer slump,
so who cares.

i tried to explain multiple times why a binary module is not compatible
with the gpl and why it is not relevant in any way that one can
recompile or upgrade the kernel "sacrificing a fundamental feature of
the hardware (speak HDMI)".

maybe i'm just not capable to make myself clear and/or find the right
words so let me quote mr. linus torvalds stating (many times) that
binary kernel modules are "by default" a derived work of the kernel and
thus must be licensed (at least additionally) under gpl:

> [..]
> In the binary kernel module case, a bug in the code corrupts random
> data structures, or accesses kernel internals without holding the
> proper locks, or does a million other things wrong, because a kernel
> module is very intimately linked with the kernel.
>
> A kernel module is not a separate work, and can in no way be seen as
> "part of the hardware". It's very much a part of the kernel. And the
> kernel developers require that such code be GPLd so that it can be
> fixed, or, if there's a valid argument that it's not a derived work
> and not GPLd, then the kernel developers who have to support the end
> result mess most definitely do need to know about the taint.
> [..]

so what is a "valid argument" that a module is NOT a "derived work"?

[..]
> Similarly, historically there was a much stronger argument for things
> like AFS and some of the binary drivers (long forgotten now) for
> having been developed totally independently of Linux: they literally
> were developed before Linux even existed, by people who had zero
> knowledge of Linux. That tends to strengthen the argument that they
> clearly aren't derived.
>
> In contrast, these days it would be hard to argue that a new driver or
> filesystem was developed without any thought of Linux. I think the
> NVidia people can probably reasonably honestly say that the code they
> ported had no Linux origin. But quite frankly, I'd be less inclined to
> believe that for some other projects out there.
>
> Linus

best regards ...
clemens



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