Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Operating Systems Software Linux

Linus Puts Kibosh On Banning Binary Kernel Modules 494

microbee writes "On LKML's periodic GPL vs. binary kernel module discussion, Andrew Morton hinted that he favors refusing to load binary modules in 12 months. Greg Kroah-Hartman then posted a patch to do exactly that. Surprisingly Linus chimed in and called it 'stupid' and a 'political agenda,' and even compared it with the RIAA's tactics. Later in the same thread Greg withdrew his patch and apologized for not having thought it through."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linus Puts Kibosh On Banning Binary Kernel Modules

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:10AM (#17235672)
    "I'm so sorry Mr. Linus! Please forgive me! I was a bad wittle boy."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by grahamlee ( 522375 )
      That's exactly what I thought, too. Andrew Morton says "we should do blah". Weenie says "Huzzah! For I have done blah!" Linus Torvalds says "doing blah is stupid". Weenie says "I never did blah! Or at least, I didn't really mean it."
  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:11AM (#17235686) Homepage Journal
    This week on LKML 24. Andrew and Linus get into it over politics, while Greg watches from the closet. Watch it Friday at 8, 7 central, 6 a mountain.
    • by araemo ( 603185 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:55AM (#17237634)
      Actually, (And in contrast to the majority of LKML spats that get posted here), Linus' post is actually rather accurate, and I agree with his reasoning. I don't want the RIAA being able to prevent all fair use just because some people make 'un-fair use'. I don't want to prevent other people from doing the same things with my works or I am being hypocritical. (Just to use one example, I realize kernel binary modules have nothing to do with fair use, and everything to do with derived works.)
  • by Duds ( 100634 ) * <dudley@enter[ ] ['spa' in gap]> on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:12AM (#17235698) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, there should be no "bans" of any code from Linux. That defeats the entire point. Banning people from loading their own kernal modules because YOU think there may be some weird legal issue is exactly the same as making your media player play only DRM files.

    This should be a short topic, Linus' reply (which if you haven't read you should) should finish the entire conversation right here, it's a stupid and petty toys out of the pram act and I'm glad he shot it down.

    Hopefully if it somehow does make it into the trunk, there will be very quickly versions with it removed releases as we go forward too because I don't think the wider community will have any truck with this at all.
    • Exactly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rastilin ( 752802 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:33AM (#17236040)
      I'm already in a situation where most distributions don't even install because the nv drivers they try to load at default won't work on my Geforce 6800. Even the latest vesa drivers seem unbearably slow. If this patch got into the tree, I'd switch to windows the exact same day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If that's the case, I think I'll stick with my GeForce 5500...
      • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ( 653730 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:53AM (#17236396)
        Certainly you're not one of the brave hackers that didn't stop developing linux in the early days despite of the severe lack of drivers.

        These days you can boot linux anywhere. But you know, there was a time (not that far ago) when Linux (and BSDs) didn't support almost anything. Those people really believed in open source, and they didn't mind spending many hours of their life reverse-engineering obscure hardware. They also didn't mind selling their incompatible hardware and buying linux-compatible hardware in order to run their wonderful open source OS.

        And you plan to to switch windows if the linux developers plan to ban propietary modules. You aren't switching your graphics card and buying a linux-compatible one (something you can fix with money). You just plan to switch windows.

        We're lucky that the early open source hackers weren't like you - if they had switched to windows every time they found a barrier we wouldn't have open source operative systems today. Linux has got big without the help of propietary drivers and despite of the ridiculous hardware support and the one way of getting even bigger is following the same path. We don't need propietary drivers, fuck them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by i7dude ( 473077 )
          you've taken his statement and reversed it.

          but in this case, he's not upset that there is a lack of hardware to run on his linux box. he's saying that he'd be upset if the kernel maintainers prevented him from using hardware that does run on linux.

          why the hell should he have to try and find hardware that runs on linux when the hardware he presently owns already does run...just not if they merge said patch into the tree.

          for him, switching from linux to windows is not a statement about what hardware run on h
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            why the hell should he have to try and find hardware that runs on linux when the hardware he presently owns already does run...just not if they merge said patch into the tree

            Because lots of lawyers consider such support illegal? If the linux license allowed such things then no kernel developer would oppose to propietary drivers, in the same way they don't oppose to running propietary userspace programs
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by rastilin ( 752802 )
              I've always wondered about something. If people can't get or release open-source versions of critical drivers, like the drivers Andrew Moreton was complaining about, what are they going to do? Switch? There HAS to be a balance between idealistic views of how the world should be and attention to how the world really is. There are plenty of examples, mostly involving failed government economic initiatives, where people acted according to an idealized version of what they thought the world should be and the s
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by jrockway ( 229604 )
                > In essence, if they DID stamp out all proprietary drivers, in userspace and kernel space. Then what?

                Then Linux would be like OpenBSD -- you wouldn't be reading about a remote root exploit in the NVidia drivers every week.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Duds ( 100634 ) *
              A lot of lawyers consider deCSS and all Mp3s illegal too.

              Doesn't mean my OS should act as a policemen, in fact that's precisely WHY a lot of people switch TO linux, because it doesn't do that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by slashrogue ( 775436 )
          I'm not sure where you got the impression that the poster you're responding to claimed to be a "brave hacker" that really "believes" in open source. I read his post and understood it to be the complaint of a consumer -- either the product I use works correctly, or eventually I will get fed up with it and move on to a product that does what I want it to do. Kindly step off your high horse there.
  • Backpatching (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:17AM (#17235778) Homepage
    Besides, what's to stop anyone from back-patching the kernel so that it does accept binary module loads? Freedom to change it; that's the GPL. Or did you think Red Hat and Novell wouldn't remove that particular feature?
    • Re:Backpatching (Score:4, Interesting)

      by a.d.trick ( 894813 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:24AM (#17236966) Homepage

      The point is the message that this brings across. At the moment people are pretty lax about binary dirvers. A ban on them in the vanilla kernel will go a long way in telling the driver vendors to make their specs free or get out of Linux land. Free drivers would be awesome, but I don't know if Linux is strong enough to actually influence the vendors at this point so we might end up with nothing. Plus, implementing this at the code level seems like the wrong place to be doing it. As Linus said, the license ought to control the distribution not the usage.

  • by bconway ( 63464 ) * on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:17AM (#17235780) Homepage
    I'm not sure what kernel list the poster has been reading. Linus is a pragmatist. He has constantly favored using the best tool for the job over religious fanaticism. There's no surprise here.
  • distro vs core (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:19AM (#17235814) Homepage Journal

    This shouldn't be a part of the core kernel code. However, the companies providing commercial support may, of course, include such a restriction in their kernels. This would just be a step further from "we don't support your kernel if it is flagged as tainted." The user can remove them if they want, with the same consequences as removing those foil "WARRANTY VOID" stickers hiding the screw holes on electronics devices.

  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:19AM (#17235820) Journal

    Linus was wrong on one point:

    Oh, well. I realize nobody is likely going to listen to me, and everybody has their opinion set in stone.

    In fact, I had never understood his point until reading that post. As he points out, it clearly is hypocritical to object to the RIAA tactics (which I do) on the one hand and then propose using exactly the same sort of technological barriers to fair use on the other. If people object to binary only drivers, the sollution is for those people to refuse to use them, not for them to try to game the system to prevent other people from using them.


  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:23AM (#17235880)
    But the fact is that there is a large number of copyright holders for the Linux kernel, not just Linus himself. Not all of these copyright holders accept binary kernel modules, and thus they should be considered illegal to distribute with the kernel.

    However, refusing users to shimmy in a binary module themselves is wrong. The GPL clearly states that it only covers distribution, not usage, so users are perfectly entitled to do whatever they want to the kernel as long as they do not distribute it. Adding a check to refuse loading of binary modules would only lead to a fork of the kernel, which is unproductive and unhelpful.

    If a binary kernel module contains absolutely no code from the Linux kernel in the form of headers or anything like that, the FSF would have a hard time claiming it is derivative work, thus it should be perfectly legal to distribute. The GPL may say otherwise, but this may be an over extension of the powers of a copyright holder.
    • by rkcallaghan ( 858110 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:58AM (#17236486)
      GauteL wrote:
      But the fact is that there is a large number of copyright holders for the Linux kernel, not just Linus himself. Not all of these copyright holders accept binary kernel modules, and thus they should be considered illegal to distribute with the kernel.
      The kernel accepts binary modules by design and default. Even if the "other copyright holders to the Linux kernel" mattered in this case (they don't, see below); they submitted their code and efforts in agreement with things as they stood then, not some potential future version that Morton might want to make. So you're wrong on that point, despite any arguments they might make or political positions they might support, when the chips were down they did support kernel modules and there is no reason at all they should be illegal.

      Further, a large majority of said other copyright holders wouldn't matter if they wanted to. A contributor might have given something great and valuable to the linux kernel. Unless they're the maintainer of the portion that actually handles loading modules, too bad so sad. If I'm not mistaken that's Torvalds and Morton. Everyone else, no matter how great their bluetooth subsystem is, can no more demand linux "make binary modules illegal" than you could of Microsoft.

  • It's not distro vs use - It's more like distro versus zealots.
  • by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <> on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:24AM (#17235892) Homepage

    This is the strange effect brought on by the following situation:

    • The GPL is the tool of a political movement, using it is a political statement
    • Linux is one of the big poster childs of this movement
    • The actual author of Linux doesn't really care about any of this
    • by kebes ( 861706 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:44AM (#17236248) Journal
      Very often people characterize Linus as 'not caring about the politics' or 'being a pragmatism not an idealist.' Yet if you read his post you see that he's very much thinking about rights and freedoms. He very much does care about the freedom issue. His stance just happens to be a bit different than others (RMS for instance).

      Frequently I do not agree with Linus on issues, because his general view is to avoid meddling with things until absolutely necessary (whereas RMS, for instance, tries to think as far down the road as possible). However in this particular case Linus is dead right: putting code into the kernel for non-technical reasons, purely to limit the *end user* and specifically limit what they can do with their computer is very much "anti-computer-freedom" and should never be done.

      So Linus is effectively saying "if we do this we limit the freedom of the end user, just like the RIAA is doing with DRM..." and he is quite right.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:24AM (#17235896) Journal
    You have to choose exactly what level of free you want.

    The GPL has clauses in it that seek to prevent people from making it non-free. That's fair enough, but it's a compromise. You could make the licence more free by removing these clauses. That would enable others to limit your freedom. Linus seems to tend towards offering more freedom to make Linux less free.

    But does a no-binaries patch matter? Those who want to add binary-only modules are free to customise the kernel to allow this. I hope this patch remains available. choice is good.
  • BSD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by javilon ( 99157 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:26AM (#17235920) Homepage
    The way Linus talks, I think he would be happier with a BSD license than with the GPL.

    • Re:BSD (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kebes ( 861706 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:51AM (#17236350) Journal
      No, Linus very much agrees with the "quid pro quo" of the GPL. He believes that if you take his code and extend it, you should have to contribute back. He believes in sharing (even if he's not as concerned as RMS is about fundamental freedom). In the linked post Linus says:

      "If people take our code, they'd better behave according to our rules. But we shouldn't have to behave according to the RIAA rules just because we _listen_ to their music. Similarly, nobody should be forced to behave according to our rules just because they _use_ our system."

      Clearly Linus does like the GPL restricting those who would distribute code (whereas BSD causes no restrictions). The point Linus is trying to make is that we have to distinguish between limitations to distribution and limitations to the end user. The proposed patch would mostly have limited the end-user (making it annoying for them to run binary modules). Linus is saying that we shouldn't try to limit the freedom of the end-user with technical restrictions. But (as quoted above) he clearly does like the fact that the GPL forces people who "take the code" to "behave according to the rules."

      Hence Linus would not be happy with a BSD license.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I disagree, Linus does care about derived works. Much as I admire the altruistic nature of the BSD license, it offers absolutely no protection from derived works. What Linus doesn't care for is imposing the derived work status on non-derived works. To put this in perspective, if Linux is a DVD player, Linus says you have to show any bits you change in the DVD player code, but he's not going to force you to show the bits on the DVDs you play. Personally, I think the BSD license is not a good choice for platf
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I don't think so. He seems very vocal about the "not imposing limitations to usage" side, but the part where if you use his code you have to share yours seems to be important. I'd sum it up as saying: Linus is happy with the GPL v2 license rather than the GPL v3 one.
  • by i_should_be_working ( 720372 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:28AM (#17235948)
    Before people start bashing those who proposed this, think of the devs who put so much of their time and effort into getting us Linux. And note that the proposal arose from a technical issue, not from a 'everything must be Free' stance. From the last thread /. links to, part of Greg's retraction:

    It's just that I'm so damn tired of this whole thing. I'm tired of
    people thinking they have a right to violate my copyright all the time.
    I'm tired of people and companies somehow treating our license in ways
    that are blatantly wrong and feeling fine about it. Because we are a
    loose band of a lot of individuals, and not a company or legal entity,
    it seems to give companies the chutzpah to feel that they can get away
    with violating our license.

    So when someone like Andrew gives me the opportunity to put a stop to
    all of the crap that I have to put up with each and every day with a
    tiny 2 line patch, I jumped in and took it. I need to sit back and
    remember to see the bigger picture some times, so I apologize to
    everyone here.

    And yes, it is crap that I deal with every day due to the lovely grey
    area that is Linux kernel module licensing these days. I have customers
    that demand we support them despite them mixing three and more different
    closed source kernel modules at once and getting upset that I have no
    way to help them out. I have loony video tweakers that hand edit kernel
    oopses to try to hide the fact that they are using a binary module
    bigger than the sum of the whole kernel and demand that our group fix
    their suspend/resume issue for them. I see executives who say one thing
    to the community and then turn around and overrule them just because
    someone made a horrible purchasing decision on the brand of laptop wifi
    card that they purchased. I see lawyers who have their hands tied by
    attorney-client rules and can not speak out in public for how they
    really feel about licenses and how to interpret them.

    Please think of the coders, and the shit they have to put up with while making your free operating system the next time you start clamoring for these closed source binary blobs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Otter ( 3800 )
      I'm tired of people thinking they have a right to violate my copyright all the time. I'm tired of people and companies somehow treating our license in ways that are blatantly wrong and feeling fine about it. Because we are a loose band of a lot of individuals, and not a company or legal entity, it seems to give companies the chutzpah to feel that they can get away with violating our license.

      I don't understand -- if he sincerely thinks there are genuine violations of his copyright, he can get a lawyer and d

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by russotto ( 537200 )
        Probably because there aren't any actual copyright violations. The theory that a binary kernel module loaded into a GPL kernel is a copyright violation depends on one of two things

        1a) Loading the kernel module into the kernel creates a derivative work of "kernel plus module" and
        1b) The act of creating that derivative work requires that the module in question be placed under the GPL.


        2) Using kernel interfaces makes the module itself a derivative work of the kernel.

        1b) is simply wrong; the GPL allows non-G
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gbjbaanb ( 229885 )
          I thought the problem was that in order to build a driver, you have to use the C headers to get the data structures and other API code, so all binary drivers are technically licenced with the GPL and should be open sourced.

          If this is the case (and I'm not 100% sure I'm right here) then I think the linux licence needs these 'APIs' to be released differently.
  • by quarrel ( 194077 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:30AM (#17235982)
    The bottom line here, that Linus and so many other often ignored people are pushing, is that the GPL, and all other *copy*right licenses, are only licenses that effects distribution.

    Putting artificial measures into the Linux kernel that affect users of Linux, even when they're building their own kernels is BAD. Technology rules, ok?

    Even RMS would recognise that the GPL is about freedom to do WTF you want with it once you've got it, but if you want to offer it to others, you damn well better give them those same freedoms.

    Unfortunately, as any longtime /. reader knows, almost any license discussion degenerates into the idiots that think being GPL means you CAN'T do what you want. As Linus so well pointed out, the RIAA sux, why do we have to?

  • Because, his RIAA objection is flawed. Using free code that links/attaches into GPL-ed code is the license _requirement_, just like payment is a requirement for RIAA music. It is NOT about telling how to use that certain code as he argues. This is definitely a copyright issue and the RIAA's equivalent would be NOT selling music to someone who didn't pay for it, not the DRM crap.

    If Linus doesn't think that the terms of the license should be uphold because of his convictions, maybe he should have went with
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cyclop ( 780354 )

      Using free code that links/attaches into GPL-ed code is the license _requirement_

      No. The license requirement is that I cannot _redistribute_ GPL-ed code with binary code mixed. But if I pick up proprietary code, I mix it by myself on my machine, I compile it and I use it, I'm perfectly GPL-compliant, provided I don't redistribute it.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:31AM (#17236012) Homepage
    I understand why those that want to ban binary only modules. It causes hell for everyone on the kernel dev team.

    But.... banning them instantly pisses off every single company that is barely putting out a hardware driver for Linux already (nvidia for example) A ban will not make these people go "oh,ok... we'll release the source code." they will simply flip off all Linux users and tell them to pound sand.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      So what you are saying is that banning binary only modules would.
      1. Cause grief for the people that use Linux.
      2. Reduce hardware support.
      3. Provide no real benefit because companies will then just choose to ignore Linux.

      I don't think that you see the big picture. It is about freedom and we must enforce our view of what freedom is on those that are not as enlightened as ourselves! We must educate the masses that these short term setback will not stop our glorious revolution!

      Yea you and Linus are right. Fran
  • Oh irony (Score:4, Informative)

    by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:32AM (#17236020) Homepage Journal
    "Let's put it this way: if you need to ask a lawyer whether
    what you do is "right" or not, you are morally corrupt.
    Let's not go there. We don't base our morality on law."
            -- Linus Torvalds

    Apparently our morality is simple pragmatism?
  • Actually reading TFA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:34AM (#17236054) Homepage Journal
    Actually, Linus's comments are not very negative. When he's negative, he capitalises and underscores and asterisk-ises words all over the place, and uses the phrases "NEVER", "fundamental", and "so lets not even talk about it".

    This particular way of blocking proprietary drivers has been withdrawn, but the idea seems to still have support, or at least be open for debate.
  • by BigBuckHunter ( 722855 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:35AM (#17236066)
    If Nvidia doesn't release their source because it's not "derived" from the linux kernel (they only use a GPL kernel interface to bridge it to their driver), then why TF do they have a seperate driver download for linux? Why don't they didn't they just build a kernel interface to their windows driver? When their driver stops working with newer kernels and they patch it to work again, isn't that patch "derived" from the linux kernel, otherwise where esle would the patch be derived from?

    What Linus is saying may not exclude the possibility of a single kernel dev suing Nvidia for GPL license violations or possible copyright infringent.

    Just a thought,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cnettel ( 836611 )
      Does this mean that you think that any software, written for Windows, that breaks with a new release means that the author of that software has violated the copyright of MS? Even if the developers of the binary blob never looked at the Linux source, it would be trivial to create a dependency on some behavior that eventually changes, especially as the policy of the kernel team is to be quite ignorant regarding preserving behavior that only affects kernel-mode code.

      Heck, there are even hacks in Vista to fix

  • How is this a surprise in any way, shape, or form? This is the way Linus has always been. Anyone who didn't see that response coming is a complete moron. In fact, reading the summary, as soon as I saw the phrase "Surprisingly, Linus chimed in" I was expecting to see that he supported the motion, merely because that would be so surprising. Move along people, this isn't news.
  • by zoftie ( 195518 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:44AM (#17236232) Homepage
    Linus has kept focus, that linux was, is and will be about technology and I agree with him on that. It is about providing wealth of options for software users. Not twisting their hand in very specific way. GPL protects linux kernel. Using GPL to blugeon other people's practices into extreme ways that GPL can be interpreted is silly.
    See there is new and old world. In the new world code is the law. In the old world it is legalese like licences, laws for real people from standpoint of non-technical point. To Linus GPL is only a way to protect kernel code, like a tool. Nothing political. Whereas for Mr Stallman it is his life and politics. For linus gnu toolkit and gcc, came with added protection of GPL. And gpl for him is exactly like a tool.

    When you are a carpenter, you don't think of societal and humane implications of using auto-nailer to a hammer. Same with Linus, his codebase is what matters first. He is driving politics from within the kernel, you might say in very meritocratic way and not from GPL and how morally conflicting it is with GPL, to load binary drivers. GPL is a cover from blatant abuse of the kernel code.

    Linus has kept focus since beginning of the project and I stand with him on that. He is a coder first, and likes to provide things and services for other fellow coders, not be meddeling in world of politics.
  • Shell Game (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Se7enLC ( 714730 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @10:54AM (#17236416) Homepage Journal
    > it will only result in _exactly_ the crap we were just trying to avoid,
    > namely stupid "shell game" drivers that don't actually help anything at
    > all, and move code into user space instead.

    Why is this bad? Separating out the kernel-space open source code from the binary blob is the only way to really ensure that the module will work with any kernel version. NVidia does it right, it works and it's binary. I don't even notice that it's not all open source because the kernel part is and compiles when I install it. Having that wrapper might not make it very fast, but it does at least WORK, and is supportable.

    I'm frankly a little tired of devices that say they are supported, when they provide a binary-only module for one specific kernel version of RedHat.

    Unfortunately, dropping binary module support in the kernel won't fix the problem. The real big players will just forward-port the support of those binary blobs into newer kernels, and now instead of just having to deal with binary drivers, we have to deal with distributions having different code support in the kernel. And who wants the commercial linux distributions to be more flexible than the free ones? Not I!
  • by cies ( 318343 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:19AM (#17236848)
    okay in theory one cannot link any binairy blob with the kernel and redistribute it, this is forbidden by the (strong copy-left of the) GPL.
    but if Linus wants to allow this why not put Linux under a license with a weaker copyleft, like the LGPL?

    at the current situation i think the kernel devs are right when they feel the GPL is violated.

    cies breijs.
  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:20AM (#17236872)
    That continual discussion on the LKML doesn't help anyone, and misses an important technical opportunity.

    Does anyone seriously believe that all card and peripheral device manufacturers will go fully FOSS any time soon, or indeed ever? No --- nobody is that unrealistic, no matter how much we'd love it to happen.

    So, since it's not going to happen, how can we best live with binary modules without suffering the many, very bad consequences of closed code being in our kernel?

    This is how:

    Find a *technical* way of containing binary modules within MMU-protected kernel domains, at the same level as the "real" kernel but with controlled/restricted access to it. This would make binary modules almost as safe as user-code but still able to communicate rapidly with the kernel resources.

    If you do that, the entire religious or political issue disappears, and instead we would have a significantly more robust/resilient kernel in practical terms.

    No more bitching. Just find a way to keep the inevitable binary modules under tight MMU control.
  • Yay, politics. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GeekDork ( 194851 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @11:56AM (#17237640)

    It's just a shame that all this is basically the result of a really fucked up kernel design.

    The kernel right now is one big monolithic, undocumented blob of ever changing ugly interfaces that requires breaking the license if you want to add a closed source driver. There is no clear interface for any third-party work that doesn't involve the inclusion of core kernel code into closed-source modules. This design of course clashes with the reality of needing closed-source drivers for some tasks. Face it: nvidia, ATI and others are not going to open their driver sources just because a minority OS doesn't want to play with them anymore. It's really a miracle that they still are making drivers, because core interfaces are changing weekly, so instead of being little bitching whiners, be thankful for that gesture of goodwill.

    What Linux IMO really needs is a stable, well-designed external interface for such drivers. I don't know how possible it would be to create something like that, but systems like QNX suggest that it actually works. But I guess that having such an interface and actual *gasp* documentation for it would be too much to ask, especially from people who apparently don't know about the terrific capability of C to include comments in the code. It does work for other things than just the license! So far, I've only been working with three or four little interfaces in the kernel, and and each one of those required at least a week of code exploration before I could even only get to a trial-and-error phase, just because to the fact that (1) there is no or just outdated documentation in the kernel package itself, (2) the code isn't commented, and (3) all tutorials on the web are aimed at kernel version 2.2.0.

    Yes, I'm quite disgusted with OSS in general and especially Linux, but it's still less expensive than the other crap./p

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.