[ubuntu-uk] Non-GPL Linux Kernel Modules Banned Starting January 2008 (??)

Pat evilcorporation at gmail.com
Fri Dec 15 00:31:41 GMT 2006

On 14/12/06, Gargoyle <g at rgoyle.com> wrote:
> On 14 Dec 2006, at 20:33, Pat wrote:
> > On 14/12/06, alan c <aeclist at candt.waitrose.com> wrote:
> >> Non-GPL Linux Kernel Modules Banned Starting January 2008
> > ...
> >>
> >> I note Linus' response which I find a bit reassuring, but I do hope
> >> the more 'common' end of common sense can prevail, particularly in
> >> ubuntu!
> >> --
> >>
> >
> > I'm in two minds about this issue.
> >
> > ... Snip ...
> >
> Me too, that's quite a tough one but I think I am favouring
> Linus' (and Ubuntu's) way of looking at it. Some parts of the system
> are free and open (GPL) because people put in the time and effort to
> write and maintain those parts. Others are not free because companies
> have spent millions developing XYZ and they want to earn some cash back!
> Currently I can install Ubuntu using the default settings, and get
> only software that comes under GPL. Or, I can enable universe and
> multiverse and get software that does not quite fit that mould...
> It's my choice.

Absolutely - I agree 100%.

I wish I was principled enough to not enable the non-free repos, but I like
my A/V stuff...

I like the approach that we can choose whether or not to allow the non-free
onto our systems with just a couple of clicks. This is why I replaced my
Mandrake systems with Ubuntu when Warty was released.

I'm just glad that there are enough Free Software zealots around to make a
fuss about the lapses into closed-source mediocrity.

What we have to remember, as far as I can see it, is that, without the "many
eyes" approach, without the amateur coders who take one project and improve
it, and pass it on to the next guy to improve it to fit his requirements, we
lose what made GNU & Linux such a powerful force.

That is what the proprietary software corporations cannot compete with.

> I can also see there is a potential problem on the legal side of
> things for companies like SUSE (Novell), since it could possibly
> leave them short if they ever had to uphold their licence in a legal
> case. However, on the other hand if the likes if ATI/nVidia do not
> release GPL versions of their drivers then linux will fail!

I am still waiting for a particularly irritating bug in the nvidia
drivers<http://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=354767#c4>to be
fixed. It doesn't affect many people, relatively, so I doubt it ever

I bet it would have been fixed already, if it had been an Xorg driver -
might even have had a go myself.

My point is that binary modules are a compromise that most of us, including
me, are prepared to make.

If GNU/Linux becomes dependent on closed source, then it *will* have failed
- and it won't become that way over night, it will be by a process of
incremental losses.

> Who is going to install an operating system onto their machine if it can't
> even drive a gfx card to it's full potential?

The number of users/customers isn't the measure of excellence.    :-)

GNU/Linux doesn't exist to support nvidia/ATI etc. it is supposed to be the
other way around!

The hardware manufacturers make money from sales of hardware to Free
Software users, but Free Software developers don't make money from
supporting nvidia/ATI etc. Accepting the closed-source drivers into Linux
removes the pressure on the hardware companies to provide "Free" software.

all the best,

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