[PLUG] Binary Kernel Modules and their hassles

Sunil Beta Baskar betasam at gmail.com
Wed Jan 9 21:48:06 PST 2013


We've been using a Vivante GPU with a Freescale I.MX6 Processor on an
automotive grade development board. The Vivante GPU library was closed
source merely revealing a list of functions.

When we wanted to change some of the library functions of the GPU
library we found that it too was closed source.

I wrote to Vivante to figure out if there was a way to get help.
Vivante said that their official support was limited to Freescale
themselves. I wrote to Freescale asking for their support who said
that GNU/Linux driver support was officially limited to Linaro.

At the end we have an almost crude reverse-engineering job at hand;
thanks to the fact that we didn't check if we were really using a
hardware platform that had open source (in spirit and implementation)
drivers.

I see more Android Phone manufacturers, the new Ubuntu Tablet trend
getting into the same handle of violating GPL. I have written a mail
in detail of the components to Harald Welte, hoping he can help (he
heads the open source violations organization.)

Richard Stallman seems to have seen everything right. This time
everyone is attempting to steal (literally) from open source entire
frameworks without giving back what they should give back under the
terms of the License.

If there was a vote coming up to move GNU/Linux to GPLv3 I would
happily do that and disallow closed source drivers in the ecosystem in
its entirety. I would also vote for throwing out the "firmware" which
is potentially not source code itself and has no mechanism of
translating itself from source to binary.

Anyway, that's my opinion.

Cheerio!
Beta



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