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Old 12-13-06, 09:31 PM   #1
mschwartz
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Default GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

It looks like we (nVidia users) may be facing a dilemma in a year, unless nVidia opens their driver or the Nouveau folks (http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/) can deliver.

According to Greg Kroah-Hartman's blog:

http://www.kroah.com/log/2006/12/13/#2006_12_13

A patch is going into the mainstream Linux kernel that will preclude non-GPL modules from loading, which in this context, means the current nVidia proprietary drivers.

Curiously, this has not hit /. yet, but I suspect by tomorrow, there will be thousands of posts all over tech/Linux news sites.

I know this is just happening, but it would be helpful to have some reaction from nVidia, as this has been discussed previously and cannot be a surprise.
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Old 12-13-06, 09:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

Imho, they can't do this.

The GPL disallows distribution of code in binary form, where not the whole is under the same license (is open source, but even is GPL-ed; the famous virus-license aspect).

However, NOBODY can stop you from downloading a GLP-ed whole, and then LOCALLY do anything with it, anything, and use it. Including ripping it apart, changing it and linking it to code that has a proprietary license. After linking, it is not allowed to distribute the result IF the result is a WHOLE that doesn't function anymore without the added non-GPL part. However, it would be perfectly fine to distribute a linux Operating System (entirely GPL-ed) and at the same time (ie, on the same CD, or from the same ftp-site, or supported by the same script that does the downloading/installing of both) support, for example the closed source nvidia drivers-- poetry or not.

Hence-- the only thing the current kernel developers can do is add code that refuses to link non-GPLed code- and use a poetry to check if a kernel module is GPL-ed. Then if a module does not contain this poetry, it is not loaded. I suppose it can be made legal that non-GPLed code will not be able to contain this (copyrighted) poetry, so they can't fake it.

But, and that is the nice thing of open-source, nobody can stop you from downloading the linux kernel - ripping out this stupid poetry test - and load the nvidia kernel modules anyway. And I'm sure that people will do this (and if not, then I will).

The real question is therefore not a legal one, but more: if this is going to happen - will nvidia still be interested to support linux? Because if they think: to hell with them; and stop providing drivers, then we lose.

I hope that nvidia will see that their 'enemy' are a few kernel developers, but that all of their USERS would be the victims if they stop providing kernel modules. We (the users) will work out a solution, as long as you provide the drivers.

That being said-- I would have nothing against it when the drivers were GPL-ed of course.

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Old 12-13-06, 10:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.linux....4/focus=475824 is what Linus thinks about this. Hopefully people aren't going to be ridiculous enough to actually have this be merged into the tree. The parallels that Linus makes between the RIAA and this patch seem to be pretty convincing.
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Old 12-13-06, 11:01 PM   #4
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

yeah, don't panic.

Just wait, I am sure, that this problem will solve itself one way or the other.
Nvidia opening up
Nvidia without binary kernel blob
rev engineered open drivers
Linus holding the fort

there are many possible ways how this will end. And no need to panic.
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Old 12-13-06, 11:04 PM   #5
mschwartz
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

Skrot,

Thanks for posting the reply by Linus. I was just coming back here to do the same.

This should be interesting.
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Old 12-14-06, 02:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

I support patching the GPL Linux kernel (still allows patching right?) so it accepts any module. "The freedom to run the software as you wish" -- FSF.
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Old 12-14-06, 04:06 AM   #7
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

Yeah I think it will be possible to patch out the kernel so it will accept non-GPL modules as well.
The question is if NVidia would get along with this solution. I guess there are many non-advanced users out there as well (and that is no negative statement), which may be unable to patch and recompile their kernels. So NVidia could probably leave us at this point:
"Why a driver if only XX% of former users can use it?"

For me it is a bad situation at all. I wish Linus would have more control over this all.
I can only fully agree with whig:
How "free" can a system be that disallows me the software I want to run?

It's a shame: I can understand some of the statements of the kernel developers but mostly it calls the sentence in my head: "biting the hand that tries to feed you".

I am very interested in what the NVidia Linxu developers think about this. Please leave us not alone guys
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Old 12-14-06, 04:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.linux....4/focus=475890 might relieve somewhat. Pretty interesting stuff. I wonder if anything like this will eventually actually make it into the kernel.
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Old 12-14-06, 05:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

I personally can understand hoe Greg feels. Probably just partially but I at least try.
But on the other side it's like a rude reaction to a rude action. non-GPL violates the kernel so we do the same and block it - done.
I don't see a productive point in this.
Why not sitting together making a good concept everyone can profit? I haven't digged so deep in the whole stuff but there must be a logical solution for this problem everyone could be happy.
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Old 12-14-06, 07:27 AM   #10
mschwartz
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

Nice to see that Linus can still influence the discussion and that Greg has perhaps "come to his senses".

Curiously, still nothing on /. on this, but OSNews has a lengthy thread, now noting Linus' post and Greg's retraction:

http://www.osnews.com/comment.php?news_id=16720

Perhaps there is yet sanity in the midst of evangelism...
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Old 12-14-06, 08:40 AM   #11
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

Some people here are looking at this entirly in the wrong way...

A : There are incredibly few closed source modules around today.
B : There's nothing stopping you from patching your kernel to allow loading binary only drivers after this patch goes in.

B is the same as people who are today running 2.4 kernels because of binary only drivers that were never ported (I have a friend with an ISA card, his server's on 2.4 for that reason, a binary driver were never ported).
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Old 12-14-06, 09:50 AM   #12
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Default Re: GPL Only Modules in Linux Kernel After January 1, 2008

What sickens me is that there are people here attacking primary kernel developers, the people that write the OS you use.

There's no need to be NVIDIA fanboys on this issue.
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