[PLUG] Firmware, tainted code etc [was Re: [X-Post] [ilugd] linux-libre kernel. fork?]

Rahul Sundaram sundaram at fedoraproject.org
Wed May 28 22:21:19 IST 2008

श्रीधर नारायण दैठणकर wrote:
> Hi,
> This topic has numerous aspects e.g. an open firmware allows to boost powers 
> of wireless signals which violates FCC mandates and can cause problems. 

You are confining yourself to wireless firmware and FCC has hardly 
global jurisdiction and there is no clear mandate on how open firmware 
can cause any problems especially in other regions.

> than burrying it in binary blob(worse than a hex dump), there is no other 
> effective measure.

Sure there is. For one, there is firmware with actual source code 
available. Some manufacturer just burn in into ROM which leaves out the 
entire question of modifiability.

> More importantly, tainted kernels are illegal and that is an accepted fact. 

Not really. It might be potentially illegal to distribution such a 
combination depending on the license of the module that taints it. As a 
end user, you are free to taint your kernel all you want and there is 
nothing illegal about it at all.

> Just that kernel developers don't go after every tainted kernel, does not 
> make them any less legal.
> Furthermore the link cited, http://jebba.blagblagblag.org/?p=244, shows hex 
> dump of firmware which is perfectly fine I think. The values are out there 
> for anybody to use there and an open source driver illustrates how to use 
> them too. How it is not open source, is beyond me.

Hex dump is not source code and it is not preferred form of modification 
as defined within the GPL license.

> The kernel is GPLed, but the firmware may not be.

There is in fact a potential license violation here. Refer "mere 
aggregation" clauses in the license.


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