Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Feb 2007 14:41 UTC, submitted by Oliver
FreeBSD "Linux has a large amount of device drivers for hardware not supported on FreeBSD, especially USB devices. Not rarely, such drivers have been written based on information derived by protocol sniffing, reverse engineering and the like. This makes the code highly undocumented, and renders the porting effort extremely error prone. To help with this task, I decided to start working on an emulation layer that would let us recompile the linux source code on FreeBSD, and provide a sufficiently complete emulation of the kernel APIs so that device drivers (or at least certain classes) could be used without modifications to their source code."
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Butters is right. This "compile by yourself is legal" clause is one (if not the main) reason why the attempt to block all binary kernel modules as of 2008/01/01 suggested by GKH recently was turned down[1].

With respect to the binary video drivers from NVIDIA and ATI the two crucial points are

- That distributions can't distribute the already linked binary kernel modules (like for example in the incident with the Kororaa Live CD[2])

- Whether the wrapper code for the binary blob itself can be considered a derivative work of the kernel, or just a code "using the structures provided by the kernel"

I have little experience with the latter issue (although it seems to be a proverbial grey area that is here to remain), but the first is almost clearly in violation of the GPL and should therefore be avoided.

Hope that clears things up


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