Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 4th Aug 2006 22:50 UTC
SuSE, openSUSE "Finally. For years, the holy grail of the Linux desktop has been to get a major computer vendor to commit to preloading a Linux desktop. It finally happened. On August 4th, we found out that Lenovo Group, the company that has taken over IBM's Personal Computing Division, had made a deal with Novell to preload SLED 10 on its ThinkPad T60p mobile workstation. For the first time, a major OEM has committed to preloading a Linux desktop."
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butters
Member since:
2005-07-08

You're theoretically correct, but in practice any kernelspace binary driver is already a derivative work containing Linux code distributed under the GPL, even if it's distributed separately from the kernel. Linux kernel modules include GPLed kernel headers when built. They would't be able to access kernel data structures, functions, and macros if this this header code weren't compiled and linked with the module. You couldn't even write a "hello world" kernel module without including at least some of the header files.

Since these binary kernel modules contain GPL code, they must be licensed under the GPL. However, this isn't the case, and the vendors obviously aren't abiding by the requirements of the license. These vendors are breaking the law. I incorrectly stated that it would be the user that is in the wrong, and for that I apologize.

Reply Parent Score: 3

DrillSgt Member since:
2005-12-02

<snip>"...They would't be able to access kernel data structures, functions, and macros if this this header code weren't compiled and linked with the module. You couldn't even write a "hello world" kernel module without including at least some of the header files.

Since these binary kernel modules contain GPL code, they must be licensed under the GPL."
</snip>

That makes a bit of sense. It would be off topic for me to keep going, but I am curious as I have seen it to where header files are not considered code, determined by a court of law and actually was used in the SCO and IBM case if I remember correctly. I could have easily misunderstood that however, and have confused it with something else. Either way thanks for your help in helping me understand this better.

Reply Parent Score: 1

archiesteel Member since:
2005-07-02

I disagree. The way the NVIDIA driver is made, for example, is that an open-source part is distributed (the one that used kernel headers to be compiled) along with a closed-source part (used by the open-source part). That way the vendors can provide proprietary drivers loaded by an open-source kernel interface.

If the vendors were breaking the law, they'd be sued. They haven't. If you believe that they are in fact breaking the law, then why don't you put your money where your mouth is and sue NVIDIA and ATI?

Remember, if to you use of an API or ABI is equivalent to a derivative, that basically means that you agree with SCO on many aspects of its Linux suit against IBM, because that was one of their main arguments. I myself do not believe that use of an API/ABI is sufficient to constitute a derivative, and it seems that Linus, for one, agrees.

I do not believe that it is illegal to provide a proprietary binary driver for Linux, as long as it is not distributed as part of the kernel. So far I have seen no argument to convince me of the contrary, and no real-world cases of vendors being sued for this. Therefore I do believe you are wrong about this.

Reply Parent Score: 5