Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Nov 2006 23:05 UTC, submitted by SEJeff
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Mark Shuttleworth is trying to entice OpenSUSE developers to join Ubuntu. "Novell's decision to go to great lengths to circumvent the patent framework clearly articulated in the GPL has sent shockwaves through the community. If you are an OpenSUSE developer who is concerned about the long term consequences of this pact, you may be interested in some of the events happening next week as part of the Ubuntu Open Week."
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Member since:

I just read the part about binary blobs in Ubuntu 7.04.

That explicitly violates the terms of the GPL. It seems Ubuntu developers are willing to upset the balance just for Beryl's god damn wobbly windows and rotating cubes.

Fedora Core:
Mod += 5

Reply Parent Score: 5

Rocinante Member since:

I'm interested in how it exactly violates the GPL. I know you can't include non-gpl code with GPL code, but I thought that if you include the packages separately with option to install them somewhere along the way that's some kind of loophole?

Feel free to correct me, this is one part of the GPL that's very cloudy and I would sincerely like to know where the line is drawn without diving into legalese ;)

Reply Parent Score: 5

miscz Member since:

I think the loophole is that binary driver developers use a layer which is compatible with GPL but also allows linking to binary blobs. It's a gray area but seems OK with most kernel developers.
Distros don't ship binary drivers for two reasons:
-free software philosophy
-need for agreement with company that created the driver

I might be wrong too though ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

Xaero_Vincent Member since:

No, it's a violation that only the user should decide to make. There is nothing cloudy about it. You cannot legally link GPL with non-GPL compatable code. This might have been different were the kernel licensed under LGPL, but the GPL specifically prohibits it.

There kernel developers seem more pragmatic about certain underlining issues, thus their decision to continue supporting the GPLv2. But the GPL clearly states its terms regarding library linking.

Edited 2006-11-25 00:21

Reply Parent Score: 3

dylansmrjones Member since:

It's not necessarily a violation of the GPL. It depends on the license of the binary blob, the way the blob interacts with the kernel and copyright laws in different countries and a gazillion other things.

Reply Parent Score: 4

hal2k1 Member since:

//I just read the part about binary blobs in Ubuntu 7.04.

That explicitly violates the terms of the GPL.//

Excuse me? What terms exactly?

The video drivers and other "binary blob" components that are being distributed by Ubuntu aren't GPL software.

Having GPL software on your system in no way requires that the systems has only GPL software installed on it.

Reply Parent Score: 5

molnarcs Member since:

I just read the part about binary blobs in Ubuntu 7.04.

Would you please provide a link to the part you read... because your statement below is simply not true:

That explicitly violates the terms of the GPL.

Blanket statement. Which are exactly the binary modules that explicitely violate the GPL? Nvidia? It doesn't, because it doesn't directly interact with the kernel. It uses a wrapper that is GPL on one hand, and is also compatible with Nvidia's binary blob license.

Other modules, like wifi? I don't use (k)ubuntu, but I was wondering what binary drivers they provide? If they got permission (from manufacturers) to distribute windows drivers and use it with ndiswrapper, than again, where is the explicit violation of the GPL? (again, the same case as with nvidia, ndiswrapper is GPL compatible).

I don't mean to say that all of this is OK. Nvidia, at least I can understand, because trade secrets and real patents are involved (some of which don't even belong to Nvidia, so they don't have the right to GPL it or something). OTOH, using ndiswrapper is evil, b/c it encourages vendors to neglect linux users. Theo's (OpenBSD) stance is the right one here (pressure vendors to provide specifications at least). Accepting linux binary blobs is also evil (now that might be a GPL violation, if they interact directly with the kernel!).

I don't really care about (K)ubuntu criticism, but your statement is simply false or at the very least, misleading (not all binary blobs violate the GPL, especially explicitely as you claim). You either didn't read "the part about binary blobs" very carefully, or simply want inflate the situation to make (K)ubuntu look worse than it really is.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Temcat Member since:

IANAL, but I see the "proprietary via GPL bridge" case in the following way:

1) If the GPL part is supplied in the source-code form and compiled during installation, there is no way to claim GPL violation at all, since no distribution in the binary, linked form takes place.

2) However, if the GPL part is distributed already compiled and linked with the kernel, the situation is different. Let's forget about the kernel for a minute and look at the GPL bridge and the proprietary blob first. While consisting of two parts, the bridge + blob combination is essentially a single work, since the intended purpose of the two is to work together and the former explicitly loads the latter. Now, being the copyright owner of both parts, NVidia has the right to combine them as they see fit, regardless of licenses, but the license for this combined work is not GPL! Therefore we have a non-GPL work linked to GPL kernel - which is a violation.

Reply Parent Score: 1