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."
Thread beginning with comment 185204
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
nVidia binary driver doesn't violate the GPL
by Sodki on Sat 25th Nov 2006 01:18 UTC
Sodki
Member since:
2005-11-10

There seems to be some misinformation regarding how the nVidia graphics driver works. Several people on this thread have mentioned that you can't link GPL code with a binary blob - that is correct; several people have mentioned that nVidia's binary blob is illegal because it is linked to a GPL kernel - that is incorrect. nVidia's driver is divided in two: a GPL kernel module and a binary blob. The binary blob is loaded dynamically by the kernel module.

So...

1. the nVidia GPL kernel module links to the GPL kernel -> legal;
2. the nVidia GPL kernel module loads the binary blob. It does _not_ link to it -> legal.

Like someone already said, you can say that is violates the spirit of GPL, but it certainly does _not_ violate the GPL.

Besides, if you like Ubuntu but dislike the non-free portions of it, you can use gNewSense ( http://www.gnewsense.org ). It's your choice. And that's the beauty of Free Software. :-)

Edited 2006-11-25 01:21

Reply Score: 5

berzerko Member since:
2005-11-11

Yes, but if the sole purpose of the kernel module is to load the binary blob, then how is it really any different?
That's like a hired killing; the person who ordered the kill is just a guilty as the killer himself.
At least that's the way I think the Law would see it.

Edited 2006-11-25 02:32

Reply Parent Score: 2

Xaero_Vincent Member since:
2006-08-18

Thanks, that clears the NVIDIA issue for now.

Ubuntu will also be shipping ATI's proprietary display drivers.

I think it works in a simular way but is the kernel module source code licensed under GPL or compatable?

Doesn't look like it to me:

http://packages.debian.org/changelogs/pool/non-free/f/fglrx-driver/...

Reply Parent Score: 1

Ford Prefect Member since:
2006-01-16

"2. the nVidia GPL kernel module loads the binary blob. It does _not_ link to it -> legal."


Sorry, I don't really understand that one. Isn't dynamically loading the code and using it nothing more than dynamically linking it?

On the other side, one could argue that any userspace app linking to kernel calls would then also violate GPL. But here, the kernel devs explicitely state, that they don't see it as a violation. They explicitely state otherwise in regards to the binary drivers (which nearly all work in the fashion of nVidia) though!

Reply Parent Score: 1