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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molnarcs
Member since:
2005-09-10

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:
2005-10-18

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

molnarcs Member since:
2005-09-10

Good points, but your argument hinges on considering the blob+wrapper a single work. They are not. For instance, the blob works without the wrapper on other unix platforms (FreeBSD, Solaris), or non-unix platforms. They aren't entirely separate either, for the blob communicates with the kernel through the wrapper, which is analogous with the GPL situation (the restrictive license of the blob communicates with the GPL licensed kernel through the wrapper as well ;) ). At any rate, including the NVidia driver on the ISO is certainly not an explicit GPL violation - that was just rhetorics to make the situation sound more dramatic. NVidia's case is at worst, a legal grey area, not explicit violation.


Another note: the wrapper is GPL compatible, not GPL itself as far as I know...

Reply Parent Score: 1