Non-Free "Blobs" in the Linux Kernel?
Dec 02, 2008, 16:31 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jack Wallen)
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[ Thanks to Bernard Swiss for this
"If you keep up with Linux kernel news then you might
well be aware that there is a particular issue that is starting to
boil up to the surface. It seems that the Free Software Foundation
(FSF) is changing their stance on what comprises a "free" Linux
distribution. This came about because of the GNewSense distribution
which arrived on the scene in 2006. GNewSense' goal was to create a
distribution that contained only free software. This would include
the kernel. This distribution would garner the FSF's exalted title
of Free Operating System.
"But then GNewSense did the unthinkable - it found proprietary
"blobs" in the kernel. Blobs are basically firmware that many
drivers require in order to function. The major player here would
be wireless networking devices. But because these "blobs" are not
free, any kernel that contains drivers that would make use of said
"blobs" would not be considered free. And there are a lot of
offenders out there. And in order to maintain the "Free" status
awarded by the FSF, any distribution claiming to be "free" would
have to remove those blobs from their code."