[clug] The GPL and kernel modules

Chris Smart chris at kororaa.org
Wed Jun 21 01:19:04 GMT 2006

On 21/6/06 9:01 AM, "Conrad Canterford" <conrad at mail.watersprite.com.au>
> No. The only 'freedom' you rob them of is the ability to use your
> software, and that is not a freedom you have to give them (generally
> speaking - see my point below about GPL specifically).
> [snip] 
Darn, I thought I was starting to finally make some sense :(
> [snip] 
> I guess what I'm saying is, to my mind - and not having a ideological or
> commercial viewpoint to press - provided some fairly simple rules are
> followed a LKM can easily not be in breach of the GPL. From what is on
> Chris' site about the drivers concerned, I doubt very much that they are
> in any way a breach.
Does the saying "the more I learn the more I realise the less I know" apply
to this topic?? Argh..

Ok, so here's the problem as I see it. No-one really has an answer, really.
So it's going to come down to you own personal opinion until such a time as
it is set in stone by a court. I have been trying to gather as much evidence
for both sides as I can, but it's just impossible.

We all want to use free software, yes?
Are the drivers free? No.
Do they respect the ideals of free software? No.

Whether they were originally written for Linux or not originally, they
surely are now. The non-GPL "shim" is written specifically for Linux, not
Solaris, not Windows, but Linux. The non-GPL shim is linked to the closed
source binary component so that the entire piece of software can work under
Linux specifically ("modprobe nvidia" anyone?).

So as a whole, the nVidia driver _is_ specifically designed to work under
Linux. It contains a component that is non-OS specific, but as a whole it is
certainly designed for Linux. And if it is, then it has to be GPL'd.

Just another thought.


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