[linux-elitists] I am a polite person. I am a polite person.

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Tue Jun 11 18:39:53 PDT 2002

Just got invited to an "executive briefing" with a hardware vendor
who plans to announce Linux (the kernel) support.  Naturally
I asked what the license terms would be, and got back...

> Binary only.  $VENDOR customers don't really want a GPL version of the driver
> out there, because this is a data center product, and an open source driver
> is anathema to a reliable data center storage network. 

(And they're trying to sell this to people who run Linux?  After
writing and deleting a couple of smartass replies having to do with
why the hell these "reliable data centers" are running Linux in
the first place if the GPL is "anathema", I decided to be nice --
maybe this person doesn't represent Corporate Policy and those who do
can be presuaded of how things work.)   My real reply, more or less:

Please reconsider this issue and study how proprietary device drivers
affect real-world Linux support.

There is no guarantee of binary compatibilty in the kernel module
interface, and the presence of a binary-only module can cause
a vendor security patch to fail, or prevent a site-local kernel
configuration from working.

This has happened to me in person, and has also been the subject
of discussion on the linux-kernel mailing list.

I _cannot_ in good conscience recommend any hardware for which the
only driver support is in the form of a binary-only module.

I will be able to meet with anyone who is empowered to change the
licensing, regarding Linux professionals' need for cleanly licensed
(GPL or compatible) device drivers.

Don Marti                                          
http://zgp.org/~dmarti                       Help spread accurate information 
dmarti@zgp.org                      about Xenu and the Church of Scientology.
KG6INA           <a href="http://xenu.net/">Scientology</a> on your web site.

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