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