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

Greg KH greg@kroah.com
Tue Jun 11 21:46:41 PDT 2002

On Tue, Jun 11, 2002 at 06:39:53PM -0700, Don Marti wrote:
> 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:

<snip weak argument>

Bah, I _love_ those kinds of "announcements" and love to talk to the
people trying to defend binary kernel modules.  I have a whole long list
of legal, support, and technical questions and issues around binary
kernel modules that I ask people.  Legal ones they usually brush aside,
but the support and technical ones (the technical ones are quite large
and involve a lot of money usually) are much harder for them to defend.

They usually give up and see that opening their drivers saves them so
much money it's worth it.  And in the end, money is what convinces
companies to release code, not "good for the well being of all"
arguments :)

In speaking with some _very_ knowledgable IP lawyers, they seem to all
agree that 99% of the binary kernel modules out there infringe on the
GPL and wouldn't stand up to any kind of legal challenge.

I could dig up the issues/questions if others are interested.

greg k-h

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