[nycbug-talk] kernels

Bob Ippolito bob
Thu Jun 3 13:52:16 EDT 2004

On Jun 3, 2004, at 1:06 PM, mlists at bizintegrators.com wrote:

> On Thu, Jun 03, 2004 at 11:50:41AM -0400, Bob Ippolito wrote:
>> On Jun 3, 2004, at 10:11 AM, mlists at bizintegrators.com wrote:
>>>>> I'm very gratefull for OpenBSD's integrity, meaning things like
>>>>> binary
>>>>> only drivers will never be accepted.
>>>> I don't see how this is true.
>>>> Sure binary only modules may not be possible, but binary only 
>>>> patches
>>>> are
>>>> very much possible.  Additionally thanks to the liberal BSD license,
>>>> this
>>>> becomes more so possible as opposed to the requirements of the GPL.
>>> I think binary patches and binary kernel modules are very different.
>>> Unless there is a source, or it complies with OpenBSD goals, they 
>>> will
>>> not accept anything kernel or userland related. Even with source, 
>>> and a
>>> bad license, they will not accept it. This is what I meant when I 
>>> said
>>> the above.
>>> Binary patches patch already what is in the system. My comment only
>>> related to things like binary-only NV drivers, for example.
>> I don't get what you're trying to say here.  Linux won't accept kernel
>> modules and patches that aren't GPL either, but it just so happens 
>> that
>> there are third parties that provide a few binary only drivers.  In 
>> the
>> case of OpenBSD, you just don't have any interested third parties 
>> (that
>> I'm aware of).
> As far as I know, GPL means you have to release the source, and since
> there is no source for NVidia, they must not be GPL. I'm guessing, so
> you might be right. They might be LGPL or whatever, to allow such
> drivers to link against the kernel. I don't know how it works. I know
> there is no source for NV module driver from NVidia.

No, the Linux kernel is GPL, but does allow for *runtime* linking of 
closed code.  There was a big dispute over whether or not this was 
allowed by the GPL, but Linus decreed that vendors should be allowed to 
do this, so they can with certain limitations.

> I'm trying to say this. If NVidia writes a driver for OpenBSD, and
> releases it in a binary-only form, they will not accept it.

NVidia's drivers aren't "accepted" by Linux either.  They are however 
legally allowed to exist, and perhaps some distributions of Linux 
include them for the convenience of the users.

OpenBSD's license allows you to do more or less whatever you want, 
including linking in proprietary drivers.  The reason they don't exist 
is just because nobody has written them.  If I were to release some 
distribution of OpenBSD, I would be allowed to include whatever 
proprietary code I want in whatever form I so choose regardless of how 
it's linked to other code, because the BSD license is open to such 

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