kernel-libre (hopefully 100% Free) for Fedora 8 and rawhide

Chris Snook csnook at
Sun Mar 23 09:49:09 UTC 2008

Alexandre Oliva wrote:
> On Mar 22, 2008, Rahul Sundaram <sundaram at> wrote:
>> Thanks for stepping forward with this.
> NP, sorry that it took me so long to get to it.
>> Wouldn't it be better to change the spec file so that the firmware you
>> have removed is moved into a sub package and we can retain the same
>> kernel?
> Err...  This would mean that whoever distributes the kernel binaries
> would be required to ship the corresponding sources containing
> non-Free Software, which is precisely the sort of thing I'd like to
> avoid, such that I and others who refuse to distribute non-Free
> Software can promote Fedora at least to some extent.

Pardon my ignorance, but I honestly don't see a risk in shipping 
*sources* which contain hex-coded firmware blobs that have been licensed 
for distribution, as is the case with anything that has firmware merged 
in the upstream kernel.  Shipping the *binaries* creates a potential 
liability, depending on your precise interpretation of the GPL, but some 
people have already decided to assume that risk, and ship those binaries 

If you created a spec file that would build kernel and kernel-firmware 
packages from the same SRPM, distributors could decide for themselves 
whether or not they want to ship the binary blobs, and everyone would 
still be using the same core kernel.  We could actually consider merging 
a patch like that.

>> The advantage is that it doesn't have the overhead of maintaining a
>> additional kernel package.
> This overhead is mostly unavoidable, and in general removing the
> offending modules is much easier than separating the firmware out of
> them.  Hopefully having them removed will at least serve as an
> incentive for those who'd like to have them included to split them out
> such that the firmware can be supplied separately.  I don't think I'd
> have the time to do that myself.

If you'd like that incentive to carry any weight, perhaps you should 
write a patch that has a chance of getting accepted into Fedora proper. 
  Not everyone agrees with your interpretation of the GPL, and plenty of 
people are happy to distribute binary blobs.  If you make it easy and 
obvious for people to decide whether or not they're going to distribute 
them, within the core distribution, it will go much further to shame the 
offenders than maintaining your personal fork that nobody will use.

Personally, I just want to install the package called "kernel".  Unless 
I have an absolutely compelling reason, I'm not going out of my way for 
anything else, be it "kernel-libre" or "kernel-firmware".

-- Chris

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