[Trisquel-users] OLinuXino - free alternative to raspberry pi?

Michał Masłowski mtjm at mtjm.eu
Sat Oct 26 10:49:23 CEST 2013


> AMD made a single-board computer called the Gizmo Board, which is x86
> based. I'd assume that it has an AMD video card, which generally
> require nonfree drivers for 3D acceleration to work.

And nonfree bytecode in the VGA ROM (what was used by the BIOS) that the
kernel and X.Org drivers need for modesetting.

> I hope Linus and other copyright holders of the Linux kernel will take
> legal action against manufacturers who don't release the source code
> of their drivers. It is a GPL violation, as the drivers become part of
> the kernel once installed, and legally must be licensed under the GPL,
> too.

Many vendors do it in a GPL-compliant way.  AMD kernel drivers (and Mesa
and X.Org drivers) are free, while they interpret nonfree bytecode from
the BIOS of the card and load nonfree microcode which is not derived
From the kernel, so the GPL doesn't apply to it.

Android devices from big vendors have kernel sources available, they
include drivers that pass data between hardware and nonfree userspace
libraries (and sometimes load the firmware from files or get it from
userspace drivers).  They probably have simple enough interfaces so the
libraries aren't considered derived from the kernel.  (Other vendors
don't provide kernel sources, GPL enforcement in this case might be hard
since only about two small organizations do it, there are multiple
companies involved that don't have the source and the violators are
Chinese companies.)

Taking legal action would also require copyright holders wanting to
change this.  The fact that they accept these drivers and the nonfree
firmware to the kernel and linux-firmware repos doesn't suggest it being
true.
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