Kororaa Live CD drops support for propriatory drivers
As you guys probably know Kororaa Live CD is a distribution that shown off the capabilities of XGL and Compiz.
As you probably know it was contacted by a Linux developer and told that they are not allowed to ship propriatory kernel modules and that they were illegal according to the GPL since they are derived work.
So there was a big flap about it and people argued about it on slashdot and everything.
Finally Kororaa has released a official statement to the fact that they have discontinued support of propriatory kernel modules for ethical reasons. The main developer decided that they probably were voilating the GPL and decided that it was unethical for them to do so since Linux is so valuable.
You can read more about it at:
Of course they probably will have facilities built into the live cdrom to allow end users to build propriatory drivers if they wanted to.
Last edited by drag; 10-19-2006 at 02:42 AM.
Luckily with the open-source R300 support in X.Org 7.1 this isn't as much of a problem anymore. However, with no viable open-source 3D NVIDIA support at this time it is unfortunate, as well as for the Radeon X1000 series. Granted, if AMD open-source rumors turned out to be true then it would be even better.
I have tried out the latest GPL release of Kororaa. I imagine developers will add a simple script to enable the proprietary support if the user enables the option.
One item that I am still wondering about is why the Free Software Foundation has not yet chased down other distribution vendors that ship with the binary-only display drivers (e.g. Myah, Sabayon, etc...). Unless they wanted to set precedence with Kororaa, and will now begin to chase down the other vendors.
It's not up to the FSF. Not their ball. FSF is only going to go after people that violate licenses of software they have the copyright for. (or maybe that includes GNU software).
Originally Posted by Michael
It has to do with copyright law. You can't go after somebody for violating a license for something that doesn't belong to you and with the kernel sources all the copyrights are retained by the individual programmers.
Other projects work different. For instance if your programming for GNU related software or other software like MySQL or Mozilla they require that you surrender your copyrights to them. That way they can have legal authority of that software.
Not that I think that FSF would go after them if they could.. But realy it's up to the kernel developers since it's their software. If the kernel developers say it's 'ok' to distribute binary modules and/or don't do anything about it then it's ok to and nobody else can do anything about it.
However in the Kororaa is definately not the first distributers were they've had kernel developers contact them and tell them to stop violating the GPL. This sort of thing is kept quiet though usually. Most of the time it's just nessicary to get people to stop violating the license rather then trying to punish them publicly. Notice how the developer remained mostly anonymous and it wasn't public until Kororaa released a copy of the letter. They could of kept it quiet if they felt like it.
I think that it's even gone so far in the past were people were served legal papers by lawyers before they gave in. But again the goal is to stop the violation, not punishment.
That's only a minority of kernel developers, however. The more pragmatic ones tend to take the approach that they will simply develop the kernel in a still that while not actively hostile against binary-only vendors it'll make their lives very difficult. Otherwise I suppose things like the nvidia.ko are tolerated becasue of the importance it has for end users.
The only reason that Nvidia and ATI are able to get away with what they do is because the definition of 'derived works' is not set by license. In the U.S. weither or not something is 'derived works' of another peice of software is up to interpretation by judges and legal precedent. It's a technically a gray area in the law (law isn't like software with 0's and 1's it's ALL gray) but in terms of software licensing it's pretty well known and apparently the kernel dev's lawyers feel that binary modules is a violation.
But the compromise apparently is that if the end users does the linking and compiling and such then it's overlooked. The GPL has absolutely no restrictions on what a end user is allowed to do. As a end user you can shovel Windows code into the kernel and compile it all day long if you feel like it. Distribution is only this stuff matters.
I am not a lawyer or anything, of course, this is just my understanding.
The important part is that FSF has no legal power over anything other then their own copyrights. They mostly serve as a advisory capacity for other programmers and probably will help people with legal representation. It's all up to the individual kernel developers.