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Building Embedded Linux Systems by Karim Yaghmour

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Notices on Binary Kernel Modules

Recurring controversy has erupted over loadable kernel modules not distributed under the terms of the GPL. Many companies already ship such binary modules and many industry players contend that such modules are permitted. Yet many Linux kernel developers have come out rather strongly against this practice. Here are some messages sent to the Linux kernel mailing list by Linus Torvalds and Alan Cox that provide some insight as to the use of binary modules.

First Posting by Linus in Kernel Interface Thread

From: torvalds@transmeta.com (Linus Torvalds) Subject: Re: Kernel interface changes (was Re: cdrecord problems on Date: 1999-02-05 7:13:23 In article <36bab0c7.394438@mail.cloud9.net>, John Alvord <jalvo@cloud9.net> wrote: >On Thu, 4 Feb 1999 22:37:06 -0500 (EST), "Theodore Y. Ts'o" ><tytso@MIT.EDU> wrote: >> >>And as a result, I've seen more than a few MIT users decide to give up >>on Linux and move over to NetBSD. I think this is bad, and I'm hoping >>we can take just a little bit more care in the 2.2 series than we did in >>the 2.0 series. Is that really too much to ask? Yes. I think it is. I will strive for binary compatibility for modules, but I _expect_ that it will be broken. It's just too easy to have to make changes that break binary-only modules, and I have too little incentive to try to avoid it. If people feel this is a problem, I see a few alternatives: - don't use stuff with binary-only modules. Just say no. - work hard at making a source-version ...

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