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24 June 2008, 11:04

Linux kernel developers speak out against proprietary drivers

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More than 140 kernel developers have spoken out against the use of proprietary drivers under Linux in a statement published on the Linux Foundation's web site. They call on hardware manufacturers to support their Linux customers with open source kernel code. Their message is not new, but this time a large number of developers have signed the statement – even though Linux creator Linus Torvalds is not one of them.

The group includes such well known names in the Linux world as Greg Kroah-Hartman, Alan Cox, Andrew Morton, James Bottomley, Adrian Bunk, Arjan van de Ven and Ingo Molnar, all of whom feel that closed source drivers that the kernel loads at run time are undesired and detrimental. The Linux kernel itself is published under the GNU General Public License (GPL) 2. In addition to the security problems caused by inaccessible source code, the developers mainly emphasise the open source principle. They feel that closed source drivers take away the freedom and benefits that Linux offers users as open source.

In addition to describing the problem, the Linux Foundation provides an overview of projects in its Linux Device Driver Model to help hardware manufacturers create open source drivers. Among them are the Hardware NDA Program, the Linux Driver Project and the Driver Backport Workgroup.


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