Many believe that the Linux kernel is Free Software or Open Source, but it isn't. Indeed, the Linux-2.6.36 distribution contains sourceless code under such restrictive licensing terms as "This material is licensed to you strictly for use in conjunction with the use of COPS LocalTalk adapters", presented as a list of numbers in the corresponding driver, and "This firmware may not be modified and may only be used with Keyspan hardware" and "Derived from proprietary unpublished source code, Copyright Broadcom" in the firmware subdirectory, just to name a few examples.

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Created by spanky 10 years 50 weeks ago – Made popular 10 years 50 weeks ago
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J.B.Nicholson-Owens's picture


10 years 50 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago


Some posters on lwn.net want the benefits of freedom sans work.

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will."—Frederick Douglass

Some of the posters on lwn.net don't seem to give due thanks to the Linux Libre hackers who bring us a truly free software Linux: Linux without the binary blobs.

This is another example of what Richard Stallman mentions when people ask him something which compares what he's doing with what Linus Torvalds is doing. Torvalds apparently doesn't like software freedom; hence Torvalds' fork of Linux has binaries which are not GPL2-compatible (yet distributed right along with GPL2-compatible code), and Torvalds' choice of a proprietary source code revision system called "Bitkeeper" (Torvalds' later development and use of "git" came about in part because Linux hackers were told they could no longer have complimentary Bitkeeper licenses).

Pointing these things out irks some people (like one of the early posters on lwn.net) when it shouldn't because this is the situation we're faced with. Read up on what Torvalds had to say about Andrew Tridgell's work on making a Bitkeeper-compatible client circa 2005 for more of the same from Torvalds.

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