Re: non-free firmware in the linux kernel
> > 3) an effort seems to be happening inside the upstream kernel to use the
> > request_firmware infrastructure which allows to load firmware code from
> > userland through an hotplug mechanism. There seem to be more and more
> > drivers going this way, since there aare more in current git than in 2.6.15
> > which was released a week ago, qla2xxx being among them.
> And this seems like a good thing; for starters it makes it easier to test
> different firmware versions without having to do irrelevant recompiles of
> kernel code.
The question is: when you remove the firmware from the driver, and all
it is, is a file sitting in /lib/firmware/; and it's contents are just
non-executable hex, with no C-code structure, is it just a BSD-licensed
(in the qla2xxx case) data file, or is it still regarded as a piece of code.
This, to me, is no different from a BSD licensed JPEG.
I would argue it's the former. I can see the argument when it's a part of
the source code, but not when it's a completely seperate entity.
Of course, firmwares where the license has not been clarified by
the copyright holder/IP owner would still be a problem; or where
something is clearly unredistributable (ie: Intel IPW firmwares.)