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kernel driver module with proprietary closed source piece.

Hello, ...

It has been my intention of packaging the unicorn driver for Bewan ADSL
modems (PCI st and USB). I have contacted upstream about the licencing
issues (original upstream did not have any licence with the drivers they
distribute), and they are willing to release the driver under a free
licence. Since this is a linux kernel module, the GPL makes the most
sense for this.

There is a problem though, the current module contains code they control
plus a piece of proprietary code implementing a software ADSL decoder or
somethign such, which they don't have the sources for.

The ideal solution would be to move the proprietary part out of the the
actual kernel driver and into userspace, and they are working on this, i
think, but it is still not ready.

Now, i believe that releasing this driver, in its current state, without
moving the proprietary part into userspace, under the GPL is wrong, since
they are linking proprietary closed source code, which will break the
GPL of their driver and the linux kernel. I told them to check on this
and they responded me that they have no experience with open source
licences. So if i could get some advice on this or some pointer on to how
best to solve this problem, it would be very nice.

Would it be possible to release this under a GPL + exception licence, or
something such ? It would still taint the kernel, and have to go into
non-free, but at least the code they wrote would be GPLed. Also, i guess
i cannot put a proprietary closed source stuff into even non-free,
without at least a permission to redistribute it.

I will encounter i guess the same kind of problems when they move the
proprietary part to userspace, i guess.


Sven Luther

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