Linux developers petition for open Linux kernel drivers

Linux kernel developers are banding together to insist open open modules and open drivers for the Linux kernel.

Insisting that they have "repeatedly found them to be detrimental to Linux users, businesses, and the greater Linux ecosystem," today the Linux kernel community has started petitioning for open-source modules and open-source drivers for the Linux kernel.

Such modules negate the openness, stability, flexibility, and maintainability of the Linux development model and shut their users off from the expertise of the Linux community.

The Linux Foundation, led by Jim Zemlin, has issued a statement in favor of the Linux kernel developers' position. It's unclear why the kernel developers decided to speak out now, though the Linux Foundation indicates that the developers have been subjected to a steady barrage of questions on the topic for years. Apparently, they finally got sick of it.

It has been a long time coming. I wrote about closed-source device drivers for Linux back in 2002 [PDF]. Even then the idea of marrying proprietary device drivers to an open-source kernel was blasphemous to some, though it was also the only reason others were willing to engage with Linux. Some hardware companies persist in believing that their device drivers must remain closed for competitive advantage. It is unclear as to why....

Regardless, this statement from the Linux kernel developers arguably won't change much, but at least it signals an influential community's preferences. Will the hardware manufacturers listen?

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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