linux-libre advocacy question

Alexandre Oliva lxoliva at
Tue Mar 31 05:47:38 UTC 2009

On Mar 29, 2009, Brian Gough <bjg at> wrote:

> Before I heard your talk I had an impression that the "firmware" in
> the Linux kernel was very small -- essentially negligible -- no more
> than a few magic bytes to initialise a device here and there, or small
> data tables.  I did not realise that there were source files with 300k
> of hex data in them, for example.

I see.  Yeah, that's kind of a big difference, isn't it?

Those were the most offensive examples I had, though, which is why I
chose them for the slides, for they're both technically and legally
worrisome.  If that doesn't get someone's attention, I guess nothing

(And just to be clear, it's 300k of data once you turn the hex into
actual bytes; it's some 3-4 times larger than that in the, erhm, "trojan
hource" ;-) form.)

> I don't know where I got this impression - perhaps from the media,
> perhaps from circular reasoning ("Linux is GPLed, GPL means free
> software, therefore Linux is free").  I never really questioned this
> belief because I started out with the assumption that Linux is free.

/me nods strongly

You're right, we ought to work to break this false impression, it is
quite widespread indeed.

Thanks for bringing this very important point to light.

Alexandre Oliva, freedom fighter
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Gandhi
Be Free! --   FSF Latin America board member
Free Software Evangelist      Red Hat Brazil Compiler Engineer

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