GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu: -ENOFIRMWARE is now available
lxoliva at fsfla.org
Mon Nov 13 01:24:32 UTC 2017
GNU Linux-libre 4.14-gnu sources and tarballs are now available at
It didn't require any deblobbing changes since -rc6-gnu. Binaries are
expected to show up over the next few days.
The biggest change in this release is that the firmware subtree was
removed upstream (thus the codename -ENOFIRMWARE), removing from the
Linux kernel distribution a few pieces of Free firmware, and a number of
non-Free ones. Alas, there are still a few pieces of non-Free firmware
remaining in Linux 4.14; hopefully this problem will be addressed in a
future release, and Linux will then be Free Software again. For the
time being, it still requires some cleaning up to be Free Software, and
plenty of additional cleaning up to meet the GNU Free Software
The larger problem, that several drivers in Linux will not work at all
unless you provide them with pieces of proprietary software, is not
affected by this move: the drivers still refuse to work, a number of
them for no good reason, and the non-Free firmware is still demanded by
the upstream drivers, it is just distributed separately. This avoids
legal problems for distributors of the kernel Linux, who refrain from
distributing the non-Free firmware. However, that a number of drivers
and corresponding firwmare are updated in lockstep suggests that they
might actually be a single program, in spite of running on separate CPUs
and having pieces distributed separately, and it might even be the case
that the firmware happens to be a derivative work of the kernel. If
that is so, those who distribute them together, or even just the
firmware by itself, might be in violation of the terms of the GNU GPL,
the Linux license, and thus losing their license to distribute Linux!
To stay on the safer side, legally and technically, and to avoid being a
victim of hardware vendors' unethical behavior, it's best to avoid
devices that require non-Free firmware, and prefer those that don't
require firmware distributed separately, or that use Free firwmare.
Jason Self has kindly put together a repository of Free firwmare, for
use with GNU Linux-libre. You can get a released tarball of
linux-libre-firmware at <https://jxself.org/firmware/> and the git
repository at <https://jxself.org/git/?p=linux-libre-firmware.git>.
Other relevant changes in this release are the new driver for Realtek
rtl8822be wifi, that required deblobbing, and other previously-deblobbed
drivers that needed updating: microcode loaders, xrx200, amdgpu,
irda-usb, skylake sound, netronome nfp, brcmfmac, iwlwifi, and rt5514.
For up-to-the-minute news, join us on #linux-libre of irc.gnu.org
(Freenode), or follow me (@lxoliva) on Twister <http://twister.net.co/>,
GNU social at social.libreplanet.org, Diaspora* at pod.libreplanetbr.org
or pump.io at identi.ca. Check my web page (link in the signature) for
Be Free! with GNU Linux-libre.
What is GNU Linux-libre?
GNU Linux-libre is a Free version of the kernel Linux (see below),
suitable for use with the GNU Operating System in 100% Free
GNU/Linux-libre System Distributions.
It removes non-Free components from Linux, that are disguised as
source code or distributed in separate files. It also disables
run-time requests for non-Free components, shipped separately or as
part of Linux, and documentation pointing to them, so as to avoid
(Free-)baiting users into the trap of non-Free Software.
Linux-libre started within the gNewSense GNU/Linux distribution.
It was later adopted by Jeff Moe, who coined its name, and in 2008
it became a project maintained by FSF Latin America. In 2012, it
became part of the GNU Project.
The GNU Linux-libre project takes a minimal-changes approach to
cleaning up Linux, making no effort to substitute components that
need to be removed with functionally equivalent Free ones.
Nevertheless, we encourage and support efforts towards doing so.
Our mascot is Freedo, a light-blue penguin that has just come out
of the shower. Although we like penguins, GNU is a much greater
contribution to the entire system, so its mascot deserves more
promotion. See our web page for their images.
What is Linux?
Linux is a clone of the Unix kernel [...]
(snipped from Documentation/admin-guide/README.rst)
Alexandre Oliva, freedom fighter http://FSFLA.org/~lxoliva/
You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Gandhi
Be Free! -- http://FSFLA.org/ FSF Latin America board member
Free Software Evangelist|Red Hat Brasil GNU Toolchain Engineer
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