Subject: Re: Stallman vs Wind River on the GPL
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 22 Feb 2001 12:58:14 -0800 (Phil Hughes) writes:

> > I seem to recall that it is considered to be acceptable to distribute
> > device drivers for Linux as binary modules without source code.  I
> > don't know for sure whether that is true.  But if it is, that model
> > would work just as well for embedded Linux.
> This is a very old argument.  Basically boils down to:
>   * If you link to GPLed code, you need to be GPLed
>   * If you don't, you don't need to be GPLed
> For applications this translates to the choice between using a static or
> a dynamic library.
> For kernel stuff, this translates to whether the driver is linked to the
> kernel or is a loadable module.

It is indeed a very old argument, but I'm not sure it has ever been
resolved to everybody's satisfaction.  Certainly I think that Richard
Stallman thinks that if you link to a GPL'ed dynamic library, your
program itself become GPL'ed.  Whether you can supply a binary-only
dynamic library which is dlopen'ed by a GPL program is, I think, a
grey area.

I think that for particular cases, particular choices have been made,
and I think that for the case of the Linux kernel, it's agreed that a
binary-only loadable module is OK.