GPLv3 and Mobile Phones

Richard Franks spontificus at
Sat Dec 9 17:59:29 CET 2006

On 12/9/06, Paul Bohme <openmoko at> wrote:
> Would like to avoid similar again, if at all possible.  Loading firmware
> into a device is no big deal - it doesn't link into any other code so
> might as well be any random opaque blob of data.  Having to deal with
> the contortions involved when one of the modules you need is pinned in
> time while the rest of the system is straining to grow is something else
> entirely.

Logical and reasoned argument like that above, is one thing. Turning
it into an ethical issue implies that there is an ethical absolute
which imbues ones opinion or preference with more 'correctness' than
the next persons opinion or preference or logical argument.

For example, it would be possible to support a even a 1.x
closed-source, binary module in any kernel release version you wish.
You might have to perform some really ugly hacks to ensure this
backwards compatibility, and it may even affect overall system
performance - but it's still a pragmatic choice - the Zaurus was stuck
on principle, the unwillingness to invest significant kernel changes
or compromises because of a closed-source module.

But I don't think there is a 'right' or 'wrong' way here - everyone is
free to choose what amount of closed-source software they are
comfortable with. I'm just not comfortable seeing ethics and
philosophy used as intellectual sledgehammers to crush dissenting
viewpoints. It's not exactly honest!


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