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Linus Denounces NDISWrapper, Denies It GPL Status

eldavojohn (898314) writes | more than 6 years ago

Wireless Networking 5

eldavojohn writes "On message boards, Linus Torvalds was explaining why NDISWrapper is not eligible to be released under the GPL even though the project claims to be. Linus remarked, "Ndiswrapper itself is *not* compatible with the GPL. Trying to claim that ndiswrapper somehow itself is GPL'd even though it then loads modules that aren't is stupid and pointless. Clearly it just re-exports those GPLONLY functions to code that is *not* GPL'd." This all sprung up with someone restricted NDISWrapper's access to GPL-only symbols thereby breaking the utility. Linus merely replied that "If it loads non-GPL modules, it shouldn't be able to use GPLONLY symbols." As you may know, NDISWrapper implements Windows kernel API and then loads Windows binaries for a number of devices and runs them natively to avoid the cost and complication of emulation."
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So, are you going to write more drivers Linus? (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22635852)

Nobody loves ndiswrapper, but, people are using it because they need drivers for their networking cards - in particular, wireless cards. Really, the GPL is about ensuring the source is available, and in the case of a ndiswrapper, it is. Saying that because one piece of software talks to a closed system somehow filters up and makes the rest of the system closed or in violation of the GPL is silly. If that were the case, then, every time you surfed, you would be violating the GPL, becuase FireFox makes connections to the millions of closed systems that happen to be web sites.

Gun-Foot? (0, Flamebait)

novalis112 (1216168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22636482)

Okay, so you create what is just about the least popular OS in the world (ie. it's at the bottom of the list of the top 3, AFAIK), due mostly to lack of usability, lack of available software and a *lack of hardware support*. Then you attack people who are trying to make it easier to use your OS by porting in Windows drivers? The brilliance of this maneuver is clearly beyond my limited capacity.

Re:Gun-Foot? (1)

Ardaen (1099611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22636916)

Wow, uninformed bias much? Flamebait maybe?

License issues, legal issues, sadly these aren't just things you can wish away for the sake of compatibility.

I could argue your various 'lack of' statements and such with obvious facts and personal experience from using multiple different operating systems. But... I think you made the validity of your view pretty obvious when you called something both 3rd place and the least popular in the world at the same time. "If your not first your last!"

Re:Gun-Foot? (1)

novalis112 (1216168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22637064)

Uninformed bias? How's this for uninformed bias: I have Linux installed on 4 different computers, and Windows on 2 of them. I have personally needed to use ndiswrapper to get a wifi card working on one of the Linux installs. Oh, and I read the FA, which makes it rather clear to me that this is not a legal/licensing question, it is an "I'm being a pedantic troublemaker" question. A question I am intimately familiar with as I spend a lot of time playing the role myself. Flamebait? Perhaps, I'm a rather caustic person, then again, what isn't flamebait on this website? Feel free to argue about the "lack of" statements all you want, it won't change the fact that almost nobody uses Linux, and for exactly those reasons, whether they are true, or only perceived as being true. Either way, it is not particularly relevant to my essential point, it only exacerbates the issue.

summary is misleading (3, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22639466)

Sure, Linus said that ndiswrapper shouldn't be able to use GPL-only symbols. (And I disagree with him on that.) So far so good.

However, he also said that ndiswrapper is perfectly fine and isn't a license violation, and that he's okay with ndiswrapper asking for the symbols to be exported more freely.

"Quite frankly, my position on this has always been that the GPLv2
explicitly covers _derived_ works only, and that very obviously a Windows
driver isn't a derived work of the kernel. So as far as I'm concerned,
ndiswrapper may be distasteful froma technical and support angle, but not
against the license.

So I'm personally perfectly happy to say that we should revert that commit
0aa5bd52d0c49ca56d24584c646e6544ccbb3dc9, but what I've wanted to hear
from the very beginning was simply to get a list of symbols that currently
clash, and hear from the people who maintain the symbols whether they
really meant for that commit to be valid. " []
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