Talk:Binary blob

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OpenBSD specific?[edit]

This is still OpenBSD specific, even after I added a sentence about the FSF. Fans of other OSes are invited to expand this article! -- Joachim

I really don't think that is going to happen, noone outside the OpenBSD community really cares, just look at how many major operating systems even mention binaries as a problem? Hell, Scott Long of FreeBSD regularly mocks OpenBSD's efforts and claims their reverse engineered work is illegal, while Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu has said he will seek out more in order to give his users the "best" experience. Much like in the OpenBSD release 3.9 song, blob is taking over the world and the people are loving it. Janizary 23:22, 23 June 2006 (UTC)
GNewSense cares pretty hard. I think Ututo have a similar policy and I've heard that Fedora are considering the same idea. --Gronky 22:34, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Firmware[edit]

I know why there not considered a binary blob, but there is a project called openbios which replaces the bios (which is firmware?) with a open bios. I suppose in reality to exclude firmware completly would mean free open operating systems would take a lot longer to develop and many consider firmware less of a issue than drivers, as there not directly communicating with the operating system but with a driver. My point was a little food for thought..

Allix Fri Oct 13 19:56:00 BST 2006

The difference is that the BIOS runs on the main CPU and is general-purpose, the firmware on specific cards do not and are not. That firmware is really part of the hardware. You want open hardware, it is important; open software, it's API is important but it itself is not. NicM 19:15, 13 October 2006 (UTC).

Why is it accepted into the Linux kernel?[edit]

The current article says that blobs are accepted into the Linux kernel "as a fast route to the missing or enhanced functionality these blobs provide". And i wonder - how can it be legal? Who allowed this "fast route"? This must have been discussed somewhere, maybe at the LKML.

According to the GPL, code licensed under GPL can only be merged and/or linked with code that is licensed under GPL or a compatible license. So how can a binary blob be legally distributed, if it is not "Accompan[ied] with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code", where "source code" is defined as "the preferred form of the work for making modificatto it"?

I am not a kernel driver developer, but clearly, an undocumented binary blob is not "the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it".

I've been wondering about this ever since i first read the first announcement of gNewSense. --Amir E. Aharoni 07:28, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Closed-source binary drivers are allowed to be loaded into the kernel, although it does "taint" the kernel. There has of course been much discussion of the legality of this, Google should turn it up (http://kerneltrap.org/node/1735 is one example). Note that this Binary blob article does not (although maybe it should) cover the official policy/licensing of the Linux kernel, such as it is, it just notes that some Linux distributions are happy to distribute binary modules. Linux developers have generally not gone out of their way to encourage binary blobs, complaints about the tainting scheme and frequent ABI changes have basically met with "tough shit" (see, eg, http://www.linuxdevcenter.com/pub/a/linux/2004/09/02/driver_ease.html which has some quotes from Linus on LKML). NicM 12:36, 16 July 2007 (UTC).
The article should state clearly what is decided at the kernel level and what is decided at the distro level. --Amir E. Aharoni 13:07, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
Sure, feel free to fix it, there seem to be quite a few suitable cites. NicM 18:32, 16 July 2007 (UTC).
I am not sure that i should do it - i am a mere Slashdot reader and user of GNU/Linux who just happens to be curious about the goings-on of the community. This is not enough to write precise information. I really don't want to get into the trouble of writing something wrong about the management of the kernel and misrepresenting it. --Amir E. Aharoni 19:37, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
Not willing to spout your opinion as if definative, sheese, what kind of Slashdot reader are you? 74.13.46.118 18:45, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
I share my opinions on my blog and i try to avoid it on Wikipedia.
On /. i mostly RTFA, i hardly ever comment. --Amir E. Aharoni 20:14, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
Actually, the GPL doesn't say anything about linking proprietary code, that was made up by a lot of people who hate binary blobs. The ONLY thing you can't do with proprietary code in the GPL is derivative works, which most proprietary drivers are not. The only true issues with binary blobs are political, and only a very small group of FOSSies have any actual issue with it to boot. Even Linus Torvalds has pretty well put his foot down on the "ethics" of binary blobs. And the only reason why he put in taint code in the kernel was to shut up the anti-proprietary whining that was going on at the time. He had shut down any discussion of allowing GPL-only modules in the kernel in a later discussion. No one's called out nVidia on violating the GPL because they very plainly didn't. Even the FSF isn't claiming they did, just the noisy zealots are.

Does the part on vista driver crashes belong here? 72.166.40.13 (talk) 00:11, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

origin of word[edit]

Is this the same blob as in Binary large object? (in which case "binary blob" would be a pleonasm). Apokrif 17:03, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Depends on who is talking, usually I use it as a blob, as in a pile of gunk, a load of garbage, a slimeball, a disgusting little mess, since if I were using an acronym, I'd be using BLOB, not blob. Janizary 19:36, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Actually, that would be BLOb, but whatever. :-) 76.126.134.152 (talk) 09:01, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

AMD release ATI cards specs[edit]

Does this mandate an update to this article? Specs on X.org Slashdot article -- Kl4m Talk Contrib 02:17, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

I updated the article to remove ATi's name as they have in fact made a significant amount of information on their cards' hardware public.Pgk1 (talk) 03:44, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

A free software community issue?[edit]

Is it accurate to say that this is a free software community issue? Is the term used outside of the free software community, and is this problem an issue (is it considered a problem and are people working on it) outside of the free software community? --Gronky 22:35, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

How could it possibly be a problem outside of the free software community? If you expect all vendors to provide source code in addition to compiled binaries, you are, ipso facto, a member of the free software community. It's kind of like asking if lactose intolerance is considered a problem outside the mammalian community. 76.126.134.152 (talk) 08:56, 8 June 2008 (UTC)

Problem section: focus only technical problems?[edit]

I think the problem section should also talk about potential license violation. As others stated as well, I don't feel myself to know enought about the matter to publish. I just feel, the 'Problems' section should talk not only about technical, but also about ethical problems. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 78.227.100.250 (talk) 12:23, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Uhm, this is a joke?[edit]

Take a look from afar, imagining for a moment you aren't a fanatical linux user but a computer scientist. This topic discusses a pejorative term. According to it windows drivers are all 'blobs'. It's quite easy to extrapolate to that. This information should be included in a Linux drivers article. --AaThinker (talk) 23:40, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

It does mention Windows NVIDIA drivers as 'blobs' - not sure if that's accurate or not, but if Microsoft developers have no insight into these drivers then to them it would be a binary blob they can't do anything about. --Joffeloff (talk) 22:22, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
It's not a joke, it's simply bringing to light the typical overzealous misinterpretation of the GPL you'll find in the typical Stallmanist following. There's truly no technical problems with binary blobs you wouldn't find on any other platform. The only reasont hey're making a big deal is they don't want people really making a choice in the matter. Honestly even the FSF isn't calling out producers of binary blobs on this one. nVidia would have been fried a long time ago, but the simple fact is that proprietary modules aren't derivative code and they aren't violating the GPL. If they were, the FSF would have called it a long time ago. binary blobs are not illegal in the GPL, and they're not evil, either. Binary blobs are what makes a great deal of hardware even work on Linux satisfactorily. The Stallmanist agenda is to force everyone into using GPL-compatible code,even if it means using crippled software. I say this as an enthusiastic FOSSie. I just know what's really important about open source, and it's not truly an ethical issue like the Stallmanists want it to be.

No it is not a joke. The choice of having a computing device with software you are legaly able to inspect. An extreme figure like Mr Stallman drawing peoples attention to the real (? we can only guess) price for convenience. Your anger as an "enthusiastic FOSSie" may come from an inner tension of knowing you are using software that you are not allowed investigate for your self? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 1.125.48.142 (talk) 03:26, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

OpenBSD stance confusing[edit]

The article is confusing - first it says that OpenBSD has a "policy of not accepting any binary blobs into its source tree" (emphasis mine) and the reference is a song (??), and then later it says "OpenBSD project accepts binary firmware images and will redistribute the images if the licence permits". Binary firmware images includes in the driver are binary blobs, so which part is correct? --Joy [shallot] (talk) 20:23, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

I've tagged this for a rewrite. At the current state, it's a rambling, incoherent, and biased mess. To anyone who can help rewrite this article into a more appropriate one, please do. I'm not familiar with the topic, and an article's purpose should be to clearly inform readers on what the subject is, and what it's about. - M0rphzone (talk) 06:49, 4 April 2012 (UTC)
Also, why exactly is this a pejorative? There is no explanation, and the introduction does not adequately explain. - M0rphzone (talk) 22:55, 15 June 2012 (UTC)
It's a pejorative in the sense that "pig in a poke" is pejorative. It's a bill of goods. I'm not sure it should be necessary to underline that fact, but I could possible become convinced. --TS 00:04, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Because it is a term unique to one community, which refers exclusively to products of those who are by definition not part of that community. Whaddaya' think “pejorative” means? 72.235.213.232 (talk) 07:45, 9 October 2012 (UTC)
"Because it is a term unique to one community"
As if this explains anything about why it's pejorative. This article is going to have to explain it in layman's term. The average reader has absolutely no clue what this article means/is about. Unless I'm mistaken, pejorative means disparaging. So why is it used as a disparaging term, and why exactly is it disparaging? And I remember I first saw this term in a non-free-software context, which didn't use this term pejoratively. - M0rphzone (talk) 07:20, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
The BSD people and the GNU/Linux people use the term 'blob' differently: "Linux includes 'blobs': pieces of object code distributed without source, usually firmware to run some device. [...] FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD [...] kernels include nonfree firmware blobs. Nonfree firmware programs used with Linux, the kernel, are called 'blobs', and that's how we use the term. In BSD parlance, the term 'blob' means something else: a nonfree driver. OpenBSD and perhaps other BSD distributions (called 'projects' by BSD developers) have the policy of not including those. That is the right policy, as regards drivers; but when the developers say these distributions 'contain no blobs,' it causes a misunderstanding. They are not talking about firmware blobs. No BSD distribution has policies against proprietary binary-only firmware that might be loaded even by free drivers." -- 'Explaining Why We Don't Endorse Other Systems,' from gnu.org 12.218.76.10 (talk) 11:28, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

Possible incompatibilities[edit]

Shouldn't it be mentioned in the problems section, that due to Linux' unstable driver ABI a binary blob might not work with later kernel versions? --Berntie (talk) 00:02, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

Probably not. It is guaranteed that a random bit of binary about which no serious public information exists will act in a random fashion, only coinciding with the wishes of the kernel developers for a short period. The unexpected is that it might conform to the wishes of the unfortunate user. --TS 00:07, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
Spoken like a true open-source advocate. :-) I wouldn't call a binary-only driver that's released by some vendor "a random bit of binary about which no serious public information exists". Whatever... --Berntie (talk) 13:38, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

One important issue is missing[edit]

Why don't the companies release their code AS open source?

Trying to avoid that competitors also use it? Afraid of patent issues if others can See (better) how your product is working? Just don't think/care about it? 46.115.92.23 (talk) 18:45, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Etymology[edit]

What does "Binary BLOB" mean? "Binary binary large object"? Did the Department of Redundancy Department coin this term? 129.69.215.1 (talk) 14:02, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Beside "binary large object", "BLOB" can also mean "basic large object" as an abbreviation. At the same time, "blob" is an ordinary English word, meaning that something is a soft, amorphous mass. Thus, "binary blob" isn't that much redundant, and it means something like "a binary object with unknown internals". — Dsimic (talk | contribs) 09:40, 6 May 2014 (UTC)

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