Yenya's World

Fri, 06 Apr 2007

OpenBSD in a GPL Violation

Remember how Greg Kroah-Hartmann got flamed by the OpenBSD people for offering to write a GPL-licensed driver for everything, based on an assumption that open specifications are better for general public than the open (GPL-licensed, in this case) driver? Well, my feeling always was that you need an overly big ego to create and manage a fork of a big project, like Theo de Raadt[?] did with OpenBSD.

Now guess what happens when somebody accidentally finds out that his GPL-licensed code has been committed to OpenBSD without even asking for relicensing under the BSD license. This has happened even though there are unrestricted specifications available for the hardware in question.

I find the whole discussion in the linux-wireless list to be quite enlightening. Despite the bcm43xx developers clearly stating that they are willing to relicense the parts of the driver under the BSD license, provided that OpenBSD developers really ask for relicensing, the Theo's resolution of the problem was to simply delete the bcw driver in question and then to moan about Linux bcm43xx developers being evil and against a public good(tm). Which is the worst possible solution for both OpenBSD team and the OpenBSD users.

Also the interesting thing is that this case clearly shows the superiority of GPL over the BSD license in its fairness which is well balanced between the developers and the users under the GPL, unlike the BSD license.

Disclaimer: I own a laptop with a Broadcom 4306 wireless card and I think it was quite a heroic effort on the bcm43xx people side, to split their team into two parts which never communicate with each other directly, one part writing a publicly available specs based on reverse engineering the existing drivers and firmware, and the other part writing a Linux driver as a clean room design based on these specs.

Section: /computers (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 5 writebacks

5 replies for this story:

Adelton wrote: The URL not valid

Heya there, the URL renders 301 ...

Adelton wrote:

You might want to use if the email is no longer to be found on

Yenya wrote: Re: The URL not valid

Hmm, the marc link works for me. Strange. The bcm43xx-dev archive works, but this is a closed list, so Theo's replies are not there. If you want to read the whole thread, you have to read the linux-wireless archive, not bcm43xx-dev.

Yenya wrote: Now I've got 301 too

I've got 301 from too. OK, I have linked the original message from the bcm43xx-dev archive, and changed the link "whole discussion" to the thread index of the thread in question.

Marc wrote: Multimedia buttons

Hello, I saw that you have a Lifebook C1020 with multimedia keys and you don't know how to use them. I wrote a driver to manage them and the led, now I'm looking for testers. Can you help me? Thank you.

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