[Buildroot] [PATCH] linux: allow firmware to be included in kernel

Sam Voss sam.voss at collins.com
Thu Apr 22 21:00:10 UTC 2021

Hey Thomas,

On Thu, Apr 22, 2021 at 3:55 PM Thomas Petazzoni
<thomas.petazzoni at bootlin.com> wrote:
> Hello Sam,
> On Thu, 22 Apr 2021 15:24:52 -0500
> Sam Voss <sam.voss at rockwellcollins.com> wrote:
> > Add functionality to use the kernel's built-in options to allow binary
> > blobs to be included with the kernel. This is equivalent to the blobs
> > existing in /lib/firmware, however are available earlier in the boot
> > process. This may be useful in situations where a device probes before
> > the rootfs is fully available (such as a squashfs not being loaded
> > before a usb device probing).
> >
> > Signed-off-by: Sam Voss <sam.voss at rockwellcollins.com>
> Including firmware in the kernel itself has some serious licensing
> implications: it only works for firmware files that have a license that
> is compatible with the GPL. If their license is not GPL-compatible,
> then you cannot redistribute your kernel image.
> Here is the help text of the corresponding option in the Linux kernel:
>           WARNING: If you include additional firmware files into your binary
>           kernel image that are not available under the terms of the GPL,
>           then it may be a violation of the GPL to distribute the resulting
>           image since it combines both GPL and non-GPL work. You should
>           consult a lawyer of your own before distributing such an image.
> I am not a lawyer, but I think the wording is a bit unfortunate: I
> think if the firmware is under a license that is compatible with the
> GPL, it is fine. But if it has a non GPL-compatible license, it's a
> no-go.

I completely agree with everything you said here - I had investigated
(based on the kernels warning text) my use case, but had not
considered wanting to propagate that warning out into the buildroot
option as well

> So I would be OK to include this, but with the appropriate warning in
> the Buildroot options.

I'll add that warning and send a v2 here momentarily.

Thanks for the quick review,


Sam Voss | Sr. Software Engineer | Commercial Avionics
400 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52498, USA
Tel: +1 319 263 4039
sam.voss at collins.com | collinsaerospace.com

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