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TAB Meeting, April 6

The minutes of TAB meetings are provided for informational purposes only. Discussions and decisions described in the minutes should not be interpreted as official or definitive TAB or The Linux Foundation policy. While efforts are made to ensure their accuracy and completeness, we regret we cannot guarantee that they are. If you have corrections or additions, please contact tech-board at


  • Scott Peterson: discussion of a vendor perspective on the current “rules” surrounding proprietary device drivers and to discuss the potential value of establishing clearer rules to be uniformly applied.
  • Technical Writer Status
  • NDA Agreement status
  • Converting the TAB Website
  • Any other business


  • Tom Hanrahan
  • Diane Peters
  • Matt Mackall
  • James Bottomley
  • Scott Peterson
  • Dan Kohn
  • Ted Ts'o
  • Arjan van de Ven
  • Randy Dunlap
  • Jim Zemlin
  • Chris Wright
  • Andy Updegrove


Scott Peterson Conversation

Scott presented HP's perspective that a problem currently exists because of a lack of clear and explicit rules regarding the Linux kernel and binary modules. As a result there is not a flat playing field in the industry. Those who support the community's intention that binary modules not be used are at a disadvantage to those who choose to interpret the rules differently and use binary modules.

Scott expressed the opinion that the community that has the right to set the policy should do this in a clear way. He also stated that he believes the practice of marking symbols as being unsuitable in the kernel is a great idea because it operates in a way that makes everything clear, and it allows the kernel team to articulate any policy it wants through this mechanism of marking symbols.

Various members of the TAB stated that they felt the community has already made its policy clear, that the use of binary modules is not allowed under current copyright and licensing. They acknowledged that there is not a consensus in the community about how rigorously to enforce this position. Also, they expressed a concern that forcing the issue into court could lead to an unfavorable outcome, which would reduce the pressure they could and are trying to apply to create a level playing field.

Scott said that he thought more aggressive marking of symbols could make the rules clearer.

Dan suggested that there are two actions The Linux Foundation can take.

  • First, to write a white paper about Linux device drivers. The purpose would be to educate about the issues surrounding supporting open source device drivers.
  • Second, The Linux Foundation can serve as the ambassador for the open source community to work with companies, especially ones like EMC to ask how we can support them in open sourcing their drivers.

Scott said that HP would use any papers or tools that allow it to be helpful and stated that crisper information in a paper would be especially helpful. HP is looking for tools that can help it do better in its relationships with vendors.

Technical Writer

The contract is in the final stages. Rob has been working since April 1 and the contract will be retroactive to that date.


Table this for a few days. James indicated that we think we'll have a contract for Greg by Monday

Converting the TAB website

We agreed not to carry forward the “repository” page of the TAB website. Tom will proceed with the conversion.

N.B. The conversion is complete. You can view it at:


tab/minutes/april_6_2007.txt · Last modified: 2016/07/19 01:21 (external edit)