Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Free as in...

Finally got sick of building custom Linux kernels just to change CONFIG_HZ from the inane default of 250 to something that makes the 10ms timer in my (proprietary) device driver work reliably (instead of firing 83 times a second). Switched to hi-resolution timers, and immediate encountered this:

FATAL: modpost: GPL-incompatible module my_module.ko uses GPL-only symbol 'hrtimer_cancel'

Turns out, after reading stuff like http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT9161119242.html and http://www.linuxdevices.com/articles/AT5041108431.html, that the lunatics have taken over the asylum: specific kernel subsystems can be restricted so that only GPL modules can call them.

This is ludicrous: why should GPL code care who calls it? This has nothing to do with distribution; this is *usage*.

Not to mention entirely unlike the "free as in speech" ethos that the FSF claims to support. "Free speech" generally doesn't imply "say anything you like, just don't say it in kernel mode!".

Between this GPL nonsense and the changing of the CONFIG_HZ default value in a minor release, the Linux kernel is proving itself quite unreliable. I may have to move this entire product over to FreeBSD.

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