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Old 12th September 2008
Tsuroerusu Tsuroerusu is offline
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Default Compiling a blob-free FreeBSD 7.0 kernel

I recently decided that I was going to switch to FreeBSD on my main desktop, and leave Fedora for while, because Fedora won't be supporting KDE 3.5.x in new versions. FreeBSD has both in the ports tree, which was the approach that I preferred to this whole thing.

I am usually quite a bit of an OpenBSD fan, I use it on both of my servers, however for my main desktop, it's not that good of an option, because of the size of the ports tree, and some other things. FreeBSD generally would fit me well, but I have one problem. I take the OpenBSD stance on proprietary, binary-blob drivers. I have been tarring my hair out trying to compile a kernel without drivers such as ath, hptmv, hptrr, nve, oltr and so on. But every time I try, despite me commenting it out in the configuration file, it still compiles the support for them and builds the modules.

To sum it up, I humbly request a bit of help to compile a FreeBSD 7.0 kernel with no binary blob drivers at all. If there are more than the ones I mentioned above, please see those as included in this equation. I don't mind firmware all that much, although stripping out stuff like the Intel wireless drivers isn't something I would mind either.
I have been trying for hours now, and I just can't figure it out on my own.
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Old 12th September 2008
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You can remove them from the kernel config so they are not built into the kernel. To prevent the kernel modules from being built, you can add to /etc/make.conf:
Code:
WITHOUT_MODULES=    ath hptmv hptrr nve oltr
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Old 12th September 2008
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I really don't know what you mean.

If you comment out the driver entries in the kernel config file, then they will not be linked into the kernel. The code for that module will be built, however, but it will be left as a loadable kernel module. You can control whether it builds the kernel modules in /etc/make.conf, but I do not know how.

The only binary blobs that FreeBSD will use are the firmwares for some devices, like wireless adapters - Sure, we would like the source code for that, but you'd expect it to be mostly in assembler anyway, which does not tell you much more than the binary anyway. After all, it is no different from a device with firmware in flash ram.
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Old 12th September 2008
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In /etc/make.conf add that line:
WITHOUT_MODULES="ath hptmv hptrr nve oltr"

more info here: make.conf(5) | src.conf(5)
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Old 12th September 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robbak View Post
I really don't know what you mean.
If you comment out the driver entries in the kernel config file, then they will not be linked into the kernel. The code for that module will be built, however, but it will be left as a loadable kernel module. You can control whether it builds the kernel modules in /etc/make.conf, but I do not know how.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robbak View Post
The only binary blobs that FreeBSD will use are the firmwares for some devices, like wireless adapters
Actually, it's a bit more than that. If we look at the ath driver. The HAL for that is proprietary. hptmv and hptrr also have binary-only components. nve, uses NVIDIA's binary-only Linux blob for the nForce chipset. This is not firmware, this is stuff that actually runs in the OS at some level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robbak View Post
Sure, we would like the source code for that, but you'd expect it to be mostly in assembler anyway, which does not tell you much more than the binary anyway. After all, it is no different from a device with firmware in flash ram.
Which I why I said I didn't mind firmware all that much. I mentioned the Intel drivers just in order to be "complete" in the sense that if needed, people could have mentioned those as well.

Let's just say my view on blobs are very, dare I say, Theo de Raadt-style.


Anyway, thank you guys for your replies I really appreciate it, and thanks a lot for replying so quickly.
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Old 12th September 2008
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"Binary blobs" and "binary/loadable firmware" are very different things.

Firmware runs on the hardware device itself (the harddrive, the soundcard, the wireless card, the NIC, the videocard, etc). A system without any firmware or firmware-loading mechanism will be a dead system (with the exception of the hardware that ships with the firmware onboard, of course). You can't run hardware without firmware. Period. The only difference between a piece of hardware that ships with the firmware onboard and one that ships with a driver that loads the firmware of the harddrive is where the firmware is stored (onboard or on disk). It would be really nice if people would stop the whole "no binary firmware" crap. OpenBSD is not anti-firmware (in fact, I don't know of any system that is).

Binary blobs or binary drivers are a completely different beast. These are things that run on your system, using your CPU, your RAM, etc. These are the things that can be troublesome. Who really knows what these things are doing on your system. These are the things that people who have an issue with binary blobs should be worried about. This is what OpenBSD is against.
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