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VMware may violate Linux copyrights?

Well Torwalds has some words of caution for VMware.

That doesn’t mean that I would accept just any kind of binary-only module: there are cases where something would be so obviously Linux-specific that it simply wouldn’t make sense without the Linux kernel. In those cases, it would also obviously be a derived work, and as such the above excuses don’t really apply any more, and it falls under the GPL license.’

VMWare’s desktop products don’t use the driver, as they don’t need the advanced storage functions that the vmkernel does. The only way to load vmkernel is by vmkmod, a driver that requires Linux. Take away Linux and there’s no way to load vmkmod and start vmkernel.

It’s possible to ditch, remove, or crash Linux after vmkernel has virtualized it - but you wouldn’t be able to get to that stage without Linux being used to load vmkernel.

But wait - perhaps vmkmod might be a derived work, but the vmkernel it loads is stored in a separate file. Lets check out Torvalds again, from 19 Oct 2001:

‘I personally consider anything a “derived work” that needs special hooks in the kernel to function with Linux (i.e., it is not acceptable to make a small piece of GPL-code as a hook for the larger piece), as that obviously implies that the bigger module needs “help” from the main kernel.’


So while VMware maybe partying, there might be a house of cards waiting to topple. Check out the Slashdot discussion as well and then decide whether it is a fact or a hoax.

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