Edgeport/4 firmware licensing and Debian


Any chance the Edgeport/4 firmware as distributed in the Linux kernel could be relicensed in a way which would allow Debian to distribute it as well? Ref http://bugs.debian.org/548745 and http://bugs.debian.org/607298

The problem is basically:

  • the current copy of the firmware has inherited its license from the driver it was originally part of, i.e. GPLv2
  • as the firmware clearly never has been available in its “preferred form for modification”, this license has never really allowed distribution.

See http://gpl-violations.org/faq/sourcecode-faq.html for further explanations. It is well established that large C code byte tables consisting of output data from some assembler or compiler is not allowed under the GPL, without providing the input source used to create those tables.

The Debian Linux dsitribution follow this strictly:

This means that Debian cannot distribute the firmware for the Edgeport devices at all. To solve that either

  • the firmware source would have to be available, or
  • the firmware would have to be relicensed under some license allowing binary redistribution

I interpret the intention of the original GPL licensing as an attempt to allow unrestricted redistribution of this code. I am therefore hoping that it would be possible to relicense the firmware in a way which follow this intention, i.e. allowing unrestricted redistribution in binary form.


I recommend discussing this with your Digi Sales Representative.

I recommend discussing this with your Digi Sales Representative.

Yes, I would have loved to do that if I had one :slight_smile:

Personally I own a single Edgeport/4 acquired from an eBay seller, and it is running perfectly on a Debian system after downloading the firmware files from kernel.org.

My interest in this is purely in the interest of having hassle free open source drivers. Inside Out Networks and Digi have been excellent in that regard, and the existing drivers and firmware do work fine for me. The firmware is still freely downloadable from kernel.org, and even from digi.com if you extract it from the older Linux drivers available there. So this is not about getting the firmware, but about getting it into Debian. For that to happen, the firmware needs to be legally distributable. And it never has been. You may in fact argue that Digi is violating its own license by providing this firmware with its current license and without source code. Not that I believe Digi is going to sue itself over that :slight_smile:

You can call 1-877-912-3444 to get in touch with your Digi Sales Representative.

However, I doubt a single unit purchased from E-bay is enough to justify this request.