Zack's Kernel News

Zack's Kernel News

Article from Issue 209/2018

Zack Brown discusses preventing the kernel from tainting, encrypting printk() output, and a new kernel bug reporting bot. 

Preventing the Kernel from Tainting

Matthew Garrett recently posted a patch to allow users to select at compile time whether the kernel would be "tainted" when loading unsigned modules. In the Linux world, tainting refers to whether the kernel is entirely open source or not. For example, if a user loads a binary-only module from a third-party vendor, it would taint the kernel because the module is not open source. The reason this is significant is that the Linux developers don't want to respond to bug reports that could be related to closed-source blobs of code to which they don't have access. Typically if a user sends in a bug report using a tainted kernel, the Linux developers will ask that user to reproduce the bug using an untainted kernel.

It wasn't immediately clear why Matthew wanted this code added to the kernel. He only said, "Distributions may wish to provide kernels that permit loading of unsigned modules based on certain policy decisions."

Rusty Russell said Matthew's explanation was too vague and asked for clarification.


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