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I understand that CentOS ships with nonfree blobs in its kernel.

It seems that a "nonfree blob"-free kernel exists, a.k.a. Linux-Libre. Is it possible to somehow get CentOS to use Linux-Libre kernel instead of its default nonfree blob kernel?

I am interested in CentOS specifically because of its release cycle, 10 years plus support.

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I direct you to this thread which discusses Freed-ora. This is mentioned in the Linux-Libre wikipedia page as a sub-project providing RPMs of the Linux-Libre kernels for Fedora 19.

It would appear they're actively discussing just this idea and that it's actively being worked on for (RHEL 7 / CentOS 7) which are derived from Fedora 19, so this approach would make sense using these distros.


Hello All

I'm running the public RHEL 7 beta on this laptop that has an Atheros wifi card that uses the ath5k driver. That driver is fully free and requires no firmware. The graphics is Intel as well, so fully free works fine on this Thinkpad x61s.

Red Hat have removed support for some of the older wifi cards including Ath5k, so I downloaded the libre kernel for Fedora 19 (on which RHEL 7 is based) from

[ not allowed to post link yet ]

and installed it. Works fine. With wifi :-)

This got me thinking as to the possibility of adapting the Freed-ora repositories/method to a CentOS/Scientific Linux/Springdale Linux install. The advantage being much longer support cycle for any one release, while retaining the yum/rpm packaging system that people seem to value.

Am I talking rubbish here?

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If you stick a non-supported kernel into CentOS, any guarantee goes right out the window. RHEL (and CentOS as a clone) keep a stable Linux kernel version, and backport all sorts of bug fixes (and ocassional new drivers) to it, and ship the result. The kernel underneat CentOS is very different from the ones from Linux-libre and its ilk.

For quite some time Linux doesn't include firmware in the kernel sources, they are loaded on request from the drivers. If you don't have any devices that require said firmware, it just won't be loaded. If a device requires firmware that isn't present, it won't work.

Here (Fedora 20, but latest CentOS should be very similar) I have a package linux-firmware with the firmware the kernel requires. But there are several other -firmware packages, for a variety of devices (notably WiFi drivers). If you just don't install them, you can consider yourself dogmatically pure.

Just to add to your paranoia, many (most?) CPUs nowadays require loading firmware for correct operation (to fix last-minute bugs, presumably).

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