Linux firmware

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The Linux firmware package contains binary blobs of firmware necessary for partial or full functionality of certain hardware devices on Linux systems. These binary blobs are usually proprietary because certain hardware manufacturers do not release source code necessary to build the firmware itself.

Modern graphics cards from AMD and NVidia almost certainly require binary blobs to be loaded for the hardware to operate correctly.

Starting at Broxton (a Skylake-based micro-architecture) Intel CPUs require binary blobs for additional low-power idle states (DMC), graphics workload scheduling on the various graphics parallel engines (GuC), and offloading some media functions from the CPU to GPU (HuC).[1] Intel modern Wi-Fi chipsets almost always require blobs.[2]

Installation

For security reasons, hotloading firmware into a running kernel has been shunned upon. Modern init systems such as systemd have strongly discouraged loading firmware from userspace.

Kernel

A few kernel options are important to consider when building in firmware support for certain devices in the Linux kernel:

CONFIG_FW_LOADER
This option is provided for the case where none of the in-tree modules
CONFIG_FIRMWARE_IN_KERNEL
Enabling this option will build each required firmware blob specified by EXTRA_FIRMWARE into the kernel directly, where the request_firmware() function will find them without having to make a call out to userspace.
CONFIG_EXTRA_FIRMWARE
This option is a string and takes the (space-separated) names of firmware files to be built into the Kernel. These files will then be accessible to the kernel at runtime.
Warning
Including firmware files into binary kernel images that are not available under the terms of the GPL, may result in a violation of the GPL if the image is distributed. It is wise to consult a lawyer before distributing images that contain firmware files from sys-kernel/linux-firmware.
KERNEL Enable support for Linux firmware
Device Drivers  --->
  Generic Driver Options  --->
    -*- Userspace firmware loading support
    [*]   Include in-kernel firmware blobs in kernel binary
    (/lib/firmware) Firmware blobs root directory

USE flags

USE flags for sys-kernel/linux-firmware Linux firmware files

savedconfig Allows individual selection of firmware files local

Emerge

root #emerge --ask sys-kernel/linux-firmware

Savedconfig

After emerging sys-kernel/linux-firmware, the configuration file is made into /etc/portage/savedconfig/sys-kernel/linux-firmware-ddmmyyyy. You can edit and comment out the line which you don't want to install. Edit and save the file and re-emerge sys-kernel/linux-firmware with the savedconfig USE flag:

root #emerge --ask USE='savedconfig' sys-kernel/linux-firmware

Troubleshooting

Searching for loaded firmware

dmesg can be grepped to determine what firmware has been loaded:

user $dmesg | grep -i firmware

Removal

Unmerge

root #emerge --ask --depclean sys-kernel/linux-firmware

See also

  • Kernel — the core of the operating system.
  • Iwlwifi — the wireless driver for Intel's current wireless chips.
  • AMDGPU — the next generation family of open source graphics drivers using the new Display Core (DC) framework for Vega GPUs and Raven Ridge APUs. It is however also capable of handling newer AMD/ATI Radeon graphics cards based on GCN1.1+, namely the Southern Islands, Sea Islands, Volcanic Islands, and Arctic Islands chipsets.
  • Intel — the open source graphics driver for Intel GMA on-board graphics cards, starting with the Intel 810.
  • https://01.org/linuxgraphics/downloads/firmware
  • https://wireless.wiki.kernel.org/en/users/drivers/iwlwifi