Monday, 21 August 2017 12:03

Gentoo drops hardened kernel sources after Grsecurity move

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The Gentoo Linux distribution has announced that it will be no longer incorporating kernel hardening patches from the Grsecurity project and hence will stop providing its own hardened kernel source.

The Gentoo administrators said this decision had been taken because the Grsecurity developers had decided to limit access to the hardening patches.

As a result, the distribution will not have a hardened kernel source available from the end of September, with the hardened sources being masked from 27 August onwards.

Gentoo is a distribution meant for advanced Linux users. It offers both ordinary kernel sources and hardened sources.

As a result of this, they said they would be unable to ensure a regular patching schedule and the security of users.

On 26 April, Grsecurity said it was removing public test patches from the download area. 

Anyone who wanted to continue using the hardening patches were told: "We recommend you become a Grsecurity commercial subscriber. Subscribers may opt-in to gain access to our -beta patches which track the latest kernel releases."

Following comments by well-known open source advocate Bruce Perens that this move violated the GNU General Public Licence 2 under which the kernel is distributed, Grsecurity sued Perens.

Perens had characterised the move as presenting "a contributory infringement and breach of contract risk".

The Gentoo admins said userspace hardening and support for SELinux would remain in the Gentoo package tree.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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