On Linux: What Do the "Taints Kernel" or "Kernel Tainted" Messages in My System Logs Mean?

Updated Oct 24, 2023

Reported In

Operating System

  • Linux

Issue Details

When looking through my system logs there are messages similar to the following:
nikal: module license 'Copyright (c) 2002-2005 National Instruments Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Any and all use of the copyrighted materials is subject to the then current terms and conditions of the applicable license agreement, which can be found at <http://www.ni.com/linux/>.' taints kernel.
What does the "taints kernel" message mean?


National Instruments supplies kernel modules that are not released under the General Public License "GPL" (or GPL compatible) license. Since the source code for the modules is not freely provided the kernel developers cannot investigate any problems that are encountered while the module is loaded, and the kernel is considered tainted. 

However, this does not mean that you will not receive support when using National Instruments drivers. All problems encountered while using National Instruments drivers should be brought to the attention of National Instruments. To receive support for your National Instruments drivers, please submit a service request.

Additional Information

If the problem can be reproduced without National Instruments drivers installed then you should contact your Linux distribution or the Linux kernel mailing list for support.

To learn more about tainted kernels you may reference the following links related to different distributions: