Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 18th Apr 2006 17:49 UTC
Linux Efforts to bring glitzy new graphics to Linux are fueling an old conflict: Does proprietary software belong in open-source Linux? The issue involves software modules called drivers, which plug into the kernel at the heart of the open-source operating system. Drivers let software communicate with hardware such as network adapters, hard drives and video cards.
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It has little to do with sandals and a lot to do with practicality. What happens when you need to use a device with closed-source drivers on a different architecture? There are a lot of FBSD users who are pissed that NVIDIA supports Linux/amd64, but not FreeBSD/amd64.

Beyond that, what happens when the drivers need to be modified to take advantage of new kernel infrastructure? You update the TCP/IP stack to be super fast, but need support in the driver, so what happens to closed source drivers you can't modify? This is exactly what is happening to the DRI project. The DRI folks don't have access to the driver source or hardware specs for modern ATI and NVIDIA hardware, so they are extremely limited in how easily they can develop technologies like DRI-EGL. Apple has driver source code to make the GPU play nice with Quartz Extreme, Microsoft has the source code to do the same for Avalon, but the open source folks can't do the same for XGL.

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