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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no non-free in my kernel
by gregorlowski on Tue 18th Apr 2006 22:10 UTC
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I use Debian. Occasionally I'll grab something from non-free such as the non-free-flash installer. I installed the latter because my wife is a medical student, and she was required to watch some flash dissection videos for school.

But I NEVER want any non-free stuff in my kernel. It's a horrible, slippery slope. Once you tell vendors that it's OK for them to write binary-only linux drivers, you get locked into only using certain kernel versions to satisfy dependencies. Companies also then think it's OK to not provide source, and so you never get source.

Everyone in the community should put their feet down and say "NO, we only accept open-source in the kernel." In the long-run it will give us better hardware support in the kernel because vendors will be forced to open-source their drivers for business reasons.

I tried the binary-only rtl8180 driver for the 2.4.18 kernel when it first came out. AWFUL. It was unstable, it would crash my otherwise-very-stable kernel sometimes. And it was impossible to work with it -- you had to just hope that Realtek would fix it (they never did, but now there are open source drivers).

So think twice before you say, "OOHHH.. I don't care! Give me binary-only so I can use my shiny new nvidia card." We should instead say, "No, I won't buy nvidia until they release an open-source card" because that is the only way to put pressure on vendors to provide real support for their hardware in linux.

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