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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RE[2]: I'm all for it.
by kaiwai on Wed 19th Apr 2006 05:24 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

I understand that both Nvidia and ATI are trying to protect their intellectual property (I feel dirty just typing that), and agree with their stances to some extent. But, the reality is is that these drivers are running deep in the GPL'ed kernel territory - which is exactly where they should not be if they are proprietary and not free software.

But issues pertaining to THEIR IP has nothing to do with the issue; the issue is with the IP they have licenced from third parties, and those third parties unwilling to allow ATI and Nvidia to open up their drivers.

Quite frankly, the graphics market is down to a duopoly between ATI vs. Nvidia; both of them are off on different paths and approaches, so even if both 'opened and exposed their bits', neither side would benefit.

But like I said, the issue isn't with ATI and Nvidia, but with the IP they've licenced; I'm sure if ATI and Nvidia owned every piece of IP sitting in their driver, they would opensource it tomorrow and lower their costs for support on alternative operating systems.

Both have sufficient volume to counter any so-called 'loss in secret sauce'; and couple that with marketing by ATI and Nvidia; "gotta get a genuine ATI/Nvidia graphics card!" plus the likes of Dells aversion of not using anything from 'big names' makes their business future, under a completely disclosed environment, safe.

Besides, the ATI and Nvidia proprietary drivers, frankly, are not that great. I will grant you that as far as 3d acceleration goes they blow the pants of the drivers that come with a standard Linux distro, but they can be buggy, are slow to support brand spanking new hardware, and generally don't support older video cards either.

Well, I think the bigger problem, is that those of us in the OSS community also get peeved from the point of view that there is a bug, we could possibly fix the bug in a matter of a few hours, but instead we're at the mercy of Nvidia/ATI driver release cycle - which you could say is 'giving up control' over ones computer; as for me, I find the 2D accelerated drivers included with Xorg sufficient for what I need to do; they're snappy and fairly reliable.

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