Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Sep 2010 17:40 UTC, submitted by kragil
Linux Ahem. I just had to write that all-caps headline. Broadcom's wireless chips - used by just about everybody in this industry - have been a major pain in the bum for Linux users, because the company did not release open source drivers. Workarounds had to be created, lots of pain was had in the process, but now, Broadcom has finally seen the light: they have open sourced their wireless Linux drivers.
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RE[3]: Great news...
by kaiwai on Fri 10th Sep 2010 03:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Great news..."
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

You don't support open source by enabling closed source solutions. You support open source by pursuing and encouraging open source solutions.


I disagree; you get to open source by making sure that people conform to the open standards and don't use trickery behind the scenes to artificially boost the performance of their drivers. In the case of Mac OS X the OpenGL implementation is provided by Apple, it conforms to the OpenGL specification tests and more importantly it does not tweak or optimise for one video card over another. The downside is that it probably doesn't use nVidia trickery to get higher scores but the upside is a consistent experience across the board. I for one would sooner the focus be moving towards getting uniformity in open standards implementations before we even more onto discussing such issues as open source.

You're right, open source isn't a silver bullet. But open source can be a goal in and of itself. Open source solutions have certain traits that are desirable beyond the latest and greatest performance metrics. There is real liberation gained when you're not tied to a single vendor who controls the source. As one example, support for old video cards can be maintained long after the original business that sold them has dissolved or just lost interest in the product.

IMO people need to stop being so obsessed with performance or the latest bells and whistles to appreciate the real value of open source in freedom and risk mitigation.


But at the same time if you've spent a couple of thousand on a laptop or desktop you want to be sure that you are using it to its maximum potential rather than having it hamstrung by inefficient drivers or poor implementations of an open standard such as OpenGL and OpenCL. With the latest drivers from Apple the performance of OpenGL might not be as great as say on Windows but I'm willing to give up a small amount of performance for the sake of stability, conformance to open standards and so forth but there shouldn't be a massive gap or otherwise the end user will simply argue that they're not going to tolerate such a compromise.

That doesn't help address some of the important qualities that attracts business and hackers to open source in the first place. You don't have to be a radical freetard to appreciate and value open source. And once you appreciate its positive qualities, the nVidia or Broadcom closed-source offerings for Linux aren't interesting or praise worthy.

That being said, sometimes a company like Broadcom can not make the internal shift needed toward open source in a single leap and must make a gradual transition as we saw in this case. Though not ideal, it's understandable and we can forgive them their late arrival to the party now that they're really ready to join in.

It will be really nice if someday we can say the same about nVidia.


I appreciate open source from the point of view that I've seen businesses refuse to support hardware because it 2 years old - printer companies forcing upon end users obsolescence simply to pump up profits. What I would like to see is a law that forces companies that after they've stopped supporting the hardware they must provide the full open specifications so that third parties can implement hardware support - and gradually work to develop a set of standards so that a standard driver can be provided that supports any hardware conforming to it - and any product sold must conform to those standards.

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