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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I'm all for it.
by Omega Penguin on Tue 18th Apr 2006 18:03 UTC
Omega Penguin
Member since:
2006-02-12

Linux distros should include non-open source files.The users get 3d acceleration,MP3 support,and other features out of the box,and the developers can concentrate inproving the open-source parts.

Reply Score: 5

RE: I'm all for it.
by jchildrose on Tue 18th Apr 2006 19:19 in reply to "I'm all for it."
jchildrose Member since:
2005-07-06

Using proprietary drivers sort of defeats the purpose of having a free software operating system in the first place. Proprietary drivers would be a great short term fix. I would love to not have to futz around with X.org to get my creaky old Radeon working properly every time I upgrade my system. In the long term though, it leads to the same problems that exisited which precipitated the founding of the GNU project, and the FSF, as well as creating some interesting new ones.

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.

Maybe the answer is to provide some sort of userland driver functionality for proprietary drivers. Keep them out of the kernel, and thus they stay proprietary. Granted, there will likely be some performance issues compared to using kernel drivers, but it's the best of both worlds. The GPL purists are happy that the code is not in the kernel (although still not thrilled about the existense of proprietary drivers), and the respective companies get to protect their whatever.

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.

Anyway, just my .02. Take it for what it's worth.

PS - use oggs instead of mp3s -it's free software ;)

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: I'm all for it.
by Finalzone on Tue 18th Apr 2006 20:14 in reply to "RE: I'm all for it."
Finalzone Member since:
2005-07-06

To add extras point, both ATI and Nvidia will overwrite the GLX that will cause problem on some distros. Even Nvidia themsleves advisers users to get the modified version that fits their distros. It is worth to read the reason on
http://www.redhat.com/archives/fedora-devel-list/2006-February/msg0...

Addendum: anyone care to explain why there is no mention of kernel modules that mostly suit proprietary companies? Also, modular X already provide a better way to implement the 3D driver which is perfectly works great on my Fedora Core 5.
The reason why proprietary drivers are not installed are mostly legal and political issues depending of the countries. Like a posters mentionned, the philosophies of some distros (Fedora in my case) don't allow them to ship closed source drivers by default in order to avoid facing lawsuits.

Edited 2006-04-18 20:32

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: I'm all for it.
by cr8dle2grave on Tue 18th Apr 2006 20:21 in reply to "RE: I'm all for it."
cr8dle2grave Member since:
2005-07-11

Using proprietary drivers sort of defeats the purpose of having a free software operating system in the first place.

Care to explain to me how my using proprietary drivers defeats my purposes for using a FOSS opererating system? Perhaps your purposes for doing so are not the same as everyone else's, eh?

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.

That's not for you to say. That's not for me to say. It's most certainly not for RMS to say. They only people with a legitimate say are those who have contributed code to the Linux kernel, and those who have contributed have done so under explicit licensing terms which are a far sight more hospitable to proprietary drivers than you seem to be.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: I'm all for it.
by jchildrose on Wed 19th Apr 2006 00:09 in reply to "RE: I'm all for it."
jchildrose Member since:
2005-07-06

>>Care to explain to me how my using proprietary drivers defeats my purposes for using a FOSS opererating system?<<

It doesn't defeat your purposes, and I didn't mean to imply that it defeated your purposes. You are free to do whatever you like with your installation of Linux. That is the beauty of free software.

My statements were about proprietary drivers in general, not how someone such as yourself may use them.

Look at it this way - if ATI or Nvidia were to ship a version of the Linux kernel with their proprietary drivers built in, and not offer the source to the modifications that they made - would that be OK? Or would it be in violation of the GPL? Offering binary modules that operate in kernel space really is no different, as far as I see it.

>>Perhaps your purposes for doing so are not the same as everyone else's, eh?<<

Curiosity mostly, and Enemy Territory ;)


Anyway, just my .02. Take it for what it's worth.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: I'm all for it.
by siki_miki on Wed 19th Apr 2006 13:20 in reply to "RE: I'm all for it."
siki_miki Member since:
2006-01-17

Agreed, they should keep core of their open source drivers in userspace form, much like the current DRI architecture, and interoperate with kernel userspace DRM ABI.

Problem would be a DRM kernel gfx-card driver ("miniport" in windows terms), but it's much lesser problem for them to open source relatively small part of their code. Maybe with transition to Longhorn driver model (which is similar concept as DRI) both ATI/NVIDIA will rethink their philosophy.

However, much work (and willingness of the hardware makers) is required to improve DRM ABI/API to the feature level that would satisfy both big companies, and it still isn't guaranteed they will cooperate. Maybe borrowing few ideas from Microsoft's new model would be helpful. Or waiting for Linux to become more present on desktop, so companies will beg for cooperation.

OT:In fact much of the new windows driver model will shift things to userspace, linux could have short-term "benefits" of those with help of various wrappers (though this will harm native kernel drivers in long term).

About the ibGL problem, Mesa developers tried recently to enhance dispatch tables in libGL. Maybe nvidia/ati will use that feature and avoid overwriting it in the future, but I take that with a grain of salt.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: I'm all for it.
by gilboa on Wed 19th Apr 2006 16:32 in reply to "I'm all for it."
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

Linux distros should include non-open source files.The users get 3d acceleration,MP3 support,and other features out of the box,and the developers can concentrate inproving the open-source parts.

And I assume that you are willing to pay for Fedora/Debian/SUSE/-insert name here- defense, if Mr. Fraunhofer (http://www.mp3licensing.com/) decides to sue Fedoa/Debian/SUSE/-insert name here- for illegally distributing patented codecs?
It's much easier to shout "give us closed source binary drivers and illegal media codecs" when you are -not- the one paying for it. (Or in closed source driver's case, having to deal with closed source drivers causing huge amount of problems - read: 4K stacks on earlier nVidia drivers)

Gilboa

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: I'm all for it.
by h times nue equals e on Wed 19th Apr 2006 20:55 in reply to "RE: I'm all for it."
h times nue equals e Member since:
2006-01-21

Rest asured, that Mr. Fraunhofer will not sue anybody, at least not the "Mr. Fraunhofer" that inspired the name-choice for some entities (the Fraunhofer institutes comes to mind).

For some biographical background on this very interesting historical (historical, as in : he's already dead, and this for quite some time) person, please refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_von_Fraunhofer for example.

Beside that, (sorry for nitpicking, but this was something I couldn't resist), very well put argument !

Regards

Martin

Reply Parent Score: 1