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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Fighting a Loosing Battle
by Guppetto on Tue 18th Apr 2006 18:29 UTC
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This is one battle the fundamentalist are going to loose. At some point proprietary drivers for Graphics, and Networking, will be unavoidable, becuase IP is growing stronger by the day around the world. Intel is a maveric in this issue, but one has to wonder if they'll maintain their current possition once their cards reach true competitiveness with the likes of NVIDIA and ATI. Their networking drivers are already proprietary, but they do seem committed to providing Linux support which is a good thing.

The truth here is that it all comes down to money and none of these companies that are making money selling their cards and the drivers required to use them are interesting in the grand idea of free and open for all, becuase competiton has a way of reducing profits. At some point the survival of Linux is going to come down to this very battle, and It's my belief that the purist will loose. I can feal the flames already from that comment.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Fighting a Loosing Battle
by cr8dle2grave on Tue 18th Apr 2006 20:40 in reply to "Fighting a Loosing Battle"
cr8dle2grave Member since:

While I agree with you as concerns video drivers, I think the situation is quite different as concerns networking hardware. In the late 90's it was still a real question whether or not common server class hardware such as NIC cards, DLT tape drives, or RAID controllers could even be made to work with Linux at all. Today, it's rarely issue. Most high end server class hardware just plain works without any issues because, from a business perspective, it's simply not possible exclude the Linux market if your selling server class hardware; Linux simply commands too much of that market to ignore.

Things stand rather differently with video cards, which are sold into the "desktop" market where Linux has a vastly smaller install base than it does in servers. But even putting aside the issues pertaining to market share, video drivers have a hell of a lot more "secret sauce" loaded into their software drivers than do things like NIC cards.

Reply Parent Score: 5

Guppetto Member since:

Your probably right about the Networking cards, but I know a lot of people wish there were native drivers availible for many network cards, instead off having to use NDiswrapper. Intel seems to be very commited to providing native drivers for all of their cards, but how many other companies have drivers (especially wireless) that are readily availible.

We all know that combining proprietary and Open software is the real solution, so why can't people just except it and move on. I don't need an open NVIDIA driver, as long as they're commited to providing one. I love that the Intel drivers are open and if NVIDIA and intel stop supporting Linux, then I'll just buy an Intel card. Sure, it would be nice if they provided specs about the hardware, but if you had a multimillion dollar design in your home, how willing would you be to tell everyone about it, knowing that some of the people your telling have the know how to build their own, and profit from it.

Reply Parent Score: 1