Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 24th Nov 2006 23:05 UTC, submitted by SEJeff
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Mark Shuttleworth is trying to entice OpenSUSE developers to join Ubuntu. "Novell's decision to go to great lengths to circumvent the patent framework clearly articulated in the GPL has sent shockwaves through the community. If you are an OpenSUSE developer who is concerned about the long term consequences of this pact, you may be interested in some of the events happening next week as part of the Ubuntu Open Week."
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Why is proprietary bad?
by valnar on Sat 25th Nov 2006 14:25 UTC
Member since:

I see most of the advocates for a totally free Linux distribution use the GPL as their sole arguement. While purity and vigilance are admirable traits, I don't see the point in the real world. None of us run a completely free OS. The Linux community doesn't exist in a bubble. Hardware requires drivers, and some of it is not open source. And believe it or not, some of the best software written is not FOSS (sorry Linux zealots, it's true).

So *other* than the GPL arguement (which I believe is a red herring because I can't believe that many posters are lawyers or REALLY care - You're just jumping on the bandwagon), why is including proprietary drivers that we NEED a bad thing? If they are freely available to download and use, what is the legal ramifications of providing them? Obviously not much, as there are several distros out there that provided those drivers before Canonical even existed.

You want Linux to take over Windows and be easier for newbies to convert. Giving them the ability to use all the hardware they own is necessary. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Why is proprietary bad?
by nicolasb on Sat 25th Nov 2006 15:07 in reply to "Why is proprietary bad?"
nicolasb Member since:

It's not a case of "proprietary is bad", it's a case of "respect what the developers meant in their license", period.

We, free software users, aren't distributing illegal copies of windows or doing something that's not permitted in the EULA. Why should it be different with proprietary guys ? why should we let them do something that's NOT permitted in OUR license ?

"So *other* than the GPL arguement (which I believe is a red herring because I can't believe that many posters are lawyers or REALLY care - You're just jumping on the bandwagon)"

Most of the kernel developers thinks proprietary drivers stink and are NOT allowed by the GPL. What Linus Torvalds and others did, is, merely TOLERATE some drivers, openening a door to the closed drivers in the form of a "permitted" EXPORT_SYMBOL. They are in the process of shutting all of the kernel doors the proprietary drivers can access.
No driver can use the EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL without being itself GPL compatible. A driver that uses EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL must be derivative of the kernel. And as the kernel evolve, the developers are shifting more and more export symbol into EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL. In one or two years, all the USB subsystem will be EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL and usb ndiswrapper keys will be illegal, for example. They will have to do their own user-space usb drivers.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Why is proprietary bad?
by valnar on Sat 25th Nov 2006 15:27 in reply to "RE: Why is proprietary bad?"
valnar Member since:

OK, that makes sense.

However, my "not living in a bubble" statement stands. If the kernel developers lock-out proprietary drivers, I don't think it will benefit anyone. Not me... it'll just give me a reason to go back to Windows. Linux developers may be for FOSS, but hardware must still be purchased. Hardware vendors need money to make a living, do R&D, produce new products and market them. Hardware vendors have a need for privacy to protect their products, patents and shareholder interest. I understand many drivers are reverse-engineered - I'm not talking about those. If all hardware vendors open sourced their drivers, it could affect their edge in the competitive market. ATI vs nVidia is a prime example. I can see right away why vendors prefer to write for Windows instead of Linux. I don't think market share is the reason, it's that Microsoft, in all its' faults, respects their privacy. The GPL doesn't want any secrets, and that is not always a good thing. I certaintly don't want to see any hardware vendors going away because the Linux license pushed them to revealing too much. What would the world be like without nVidia vs ATI, Intel vs AMD, PC vs MAC, etc?

No doubt that FOSS and the GPL has its' place, but everybody has to realize the double edged sword it created. The stronger that Linus and the developers push to enforce the GPL, the more they will hurt themselves in the end.

I personally would love to buy a brand new PC that supported Linux out of the box by the vendors, instead of waiting 2 years for someone to figure out the hardware and write substandard open-source drivers.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: Why is proprietary bad?
by thebluesgnr on Sat 25th Nov 2006 15:26 in reply to "Why is proprietary bad?"
thebluesgnr Member since:

Imagine a world where everybody needs proprietary drivers to run GNU/Linux. That would be terrible and make it extremely difficult to innovate. When security problems appear, it's up to the vendor of the hardware to decide if GNU/Linux will be secure or an easily exploitable platform.

You can read more about "Linux in a binary world" here:

It's important to realize that having proprietary drivers available and making them a default part of an otherwise Free system are two completely different things. Is it important that things just work? Absolutely, which is why we should pressure companies to release their hardware specs. It's not a catastrophe if drivers have to be downloaded from the internet, which is how a lot of drivers are installed on the most popular OS anyway.
Canonical could use some of their money to fund projects like noveau. AMD will release some specs for their video cards, and the noveau project might produce usable drivers in a year or so for nVidia cards. An experimental version might even be shipped with Fedora 7.

There's also a problem when a distribution that aims to be a part of the free software community endorses proprietary drivers, because it sends the wrong message. For example, read "The community, stupid" It's less of a problem when a company that mostly ignores the community (for example, Xandros) does it.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE: Why is proprietary bad?
by deb2006 on Sat 25th Nov 2006 22:45 in reply to "Why is proprietary bad?"
deb2006 Member since:

1. It's bad because it can be taken away. Let's take nVidia or ATI. If both companies would suddenly stop their Linux support, it'd be quite a disaster for Linux. Sure, you could still use nv and vesa, but you wouldn't be able to really have a 3D desktop.

2. Same goes for applications: If Adobe suddenly stopped Photoshop for the Mac - there's nothing, absolutely nothing the Mac users could do (uhm, except switching to their beloved Vista). This cannot hapen to the Gimp. Even if the people responsible today would die or loose interest in their application, there'd soon be others to take over.

3. The GPL argument is a fact. A license is a license . The reasons against binary blobs are not just put forward by Linux - there are others, e.g. the NetBSD community - who vote clearly against using binary blobs. No control, unable to patch anything. Bad, bad, bad.

4. Linux should be as easy as possible (well, Ubuntu, SUSE and Linspire - don't touch Slackware or Debian ;) ) - but not for the price of binary blobs.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Why is proprietary bad?
by Janizary on Sat 25th Nov 2006 23:48 in reply to "RE: Why is proprietary bad?"
Janizary Member since:

No, NetBSD actually supports Project Evil, it's OpenBSD that's the anti-blob people.

Reply Parent Score: 1