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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molnarcs
Member since:
2005-09-10

Good points, but your argument hinges on considering the blob+wrapper a single work. They are not. For instance, the blob works without the wrapper on other unix platforms (FreeBSD, Solaris), or non-unix platforms. They aren't entirely separate either, for the blob communicates with the kernel through the wrapper, which is analogous with the GPL situation (the restrictive license of the blob communicates with the GPL licensed kernel through the wrapper as well ;) ). At any rate, including the NVidia driver on the ISO is certainly not an explicit GPL violation - that was just rhetorics to make the situation sound more dramatic. NVidia's case is at worst, a legal grey area, not explicit violation.


Another note: the wrapper is GPL compatible, not GPL itself as far as I know...

Reply Parent Score: 1

Temcat Member since:
2005-10-18

the blob works without the wrapper on other unix platforms

Yeah, but here we distribute them as part of a Linux distro, not just as a random collection of software bits. In this context, they are here with a specific purpose and don't make sense without each other. This purpose (or intent) is what is likely to ultimately count in court.

At any rate, including the NVidia driver on the ISO is certainly not an explicit GPL violation

True, it's more of a grey area - though I tend to see the situation in the darker shades of this color ;-)

Reply Parent Score: 1

molnarcs Member since:
2005-09-10

True, it's more of a grey area - though I tend to see the situation in the darker shades of this color ;-)

Me too ;) Or rather, I don't want this practice to grow into a trend. I can understand NVidia's situation - their graphics driver is a lot more complex than any wifi/nic/chipset driver, with IP licensed from 3rd parties, and information that might reveal trade secrets about their hardware. When it comes to other components (wifi for instance), the situation is quite different. Releasing specs won't hurt the business of manufacturers at all, and more importantly, we have a lot more choice there, so we shouldn't encourage manufacturers to continue their free software unfriendly policies (by either using ndiswrapper or accepting binary drivers).

As to distributions - well, they were always a grey area for me. When I first installed linux (Mandrake) years ago, the GPL license was presented during installation. But Mandrake - like any linux - had non GPL (but GPL compatible, like BSD) components. Can a distribution be licensed under the GPL - and what exactly is a distribution in this context? Me, I usually regard it as a collection of programs, in other words, aggregation, and I think this is a perfectly valid approach (so if Adobe gives you permission to distribute Acrobat Reader, I don't see a problem in including it in an iso). Others consider a linux distro more as a whole, which is a perfectly fine interpretation too. The truth is somewhere between the two - you can't really separate the kernel from glibc, because they simply don't work without each other, but you can certainly separate KDE from the rest of the system (which works independently of the linux kernel inasmuch as it is portable between various unices).

Frankly, I don't really understand why (K)ubuntu is pushing for inclusion of Nvidia/Ati drivers in ISOs. Their hardware detection is perfectly capable of identifying your hardware, and if you have ATI or Nvidia cards, it shouldn't be too difficult to automatically create an install icon directly on the desktop. Clicking the icon would automatically download and install the driver, and all problems would be solved (and I very much doubt that this would make their distro unfriendly towards newbies, after all, windows does even less for you). So, although I don't see a problem with the inclusion of NVidia/Ati drivers in a distro (except for the danger of this becoming a trend that extends to other components of your computer), I don't consider it a wise decision either, knowing that others might think differently. Why not avoid this whole shitstorm, especially if there is an obvious and simple solution that would make everybody happy?

Reply Parent Score: 1