Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 25th Jun 2008 09:49 UTC
3D News, GL, DirectX Yesterday, we reported on the statement several kernel developers had signed that urged hardware manufacturers to open up their Linux modules and drivers. "We, the undersigned Linux kernel developers, consider any closed-source Linux kernel module or driver to be harmful and undesirable," the statement read. Nvidia, which delivers probably the most prominent closed-source Linux driver, has reiterated its position concerning this matter.
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Nvidia simply doesn't get it
by karl on Thu 26th Jun 2008 12:14 UTC
karl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I have been a Nvidia user since I started using Linux full time (1998)-that means every time I needed to purchase a graphic card I chose to purchase their products; the only non nvidia graphics cards I have used have been in PC's/laptops that I received as gifts or bartered for. My Geforce 6600GT in the machine I am writing this post in is the *last* Nvidia card I will probably ever own. I purchased Nvidia because it "just works" and because there were not really any viable other options, until quite recently. My laptop has an ATI express 300m-a card for which there are no decent reverse engineered drivers and which is too old to be covered by the new forthcoming documentation from AMD/ATI-the propietary driver is currently the only option and frankly it is still pathetic. I also have a small multimedia pc from HP with a very weak older generation Intel graphics-it is supported, but the card itself is just awfully limited.

My weakness has been that I enjoy playing enemy-territory, a 3d FPS game-one of the few freely available for Linux. The desire for a "just works" graphics card for playing this game has led me time and again to purchasing Nvidia products.

Nvidia's management simply does not get it. They simply do not understand how they are actively *harming* the Linux community. No one is demanding that they make their current drivers open source. What the kernel devs are saying is that they want open source drivers. Right now many projects in X.org and the linux kernel are being actively hampered by the lack of documentation of Nvidia cards. Luckily Nouveau is making palpable progress in reverse engineering Nvidias imaginary property.

Nvidia is engaged in rhetorical BS. Instead of answering the call for documentation-they frame everything as a demand that it give away it's imaginary property. Imaginary property-a loaded term, chosen for it's rhetoric effect, is the proper description of Nvidia's IP claims. I do not question whether or not Nvidia has purchased algorithms from 3rd parties which it cannot make open source. I do not question whether or not Nvidia has valuable algorithms which it produced itself which it does not want to give to it's competitors. Nobody cares about these algorithms. What we do care about is registers, memory regions, initialization steps etc., ie. the stuff that is programmable which would allow our Free Software to effectively communicate and control the hardware.

Imaginary property exists, only insofar as no one else except those who create it have access to it. Nvidia YOU CAN KEEP YOUR IMAGINARY PROPERTY. What we want is documentation- either you will provide it or the community will reverse engineer your tech to provide the functionality we need. Once Nouveau has reached the point that modesetting stuff can be put in a kernel module and the rest of the driver integrated into our freely chosen X.org infrastructure(TTM/drm2/gallium/exa) the community will abandon the simple structure which has enabled Nvidia to *easily* provide good drivers for Linux. Nvidia has already tried to heavy-hand future X.org developments by stating what they will and will not support in terms of opengl access. With other options avaiable, alternatives (intel, AMD and others) and a functionally sufficient reverse engineered Nouveau driver- X.org will dictate it's own future and Nvidia will be left playing cathup with a whole slew of ABI/API changes which will make their work even more difficult-hopefully to the point that these idiots wake up and smell the coffee.

And X.org will achieve this by creating an infrastructure that they themselves control and making new advances dependent upon implementations of this infrastructure. Intel and AMD will be intimately involved in this process and Nvidia will not. In short order open source drivers for Intel and AMD/ATI products will provide *better* performance and support than Nvidia is capable of doing-and at that point Nvidia will become the ATI of yore which people avoided like the plague.

Nvidia the good will extended to you by me and many, many others is coming to an end-get with the ball and produce some decent documentation and allow our community to control it's own destiny-or watch yourselves become irrelevant in the Free Software/Open Source landscape.

Nvidia propietary drivers means:

No suspend/resume or hibernation support for laptops
No progress in power saving
No kernel based modesetting
No support for any of the new developments in the X.org infrastructure

Nvidia-please get with the program, document your interfaces and allow the community to work with you instead of against you. Remember we have wallets too.

And finally with a little luck I can abandon nvidia's drivers and switch to Nouveau in the next couple of months-my generation card already has sufficient support in the Nouveau driver to play Quake 3-I am just waiting for bugginess to subside.

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