Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Sep 2010 17:40 UTC, submitted by kragil
Linux Ahem. I just had to write that all-caps headline. Broadcom's wireless chips - used by just about everybody in this industry - have been a major pain in the bum for Linux users, because the company did not release open source drivers. Workarounds had to be created, lots of pain was had in the process, but now, Broadcom has finally seen the light: they have open sourced their wireless Linux drivers.
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RE[2]: Great news...
by tux68 on Fri 10th Sep 2010 01:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Great news..."
tux68
Member since:
2006-10-24

What the open source world needs to provide is a Mesa stack with a good interface so that at least the driver itself can remain closed source (for the short term) and the OpenGL part of the equation is then pushed off to the open source world thus to have a standardised single library as with the case of MacOS X rather than the current situation of Linux where you have a mixture of OpenGL implementations each introducing their own peculiarities and bugs.


You don't support open source by enabling closed source solutions. You support open source by pursuing and encouraging open source solutions.

With that being said, there is always ATI but even then the open source drivers are always behind the times when it comes to performance and support - the man power just isn't there and open source isn't the silver bullet that'll solve problems as some try to make it out to be.


You're right, open source isn't a silver bullet. But open source can be a goal in and of itself. Open source solutions have certain traits that are desirable beyond the latest and greatest performance metrics. There is real liberation gained when you're not tied to a single vendor who controls the source. As one example, support for old video cards can be maintained long after the original business that sold them has dissolved or just lost interest in the product.

IMO people need to stop being so obsessed with performance or the latest bells and whistles to appreciate the real value of open source in freedom and risk mitigation.

Well BroadCom have been providing a driver for quite some time.


That doesn't help address some of the important qualities that attracts business and hackers to open source in the first place. You don't have to be a radical freetard to appreciate and value open source. And once you appreciate its positive qualities, the nVidia or Broadcom closed-source offerings for Linux aren't interesting or praise worthy.

That being said, sometimes a company like Broadcom can not make the internal shift needed toward open source in a single leap and must make a gradual transition as we saw in this case. Though not ideal, it's understandable and we can forgive them their late arrival to the party now that they're really ready to join in.

It will be really nice if someday we can say the same about nVidia.

Reply Parent Score: 6

RE[3]: Great news...
by kaiwai on Fri 10th Sep 2010 03:51 in reply to "RE[2]: Great news..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

You don't support open source by enabling closed source solutions. You support open source by pursuing and encouraging open source solutions.


I disagree; you get to open source by making sure that people conform to the open standards and don't use trickery behind the scenes to artificially boost the performance of their drivers. In the case of Mac OS X the OpenGL implementation is provided by Apple, it conforms to the OpenGL specification tests and more importantly it does not tweak or optimise for one video card over another. The downside is that it probably doesn't use nVidia trickery to get higher scores but the upside is a consistent experience across the board. I for one would sooner the focus be moving towards getting uniformity in open standards implementations before we even more onto discussing such issues as open source.

You're right, open source isn't a silver bullet. But open source can be a goal in and of itself. Open source solutions have certain traits that are desirable beyond the latest and greatest performance metrics. There is real liberation gained when you're not tied to a single vendor who controls the source. As one example, support for old video cards can be maintained long after the original business that sold them has dissolved or just lost interest in the product.

IMO people need to stop being so obsessed with performance or the latest bells and whistles to appreciate the real value of open source in freedom and risk mitigation.


But at the same time if you've spent a couple of thousand on a laptop or desktop you want to be sure that you are using it to its maximum potential rather than having it hamstrung by inefficient drivers or poor implementations of an open standard such as OpenGL and OpenCL. With the latest drivers from Apple the performance of OpenGL might not be as great as say on Windows but I'm willing to give up a small amount of performance for the sake of stability, conformance to open standards and so forth but there shouldn't be a massive gap or otherwise the end user will simply argue that they're not going to tolerate such a compromise.

That doesn't help address some of the important qualities that attracts business and hackers to open source in the first place. You don't have to be a radical freetard to appreciate and value open source. And once you appreciate its positive qualities, the nVidia or Broadcom closed-source offerings for Linux aren't interesting or praise worthy.

That being said, sometimes a company like Broadcom can not make the internal shift needed toward open source in a single leap and must make a gradual transition as we saw in this case. Though not ideal, it's understandable and we can forgive them their late arrival to the party now that they're really ready to join in.

It will be really nice if someday we can say the same about nVidia.


I appreciate open source from the point of view that I've seen businesses refuse to support hardware because it 2 years old - printer companies forcing upon end users obsolescence simply to pump up profits. What I would like to see is a law that forces companies that after they've stopped supporting the hardware they must provide the full open specifications so that third parties can implement hardware support - and gradually work to develop a set of standards so that a standard driver can be provided that supports any hardware conforming to it - and any product sold must conform to those standards.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[4]: Great news...
by r_a_trip on Fri 10th Sep 2010 12:16 in reply to "RE[3]: Great news..."
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

I hope you do realize that the Mesa stack is a pivotal element in the current FOSS driver development for graphics cards.

Get NVidia to open source their driver and the trickery they play with their blob isn't possible anymore. In which case it doesn't make sense to keep providing a separate OGL implementation and Mesa is the logical choice to fill the gap.

FOSS, once adopted, tends to promote the use of common infrastructure and reuse of code.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Great news...
by Gusar on Fri 10th Sep 2010 12:48 in reply to "RE[2]: Great news..."
Gusar Member since:
2010-07-16

As one example, support for old video cards can be maintained long after the original business that sold them has dissolved or just lost interest in the product.

This sounds good in theory, but doesn't always work in practice. For example the current issues with Intel i8xx graphics chips.
If you don't know about that, the gist is that those chips don't work well with the new architecture (KMS/GEM/DRI2). And there's simply not enough manpower to get those chips working, as they're very tricky beasts. The solution Intel came up with is introducing ShadowFB support into KMS. That way you at least get modesetting on those chips, but shadowfb means no 2D or 3D acceleration whatsoever.
Bottom line, even in open source, hardware will lose support after a while.

Reply Parent Score: 3