Kororaa and the GPL - Update 1
Posted May 23, 2006 21:59 UTC (Tue) by drag
In reply to: Kororaa and the GPL - Update 1
Parent article: Kororaa and the GPL - Update 1
What we need is free software drivers.
I use a rather wimpy Intel GMA 950 video chipset which is fairly well supported by free software drivers. (meaning reliable 2d and 3d acceleration) (GMA 900's are slightly better supported but slightly slower)
Also I am looking to purchase a used x600 card to try out the r300_dri.so drivers. (which if I understand it support ATI r300 series through r420 series cards, but don't take my word for it)
From a practical point of view; without Free software drivers Linux-on-the-Desktop efforts are entirely beholdent to Nvidia or ATI. Nvidia more especially.
Now both these companies, themselves, are completely dependant on LOtD's single major competitor: Microsoft. ATI stopped supporting (which was pretty limited stuff) X/DRI developers round about the same time that they won the contract for making the Xbox 360's video cards. Nvidia more then likely that cross patent licensing and maybe even code from Microsoft in it's binary drivers that you use to accelerate your Linux desktop.
Now say if Linux actually starts to become a real threat to Vista, which is still fairly unlikely. If Microsoft was able to leverage it's have-them-by-the-balls grip that it has over these two video card companies then it's pretty likely that Nvidia's or ATI's driver support is going to go to mediorce to worse.
Or something like somebody starts to reverse engineer Nvidia's drivers and this pisses them off to the point were Nvidia was to pull support for Linux ala bitkeeper.
Then that's pretty much it. The Free software desktop, that depends heavily on propriatory software to run well that then stops existing, will be drifting dead on the water.
Don't get me wrong.. I do beleive that Nvidia does care about it's Linux-using customers. There are a lot of high end workstation class cards that people pay a LOT of money for that will be used in Linux and Nvidia definately cares about that. As does ATI since they originally only released FireGL versions of their drivers. And I beleive that they care about the quality of drivers that people use on their desktops. It's just that I also beleive that nvidia/ati care much much more about their windows users. Around 99 to 1 times more.
And the situation is going to get worse as far a free desktop goes. The propriatory Nvidia drivers already do 2d acceleration using OpenGL or at least 3d portions of their video cards. The ATI r500 core doesn't even HAVE a radeon 2d core anymore. As I understand it it's just pure 3d. (correct me if I am wrong) I expect Nvidia to follow suite if they haven't already. I expect in 3 to 5 years from now 2d only acceleration won't even be a option on modern PCs anymore. All you'd have would be VESA compatability or 3d acceleration.
Also as far as the legality goes.. I do beleive shipping a binary nvidia.ko is illegal. I don't think that it's illegal for end users to patch their kernel or to use binary kernels themselves.. but distributers have troubles, technically. (but not in reality)
(if it's illegal for propriatory software to latch into GPL'd libraries (hence you have the LGPL license to work around that) then what is so different about a kernel module which hooks even more deeply? And although half of the code that makes up the module is not linux-derived (the binary blob), the other half is (the gpl'd shim). So doesn't combining derived code and nonderived code then distributing it cause problems under the GPL?)
As long as the Linux developers tolerate having non-GPL compatable kernel modules then people like Kororaa or Debian non-free has nothing to fear. It's the copyright owners of the kernel that ultimately decide these things and if they have a live and let die attitude in regards to these sort of things then anybody can ship anything they want. Anybody else bitching that don't hold copyright code that is hooked into by the nvidia.ko drivers can be safely ignored.
to post comments)