I think this is a good compromise:
An open source, GPL'ed, in-kernel driver very often perform better than the closed source user-space one. Thus vendors providing open source drivers gets an etch over those who do not want to open their driver. So Linux users not so worried about having a 100% free system will be able to use the hardware but will tend to choose one from a vendor providing an open driver, because it performs better.
And it is not as big a problem for the kernel development since the interface to userspace can more easily be keeped stable than an internal API.
Having a closed source driver running in userspace is a good starting point for reverse engineering it, too.
PS. How can you complain about a closed source driver and not complain about the BIOS? Or the closed source microcode in the processor?
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