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Shrinking the kernel with gcc

Shrinking the kernel with gcc

Posted Jan 24, 2004 7:02 UTC (Sat) by bronson (subscriber, #4806)
In reply to: Shrinking the kernel with gcc by dw
Parent article: Shrinking the kernel with gcc

Are you "making money" using a kernel that runs closed-source drivers? If so, then why??? Just go buy a video card that has open-source drivers and sleep better at night. Problem solved.

Back when Linux had fairly poor hardware support (1996), I was very much in favor of closed source drivers. I remember wanting Linus to freeze an ABI so drivers wouldn't break with every kernel upgrade. I was perfectly happy running random code.

Times have changed. Hardware support in Linux is _excellent_. And just imagine how bloated and incompetent the kernel would be if a driver ABI had been established. RCU, elevator, preemt, etc. -- all these changes would have been effectively impossible (not without _massive_ amounts of cruft anyway).

Watching Linux over the past few years has convinced me: binary-only drivers seriously impede development. They're also a security risk (heck, I might even consider them a downright threat). New hardware is cheap. There's just no need to put up with them anymore.

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Shrinking the kernel with gcc

Posted Jan 25, 2004 13:29 UTC (Sun) by rknop (guest, #66) [Link]

The problem with this is in two areas: 3d video cards and wireless cards. In both cases, it's getting hard to buy a new card that has open-source support. ATI used to be the company of choice, since you could get open source DRI drivers for its cards. However, the last one (I believe) that had open-source 3d support is the Radeon 9200.

The binary-only drivers that many companies put out for these cards do work well enough for most users. This means that the companies are seen as "supporting Linux", and even many Linux users don't think there is a point in pushing them to allow open-source drivers.

(Plus, the legal environment has changed. It's more dangerous now to reverse engineer than it used to be, *and* Linux is high-profile enough that you're probably more likely to get sued for doing it, and that suit is more likely to suceed.)


Shrinking the kernel with gcc

Posted Jan 29, 2004 20:33 UTC (Thu) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Hmm. To me it looks like more reasons to make usage of closed-source drivers difficult, not less.

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