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Kernel Builders Appeal For Open Source Drivers

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the no-names-but-its-initials-are-nvidia dept.

Graphics 336

snydeq writes "The Linux kernel development community has released a statement emphasizing the need for open source drivers. The statement, signed by 135 developers, is aimed at preventing future vendors from following the closed source path. One holdout cited is Nvidia. The Linux Foundation has also released a statement in support: 'The Linux Foundation recommends that hardware manufacturers provide open source kernel modules. The open source nature of Linux is intrinsic to its success. We encourage manufacturers to work with the kernel community to provide open source kernel modules in order to enable their users and themselves to take advantage of the considerable benefits that Linux makes possible.'"

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Tell that to Lexmark (5, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913353)

Lexmark not only doesn't provide the details needed to write OS drivers for its newer printers, it won't even provide proprietary drivers like ATI and nVidia do. I know, because when my sister moved from Windows to Ubuntu about a month or so ago, she had to buy a new printer because there wasn't any support for her fairly new Lexmark.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913371)

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda is a 29-year old white male with a stocky build and a goatee. He responded to my ad to be interviewed for this article wearing only leather pants, leather boots and a leather vest. I could see that both of his nipples were pierced with large-gauge silver rings.

Questioner: I hope you won't be offended if I ask you to prove to me that you're a nullo. Just so that my readers will know that this isn't a fake.

CmdrTaco: Sure, no problem. (stands and unbuckles pants and drops them to his ankles, revealing a smooth, shaven crotch with only a thin scar to show where his genitals once were).

Q: Thank you. That's a remarkable sight.

(laughs and pulls pants back up). Most people think so.

Q: What made you decide to become a nullo?

(pauses). Well, it really wasn't entirely my decision.

Q: Excuse me?

The idea wasn't mine. It was my lover's idea.

Q: Please explain what you mean.

Okay, it's a long story. You have to understand my relationship with Hemos before you'll know what happened.

Q: We have plenty of time. Please go on.

Both of us were into the leather lifestyle when we met through a personal ad. Hemos's ad was very specific: he was looking for someone to completely dominate and modify to his pleasure. In other word, a slave.

The ad intrigued me. I had been in a number of B&D scenes and also some S&M, but I found them unsatisfying because they were all temporary. After the fun was over, everybody went on with life as usual.

I was looking for a complete life change. I wanted to meet someone who would be part of my life forever. Someone who would control me and change me at his whim.

Q: In other words, you're a true masochist.

Oh yes, no doubt about that. I've always been totally passive in my sexual relationships.

Anyway, we met and there was instant chemistry. Hemos is about my age and is a complete loser. Our personalities meshed totally. He's very dominant.

I went back to his place after drinks and had the best sex of my life. That's when I knew I was going to be with Hemos for a long, long time.

Q: What sort of things did you two do?

It was very heavy right away. He restrained me and whipped me for quite awhile. He put clamps on my nipples and a ball gag in my mouth. And he hung a ball bag on my sack with some very heavy weights. That bag really bounced around when Hemos fucked me from behind.

Q: Ouch.

(laughs) Yeah, no kidding. At first I didn't think I could take the pain, but Hemos worked me through it and after awhile I was flying. I was sorry when it was over.

Hemos enjoyed it as much as I did. Afterwards he talked about what kind of a commitment I'd have to make if I wanted to stay with him.

Q: What did he say exactly?

Well, besides agreeing to be his slave in every way, I'd have to be ready to be modified. To have my body modified.

Q: Did he explain what he meant by that?

Not specifically, but I got the general idea. I guessed that something like castration might be part of it.

Q: How did that make you feel?

(laughs) I think it would make any guy a little hesitant.

Q: But it didn't stop you from agreeing to Hemos's terms?

No it didn't. I was totally hooked on this man. I knew that I was willing to pay any price to be with him.

Anyway, a few days later I moved in with Hemos. He gave me the rules right away: I'd have to be naked at all times while we were indoors, except for a leather dog collar that I could never take off. I had to keep my balls shaved. And I had to wear a butt plug except when I needed to take a shit or when we were having sex.

I had to sleep on the floor next to his bed. I ate all my food on the floor, too.

The next day he took me to a piercing parlor where he had my nipples done, and a Prince Albert put into the head of my cock.

Q: Heavy stuff.

Yeah, and it got heavier. He used me as a toilet, pissing in my mouth. I had to lick his asshole clean after he took a shit, too. It was all part of a process to break down any sense of individuality I had. After awhile, I wouldn't hesitate to do anything he asked.

Q: Did the sex get rougher?

Oh God, yeah. He started fisting me every time we had sex. But he really started concentrating on my cock and balls, working them over for hours at a time.

He put pins into the head of my cock and into my sack. He attached clothespins up and down my cock and around my sack. The pain was pretty bad. He had to gag me to keep me from screaming.

Q: When did the idea of nullification come up?

Well, it wasn't nullification at first. He started talking about how I needed to make a greater commitment to him, to do something to show that I was dedicated to him for life.

When I asked him what he meant, he said that he wanted to take my balls.

Q: How did you respond?

Not very well at first. I told him that I liked being a man and didn't want to become a eunuch. But he kept at me, and wore me down. He reminded me that I agreed to be modified according to his wishes, and this is what he wanted for me. Anything less would show that I wasn't really committed to the relationship. And besides, I was a total bottom and didn't really need my balls.

It took about a week before I agreed to be castrated. But I wasn't happy about it, believe me.

Q: How did he castrate you?

Hemos had a friend, Zonk, who was into the eunuch scene. One night he came over with his bag of toys, and Hemos told me that this was it. I was gonna lose my nuts then and there.

Q: Did you think of resisting?

I did for a minute, but deep down I knew there was no way. I just didn't want to lose Hemos. I'd rather lose my balls.

Zonk restrained me on the living room floor while Hemos videotaped us. He used an elastrator to put a band around my sack.

Q: That must have really hurt.

Hell yeah. It's liked getting kicked in the balls over and over again. I screamed for him to cut the band off, but he just kept on going, putting more bands on me. I had four bands around my sack when he finished.

I was rolling around on the floor screaming, while Hemos just videotaped me. Eventually, my sack got numb and the pain subsided. I looked between my legs and could see my sack was a dark purple. I knew my balls were dying inside.

Hemos and his friend left the room and turned out the light. I lay there for hours, crying because I was turning into a eunuch and there wasn't anything I could do about it.

Q: What happened then?

Eventually I fell asleep from exhaustion. Then the light switched on and I could see Hemos's friend kneeling between my legs, touching my sack. I heard him tell Hemos that my balls were dead.

Q: How did Hemos react?

Very pleased. He bent down and felt around my sack. He said that it felt cold.

Zonk told me that I needed to keep the bands on. He said that eventually my balls and sack would dry up and fall off. I just nodded. What else could I do at that point?

Q: Did it happen just like Zonk said?

Yeah, a week or so later my package just fell off. Hemos put it in a jar of alcohol to preserve it. It's on the table next to his bed.

Q: How did things go after that?

Hemos was really loving to me. He kept saying how proud he was of me, how grateful that I had made the commitment to him. He even let me sleep in his bed.

Q: What about the sex?

We waited awhile after my castration, and then took it easy until I was completely healed. At first I was able to get hard, but as the weeks went by my erections began to disappear.

That pleased Hemos. He liked fucking me and feeling my limp cock. It made his dominance over me even greater.

Q: When did he start talking about making you a nullo?

A couple of months after he took my nuts. Our sex had gotten to be just as rough as before the castration. He really got off on torturing my cock. Then he started saying stuff like, "Why do you even need this anymore?"

That freaked me out. I always thought that he might someday take my balls, but I never imagined that he'd go all the way. I told him that I wanted to keep my dick.

Q: How did he react to that?

At first he didn't say much. But he kept pushing. Hemos said I would look so nice being smooth between my legs. He said my dick was small and never got hard anymore, so what was the point of having it.

But I still resisted. I wanted to keep my cock. I felt like I wouldn't be a man anymore without it.

Q: So how did he get you to agree?

He didn't. He took it against my will.

Q: How did that happen?

We were having sex in the basement, and I was tied up and bent over this wooden bench as he fucked me. Then I heard the doorbell ring. Hemos answered it, and he brought this guy into the room.

At first I couldn't see anything because of the way I was tied. But then I felt these hands lift me up and put me on my back. And I could see it was Zonk, the guy who took my nuts.

Q: How did you react?

I started screaming and crying, but the guy just gagged me. The two of them dragged me to the other side of the room where they tied me spread eagled on the floor.

Zonk snaked a catheter up my dick, and gave me a shot to numb my crotch. I was grateful for that, at least. I remember how bad it hurt to lose my balls.

Q: What was Hemos doing at this time?

He was kneeling next to me talking quietly. He said I'd be happy that they were doing this. That it would make our relationship better. That kind of calmed me down. I thought, "Well, maybe it won't be so bad."

Q: How long did the penectomy take?

It took awhile. Some of the penis is inside the body, so he had to dig inside to get all of it. There was a lot of stitching up and stuff. He put my cock in the same jar with my balls. You can even see the Prince Albert sticking out of the head.

Then they made me a new pisshole. It's between my asshole and where my sack used to be. So now I have to squat to piss.

Q: What has life been like since you were nullified?

After I got over the surgery and my anger, things got better. When I healed up, I began to like my smooth look. Hemos brought friends over and they all admired it, saying how pretty I looked. It made me feel good that Hemos was proud of me.

Q: Do you have any sexual feeling anymore?

Yes, my prostate still responds when Hemos fucks me or uses the buttplug. And my nipples are quite sensitive. If Hemos plays with them while fucking me, I have a kind of orgasm. It's hard to describe, but it's definitely an orgasm.

Sometimes Hemos says he's gonna have my prostate and nipples removed, but he's just kidding around. He's happy with what he's done to me.

Q: So are you glad Hemos had you nullified?

Well, I wouldn't say I'm glad. If I could, I'd like to have my cock and balls back. But I know that I'm a nullo forever. So I'm making the best of it.

Hemos and I are very happy. I know that he'll take care of me and we'll be together always. I guess losing my manhood was worth it to make that happen for us.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (2, Insightful)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913375)

Same here. My printer was a Lexmark, before I replaced it after moving to Ubuntu. It was a fine printer, when I was using Windows, but hardly enough to govern my choice of OS.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (5, Informative)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913469)

Lexmark not only doesn't provide the details needed to write OS drivers for its newer printers, it won't even provide proprietary drivers like ATI and nVidia do. I know, because when my sister moved from Windows to Ubuntu about a month or so ago, she had to buy a new printer because there wasn't any support for her fairly new Lexmark.
Did you write to Lexmark and let them know that? Here is their address:,6959,204816596_689444666_0_en,00.html []

Write to the hardware vendors and let them know that we want to buy and use their products on Linux. Here are the addresses of some other hardware vendors. Copy the list and write to one every week:

Creative (Webcams) []

Logitech (Webcams) []

Nokia (PIM sync software with OpenSync) []

Epson (Printers) []

Gigabyte (New motherboards should ship with Linux drivers) []

Linksys (Networking equipment) []

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914353)

The sale was already made. The manufacturer has nothing more to gain.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (1)

grusin (1112113) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913537)

man marketing

Dell printers (re-branded Lexmark hardware) (5, Informative)

radoni (267396) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913543)

Scenario: Mom asks you to install Ubuntu on her Dell computer setup.


1) Open Source libata driver for the SATA optical drive causes frequent timeouts and hangs. Looks like a problem with the Ubuntu kernel. Tell Mom it's just like Windows XP, there are problems which will be updated and fixed "eventually".

2) Dell printer not supported by CUPS and open source drivers. There is no support from Dell, but a 20 minute Google search effort turns up the model is a re-branded Lexmark. The Ubuntu community forums detail a process to install proprietary Lexmark drivers for Debian GNU/Linux. Tell mom it's just like Windows XP, some printers need a certain version of driver for the device.

3) Displayed video is incorrect on Dell LCD display. Search Google for about a solid hour to find an answer. Looks like an Ubuntu problem with an open source driver. Tell Mom that there's nothing wrong with her computer, even though the screen is completely black for the whole boot process.

My own conclusion:

Ubuntu is a hit-or-miss installation for Dell hardware owners. Mostly miss. The open source or closed source nature of a driver does not factor into user acceptance. The user is uncomfortable when their hardware is "broken" due to a missing or incompatible driver.

Mom's conclusion:

The Ubuntu Hardy "bird" logo is "pretty".

Re:Dell printers (re-branded Lexmark hardware) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913615)

Mom should have stuck with a preinstalled XP. Possibly tried Ubuntu through a VM.

Re:Dell printers (re-branded Lexmark hardware) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913663)

MS does or at least did give virtual PC 2007 away. I did get linux (mandrake) running on it, on vista ultimate. It was a little bit flaky, but I didn't bust my ass poking it with sticks either. so that is a legitimate option. although, one would generally assume the linux transition is precipitated by the unsuitability of some aspect of windows. When I set people up with linux, its nearly always because they want to troll for porn popup and malware free (lets be honest, i'm anon).

Re:Dell printers (re-branded Lexmark hardware) (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914077)

Question: Why didn't Mom buy her Dell with Ubuntu instead? That way, at least there'd be someone to call when you have these issues.

Re:Dell printers (re-branded Lexmark hardware) (4, Funny)

MLS100 (1073958) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914207)

It must be nice being able to predict the future.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (3, Informative)

kauos (1168299) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913557)

I have a Lexmark color laser printer. Native linux support is pretty terrible for it, but it's a great printer so I bought a linux driver for it from TurboPrint ( As much as you hate buying a driver for a piece of equipment you've already bought, I found the price to be worth it.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (3, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913671)

My sister preferred buying a new printer. Then, after she'd gotten her new printer working, she donated the old one to LASFS, [] this world's oldest Science Fiction Club, to be sold at auction. She got a new printer, somebody else got a used one with plenty of life in it, and the club got some money. A real win/win/win situation.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (4, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913807)

Or you could buy a printer that supports PostScript. I know it's an evil Adobe abomination, but it's really easy to print to, commonly supported in both network and local drivers, and has a standard printer-definition format to allow selection of hardware-specific options without the need for a hardware-specific driver.

Honestly, in a day and age when even non-tech families have a home network it seems silly to use USB connections and hardware-specific drivers for printers -- just spend the extra $50 and get a printer that can operate with direct interaction from a host CPU.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (2, Informative)

MrMr (219533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913949)

I think it's interesting that this advice has been correct since the 1990's, when we were faced with the choice of buying a Sun printer or hooking up an apple laserwriter for half the price on our Sparcstation 1. That's 15 years of sustained no improvement at all. Good luck with the petitions...

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (3, Insightful)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914135)

PostScript's not an abomination, just an anachronism. I'd like to see more printers supporting PDF "natively".

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913573)

Who cares? Why didn't she stay on Windows. She should have checked her compatibility status beforehand.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (4, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913629)

Who cares? Why didn't she stay on Windows. She should have checked her compatibility status beforehand.

For most people, applications dictate OS dictate hardware. I prefer KDE, so I run Linux. I run Linux, so I buy an HP printer.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (1)

netcrusher88 (743318) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913609)

It's probably for the better if Lexmark just curls up and dies. I've never had a Lexmark printer I considered particularly good, and I absolutely hate their little toolkit app.

Notably the free printers HP bundles with their OEM machines suck too, but what do you expect for free...

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (1)

sarts (1306967) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913647)


Notably the free printers HP bundles with their OEM machines suck too, but what do you expect for free...

Ubuntu is free too, and that works... so being free is hardly an excuse for poor quality.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (3, Interesting)

netcrusher88 (743318) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913677)

I think you can bend that rule a bit when you're giving away a scarce product as opposed to an infinitely reproducible product, but good point nonetheless.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (1)

debatem1 (1087307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913701)

I've actually liked the cheapo HP all-in-ones. I got one as part of a bundle when CompUSA went under, and since then have gotten two more (one for my grandparents, one for work use) and all of them work pretty well, especially for ~$40 each.

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (4, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913881)

You mustn't confuse Lexmark Inkjet printers with Lexmark Laser printers.

The laser printers, by and large, speak well-known and reasonably standard languages like Postscript and HP PCL, and the build quality isn't too bad (though it's not a patch on HP or Kyocera).

The inkjets speak proprietary languages, are cheaply thrown together and designed to last about as long as 2-3 cartridges.

(And in the UK, Lexmark make a big thing about how you too can buy a printer from the same company that supplies 70% of the UK's top businesses. Technically correct, but it's a totally different division of the company producing totally different products).

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913707)

A binary driver is worse than no driver, because it removes much of the incentive to write a Free one.

But anyway, for printers, HP is the way to go!

Re:Tell that to Lexmark (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913719)

That is why I gave up trying to switch any of my home customers to Linux,even though most are simply surfing/emailing/listening to music/etc and would have been perfect for Linux. But in my area the Lexmark all-in-one is king and there is no way that a customer is going to go out and replace a printer they are happy with just so you can switch their OS. Hell I can't even blame them,as I too ended up with a Lexmark all-in-one that was a gift from a client whose husband bought her a laser printer for her home office. It was like new and for the little bit of printing/scanning/faxing I do I just couldn't justify the cost and waste of throwing it out when it really works great.

Which is why I don't understand why we can't have an ndiswrapper for printers. After seeing a Broadcom "wireless mini-PCI card" which is nothing but a wire and a tiny firmware chip about 1/4 of your average pinky nail,surely it couldn't be that much more difficult. Considering how dirt cheap these things are I seriously doubt they bother changing the firmware between models,hell the probably just recycle the code over and over. And I wouldn't be surprised if all the cheapy all-in-one printers were just using rehashes of the same code.

There has to be a way to capture what the firmware is doing and send the signal to the appropriate Linux equivalent. The user could always tweak the printer output from the Linux printer dialog once it got that far,and I have noticed the Lexmark cheapy printers usually need tweaking anyway so it wouldn't even be anything out of the ordinary for the user. But sadly I am just a network and pc fixit guy and my coding is limited to the occasional VB app for a SMB client. And as always this is my 02c from out here in the trenches,YMMV

No Linus? (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913413)

Interesting that Linus himself did not put his name to the statement.
One might argue that the Linux Foundation's endorsement is sufficient and that Linus's signature would be redundant.
But if that were true, why did Theodore Ts'o put his name on the statement? He is part of the Foundation's management.

Re:No Linus? (2, Funny)

BostonVaulter (867329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913479)

Thats so that there can be 165 signatures rather than 164

Re:No Linus? (4, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913749)

I suspect Linus specifically likes to take no (public) stand on these things, and I don't blame him. People use his name for so many different things as it is, even though, interview after interview he states that he is just an engineer and doesn't really care. I myself care, but that's besides the point.

Re:No Linus? (0, Offtopic)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913945)

Could you please sign this petition for people to do all my laundry and assorted housework please? I've got 394 signatures so far! How can the world refuse?

Drivers, yes, but let's not kill the applications. (1, Offtopic)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913433)

While I'm all for open source and regarding hardware drivers I wouldn't want it any other way, let's not forget that open source does not have to be pushed around at the application level at the expense of usability. Professional-level applications are critical for the use and expansion of Linux, and proprietary software vendors should be encouraged to develop their software for Linux, not alienated by being badgered to give away their source code. Currently, there is a heated discussion on the Debian list regarding PCB and CAD software availability. One camp (me) is encouraging users to write to software houses and to request that they port their software to Linux, with the other camp rejecting all contact with proprietary software vendors unless it is a demand for the source code. Currently, myself and other engineers cannot use Linux at work because we must run proprietary engineering software, such as Solidworks in my case. For those who want to help, please write to these companies and let them know that we are interested in their software on Linux:

Intuit (Quicken, Quickbooks) [] (requires registration)

Adobe (Photoshop, Flash CS3 Professional, Captivate, Dreamweaver, Studio) []

Sony (Vegas Studio) []

Autodesk (Autocad) []

SolidWorks [] (requires registration)

Sage (Act!) []

Nuance (Dragon Naturally Speaking) []

hardin-soft (BM-Win Plus (mailing address correction software)) []

Daz (Bryce (3D modeling and animation)) [] (requires registration)

ArenaNet (Guild wars): []

Ironclad Games (Sins of a Solar Empire) []

Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft) []

Firzxis (Civilization IV) []

Electronic Arts (lots of games) []

My personal problem is that I need Solidworks, so for emphasis I'll repeat their address here: []

Please write to these companies and let them know that we need their products on Linux. Copy the list and write to one company a week. Thanks.

Re:Drivers, yes, but let's not kill the applicatio (3, Insightful)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913497)

Be that as it may, this is an appropriate place for the kernel developers to focus their attention.

Re:Drivers, yes, but let's not kill the applicatio (3, Insightful)

alxtoth (914920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913503)

You've got it backwords regarding drivers: hardware vendors sell hardware, and "give away" the drivers so that people can actually use said products. As there will be more Linux users, so there will be incentive for providing drivers. As in Linux there are so many distros, it makes no sense to offer "closed source" drivers. And there are other operating systems which are not Linux, for example the BSD family

Same goes for software: if there will be enough demand, there will be more software for Linux. Even closed source. For example there is Intuit for Mac OS.

But instead of pushing water uphill with those software companies, why don't you look for software that does equivalent things on Linux (open source, or proprietary) ?

Re:Drivers, yes, but let's not kill the applicatio (2, Insightful)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913601)

But instead of pushing water uphill with those software companies, why don't you look for software that does equivalent things on Linux (open source, or proprietary)?
There is currently no Solidworks-compatible program (open- or closed- source) available. The problem is not that I need to work alone, the problem is that I need to interoperate with other engineers.

Re:Drivers, yes, but let's not kill the applicatio (1)

BiggerBadderBen (947100) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913681)

Don't use Intuit as an example. While TurboTax for Mac is OK, Quicken is just shit.

Re:Drivers, yes, but let's not kill the applicatio (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913985)

He is looking for software that does equivalent things on Linux, which is why he is writing to those companies. Professional quality 3D CAD applications don't (currently) just appear for free, and they need to interoperate like cohen says. You can get some good calculation software for Linux, but I haven't seen any decent 3D CAD software yet :( Apparently the Autodesk codebase in particular is heavily Windows specific these days. Perhaps Mono will help with that but I'd rather have native apps than try to simulate Windows.

what is the use of this? (4, Insightful)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913473)

Does begging really work? I mean asking people doesn't usually solve anything, you need to either show them a carrot and/or a stick... not sure if Linux has enough of either (yet)

The carrot & stick already exist. (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913751)

This petition is just a gentle reminder that the carrot (utilizing OSS community development process) & stick (customers switching vendors) already exist. (from TLA):

Vendors that provide closed-source kernel modules force their customers to give up key Linux advantages or choose new vendors. Therefore, in order to take full advantage of the cost savings and shared support benefits open source has to offer, we urge vendors to adopt a policy of supporting their customers on Linux with open-source kernel code.

I don't understand nVidia (4, Interesting)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913477)

I don't understand nVidia and other companies. One of the arguments is that the driver makes the difference between higher- or lowerpriced cards, thus open-sourcing this stuff will make the differences go away. Now I've worked with hardware engineers making FPGAs and ASICs -- I don't see why these graphics cards simply read their config from an EPROM or a small piece of flash, thus letting the driver not make any difference at all.

Re:I don't understand nVidia (2, Interesting)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913571)

EPROM costs more than software bits. Besides, EPROMs are easily hacked too.

Re:I don't understand nVidia (4, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913889)

EPROM costs more than software bits. Besides, EPROMs are easily hacked too
All modern video cards already have EEPROMs on them.
In fact, that's precisely how both nvidia and ati differentiate their "professional" cards from their "consumer" cards.
Ease of 'hacking' apparently isn't much of a concern because cards from both vendors have been 'upgradeable' in this manner for more than a decade.

Re:I don't understand nVidia (4, Informative)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913679)

The graphics card industry is cutthroat. The hardware is only part of the story - the drivers also do a lot of optimizing. They are probably worried competitors will use their own tricks against them.

Drivers compile shaders into something the video card can run - maybe they think their compiler optimizes better. On Windows at least, nVidia drivers will try to use SMP to prepare a few frames in advance for more efficient streaming.

How does that work? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914329)

"worried competitors will use their own tricks against them."

The tricks can't be used against them, unless someone writes a trojaned driver for their card.

If the tweaks are hardware dependant, they can only be used on a card that copies the same hardware.

Besides, do you think that ATI doesn't have the capability to strip out the hardware design and reverse engineer NVidia's cards? NVidia can just as easily take from ATI's cards.

Unless they are patented. Or copyrighted.

And if they ARE patented/copyrighted rather than trade secret, there's no loss in releasing the information under the GPL, because your competitor can't improve YOUR code without improving the code for YOU.

Free development, in other words, from your competitor(s).

Re:I don't understand nVidia (3, Informative)

Rufus211 (221883) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913713)

Drivers don't make the difference between the high- and low- end cards anymore. It used to be that the card would report a device ID, and then the driver would enable/disable features based on that device ID. This allowed both software mods and simple board mods to switch device ID in order to enable Quadro / FireGL features on GeForce / Radeon cards.

That's not the case anymore, which is why you can't find any mods for recent cards.

Re:I don't understand nVidia (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913775)

No the driver doesn't make the difference between high and low end cards. There is always a BIOS change at a minimum (videocards have their own BIOS). There are three reasons why nVidia claims they can't open source their drivers:

1) They incorporate third party proprietary code. This is almost certainly the case. I'm betting that some or maybe even all of it isn't secret, but it is still licensed none the less. That means they'd have to either change the driver to leave those features out and/or rewrite the code themselves which could involve some expensive clean room/dirty room techniques. Remember that they can't play the Xvid game of "Well we don't distribute it compiled so don't need to pay a license." Ya that won't won't work for a company who is providing the code for the clear purpose of making their cards work. They'd get sued (and they'd lose).

2) Their drivers are one of the things that make their cards more attractive than their competition. nVidia and ATi are locked in a major battle for computer marketshare. This is fought in terms of performance, whether raw performance at the high end or performance per dollar in the midrange. They are interested in every advantage they can get over one another. Well those advantages can come in software as well as hardware. For example nVidia has historically had very good OpenGL performance on Windows. All things being equal, an app would run equally well in either. ATi has not, DirectX has always performed better. Well if ATi got at nVidia's source, maybe they'd use those tricks to make their drivers perform better.

3) Special things like PhysX support. Coming out very soon (you can already find betas floating about) for Windows are drivers that will support hardware acceleration of the PhysX physics middleware engine on GeForce 8 and up cards. nVidia bought Ageia and has been working on this. They intend to use it to help move graphics cards. So game devs buy PhysX to handle their physics. Unreal Engine 3 uses it, for example, it is a major competitor to Havok. Well then those games will be able to have special hardwrae accelerated feature if they want... on nVidia cards. You have an ATi card you are out of luck. Of course if they GPL'd all that, ATi could take it and use it. They'd have to release any modifications, but they could still nab all the code and make their cards also do PhysX.

Now I'm not saying any of these are reasons you should agree with, please don't argue with me about them I don't work for nVidia I'm not making the rules. I'm just trying to help you understand why they aren't interested in open sourcing their drivers. With something like a network card or RAID controller, the drivers are generally pretty simple and are just a tool to make the hardware work. Thus there isn't really anything in them to protect and most companies probably wouldn't mind them being open if they really stopped to think about it. Their competitors would gain nothing from selling them anyhow.

That's not the case for GPU drivers. They are a large part of the picture in terms of performance and user experience. Thus improvements to them can give your cards a competitive edge over the others and thus nVidia isn't so interested in releasing them. Hell it can be real simple things sometimes. I used to have an LCD monitor with no scaler controls. What that meant was any image you fed it that was not at its native resolution, it stretched without regard for aspect ratio to full screen. That sort of thing bugs the shit out of me. I want aspect correct scaling. However, it wasn't a problem. nVidia cards can handle that, and I just told my card to do it.

At the time though, ATi cards couldn't (dunno how it stands now). That means that I more or less had to write off ATi so long as I kept that particular monitor. I wanted a feature that only nVidia could deliver. If nVidia's drivers had been open source, well perhaps ATi could have just grabbed the scaling code (it seemed to be driver based, not hardware based) and used it.

So it is a complex situation. I'm not defending nVidia's handling of it, just trying to help you understand why they do as they do.

Re:I don't understand nVidia (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914089)

All probably true, but I think the obstacles are smaller than you think.

1) If getting permission from third party vendors to open source the code does not work, a vendor can still release hardware specifications and let third parties develop an Open Source driver. Getting a complete driver is nice, but not absolutely necessary. People have tried get the information through reverse engineering before, so there are some developers willing to program drivers from scratch.

2) It might be possible to release a new, "simple" Open Source driver that shows how to access the hardware and provides basic functionality, but lacks the special tricks.

AMD/ATI seems to do a combination of 1) and 2), and we'll see how it works out. If their Open Source driver reaches halfway decent performance and stability, my next graphics card is sure to be an ATI.

Re:I don't understand nVidia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914241)

With something like a network card or RAID controller, the drivers are generally pretty simple and are just a tool to make the hardware work.

The examples you mentioned are anything but "generally pretty simple".
Do you actually have any experience developing device drivers?

The more I know about driver development, the more I believe that the common Internet user talking about such topics hasn't a clue at all.

"incorporate third party code" (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914373)

Well, NVidia USED to say that. They said it was stuff by SGI.

When SGI were talked to, they said that nothing NVidia had from them they have a problem with GPLing. So either

a) They lied
b) They have stuff from SGI that they are hiding because they haven't paid for it
c) They have another reason for it

Now NVidia don't say this any more, just fans of NVidia. Even if NVidia did say, they won't say any more WHOSE IP they have so we can ask this supplier about it.

Re:I don't understand nVidia (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913963)

This would be circumvented.

1. Put Quadro/FireGL card in computer
2. Have a modified driver save the content that it reads from the EPROM into a file
3. Put Non-Quadro/Non-FireGL card in computer
4. Have a modified driver read the file instead of the EPROM
Viola. Your cheap gamer-card is now an expensive professional CAD/CAM-workstation card.

It's already been done with proprietary drivers via stuff like the SoftQuadro hack
The problem is that it's not the card doing something special due to special drivers, that could have been hardcoded.
It's that the drivers act upon information read from the card.
"Oh, so you're a Quadro-card. Well, then I'll fire up my Autocad-optimizations and use multi-threaded code."

Re:I don't understand nVidia (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914007)

It's the business pricing model. Rather than merely having one price and one set of features, and accepting the business that this balance will provide, this allows NVidia and companies like them to simply scale back the features to gain customers with less money to spend. And doing it as a driver, rather than as a hardware difference, tremendously eases manufacturing requirements. We've seen this for decades in all sorts of products, such as a lot of DEC computers from decades ago that required only a few minutes with a soldering iron to perform some very serious hardware upgrades.

Wrong approach (-1, Troll)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913483)

Open source or closed source is immaterial to the final result. Especially when the desired result is wrong to begin with.

Those builders only seek more kitchen sinks to throw into that bloatware known as the Linux Kernel. As an intense user of Linux, Windows 2000 and Vista (and XP before), I can say without a doubt that Linux is the least stable modern OS that I know. I'll give Linux this: it's more stable than Windows 95.

But I digress. Linux should be flushed down the toilet and replaced with a macrokernel architecture. Those open source drivers that the builders want to throw inside the kernel will only help make Linux even less flexible. Proof? Linux has been stuck on the 2.6 branch for years because it's an unwieldy blob.


Re:Wrong approach (3, Informative)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913625)

If that was a troll it wasn't even a good one.

The Linux kernel (as in, what comes with the source) is bloated because a lot of the code that runs in kernelspace on a linux machine COMES with the kernel, this is not the case on other OS, such as OS X and its XNU kernel. If you grab the XNU source from Apple it contains probably less than 50% of what ends up actually running in the kernel space.

This isn't a bad thing, it just means a lot of the code running in kernel space is open source and is distributed together.

As for stability, Linux is one of the most stable systems I've used, especially for web services.

Re:Wrong approach (2, Interesting)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913801)

When a moron like The_Abortionist posts something so obviously absurd, I find it helps to look at the users comment history [] . One look makes it clear that s/he is intentionally trying to get the worst ever history. -1 and 0 for every post. Sometimes I ask people if they go to a special class to sound like a moron, or if it just comes naturally. Now I know who runs the special classes :-)

open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (5, Insightful)

Icy_Infinity (1313035) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913515)

There is only one thing holding back Linux from being used more wide-spread.

Gamers, the Linux community just doesn't care for them. But that is wrong, just wrong. Gamers are the reason why computers are the way they are nowadays, without good games to play on our electronic devices I guarantee that computers wouldn't be a big as they are today, and that's something that Linux has always failed to do bring us top-shelf gaming

having open source graphic drivers would be nice but i don't think that is the true problem for games on Linux

there true enemy that needs to be defeated before Linux even has a chance at becoming mainstream:

Games for Windows

The fug-tards at Microsoft pay off every last PC game maker to put their dirty label on everything even the damn game reviews have that garbage label on it for god sakes.

They do it because they know no one else stands a chance in the PC gaming market. Stop them please stop Microsoft and there proprietary-ness. Defeat games for windows and Linux will be main stream, because freedom and openness shouldn't be a standard just for big iron. Theirs little guys like me that would love nothing other than to give windows the old heave-ho but can't because where all locked down in a homeostasis environment.

Also running in an emulated environment just doesn't cut it - it could be possible but WINE just can't do it for some games. Normally the games that don't run are the most proprietary ones sadly but there's still room for them in the sphere that is Linux. Help make a home for gamers where there not locked and bogged down by corporate greed. crack Games for Windows and please dear god make "Games for Linux" a reality

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (2, Insightful)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913637)

DirectX is the real problem there i suppose.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

dunezone (899268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913695)

Its numbers not games. Windows is the dominant OS, unless Linux starts taking a 30-40% share of the market, its still an underdog.

Now, if your a developer with limited funds, would you build both a Linux version and a Windows version? No. Companies that can do this are ID Software and Blizzard because they have the resources to accomplish this. Remember, its not just building the game, its also supporting it later on.

You could apply this theory to the application area of Linux also.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

lordofthechia (598872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913883)

True, though it would be nice if we could start convincing game developers to use OpenGL and SDL at the very least.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (-1, Troll)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913703)

There is only one thing holding back Linux
You're right, the lack of games is holding back the adoption of Linux. Well, that and the lack of professional grade image/video editing tools. So it's one of two things.

Come to think of it, configuration isn't all that simple either. With my windows box, I can install multiple video cards, bridge connections, route through proxies, etc, all with a nice gui interface. On Ubuntu, I've had to go to the command line for even simple tasks like using two monitors. So, games are one of three things.

Not to mention support. For Ubuntu, support is $250 / desktop, and Linux is harder for a sysadmin to support since it doesn't have all the nice gui tools that windows does. So maybe we should just say one of several things, eh?

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

FeepingCreature (1132265) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913731)

Eh, it's hit and miss. I can play Half-Life 2, the episodes, Max Payne 2, Deus Ex, C&C 3, GTA San Andreas, Psychonauts, Freelancer and Dungeon Keeper 2 without significant problems.

From my point of view, the number of games that work is bigger than the number of games that don't.

Also, just to be pedantic: WINE is not an emulator. It's a reimplementation. Meaning, it doesn't emulate Windows, it is effectively a Windows.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

debatem1 (1087307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913737)

So, I guess you'll be writing DirectX for Linux, then? And yes, I see your point. I just wish I didn't have to. Gamers make my teeth ache.

games have trouble making money on windows already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913799)

Current AAA video games are purely commercial and money oriented. They have to be considering they run in the tens of millions and that's WITH the poor wages and hours of video game programmers, artists, testers, etc. Most of those games currently lose money in Windows. High levels of piracy don't help either. (granted, money losing studios exaggerate piracy's impact)

In short, the overburdened games companies don't need the extra burden of making a Linux version.

Re:games have trouble making money on windows alre (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914361)

I'm totally bewildered at how all these companies whose product it pirated more than it is bought are able to stay in business so long. Really, both the music and the games industry should be back to relying on hobbiest *at best* if their argument had any aspect of truth to it. And the mining industry should have left Australia because of the excessively high wages it has to pay here...

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913817)

I would say the most important part is pre-installation.
Now Linux has to compete with pre-installed systems. Imagine how easy it would be for the end-user to go to the store and buy it.

This would put the burden of testing the hardware and provide drivers on the people making the PC. They will the buy only hardware that they can support, which will lead to drivers being written for them, otherwise they won't sell them.

This will mean more people with Linux, which will mean gaming companies will write the game in Linux as well.

Remember how Windows became as big as it became? Pre-installation!

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914059)

And NVidia i a real burden this way. Their driver installers for Linux move aside your existing your OpenGL libraries, without notifying the package manager. This means that your next software update or rebuild will ruin your NVidia drivers, because the package manager does not know about these semi-manually installed files.

It wouldn't be hard to fix by incorporating the NVidia software into a managed software package for automatic installation, but NVidia clearly wants people to click on the end-user license agreement when they install the drivers. This makes automatic deployment of such drivers a real problem for the Linux world. Nvidia has chosen not to cooperate with this much needed feature of Linux operating systems, and the resulting instability is quite predictable.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914195)

And NVidia i a real burden this way. Their driver installers for Linux move aside your existing your OpenGL libraries, without notifying the package manager. This means that your next software update or rebuild will ruin your NVidia drivers, because the package manager does not know about these semi-manually installed files.

Huh? On Ubuntu all this 'just works'. I applied a Kernel upgrade a few weeks ago on Gutsy and the Nvidia drivers *were* dealt with totally invisibly by the package manager. Maybe other distros don't do this but it's obviously possible.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914219)

Portage includes nVidia drivers which are installed "automatically" when requested. It even provides a command line interface to switch between the binary nvidia drivers and the xorg-x11 default ones.

Can't speak for other distros, but installing the drivers was never a problem.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914083)

First of all, WINE is not emulation.

Second, I see this opinion a lot, but I see no real evidence for it. The "gamer" market is well represented on sites like this, but out in the real world we make up a fairly small percentage of PC users. I don't think a lack of games for Linux is the problem.

Besides, I'd say Linux has better support for games than Mac (if you count WINE and Cedega).

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914105)

Getting accelerated 3D, 2D and Video-playback working at the same time is really tricky in Linux, you really have to research in depth what cards will work and which distributions they work well with.

You can't develop closed source, for profit games in that environment. You have close to zero potential customers.

If most modern cards worked 100% out of the box, and there where a stable game-API or game-HAL, then it would make sense to develop for it.
The API or HAL must not only do 3D, but the 2D part, sound, joystick support, etc, together with a standardized way of installation and something that would make it possible to distribute binary games that ran on almost all distributions.

Then this system can be ported to OSX, Windows, PS2/PS3/PSP, XB/XB360 and GC/Wii/DS, and we'll have plenty of games on Linux since if you develop for one platform, the work required to port it to the others is slim. =)

Conformity for the win! (At least when it comes to multi-platform development. ^_^ )

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (2, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914147)

Gamers, the Linux community just doesn't care for them.
Why do you think kernel developers want nvidia drivers to open ?
The OSS community cares for gamers but can't care too much for commercial games. Look around a bit, you'll find many OSS games. Strategy, FPS, action. There are also more and more commercial games that come with a linux version.

The niche of the "latest cutting-edge FPS with extra glitter and shaders 15.6 with 2X PhysX simulation" is today on windows, that's right. That's in part because graphical drivers sucks on linux. Open them, let them improve, and see what happens when OSS drivers become more robust than windows drivers.
I long for that day. All gamers are not coders but a lot of them are power users who configure their OS, mod their PCs. Linux is just made for their mindset.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914291)

Funnily enough, the whole "Games for Windows" thing started at around the time Wine reached a level of maturity where running big-name games under Linux became possible.

Re:open source drivers and gaming 4 linux (1)

MLS100 (1073958) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914305)

That's why Linux has seen widespread adoption on the business desktop where nobody cares about games DOT DOT DOT

Also, recent polls have shown that the majority of the Linux home users are people who don't like to play games or don't have the time, like the elderly and businessmen.

Yes, I think you're really on to something there.

Where's Linus? (2, Insightful)

Ewasx (207402) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913525)

Did anyone else notice that Linus himself is not on that list? Does this mean that he doesn't mind closed source modules?

Re:Where's Linus? (1)

Fri13 (963421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913593)

I dont know about Linus but many coder, do not care, they just want working thing for customers, and they talk behalf of the customers that customers do not care about GPL or freedom.

I think that is in long run very stupid attitude, it is like shooting to a own leg.

License? (-1, Troll)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913585)

Hopefully under the BSD or artistic licenses... Locking a driver in to the GPL ecosystem is just as bad as locking it in to the closed source ecosystem

Re:License? (1)

debatem1 (1087307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913755)

Trolling or serious? I can't even tell anymore. And isn't most artistic license code dual licensed under GPL?

Re:License? (1)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913859)

dual license is fine too, but adding a driver that only works in Linux by virtue of legalities is just as bad as keeping it closed source

Re:License? (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914149)

For the BSD guys, that would indeed be better. But Linux is probably the bigger market. So if I was making that decision on behalf of the vendor, I'd release the driver under a dual license:
GPL and BSD (not sure ATM if you can stick BSD code into a GPL project without incurring additional obligations).

Re:License? (1)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914177)

Plenty of the Linux kernel is lifted from BSD so yes, you can add BSD code to GPL, the converse is not true

Open Technical Documentation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913595)

Shipping drivers for only windows is bad, but shipping drivers for only windows and linux is (magically!!) good???

Fight for open specifications. That will enable any competent driver-writer to write drivers and all OSs can compete on fair grounds. By technical documentation, I don't mean "the guide to programming the Emc2x86" kind of stuff. There should be "The exhaustive reference to programming the Emc2x86" kind of stuff. There should the following guarantees associated with the documentation, only then the hardware can be called as "openly documented hardware":

1. For a sufficiently competent programmer, the documentation supplied is enough to achieve 100% feature parity with the proprietary drivers.

2. The documentation supplied must contain as a subset, all interfacial knowledge known to the writers of the proprietary drivers.

Re:Open Technical Documentation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913811)

> 1. For a sufficiently competent programmer, the documentation supplied is enough to achieve 100% feature parity with the proprietary drivers.

No it doesn't. Your assuming time doesn't matter and that the hardware follows the documentation.

Time does matter because if a person releases a product to market without a pre-existing Linux driver then Linux people can't use it until developers purchase it and begin hacking on it.

Hardware has bugs, like software. Also hardware deviates from specifications. For example with both ATI and Intel video hardware they are subject to variations that individual motherboard and video card manufacturers create.

Without assistance from the people who actually worked on developing the hardware then your going to end up doing a lot of trial and error to figure out what is wrong.

> 2. The documentation supplied must contain as a subset, all interfacial knowledge known to the writers of the proprietary drivers.

Your assuming that such documentation exists or that it's even possible for that manufacturer to create, and that they can afford to create such documentation. Not everybody has all the time and money in the world to create extensive documentation for their products.

Not everybody has the budget and experience that Intel and AMD have...

The reality of the situation that is unless you have the attention of OEMs and have people that are willing to work on the inside with the manufacturers to work on documentation and drivers then isn't going to get the same level of attention that even Linux gets.

Because of the realities surrounding developing hardware having working, open source, Linux drivers is the best documentation that your going to get, and in fact are often superior.

Breakng news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913653)

In other news Linus Torvalds has announced that he's working on a cutting-edge AI project. It was under wraps, but a really interesting post [] on a well-known tech community site, persuaded him of the need to release details earlier than planned.

Torvalds described the AI as being part of an 'Free Software enforcement bot', code named 'The Stallmanator'. Features include:

  • parachuting into enemy headquarters;
  • target, seek, interrogate, and destroy hostile egg-headed CEO's;
  • 'IntelliChairSense' - a 360 degree flying-chair-threat detector;
  • special persuasion tactics for coercing proprietary software loving devs, lawyers, CEO/CIO's to see the light of Free software;
  • a selection of quotes, which are planned for the MiniStallmanator doll, that the kids will just love (said with a realistic Schwartzenegger accent):

    'I need your patents, your code and your motorcycle.'

    'Free your hardware specifications and drivers, if you want to live.'

    'I'll be busy (eating Cheetos)'

    'The GNUNet funding bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from Debian package management. GNUNet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14am Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.'

    'Hurd up, homies.'

With DARPA backing this project, I don't think the likes of nVidia or Lexmark will hold out for long. They're likely to get 'Stallmanated'.

Value of NVidias drivers, from another post. (5, Insightful)

thesupraman (179040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913673)

I posted this over at RWT a month or so ago..

>Here is really the main point, which you're brushing
>aside -- this makes the hardware worth more, because
>you're making it potentially more usable for end users.
>Maybe not all end-users, but certainly some. I don't
>understand why you say it's a "very different kettle of
>fish" ? Different than releasing the specs? If anything
>it means fixes will happen faster.

I am not brushing anything aside, I am saying that a lot of people for a long time have ranted about opensource drivers for advanced video cards - and as yet I have seen no-one discuss it at a level that actually addresses what would be involved.

My 'very different kettle of fish' above is the vendors actually releasing full-stack sourcecode, versus just hardware specs.

My position on the hardware specs (and I am not claiming proof for this, it is only my position) is that it is next to useless for high-performance users. We may well see competent 2d opensource drivers, and 3d ones that can limp along - however graphics hardware has moved a LONG way from there.

I would *love* to see a fully opensource stack with high performance for opengl, however is it practical?

In your reply (sorry, I clipped it back a bit for brevity) you mentioned harddrive makers doing sector remapping - that is probably a whole few pages of code in their controllers. For a full modern opengl stack we are probably talking in the millions of lines region - we are talking of something with a scope not unlike the linux kernel itself, or at least a good proportion of it.
This is NOT similar to any other type of driver that I can think of - it is an almost unique case.

Just looking at opengl, the cards driver needs to be able to handle multiple simultaneous execution of overlapped and scheduled code, all in realtime, on in the region of 100-300 semi-linked vector cpus, all without cross-interference, while also maintain multiple streams of data at GB rates in and out of the card, and all while following a VERY explicit and highly complex set of rules governing the results.

Put another way, these devices are bleeding edge modern realtime computers, on a card - and their 'drivers' are really realtime OSs, although highly specialised.

Intel, in its infinite wisdom, as about to try and take that to the next level - making such cards x86ish, with an eye I suspect to reducing the complexity of software entry, after having failed miserably to write working drivers for their existing (965, g35, g45 so far) hardware.

All I say is lets cut these guys some slack - the capability of the hardware/software combination of a 9600gt, for around $150, is simply astounding. Should they expect 'help' from kernel developers, etc? of course not. Should they be punished? I say no.

Anyhow, I know that is bordering on preaching, and of course very opinionated - however I do like to see things treated with an even hand, and I have not always seen that happen with the issue of opensource 3d graphics drivers.

Re:Value of NVidias drivers, from another post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914289)

Whilst you say that your
"position on the hardware specs (and I am not claiming proof for this, it is only my position) is that it is next to useless for high-performance users. We may well see competent 2d opensource drivers, and 3d ones that can limp along - however graphics hardware has moved a LONG way from there."
you should be aware that some really competent driver writers have said that open-sourcing the code that somebody else wrote is totally useless.

The OpenBSD guys have reverse engineered lots of hardware that other projects had drivers for (usually with blobs)and would never put in that effort if reading somebody else's code was sufficient.

In fact, every time they request details from a manufacturer, it is necessary to repeat until it gets through some bonehead's skull, that they would rather NOT see someone else's driver source.

There is a lot of support for the view that hiding the specs AND the source to existing drivers is, in part, to hide the fact that there are bugs in the hardware that need work-arounds.

OK! Look you linux geeks. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913727)

*nix still has a tiny ass market share.

there is no damm money to be made off you fools yet. just some feelgood bullshit a company gets from saying 'we support open source'. but no MONEY!

you're not worth a company paying ONE guy for ONE day to do anything for your drivers. let alone bothering a company lawyer on this issue.

fucking work around it. get more people on *nix. alot more people. as in several hundred thousand more at least.

no money = no support. stfu already. make it worth a companys time and effort and you MIGHT get your open source drivers.

God dammed minorities. Always bitchin they deserve the best of everything.

Re:OK! Look you linux geeks. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913865)

no money = no support.
Linux already supports more hardware than anything else ever has. Please go away.

Just incase any hardware people are listening (2)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913771)

Regardless if I am buying for myself or a client, or for Windows or GNU/Linux, explicit Linux support (by way of drivers) is always a +1 for me.

about 2 years behind OpenBSD (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913809)

Release 3.9 had the "blob" theme.

Crikey! They're catching up!

Work first, open source second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23913867)

So these are the people who requested that Intel replace the functional restricted rights ipw3945 wifi driver with the broken iwl3945 driver (Buguntu #227279). This is a regression. It used to work now it doesn't and unless Intel make their proprietary algorithms available it is not going to work in the future. Current advice for those suffering from the horribly hopeless 8.04 release; download the Microsoft driver and wrap with ndis.

This is why I had to re-install XP on my rig (0)

LordAlced (1279598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23913987)

Ubuntu does not have drivers for my Linksys Wireless PC card and my Intel graphics card. I was so excited (because it was the equivalent of spitting on Microsoft's face) when I got the Ubuntu CD from the mail (I had it shipped) but was disappointed when I would be getting the standard 800 by 600 resolution that wouldn't allow me to see the bottom of huge dialog boxes and wired technology.

I keep on forgetting that my Dell Inspiron 2600 is "designed for Windows XP." It was like being in a relationship that would never work because she's(Ubuntu) too good for you.

Dell Inspiron 2600 (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914227)

Look here: []
It seems that a bios update in Q1 2007 fixed the problem for some people. Unfortunately not for everyone, but that is something you could try.
Or maybe this one helps: []
Or this one: []

All of it a bit more tricky than clicking on a setup program. So you get a taste of what Linux was like 10 years ago. Back then editing config files to get your drivers running was normal. Today, it is an exception with distributions like Ubuntu, and only needed in problem cases.

This is bullshit (2, Interesting)

jopet (538074) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914025)

While I like the idea of open source and develop nearly exclusively open-source myself, i find it counterproductive to insist on open-source drivers. This is not a religious war, or should not be. This should be about pragmatically doing everything to create a useful alternative to other OS. This should be about making Linux successful.

It simply will never happen that we get open-source drivers for all the hardware Windows users are enjoying. Make it as easy as possible to get *any* form of driver, make it so that binary drivers cannot kill the system and it will still be difficult to get enough drivers to not make users shy away from Linux.

Then, when we have 50% market share you can start putting pressure on hardware vendors, not now.

Re:This is bullshit (2)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914405)

Sounds awful - then you get a situation where you have binary drivers which mostly can't be shipped with the distribution, can't be updated, only work with a certain kernel version on a certain distro...

Sounds terrible

We need to improve what we have (2, Informative)

wrook (134116) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914129)

One thing that I've started realizing lately is that we need to improve the open source drivers that we already have. This may give companies more incentive to open their own drivers.

For example, we are all happy about the free software drivers that Intel provides for the i950, etc graphics chipsets. However, there are still some significant 3D performance issues with this driver. I don't blame the team working on it because they have other important priorities. However, it is a fact that games run many times faster on Windows with this chipset than in X (and I'm not just talking about Wine games). Games like Vegastrike just don't run acceptably in X on a i945GM box -- and it should be able to handle this game easily.

If we could pick a few drivers that need help and make them indisputably good, this might provide incentive for companies to support our efforts.

I would be happy to start working on the the Intel graphics driver with an aim to improving its 3D performance. However, even though I have 20 years of application development, I'm a newbie at driver development. I don't know where to start. If anyone can point me in the right direction.... Even if it takes me a really long time to make any improvement, I'll at least be another pair of eyes.

Re:We need to improve what we have (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914349)

The thing is, the Linux drivers for Intel hardware are developed by Intel, and they're just not very good at it. For example, there's a demonstration TTM-based driver for the i915 that gets better performance than any of the Intel drivers for it, even after they wrote their own memory management code specifically for Intel hardware. (Of course, a lot of the TTM-based stuff is probably broken right now due to changes Intel made when getting their memory management code merged.)

Such arrogance... (4, Insightful)

JazzManDRP (158742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914161)

Hardware vendors like nVidia run a business. They run a business to make money. If nVidia didn't make financially-successful decisions, they wouldn't exist to be producing the graphics cards in the first place. That's all there is to it.

If there was money in Linux they'd be right there, open-source drivers and all, but there isn't. This is a fact that open-source developers never seem to understand. You can cheerfully dedicate half your life to creating this wonderful utopian software, but you can't force your ideals on someone else - especially on a company whose aims do not coincide with yours. Make it a financially beneficial proposition, and nVidia will spend the time and money on creating those drivers - but I doubt it's anything near that.

What responsibility do nVidia have towards the Linux desktop? The same as they have towards Windows: absolutely none. But they support Windows because 90% of desktops with their graphics cards installed run Windows.

And yes, Intel and ATI have managed to push out open source drivers - that's up to them, but I don't imagine they make profit from it. Yes, it's a real pain in the arse to work with binary drivers. Yes, if nVidia were to release open-source drivers the world would be a happier place. But to act like Linux users have some *right* to these drivers is childish and arrogant.

What Linux users have the right to do is buy a different graphics card.

Re:Such arrogance... (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914419)

By publically telling NVidia to release open source drivers and telling users to not buy until they do, you are giving nvidia a financial incentive to do so.

By encouraging people to put pressure on NVidia, you are making it more profitable for them to do so, because they do not want the bad publicity and perhaps loss in sales.

Perhaps a different question... (4, Interesting)

transiit (33489) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914183)

I'm seeing a lot of these responses get hung up on their personal idealism. I'll give 'em the benefit of the doubt that there is no significant astro-turfing going on here.

But after seeing a multitude of responses suggesting the complexity of graphics cards above all other device drivers, I sort of wonder: Are we believing a myth?

I see countless articles about how GPUs are such advanced pieces of tech. I see tons of anecdotal evidence about how more optimized they are.

But after years of hearing how good Card A is against Card B at API X vs API Y, I sort of, what a coincidence that both happen to be really good at their next possible market.

Device drivers are tricky business, no question. All I ever seem to see is the same arguments from interested passers-by explaining how they couldn't open up their drivers because they'd give away some secret, or there's no incentive to give away their secret sauce because they've spent so much more time and money than some other specialized sector.

I think at this point, I'd be as happy to see these companies open up their specs to the point of third-party ground-up implementations as I would hearing one of them go on the record as to their reasons why they feel they can't.

Linux Users vs hardcore Windows gamers? (2, Insightful)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914257)

Nvidia is a company that exists to make money.The question that Nvidia needs to think about is whether the number of Linux users (including those on the EEEPC, high-end phones and more specialised embedded devices) have outgrown the number of hardcore Windows PC gamers?

Whatever you think about the answer to the question, I'm sure you will agree that going forwards, the growth in embedded devices will certainly increase faster than Windows gaming.

When a company makes an embedded device, time to market is often really critical, so of course it chooses whatever hardware causes the the least fuss. Nvidia might find that Intel and ATI will increasingly dominate this space.

If Nvidia wants a share of the open source market in five years time, then it needs to start planning for an open source driver now, e.g. not putting any more third party proprietary code in its driver.

Is this a technical or religious issue? (3, Informative)

jopet (538074) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914345)

Is it technically impossible to provide for closed-source drivers in Linux? Or is this just yet another religious issue from people who want to force their own views on anyone else?

Many people simply want Linux as an alternative to Windows, and a good alternative it is already. But insisting on open-source drivers will make the situation worse, not better in the long run: more and more special-purpose hardware is getting attached to the computer; mobile devices, chipcard readers, entertainment devices, GPS devices ... the list goes on and on.

It is simply naive to think that we will get open-source drivers for all of these. We can be happy if we get some sort of half-baked closed source driver.

At the current moment I have the following devices that do not work fully with Linux:
    - A canon camera: PTP transfer works, but under Windows I can also remote control it, do timed picture grabs, remote view the sensor -- none of which works with Linux
    - A Garming GPS device: nearly nothing works under Linux, the software for managing (proprietary of course) maps is only available under Windows, routes management only works with that software
    - A Sony-Ericcson mobile phone: mounting as a removable device works, but there is no decent support for synchronizing as under Windows
    - All-in-one printer/fax/copier most of these do not work or are limited under Linux in comparison to Windows. Nearly all ink printers still have severe limitations under Linux.
    - Wireless: several cards I have tried to not work at all or do not supprot WPA
    - A digital multimeter: only comes with software that runs under Windows
    - A chip-card reader and the infrastructure to use it for secure payment and authentification - only usable under Windows and Mac.

I do not think that the make everything opensource issue is of such a high priority yet when all these things actually prevent the use of Linux: if somebody does have to use Windows or Mac to use any of the things they need, why should they use Linux in the first place?

No example of open source driver that doesn't suck (0, Troll)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914357)

Is there an example of an open source driver that doesn't suck? Even the radeonhd driver which ATI sponsored with Novell still sucks. Perhaps a successful example of better drivers from going open source will convince them instead of a bunch of names on a website?

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