First, I'd like to say that it's good that Nvidia has provided network drivers for the Linux community. It works well in the 2.4.X series, even if it causes install problems for some users.
I also understand Nvidia's position on not GLPing the current drivers since they are apparently based on 3rd party non-GLP code.
But the current nvnet drivers cause problems for the community. Problems include:
- They are difficult to install for less experienced users
- They taint the kernel making it difficult to debug kernel issues
- Don't keep pace with the kernel (e.g. the current ones do not work with the 2.6.0 series)
- Make it impossible for distributions to deliver configured solutions out of the box due to the license
- Reduces hardware use by other Open Source projects - FreeBSD, Hurd etc.
What could Nvidia do to help resolve the issue?
- Communicate to the Open Source community that Nvidia is/is not actively working with the 3rd party to release the drivers under the GPL. If negotiation is ongoing an indication of timing and a communication of that information.
- Inform the community who the 3rd party is and the chip base used so the community could reverse engineer a GPL driver. If Nvidia is restricted from releasing the vendors name, to work with the 3rd party to resolve that issue. If not restricted from releasing the 3rd party's name, then the community could help influence the 3rd party to release the required information.
- Release the api to the chip without divulging the 3rd party IP. A couple of current kernel netorking modules load ok but they don't work due to invalid data returns (byte offsets?)
- Provide a patch to an existing network driver that would allow that kernel driver to work with the current chip.
Benefits to Nvidia
- Shows further support to the Open Source community
- Reduces Nvidia's costs by having the community provide support
- Makes it easier for users to utilize the on-board networking
- Makes kernel debugging easier (no tainted modules)
- Allows the driver to keep pace with kernel development amd vendor releases
- Provides a solution to distribution vendors so that the network card works out of the box.
- Reduces users problems in getting the network working thus improving their experience and decreasing their perception that the boards are "broken" and the Linux is a pain to use
- Opens up the hardware to other Open Source projects to use the Nvidia based boards (FreeBSD, Hurd, OpenBSD, etc) (Increased market )
So, can we expect an official or semi-official response to the issues of the non-GPL network drivers?
What can we do to help you to help us?
Thanks - Geowiz