Originally Posted by Thunderbird
First various linux distributions ship the nvidia drivers. Nvidia doesn't disallow distributions from shipping the drivers in case of debian it is just their policy of not including non-free stuff in the base. Further regarding X, the 2d nv driver supports all nvidia cards. I agree the version in debian stable is quite old now but recent versions of X (4.4 and xorg) have no issues. Further there's also a opensource nforce network driver called forcedeth which is included with 2.6x kernels so there's not really an issue as both network and 2d can work.
Thanks for the tip about 'forcedeth', I didn't know about that. Sarge's net-installer didn't select it, but now that I know to use it maybe I can do that manually during the install process.
Regarding the non-free issue with Debian: It's still the case that Debian is a popular distro, and that nVidia's licensing program for this software causes a stumbling block that I wouldn't otherwise need to deal with. I'm not trying to be whiny here; rather I'm encouraging for nVidia to be great in this area rather than merely good.
Regarding the 'nv' driver: IIRC, at least with XFree86, there's a different set of XF86Config-4 parameters needed for 'nv' than for 'nvidia'. In my experience I've needed to specify a lot of details about the monitor for the sake of the 'nv' driver, before X will come up. If the 'nvidia' driver had simply been part of Debian from the start, then I could avoid that extra step of getting 'nv' working.
Another issue that I forgot to mention earlier was the fact that every time I install a new kernel, I have to reinstall the nVidia driver, and X won't work until I do. If 'nvidia' source code were simply included in the kernel source trees, I don't believe I'd have this problem.
Finally, we'd avoid having messes like we had some months ago, where there was a big delay between the availability of a new kernel version, and the availability of an nVidia driver that worked with it. IIRC, the issue was waiting for an nvidia driver that worked with the 2.6 line of kernels.
Anyway, thanks for the hint on 'forcedeth' - I didn't know about that.