Originally Posted by pe1chl
You should not forget to mention that Microsoft goes to every possible effort to keep things compatible (sometimes making it more complex than it needs to be), thus Windows drivers tend to work for quite a long time. Only in a major release you need to update drivers, and even then not always.
On the other hand, open source developers (Linux, XF86/Xorg) find it rewarding to break the entire driver interface at each and every patchlevel. [...]
They probably think they can force manufacturers to give up and release the source to be done with it, but in cases where this does not happen they only hit the users (of Linux) with it.
Well not quite. The Linux folks have made the conscious decision long ago that if something wasn't made Just Right[tm], they'll redo it, and compatibility be damned. In a sense, it's rather good, as things are clean, easy to work on, and lead to a lot less security-related issues. On the other hand, you're right, Microsoft goes out of their way to make things compatible with previous OSes.
Long ago, I maintained the DR-DOS kernel. Let me tell you, the code was a horror story. It had special cases all over the place, assembly blocks to reproduce faulty behavious previous versions had, so this-or-that program didn't break, it needed several assemblers and several C compilers (16 or 17 total iirc) to build, because some compilers didn't place undocumented data structures where popular programs that didn't follow the API were looking for them, etc etc... The last versions of this thing was just gross and impossible to maintain. If Linux people decided to go this way, I'd be worried. Even Microsoft is breaking the habit I think.
But the point is, if nVidia (or any other manufacturer that puts out closed source drivers) want to do Linux, then they need to bite the bullet and accept that they'll have 10x more maintenance work than on the Windows platform. imho, nVidia isn't doing too badly, I mean they follow the 2.6 serie close enough that the driver almost always builds on the latest kernels, but they don't seem to address bugs that have been outstanding for months or years, and they don't talk much to the community. I'm inclined to believe that the guys who do the Linux work at nVidia are understaffed and they honestly do their best, but it's still a shame that nVidia doesn't put more resources on F/OSS platforms.
I guess what I'm saying is, if people buy nVidia cards because they've read it's supported under Linux, then nVidia should do all it takes to fully support the driver under Linux, and not just do a half-assed effort, otherwise they shouldn't do it at all. These Linux folks are also customers who paid for their hardware, and customers don't like to be left out in the cold.