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Old 08-10-06, 08:16 AM   #8
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Munich
Posts: 910
Default Re: Winds of freedom for graphic drivers!!!

Originally Posted by morganth
However, I still can't really understand the argument for keeping these drivers binary.
One oftenly repeated argument is that parts of the "inner" driver
sources are copyrighted by third parties. So, we'd need to chase
this third parties to allow nvidia to open source their sources,
but who are these third parties? AFAIK, nvidia was founded
by a bunch of SGI graphics gurus, so I can imagine they licensed
the SGI OpenGL reference implementation for a starter (pure
speculation!). BTW: the SGI OGL RI is OSS since a couple of years.

Another subject is "patent issues": somebody at the competition may
be able to understand how the chip works inside by analyzing the driver
sources. Then he/she may recognize that a patent has been infringed
and all hell breaks loose. Means: whoever shows his code first may
fear to be sued. Even if nvidia and AMD (ATI) would agreed to open
source their drivers at the same time (mutual patent licensing
agreement), then there might be still some patent trolls sitting around
waiting for their opportunity. (BTW.: from that point of view, i think it's
very brave from Intel to open source their drivers :-)

Originally Posted by morganth
I'm not a Free Software or OSS zealot, and I don't believe software "needs" to be free
Me either: as long as the damn thing works as i expect, i basically
don't care if its OSS or not - however from my experience with the
nvidia driver i can say that it's always a PITA to get closed source
drivers working with non-standard kernels such as realtime preemption
or xen (check this forum for details).

nvidia already made developers life much easier by abstracting
the driver into an os-dependend part (source code available) and
an os-independend part (object code) so that (in theory) it should
be possible to adopt the driver for any enviroment, but there's
not much you can do when you see that the driver got stuck
in function __nvrm000072() while in interrupt context or whatever.

I think the stability issues observed are caused in the 2D part
(i.e. console switching) and DMA related (AGP). I think it would
extremly helpfull if nvidia would further abstruct their driver so that
the 2D part and the DMA interface code are also available in source
code. (not necessarily "open source" - i can life with a couple of
OSS zealots complaining that non-GPL kernel modules are illegal)

Technolgy/Copyright/Patent wise, 2D and DMA are definitly no
rocket science! The "precious" 3D stuff could still be object code.
Idealy the driver could even work without the 3D code (optionally
loadable firmware). This "infrastructure" would make it *much*
easier to isolate bugs. But i for one don't hold my breath for this
to happen :-)


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