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View Poll Results: Do you want NVIDIA linux drivers open-source?
Yeah, as it would benefit users and NVIDIA 64 81.01%
Yeah, though I think it wouldn't benefit NVIDIA itself 9 11.39%
No, I'm ok with binary-only drivers 6 7.59%
Voters: 79. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-07-03, 10:39 AM   #1
jackangel
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Default Open Source & NVIDIA

Dear NVIDIA employees, please tell me what I want to know:

Would you consider releasing your drivers in open source, under GNU GPL?
I, personally, think that such a release wouldn't infringe and legal rights of NVIDIA nor would it somehow deprive you of your incomes. Such practice would be only to the benefit of all users and developers. People would find and fix bugs much faster than your limited number of programmers do, so you would be more concentrated on improving performance and adding new features.

Also, providing binary drivers for the open source operating system is quite irritating - I mean, just look at it - without NVIDIA drivers, my system would be
one hundred percent open source - every hardware I have has their open source drivers. Why would other companies make these drivers open source / release some specs allowing developers to make the drivers, and NVIDIA wouldn't? Follow them and realize that you will not lose any money or intellectual property by releasing the drivers. After all, the drivers are useless without the actual hardware, and they ship free with the hardware - so, users will buy hardware anyway, and, as drivers come free, why not make the open source too?

The kernel driver is actually open source, but with somewhat restricted license. Also, it is quite overweight - your typical kernel module is 100kb at max, but nvidia's one is over a meg. Does a module really have to be as big as the kernel image itself (kernel is compressed, though)? Why not change the open source kernel module's license to GNU GPL?
Using NVIDIA kernel module with non-GPL license taints the kernel, this is bad: http://www.tux.org/lkml/#s1-18
Moving to GPL will solve this problem - and it's quite painless IMAO.

My conclusion is that transition of all NVIDIA-Linux stuff to open source would benefit both NVIDIA itself and the users. I know some people who wouldn't buy NVIDIA card, their reason being their usage of linux and denial of using binary drivers - so, they usually end up buying ATI Radeon, for which the open source drivers are available. Release the drivers open source and they may reconsider this decision. Some bugs (e.g., incompatibility of NVIDIA kernel driver with in-kernel framebuffer driver for NVIDIA cards (rivafb), crashes/hangups while switching to console and back) would be finally (hopefully) solved, when kernel developers actually get their hands on the source, armed with debuggers.

Whatever the cause of not releasing this stuff open source, please, tell it to me and other GNU/Linux people willing open-source drivers (there are quite many of those, e.g. the developers of the most popular linux video player - mplayer).
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Old 04-07-03, 11:31 AM   #2
bwkaz
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The first thing a lot of people will say is that they can't, as it will violate a handful of NDAs they have signed with other companies.

What I say is, so put the NDA-covered code in the ROM BIOS on your cards, and take it out of your driver. *shrug*

It can't possibly do anything but help, though, when your users can actually submit useful bug reports, like "there seems to be a problem with the driver not being able to return to text mode properly, when this variable is 235, and this other one is 57382." (for example).
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Old 04-07-03, 03:25 PM   #3
nileshbansal
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Ya i also believe that nvidia cards can perform much-much better if they make their drivers open source, and many more linux users will switch to nvidia. I dont know whats the problem with nvidia that they want to make open their card specs.
Closed source drivers are very BUGGY, and my card is not able to perform the way it does in windows(not even comparable to that). I am not able to get 3D support even with nvidia drivers.
If nvidia can't make source open they should make good drivers(windows drivers are good), but they dont as they know linux community is not very large and they enjoy some monopolistic previlages.
plz plz plz go open source as i know nvidia will never be able to write good drivers. And if you cant atleast suggest me name of some card with good linux support.
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Old 04-07-03, 03:50 PM   #4
TRON21Net
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I think making the drivers open source would solve a huge load of bugs and problems. The drivers just get worse and worse each new release and this is getting out of hand. Windows drivers aren't any better, the newest drivers lag my windows machine to death that uses the nForce2 chipset whenever it accesses the hard drives and the hardware is fine since Linux has no problems whenever it uses it's own drivers but the second I have it use the nForce kernel driver all hell breaks loose. >:(

I support making the drivers open source 100%!
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Old 04-07-03, 04:16 PM   #5
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Also nvidia could easily make it open source and the parts of the code that cannot be can be placed in a pre-compiled object file that can be linked with the open source code so that everything would work. That way nvidia wouldn't get in trouble. :P
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Old 04-07-03, 06:47 PM   #6
Cheshiremackat
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Lightbulb Wrong way to do things

While I think everyone would like to see Nvid GPL their drivers, I don't think it will ever happen because of us voting here.

IF we all want GPL drivers then physically WRITE the company (ink and paper) Address to Pres... say something about how you use linux, and will only use NVID cards b/c their support is better than ATI, BUT... that the support COULD be better if the drivers were opensource... play up the ATI thing, saying how Nvidia would be unique in the Linux market, and that is growing fast...

Say how IBM, Oracle and others are pouring resources in Linux and how you want to see Nvidia, as your preferred graphics co. embrace OSS!

If enough people did this, we might see some results... maybe even a BSD style license, which although not GPL is better than what we have...

Just for the record, i did this myself for my nforce board, saying how I wanted better driver support...

By posting a poll here only Andy and the other programmers get grief, nobody who would decide to GPL the drivers ever sees these posts (Sorry Andy, you are great but I know the decisions are made in the corp suite)... bug the people who can make it happen!

_CMK
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Old 04-07-03, 07:54 PM   #7
bwkaz
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Quote:
Originally posted by TRON21Net
the parts of the code that cannot be can be placed in a pre-compiled object file that can be linked with the open source code
Uhmm... that's not open-source...

See the definition of open source

And CMK -- that sounds like a pretty good idea. Anyone know the address of someone at nVidia that would work for this?
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Old 04-07-03, 08:05 PM   #8
TRON21Net
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bwkaz: I was refering to the parts of code that they cannot release to the public what so ever because of licensing with other vendors. It's a start to have most of the driver released as open source which is better than none. And I know what open source means but there are times when you have to find alternative ways to get anything done even if it means not a complete open source alternative.
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Old 04-07-03, 11:59 PM   #9
Noth
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I'm all for OSS drivers, but I don't really expect it to happen.

Quote:
The drivers just get worse and worse each new release and this is getting out of hand. Windows drivers aren't any better, the newest drivers lag my windows machine to death that uses the nForce2 chipset whenever it accesses the hard drives and the hardware is fine since Linux has no problems whenever it uses it's own drivers but the second I have it use the nForce kernel driver all hell breaks loose. >
All I can say is that I havn't had a single problem with any of their drivers. I'm not using any NForce stuff (and I won't, unless there's no other option) but the nvidia XFree driver and GLX stuff has worked fine for me since day one and every new driver has worked just as well as the last.
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Old 04-08-03, 12:50 AM   #10
Cheshiremackat
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Talking How about...

How about:

Mr. Jen-Hsun Huang ? CEO, President and Co-Founder

Or
Mr. Curtis R. Priem ? Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer

Or maybe BEST

Mr. Dwight Diercks, Vice President of Software Engineering


All reachable @
NVIDIA Corporate Office:
2701 San Tomas Expressway
Santa Clara, CA 95050


Seems pretty easy to be... so 3 stamps, paper & toner... time... maybe $2.00... I bet if everyone here did it (133 views?) then we would have better driver support in a hurry....

_CMK

man I wish this was /. I could use all this karma
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Old 04-08-03, 08:48 AM   #11
bwkaz
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Sweet, addresses saved.
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Old 04-09-03, 07:48 AM   #12
jackangel
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Default OK, prepare for bulk unsolicited mass snail-mail, mr. NVIDIA!

I've got the point. Almost all linux people here want it. We just must act for NVIDIA to do it.

Forum probably won't help very much, but I've just wanted to know what people think. Now I think I've got the point (just as I thought), so consider the following:

All of you people are encouraged to ask nvidia to release all their linux/freebsd drivers as open source. I've created an online petition where you can sign it, later I'll send it to NVIDIA by snail-mail to as many NVIDIA high-ranking employees as I can find.

Here's the petition:
http://www.petitiononline.com/hwopennv/petition.html
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