Proprietary nvidia/ati drivers and xorg 7.1
techAdmin
Status: Site Admin
Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 4043
Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
Reply Quote
There was recently an article in newsforge, with this comment added:

:: Quote ::
A Victory for Microsoft's "Pollute Linux" Strategy (Score:0)
By Anonymous Reader on 2006.08.25 17:31 (#130236)
Microsoft can't hurt Linux as long as it uses Free and Open Source software.

Thus, one of Microsoft's strategies has been to make Linux dependent on proprietary software and protocols, where Microsoft has some control (often working through proxies, to hide their actions).

Two examples of this are Microsoft's push for .Net and DRM over the Internet.

Another is NVidia's and ATI's proprietary video drivers.

A few years ago, both NVidia, and (especially) ATI, were providing technical support for projects developing Open Source Linux drivers for their video cards.

Then, Microsoft contracted with NVidia to be a supplier for the XBox, following which NVidia hired up the NVidia driver developers, and stopped them from working on the Open Source driver, to work on closed source NVidia drivers instead. Likewise, when Microsoft contracted with ATI to be an XBox supplier, ATI stopped supplying technical information for the Open Source ATI driver project.

Since then, we have been inundated with astroturf making the ridiculous claim that there is no danger in using closed source drivers with Open Source Linux.

Now, those chickens have come home to roost.

The reason that there is a problem here is not Ubuntu's fault. On the contrary, it is the fault of the closed source NVidia and ATI drivers.

For starters, the closed source nature of those drivers makes it much harder to test and debug problems with using those drivers.

Plus, when new features depend on corresponding changes in the drivers, we are left with a choice between some users (the proprietary driver users) having compatibility problems, or leaving the new features out of Linux until the proprietary driver manufacturers manage to catch up.

Those sorts of situations -- delayed development, and usability problems -- are part of a strategy that Microsoft calls "putting the competition on the treadmill." It is just what Microsoft intended when they acted to push closed source NVidia and ATI drivers onto Linux.

Fedora has already run into problems with the closed source NVidia and ATI drivers, when they tried to add support for X.org 7.1, with some great new XGL features:

lwn.net/Articles/195351/ [lwn.net]

Fedora's decision was to leave out X.org 7.1 support to avoid problems like those experienced by some Ubuntu users. It has been speculated that NVidia and ATI will intentionally delay updating their Linux drivers until Microsoft can add similar XGL-like features into Vista.

Personally, I think Fedora's decision to delay the new features was wrong. Those Fedora users who chose to run closed source drivers made their choice, with full knowledge that they were making themselves dependent on closed source companies (not to mention friends of Microsoft) to provide timely driver updates. It is wrong to hold back features that Open Source Linux users could enjoy, in order to accomodate users who are choosing to pollute their systems with closed source drivers.

Finally, part of Microsoft's strategy is that, when problems occur, users will blame Linux, instead of the closed source drivers.

And that's exactly what has happened here. Even Joe Barr was fooled.

I included the full text of the comment because it's a very coherent argument, and I didn't want to quote it out of context.

I'm not sure if this is entirely correct on a technical level, but I do know that the problems with xorg 7.1 and ati/nvidia are real, and that the linux developers are all waiting for the new drivers that will work reliably with xorg 7.1, and that this is in fact holding up current development.

Take a quick read of the lwn.net link too by the way, that gets into the question a bit more.

Given that this is and has been Microsoft's strategy for a while now, this argument might not be that far off the mark.
Back to top
Display posts from previous:   

All times are GMT - 8 Hours