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linux failure to support proprietary  drivers

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  • User profile image
    zzzzz

    http://news.zdnet.com/2100-3513_22-6061491.html

    Its a neat article detailing one of major problems why linux is not use by the masses.

    I think its stupid for linux not to allow companies to closed their drivers,  This is the primary reason why linux hardware support has not improved allot over the past 3 years.


    FromtheArticle wrote:

    With the existing fluid interface in Linux, programmers must provide drivers for numerous kernel variations, and old drivers--open or proprietary--stop working, said Miguel de Icaza, vice president of development at Novell. "Contrast this with Windows, where there is a stable interface for drivers in the kernel. A driver developed against NT 4 works on XP," he said.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    zzzzz wrote:
    I think its stupid for linux not to allow companies to closed their drivers


    Irrelevant and untrue, whilst Linux is GPL there are no requirements that drivers for Linux must be GPL too and it isn't what the article is about anyway.

  • User profile image
    rjdohnert

    W3bbo but Eben Moglen, and RMS have both said that any code linking to the Linux kernel should be Open Source

    Thats the problem.  The Linux community needs to learn to live in the proprietary world.

    W3bbo wrote:
    zzzzz wrote: I think its stupid for linux not to allow companies to closed their drivers


    Irrelevant and untrue, whilst Linux is GPL there are no requirements that drivers for Linux must be GPL too and it isn't what the article is about anyway.

  • User profile image
    TimP

    I use the proprietary nVidia drivers for my graphics card. It's one click to install in Ubuntu. I don't see how it could get any easier.

  • User profile image
    zzzzz

    W3bbo wrote:


    Irrelevant and untrue, whilst Linux is GPL there are no requirements that drivers for Linux must be GPL too and it isn't what the article is about anyway.


    Did not read the article:O

    Proprietary drivers pit purists against pragmatists. The Free Software Foundation, which wrote the General Public License (GPL) that governs Linux, says that the license prohibits proprietary drivers.

    But while the FSF tries to be an irresistible force, they're running into an immovable object, in the form of graphics chipmakers, which are keeping 3D graphics drivers proprietary.

    "If Linux expects broader vendor support, the community needs to capitulate to proprietary software involvement," said Raven Zachary, an analyst at The 451 Group.


  • User profile image
    imekon

    Windows has a stable driver interface?

    News to me!

    Let's see... VXD, WDM and now the Vista driver model. It keeps changing. It doesn't change as much as the Linux model, but to say it's stable is a bit misleading.

  • User profile image
    DoomBringer

    imekon wrote:
    Windows has a stable driver interface?

    News to me!

    Let's see... VXD, WDM and now the Vista driver model. It keeps changing. It doesn't change as much as the Linux model, but to say it's stable is a bit misleading.

    Each of those last, what, 5 years?  And Windows generally supports the older models.

  • User profile image
    TimP

    jaylittle wrote:
    Don't you find it dissapointing that every single Linux distribution maintains it's own package repositories whether it be portage, rpm or dpkg based?

    Not really, to each their own. Some distros prefer to have the absolute cutting edge packages in their repos, other prefer to use time tested packages. There are also differing ideas on how software should be packaged or what compile options should be used.

    jaylittle wrote:
    Have you ever wondered why most distros repackage the binary ati/nvidia drivers instead of using the installers ati/nvidia provide?

    Because the nVidia installer is an absolute pain to use? telinit 3, run installer, can't find a precompiled kernel module, needs to compile one, go edit your xorg.conf, hope it all works... The Ubuntu way just works.

    jaylittle wrote:
    Third biggest problem with Linux:  Ten million different distros are all maintaining packages for the same software.  In the wonderful world of windows any idiot can build an MSI package and it'll generally just work on a wide variety of windows installations (barring any other technical reasons that are specific to the app itself) without any modification.

    The biggest issue I have is architecture issue, especially when running 64-bit distros. It's sometimes hard to find precompilled 64-bit binaries, but Windows seems to be having the same issues in a number of cases. Other than that, the package issue isn't a huge concern. Debian-based distros can either use the native dpkgs or handle RPMs with alien, but I've only needed to actually install an RPM on Ubuntu once because I can generally find a suitable dpkg.

  • User profile image
    IRenderable

    rjdohnert wrote:
    W3bbo but Eben Moglen, and RMS have both said that any code linking to the Linux kernel should be Open Source




    Good thing RMS isn't in charge of kernel development eh? I personally tend to ignore people who think that I am evil (Not that he isn't a great programmer or leader, just has some wacko political ideas).

  • User profile image
    IRenderable

    DoomBringer wrote:
    imekon wrote:Windows has a stable driver interface?

    News to me!

    Let's see... VXD, WDM and now the Vista driver model. It keeps changing. It doesn't change as much as the Linux model, but to say it's stable is a bit misleading.

    Each of those last, what, 5 years?  And Windows generally supports the older models.


    Well you could grab a distro thats known to take years to come up with a new version or run a 2.6 kernel and then it will last 5 years (*Cough* Debian Sarge *Cough*). Not to say that I agree with the way drivers have to be recompiled for each version of the kernel (There is work being done to make that no longer be an issue though).

  • User profile image
    msemack

    The Linux kernel APIs change with almost every patchlevel release of the kernel (e.g. 2.6.4 to 2.6.5).  This means that when a new kernel release comes out, all of your Linux kernel modules stop compiling against it.

    Point releases of the kernel (e.g. 2.4.x to 2.6.x) bring even more dramatic changes.

    To make matters worse, most of the major Linux distributions are using some kind of modified kernel, which may have its own API changes.

    To deal with this giant matrix, you have to add lots of #ifdefs to the code (if this kernel version, use this API, unless it's a Redhat kernel, then use this API, etc).  It gets pretty complicated pretty quickly.

    Because the APIs are a constantly moving target, you need to have developers monitoring kernel releases and constantly doing build tests.

    We develop drivers for both Windows and Linux.  The Linux driver costs 20-30% more for initial development.  On top of that, the recurring maintainence costs for the Linux driver are MUCH higher than the Windows one.

    These are costs that we do not have to pay with the Windows design.  Even when Microsoft transitions to a new driver model (e.g. WDF/Vista), the older drivers continue to work.

  • User profile image
    imekon

    DoomBringer wrote:
    imekon wrote:Windows has a stable driver interface?

    News to me!

    Let's see... VXD, WDM and now the Vista driver model. It keeps changing. It doesn't change as much as the Linux model, but to say it's stable is a bit misleading.

    Each of those last, what, 5 years?  And Windows generally supports the older models.


    Between XP and Vista the audio drivers are changing, again. Not sure if you can still use the old style WDM drivers.

  • User profile image
    die-Sel

    I always thought that your could make software/drivers for linux and they wont be under the GPL. They would only be under the GPL and "open" if they contained any part of linux code that was under the GPL

    /me goes off to read the GPL again

  • User profile image
    IRenderable

    die-Sel wrote:
    I always thought that your could make software/drivers for linux and they wont be under the GPL. They would only be under the GPL and "open" if they contained any part of linux code that was under the GPL

    /me goes off to read the GPL again


    Your right, look at the Nvidia drivers for example.

  • User profile image
    msemack

    imekon,

    Under Windows, when a new driver model comes out, old drivers are not immediately broken.

    Case and point, I can still run older NT4.0-based drivers (pre-WDM) on Windows XP.  Even though Windows 2000 and XP have added newer driver interfaces (like power management and PnP), the old drivers continue to run.  The older driver interfaces are not broken.

    Even with the new WDF model of Vista, older WDM drivers can still work.

    This is something that the Linux kernel community does not do (and refuses to do).  They regularly break the existing driver interfaces.

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    imekon wrote:
    Between XP and Vista the audio drivers are changing, again. Not sure if you can still use the old style WDM drivers.

    I successfully installed XP audio drivers for my nForce2 board in build 5308.

  • User profile image
    Erisan
  • User profile image
    Erisan

    Linux causes a lot of discussion and awakes different feelings. Nice Smiley.

    If Linux sucks, it will die. Interesting to see what happens.

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