[linux-elitists] I am a polite person. I am a polite person.

Karsten M. Self kmself@ix.netcom.com
Tue Jun 11 23:53:52 PDT 2002

on Tue, Jun 11, 2002, Don Marti (dmarti@zgp.org) wrote:
> Just got invited to an "executive briefing" with a hardware vendor
> who plans to announce Linux (the kernel) support.  Naturally
> I asked what the license terms would be, and got back...
> > Binary only.  $VENDOR customers don't really want a GPL version of
> > the driver out there, because this is a data center product, and an
> > open source driver is anathema to a reliable data center storage
> > network. 

Ask them for the basis for that "anathema" comment.

> (And they're trying to sell this to people who run Linux?  After
> writing and deleting a couple of smartass replies having to do with
> why the hell these "reliable data centers" are running Linux in the
> first place if the GPL is "anathema", 

I think that's a valid question.   Not that all corporate decisions are
necessarially rational.

> I decided to be nice -- maybe this person doesn't represent Corporate
> Policy and those who do can be presuaded of how things work.)   My
> real reply, more or less:
> Please reconsider this issue and study how proprietary device drivers
> affect real-world Linux support.
> There is no guarantee of binary compatibilty in the kernel module
> interface, and the presence of a binary-only module can cause a vendor
> security patch to fail, or prevent a site-local kernel configuration
> from working.

I'd hammer on this.

Hardware that restricts me to specific kernel configurations (or worse,
binaries) is going to result in rapid exclusion of that hardware from
consideration.  If it gets on the table, does the dance of the seven
veils, cooks me dinner, and rubs my back, I may allocate a few seconds
for passing regrets of "so close, but so far".

Both I and my current employer have seen hardware supported by
proprietary drivers.  A nice, fast, expensive card is sitting in a
carboard box in my office because the only kernels it runs under are
utterly unsuitable for public-facing network servers, and would
necessitate significant compromises of performance and capabilities even
if run in a defanged environment.


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
   NextDraft:  Your Dinner Party Prep:  http://www.nextdraft.com/
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