[linux-elitists] Petitition for Nvidia to Release Open-Source Drivers

Ben Finney ben@benfinney.id.au
Mon Nov 7 03:45:55 PST 2005

On 07-Nov-2005, Shlomi Fish wrote:
> http://www.petitiononline.com/nvfoss/petition.html
> for a petition I set up for Nvidia to release open-source drivers.

What actions from nVidia would satisfy the signatories to this
petition? How do you envision they would do this?

> The world-wide community of Linux users requests

Why only Linux users? Why not all free software operating system
users -- or, heck, users of *any* current operating system who want
free drivers for any future operating system?

> that Nvidia Corp. releases fully-functional open-source
> (BSD-licensed) versions of their binary device drivers, as soon as
> possible.

Why that license? Will no other license suffice?

> The response of the Nvidia engineers to this problem in
> http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/t253027.html was completely
> unsatisfactory. They claimed that they cannot release open source
> drivers because "We have lots of IP in our supported closed source
> Linux driver some of which is licensed and cannot be open sourced.".

So, the demand seems to be that nVidia release the existing software,
much of which they don't have rights to release.

> Well, if Nvidia has copyrighted code in its drivers,

All code is copyrighted, unless explicitly in the public domain. The
only difference is in the license granted to recipients.

> then they can surely invest some money in hiring more developers to
> re-write it. They are a very profitable company, after all.

This demand is that nVidia work to re-write the existing code, but
presents no compelling reason to do so.

> Meanwhile, we are going to collect a bounty for reverse-engineering
> the Nvidia drivers and releasing an open-source driver based on this
> effort (using the open-source Mesa library).

What is this doing in the petition? Does it not undermine the point of
petitioning nVidia?

The biggest problem with a petition like this, though, is:

Why are we asking for what does not exist: code that nVidia can
release as free software? A much better request would be for what
already exists: specifications and interfaces for controlling the
hardware? This not only be more reasonable; it would allow *anyone* to
write drivers, for any operating system, under any license the author

 \      "The judge asked, 'What do you plead?' I said, 'Insanity, your |
  `\         honour. Who in their right mind would park in the passing |
_o__)                                        lane?'"  -- Steven Wright |
Ben Finney <ben@benfinney.id.au>
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