Non-opensource drivers

Karoliina Salminen karoliina.t.salminen at
Sun Nov 26 16:41:07 GMT 2006

on 11/26/06, Tim Schmidt <timschmidt at> wrote:
> On 11/26/06, Karoliina Salminen <karoliina.t.salminen at> wrote:
> > You misunderstood me in multiple ways.
> > I would like to put it differently: we both are here for ideology,
> > but there are differences in it. My vision is that free Linux becomes
> > number 1 choice operating system in the world and the monopoly of
> > Microsoft ends. This requires that it works out of the box for
> > everybody and there are different ways to achieve that goal, some are
> > faster and more realistic and some are more unrealistic and slower.
> Yeah.  I know.  It's totally unrealistic to think that we could
> develop a single graphics driver after only producing a world-class
> kernel, GUI(s), the server software that's the backbone of the
> internet (apache, bind, etc.), office suites, world-class browsers,
> etc.  Totally unrealistic.

I am failing to see your point here. Are you sure that writing the
kernel involves high level of reverse engineering? To my understanding
it is possible and not so hard to do drivers if there are
specifications available for the hardware. But when there are not and
everything is based on reverse-engineering the stuff, potentially not
the same people are interested anylonger. My friend got once specs for
some older Ati Mobility Radeon to do drivers to some her company's
project which was confidential and tailored for the customer. However,
it required signing a very strict NDA and there were significant
penalties for breaking the NDA. So she couldn't do any open drivers
out of it, and still can't.

Anyhow, to prove your statement about the writing graphics card
drivers to a card without specs being very easy, you could as well go
and write your drivers to my GeForce 7800 GT card for starters. I
don't have specs for it since I haven't signed a NDA with them, so you
have to reverse engineer it. I'll be happy to use them if you can make
them work, lets say, in four weeks. Otherwise I'll use the binary
drivers. Despite I am a maemo developer, I want to do also something
else than hacking with my Linux, since Linux is my only operating
sytem and I can't just go to e.g. Windows for just playing games.
And besides of that the closedness of WLAN drivers is enforced by law
and getting around it would be more complicated than just a reverse
engineering issue.

And besides of that - I know many very bright coders who can do
wonderful things, but what they can't really do is reverse
engineering. It is a task of other people and the number of those who
are actually willing to do that, especially for free, then drops even
further quite significantly I am afraid.

-- Karoliina

More information about the ubuntu-devel mailing list