Non-free drivers (Re: Invitation to ubuntu developers)

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Thu Nov 30 02:26:00 GMT 2006

On Wed, Nov 29, 2006 at 08:03:50PM -0500, Tim Schmidt wrote:
> On 11/29/06, Matt Zimmerman <mdz at> wrote:
> > The drivers in question are installed by default, and have been since the
> > very first release of Ubuntu.  The change under discussion is configuring
> > the X server to use (one of) them by default.
> Really?  According to the Ubuntu Guide for Edgy
> (,
> you have to install nvidia-glx and nvidia-kernel-common before using
> Nvidia's driver.  Sure sounds like it's not installed by default yet.

There are two drivers involved, both of which are binary-only (the kernel
module and the X module).  The kernel module is installed by default, while
the X driver is included on the CD but not installed by default.  The only
reason this is so is because the packaging of the X driver is such that it
cannot be used in parallel with the standard GL libraries; it is incidental.

Ubuntu has always installed some binary-only drivers by default.

> > I'm not presenting my own position on this, only clarifying the facts of the
> > situation.  There is a very specific decision under discussion here, and it
> > involves the interpretation of the language we've just discussed, and the
> > selection of installed drivers to use by default.
> Good.  Easy to do.  Install Free drivers by default, make non-free
> ones super-easy to install (common customizations?).

You've made your opinion quite clear, but note also that you are not making
a decision on behalf of the project.

> Upstream will be happy, half the userbase will be happy, and the other
> half should be happier than they have been.  The alternative is two
> out of the three groups ending up less than happy.

I don't know which upstream you mean; Ubuntu has many upstreams and they
have differing opinions about this subject, as do its users.

 - mdz

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