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

Tim Schmidt timschmidt at
Thu Nov 30 05:51:52 GMT 2006

On 11/30/06, Arwyn Hainsworth <arwyn at> wrote:
> If it was only to get 3D stuff working then maybe I'd agree with you,
> but it isn't. Some machines simply don't work correctly with the Free
> drivers.

Meeting new machines is my job, and I haven't met one yet that
couldn't be convinced to work with a Free driver, at least well enough
to install and hit the net.

> For example, I installed Ubuntu on a new machine the other day. Nice
> spec, had an ATI card. I tried Dapper and the live CD came up with a
> screen resolution of 640x480... this is on a 19" LCD monitor! Looked
> awful. Edgy ran at 800x600. Still awful.
> This was not a config problem, since after checking the config file
> everything seemed fine. The problem was in the driver refusing to go
> above 800x600 for that card.

We're talking about Nvidia specifically, and a recent machine failing
to do anything higher than 800x600 is a configuration problem.  Any
machine made in the last 10 years, equipped with enough ram for the
framebuffer, and an appropriate monitor, will do 1024x768 with the
VESA driver.

> As far as 3D stuff is concerned, it's optional IMHO, but getting the
> correct resolution for 2D graphics is a must.

Agreed.  Free drivers do so in all but the most exotic situations (a
very occasional weird laptop for example).  And just about all those
situations are capable of failing gracefully to slightly less capable
Free drivers.

> And if it requires
> proprietary drivers to do it... well so be it. When there is a Free
> driver capable of doing the things that need doing, I'm sure a switch
> will be considered.

There are, they're already in Ubuntu, and we're talking about replacing them.


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