[ubuntu-uk] Free vs non-free drivers etc

David Morley davmor2 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 15 18:39:35 GMT 2006

On 15/11/06, Rob Beard <rob at esdelle.co.uk> wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I was wondering if I could get peoples general opinion on free vs
> non-free drivers etc.

I have two views on this number one I play games on my machine so I
want 3d, which is only available via non-free drivers.  Number 2 I
believe that the card producers are doing what they can, (before I get
flailed) I know they can do more but reading several reports including
one from X.org they (the manufactures) don't own the rights to many of
the chips used so you would only ever get partial open graphics in the
manner of the latest intel chips.

Cutting a long story short their trying and should be commend for at
least suppling Linux with drivers all be binary.

> We have been having a discussion on our LUG about Flash on PPC.  It
> eventually turned into a proprietary is bad argument with the usual
> suspects preaching that everyone should use just free software with not
> a sniff of non-free software.

Flash is software not hardware and so yes it is bad.  They own all the
rights to it and could therefore open source it and make the world a
better place plus 64 bit versions would suddenly appear.

> For some of us we need or want a bit of non-free code on our computers
> as unfortunately it is the only way we can use our computers or get the
> experience we want.  One of the guys on my local LUG said that if we're
> running non-free on Linux then we're better off running Windows.
> Now I have argued that yes, its not ideal that we're running non-free
> stuff on Linux (I would love to go completely non-free) but from a new
> user perspective seeing flame wars like that would most likely put new
> users off.  It seems to be the same couple of users who will sit there
> and moan but not even offer to help out when we're doing things to
> promote Linux.
> I argued that surely if a bit of non-free gets new users to move over to
> Linux from Windows, then once they are using Linux they can explore the
> free alternatives, and maybe even contribute to the community (say
> writing a bit of code, documentation or providing support to other new
> Linux users).
> I just wondered what others thought.  How I see it, we're in a perfect
> position to be talking up and demonstrating Linux as an alternative to
> users moving over to Vista and potentially dumping a perfectly good
> computer.  I am getting to the point where I am possibly going to set up
> my own mailing list for Devon to promote Open Source software as I just
> don't think that the local LUG I am a member of is interested in
> anything other than /. style flame wars.

I am in the same boat as you I believe that Ubuntu has the right idea
include as little proprietary stuff as possible but enough that
hardware words properly.  This is one of the reasons why I am happy
that Feisty may well include binary nvidia/ati graphics drivers.  Why
I hear you shout?  No one complains about the fact that wireless works
out of the box but most of those drivers are binary (non-free) so what
difference does it make if they include binary graphics too.  There
are very few Distros out there that are completely devoid of non-free
packages but if flame wars continue the way they are you will lose
users from a lack of understanding.  Lets keep the users and educate
them to understand the correct view point so when free (as in speech)
hardware becomes available it is purchased over the non-free versions.

Software that isn't open is bad the same can not be said for hardware.
 We may all wish it was open but until that day comes you will need to
use something in order to get an image on the screen or wireless to
work.  Let's no flail the new comers for not knowing any better and
instead educate them so the end result is right.

Seek That Thy Might Know

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