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Nvidia says no to free drivers, I say no to Nvidia

Linux kernel developers issue a statement signed by about 100 developers that they find non-free kernel modules to be undesirable and harmful. As they say "Such modules negate the openness, stability, flexibility, and maintainability of the Linux development model and shut their users off from the expertise of the Linux community. Vendors that provide closed-source kernel modules force their customers to give up key Linux advantages or choose new vendors."

Right on.

They have even criticized Nvidia specifically for not releasing free drivers. Nvidia responded. They have said no because, as they say, the drivers contain "intellectual property NVIDIA wishes to protect" and have further explained how they are already greatly supporting Linux and have a kernel team taking care of the non-free driver, all in all trying to make it sound like they are still offering their GNU/Linux using customers a sweet deal.

So let me get this straight, what is a part of this deal. You buy a video card, get the driver CD which may or may not contain a Linux version of the driver (in which case you have to go to their site to download it), finally install it and it works. Sounds great, right? But what if you could do better? What if you are a programmer who wants to improve a particular aspect of the driver? You can't do it. So the question is, do you really fully and entirely own the card you bought? Perhaps. But what about the thing that makes it work, that makes it do what you bought it to do?

Well, apparently, that one you don't own. You are merely rented it with the right to use it as is and that's about it. If you think something doesn't work because there is a bug in the driver, nope, can't fix it. Gotta contact their sweet customer service and beg them to fix it.

So in short, the deal is, you get the card, but the only way to use it is to rent a driver to which you have an incomplete access, thereby making your fruitful use of the card consistently dependent on Nvidia and, quite obviously, therefore limiting the control you as a supposed owner of the card really have over it.

Who gives them the right to do this? Well, frankly, you, so long as you buy the card. I've said in my last post here that I don't necessarily believe anymore that them offering such a (distasteful) deal is an immoral thing to do, but the question is do you wish to accept it? Do you agree that paying for something and then having limited access is a good deal for you?

That's something everyone has to answer for themselves. I for one, while I've been contemplating buying Nvidia as my next card because of the reverse engineered noveau driver which, last time I checked, was progressing quite well, now feel like spitefully saying no. AMD is helping develop a free driver for their modern cards and is therefore the way to go.

Bottom line is. Nvidia, you say no to freedomware drivers, I say no to you. How about that? Perhaps with enough people in the market acting on that same sentiment will make the value of NVIDIA's precious "intellectual property" suddenly seem trivial (that "property" is the recipe that makes MY card (should I buy it) work!).

Thank you

Comments

 

"If you think something doesn't work because there is a bug in the driver, nope, can't fix it. Gotta contact their sweet customer service and beg them to fix it."

Anyone who buys an nvidia card (as opposed to getting one packaged with their PC) has all the information available to them before the sale. The KNOW nvidia does not provide a free driver. Buying the card ANYWAY, and THEN bitching about it is useless. It's like me bitching to Ford, "hey, why can't my Ford Fiesta also drive 220kmh? Ford! Fix it!" I bought it knowing the limitations and i accept those limitations.

Another alternative, of course, is to try to support some free driver project, in the form of code, cash, or cards.

But dammit, buying the product and then bitching that it won't work as well as you'd like with your particular system? Read the frigging specs/requirements on the box! "Windows version XYZ". When you accept those published requirements, you accept the risk that it wouldn't run at all on your Linux box.

Nvidia rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I have and will probably never use Linux; that being said...I just built my first gaming rig from scratch. I put two 8800gt cards in SLI w/ Nvidia's latest/greatest drivers. After "tweaking" the cards my FPS is through the roof on every game in all situations. I can't be more happy w/ Nvidia and to say that they should open up there drivers for you to tinker with is just crazy. First of all, say you "fix" what you think is wrong with their driver and it damages your card...should they be responsible when you want a replacement?

...interesting... or so...

 
skindog wrote:

I have and will probably never use Linux; that being said...I just built my first gaming rig from scratch. I put two 8800gt cards in SLI w/ Nvidia's latest/greatest drivers. After "tweaking" the cards my FPS is through the roof on every game in all situations.

Good for you, but your box doesn't seem to be used for much else than gaming. Thus I don't think you'd be a user who'd be happy with Linux, as you surely like all those games with fancy graphics and little replay-value that can be finished on one afternoon... (in short: crap games, and in no way comparable to the good, old games, which by now look a bit rusty, but are so much more fun; sorry for this excursion though...)

skindog wrote:

First of all, say you "fix" what you think is wrong with their driver and it damages your card...should they be responsible when you want a replacement?

Why should they? If I put a Ferrari-engine in my Ford and the transmissions falls apart I can neither blame Ford nor Ferrari for my personal stupidity.

That said, if nVidia opens the specs of their cards, just like AMD did a while ago, then there is a reliable source of information which can be followed in order to produce drivers that work and don't blow up your hardware.

That closed-source can blow up your hardware can be seen when you google for StarForce. I hope none of your games uses this amazing copy-protection.

You have lost your mind good Sir...

 
reptiler wrote:

Good for you, but your box doesn't seem to be used for much else than gaming. Thus I don't think you'd be a user who'd be happy with Linux, as you surely like all those games with fancy graphics and little replay-value that can be finished on one afternoon... (in short: crap games, and in no way comparable to the good, old games, which by now look a bit rusty, but are so much more fun; sorry for this excursion though...)

I play MMORPG games mostly. World of Warcraft and Age of Conan; neither of which "can be finished on one afternoon"...actually you never finish. If you think any of the "old games" are even remotely comparable to Crysis or Age of Conan; something is seriously wrong with your eyesight and/or hearing. Today's PC games are incredible; if you haven't checked one out lately it's probably because your machine either can't process the graphics w/o it looking like a slideshow or because the GOOD games will not run on Linux.

You don't understand the importance of free software

 

...and probably never will. "GOOD" games don't run on Linux because they aren't written for it. Get those people to write it for Linux and you'll probably be left licking your fingers wanting for more. Linux outperforms Windows on every account possible. Let me put it like this:

Linux will have lapped Windows a gazillion times before Windows could make a turn.

A basic application like Notepad still doesn't work right on Windows. How many more years do you want to wait before it will?
Get your head straight. Not all people on the planet use computers for gaming and it's not like Linux opposes gaming anyway. It's the game-makers that are hesitant to write games for Linux. So go blow your horn at those morons instead. You're barking up the wrong tree, kid. ;-)

As for nVidia, I'm glad they've supported Linux by producing good quality drivers for the OS. As a dedicated customer, I'd love them even more if they understood the importance of free software drivers and released their drivers as free software. They could at least open up their documentation if they cannot release their drivers as free software. nVidia, please set an example for graphics card makers by being the first major graphics card manufacturing company to support FOSS hardcore.

readeonhd

 

That is why I bought a AMD card even though it didn't work when I bought it.(It was a few days after the first documentation release)

I must admit that I find

 

I must admit that I find myself on the horns of a dilemma here. Yes, I like the idea of "free" software, I guess most of us do. However, I fully understand that graphic card complexity is increasing. Is someone out there going to sit down and spend hours upon hours working on code to make the card work. Perhaps, but it is going to take a long time and by the time the code is put out there and works, the card will be obsolete and the next generation of GPU will come along.

I understand where NVidia is coming from. They have cards that they mass market to gamers and Windows users, that is a large market. Their is strong competition between card makers, especially for the gamer market. Each manufacturer needs a critical edge in performance, whether it is fine tuning code or electronics. NVidia doesn't want to tip its hand to ATI and vice versa.

So what's the answer to this. Too bad the graphics card makers can't just make a video card that gives some basic functionality, even 3D affects, for those who do not game. Since high power games are not readily available for Linux yet, we hardly need these super fast frame rate cards. Let those be open source.

I fully support Nvidia on

 

I fully support Nvidia on their stand. It is there card, they are providing a working driver. If you don't like their driver write your own, from scratch. Or buy someone else's card. There are other video card vendors out there.

Huh?

Where in this blog or its replies is someone doing what you are complaining about?

misconceptions

Yesudeep Mangalapilly wrote:

Linux will have lapped Windows a gazillion times before Windows could make a turn.

A basic application like Notepad still doesn't work right on Windows. How many more years do you want to wait before it will?

I am not supporting Windows. I agree that it is horrible. However, I think you are exaggerating. I do not recall ever having Notepad not work right back when I used Windows. If you can prove this, I would like to see it.

Yesudeep Mangalapilly wrote:

nVidia, please set an example for graphics card makers by being the first major graphics card manufacturing company to support FOSS hardcore.

AMD has already done this.

Leave it to the freetards

 

to find something to bitch about in everything. I am sure if you had spent millions upon millions of dollars developing a piece of hardware and the instruction sets/API's it uses to operate, and were asked to make those instruction sets or at least the API's used to operate the hardware available for free you would be more than happy to do it. Especially if thousands of people were dependant upon you to feed their families.

You people need to start thinking past your own self serving ideas. I understand the whole "everyone is entitled to knowledge" theory that drives the free software market, but you do not have the RIGHT to get these things for free. What if nVidia said "Hey you can have the Linux/whateverOS source to our drivers but you will have to buy the GNU version of our card that costs 20 dollars more" I bet you would not do it.

RedRat wrote: I must admit

RedRat wrote:

I must admit that I find myself on the horns of a dilemma here. Yes, I like the idea of "free" software, I guess most of us do. However, I fully understand that graphic card complexity is increasing. Is someone out there going to sit down and spend hours upon hours working on code to make the card work. Perhaps, but it is going to take a long time and by the time the code is put out there and works, the card will be obsolete and the next generation of GPU will come along.

Actually, AMD is collaborating with Novell to help the development of the freedomware RadeonHD driver.

Anyways, seeing as how there is enough potential effort out there for a reverse engineering project (Nouveau), I doubt there would not be people to make a worthwhile freedomware driver from freely available specifications.

RedRat wrote:

I understand where NVidia is coming from. They have cards that they mass market to gamers and Windows users, that is a large market. Their is strong competition between card makers, especially for the gamer market. Each manufacturer needs a critical edge in performance, whether it is fine tuning code or electronics. NVidia doesn't want to tip its hand to ATI and vice versa.

If competition is so strong, it would make sense to spend the extra effort to get the sales of the graphics card users who use Linux.

RedRat wrote:

So what's the answer to this. Too bad the graphics card makers can't just make a video card that gives some basic functionality, even 3D affects, for those who do not game. Since high power games are not readily available for Linux yet, we hardly need these super fast frame rate cards. Let those be open source.

I think (read: I am not sure. Correct me if I am wrong) the onboard Intel GPUs do this.

 

Don't be afraid of criticism, My Son. No one is going to hurt NVidia's little feelings with these mean ol' words. No, child, you can't see a pouting and whiny nVidia executive deciding to kill Linux support, if they don't want to lose their job for molesting nVidia's Bottom Line.

The Bottom Line that I'm talking about can be referred to as the HPLL Theory:

Linux folks tend to try new things and adopt new tech early and often, thus
Linux folks have lots and lots of top-tier gear and gadgets
Linux folks will word-of-mouth and sneaker-net stuff they like
Linux folks OS are cousins to Apple folks, with similar age, drivers, and non-loyalty to the Old-Peoples OS
Linux folks are tech savvy and make WAY fewer Customer Support calls than others

That, my Young Apprentice, is the Bottom Line why HP Loves Linux; anybody else that wants to increase their Bottom Line w/ this Post-911 IPod/IPhone Generation had better get on board.

Why so angry and hurt? Older people see the world changing around them and they strike out at it...

Are you

 

Are you kidding?
"Draft-dodging dirty Linux Hippies w/ their IPods and their Rock & Roll rubbish [ne: Rap]"... hehe
We Lazy Linux kids actually do WORK on our PCs and use consoles [XBOX, PS3, Wii, etc] to play 3D games on... seriously, it's not a problem that we haven't tied all our hopes and dreams to a faded OS from Micro$hit. If we want maximum Compiz/Fusion from this new video card well, we can have that, too.

We're old enough to remember that M$ sold Win98 when they knew that it didn't work and they also knew that folks like you wouldn't do anything about it; who's lazy now? So when we actually want our hard-earned moneys-worth for all the stuff that we buy, here come the Senior Citizens [that M$ fleeced in the first place] telling us to sit down and don't make nVidia mad at you.

Like the other guy told you, if you have to sacrifice anything to have Linux... then you need to abandon Linux [pronto]. We've been trying to weed out you 'inferiority complex' and 'avoid confrontation' types for a while now; Linux is about choice. People don't avoid Linux, Silly Goose, our parents bought PCs w/ Micro$hit in them; they didn't know any better.

When my 60+ Mom got her virus in her WinDoze [as they all eventually do], I simply put my fave OS [Linux], my fave distro [PCLinux], and my fave desktop [KDE] in my fave style [Baghira/Metal4KDE] on it. She asks her friends why they can't 'set the screen on fire' w/ Vista. Shes loves Linux + Compiz/Fusion; and my Apple friends look at the Baghira and think that they may have paid too much for the Mac.

There are plenty of distros where there is NO CLI use, not just mine. TexStar and other Linux developers [Mint] discovered a Linux Bottom Line years ago: that kind of 'elitist nonsense' doesn't get the donations pouring in. Linux is about choice, and my family and friends chose to send in their donations to their distros within a month of installation... does that sound like 'extreme Hippes' to you? Is it called 'going green' when you don't want to get raped at the pump? [gasoline prices are very high here, and folks like you don't want others to complain].

My friend, if you're talking about sacrifice and Command Lines, then I'm afraid that the Linux On The Desktop World has passed you by and left you far behind.

I smell a rat...

 

You can tell where these posters real hearts are...
Some of them love OSS and Linux, and too many of the rest are in this forum because it is part of their job. Some cand and do write code on their machines and some play games, too. But PC gaming is not what it was. The reason that you can't find PC games in stores anymore is that:
-most big ones are ported to the web
-PC gaming is now only a niche market, consoles are the mainstream

We've learned much:
that even though adults have all the money, the Wii proved that kids can still drive the market
that the IPod name is now synonymous with MP3 players, like Kleenex or Coke is in their milieu
that a dog like Sony can enter the gaming market and do quite well for themselves

I'm an investor who is in a group of tech investors --a fund, that has no interest in ventuing capital to anyone who does not port their apps to the OS-Indendent WWW. Some of you people on this board are just backwards: if Windows PCs are so great for all this loyalty, then why do we have the Wii, the IPod/IPhone, and the PS3? Some of you people just don't understand business. Its time to move on... heck, even Mr Gates thinks so.

We, the people that hold the stock, see the handwriting on the wall: all good apps and hardware are trying to sever their ties to Redmond, either by porting themselves to the web or by "leaking" drivers to Synaptic, or both. Back in the day, Microsoft got all the money and the hardware vendors got all the Hate Calls. We look around our IT staff and see that the "young people with money and education" demographic seem to prefer MacBooks, and even Michael Dell will put Linux on their Inspiron for them. Do you guys actually think that our IT people haven't shown us Google Docs? Zoho.com? Meebo.com? Synaptic? Linux? Do you think that we don't want to make money, we just want to stick the Windows crowd?

The poster with the "if linux sux" and "are you kidding" was right... It's all about the money. HP followed the money and got in bed with Linux and Apple because they were smart. The goal is to increase the customer base and drive profits, not to become stagnant and lathargic. We're after a vibrant and driven stock price, and the young people keep us fresh and innoative in our approach to such markets that can provide that for our stockholders. Right now, those markets are far from Redmond and their ilk.

We don't love Mac and Linux and we don't hate MicroSoft. We made a lot of money with that set, but Internet Explorer, MSOffice, Windows Media Player, Zune, Encarta, MSLive, MSN, MSPaint, Vista, etc are cost prohibitive because of their either eclipsed or abandoned technology, their decreased function, and/or their licensure requirements. In the consumer markets, Windows products are not cost effective due to the required virus-protection that cuts into the shrinking consumer dollar for tech products alltogether.

In other words, the only businesses able to sell SOFTWARE to Windows end-user people tend to be the anti-virus and anti-spyware vendors; even QuickBooks is busy porting their venerable product to the Web so that they are no longer attached to MicroSoft installations.

We saw HP do it and we want some, too. We are going to where the markets are and where the money is... for our stockholders sake. Get over it already.

a Rat is Right...

 

Talking to accountants and budget people in meetings: nobody is making any money WITH Microsoft except Norton and McAffee. The young Apple/Linux *nix cousins are the future for selling new hardware.

Why do they need to keep it secret?

 

If they have real "intellectual property" in the drivers then it should be patented, in which case it's not secret.

If, on the other hand, they are violating somebody else's patents, then they would need to keep it a secret.

The same goes for Windows, etc.

 
skindog wrote:

I play MMORPG games mostly. World of Warcraft and Age of Conan; neither of which "can be finished on one afternoon"...actually you never finish.

Sorry, but these games to me are even more time-wasters than these games without good story-line that you can finish on one afternoon...

skindog wrote:

If you think any of the "old games" are even remotely comparable to Crysis or Age of Conan; something is seriously wrong with your eyesight and/or hearing.

Of course they are not comparable, they were fun and had a well-made story that kept you going for days or even weeks. Please just have a look at the old Ultima-series.
I love RPGs, and there is nothing that beats Ultima! Especially Ultima 7, after which it sort of went down, but even Ultima 8 and 9 are not too bad.

skindog wrote:

Today's PC games are incredible; if you haven't checked one out lately it's probably because your machine either can't process the graphics w/o it looking like a slideshow or because the GOOD games will not run on Linux.

No, today's PC games look incredible, but the old games which I have referenced (and I could name a lot more, Day of the Tentacle, Wing Commander Privateer, System Shock!!!, ...) really were incredible. I guess it might be a sign of me getting old that I still know those games from the time they were released, but these were really good games.

I don't care for graphics if the game is fun. If a game also looks nice then this for me is a bonus, but nothing that I need.

As for my GPU, and the amazing revelation that I do indeed have a hardly used installation of Windows on my PC, scroll up a bit and be enlightened. ;-)

Well, it is your decision what you play, and I apologize for getting personal about this, but I think in this heated debate, where lots of people simply post to tell us how stupid we are to not like nVidia now for what they are doing, it is easy to get adrift.

f4nt: "...because you

 
f4nt wrote:

...because you aren't renting anything. You *purchased* and *own* the card/driver. Are you allowed to modify the code? No, you can't. There are plenty of things in life you just don't get exactly how you want.

Uhhh, that's the point. When there are things in life you don't get how you want... and another company comes along and suddenly gives you exactly what you want... you getting the picture how capitalism works?

nVidia isn't expected or required at all to open up their code. I don't think you understand the economics of selling a video card. Companies like nVidia don't just make video cards, they provide a product that fills a customer's need. The funny thing about customers is that their needs often change, and you are witnessing one of those changes. AMD/ATI has made a move by offering an added "feature" of an open source driver plus releasing detailed specs, and nVidia has not. This increases the value, especially over the long term, of purchasing an ATI card over nVidia... Now again, nVidia isn't expected or required to open up their code, but the shareholders of the company are both expecting and requiring nVidia to hold market share against ATI and sell some freaking video cards.

I'm at least going to seriously consider ATI for my next video card, when I had counted them out long ago, and I'm betting I'm not the only one. If nVidia doesn't open their driver it is only going to result in reduced sales, which equals reduced profits. The only thing big companies hate more than losing control of their intellectual property, is losing profits. Isn't capitalism great?

Damn Either Way.

 

This was my thought exactly as I was reading this. I've used Linux now for over 10 years (exclusively) and it's always been Pro nVidia until recently. I love the free/libre software movement, but the community can be so annoying and flackey at times. We complain because a company won't release XYZ to work on Linux, and when they do we complain because they won't open their drivers. I think this would be a reason why more companies don't release their product for Linux. They are damned either way. In their eyes, you can't please a bunch of whiney snot nose kids and militant hippies.

Personally, while I truly appreciate and respect the whole free/libre movement, I also want a computer that works and allows me to do the things I want. This is where true freedom lies for me, the freedom to use my computer, the freedom to stand just to the side of center, not to the far extreme. I didn't leave the bars of my Windows ten years ago, only to be thrown into a cell guarded by a GNU and Penguin.

Re: I fully support Nvidia on

 

I fully support Nvidia on their stand.

That is within your right, as it is ours to criticize Nvidia for being the only relevant vendor still playing proprietary games (no pun intended).

It is there [sic] card, they are providing a working driver.

Yes, but that wasn't the point, now was it?

If you don't like their driver write your own, from scratch.

Ahum, the Nouveau project anyone? Developers are writing their own from scratch.

Or buy someone else's card. There are other video card vendors out there.

Wasn't that the gist of the article? If Nvidia can't deliver what FOSS minded people deem desirable, get a card from a vendor who can?

Nonsense

 
KSoze wrote:

I am sure if you had spent millions upon millions of dollars developing a piece of hardware and the instruction sets/API's it uses to operate, and were asked to make those instruction sets or at least the API's used to operate the hardware available for free you would be more than happy to do it. Especially if thousands of people were dependant upon you to feed their families.

Your views are based on the premise that it would be somehow less profitable for NVIDIA to open their driver source, which is a statement that many of us consider to be false. Why do you feel it appropriate to re-iterate popular misconceptions and name-call without bothering to provide a logical and reasoned basis for your arguement?

KSoze wrote:

You people need to start thinking past your own self serving ideas. I understand the whole "everyone is entitled to knowledge" theory that drives the free software market,

No, you clearly don't. The basic idea is that it is not in the overall interests of either the technology industry as a whole or the end consumers, to keep source code closed and protected. "Everyone is entitled to knowledge" is a much grander theme, which has plenty of merit, but it's a little naive and much less useful because it goes against many of the capitalist, free market methods on which the majority of the world is currently based. Again, you are just taking it as given that proprietary source code is necessary for something other than causing the tech industry to stagnate.

KSoze wrote:

but you do not have the RIGHT to get these things for free.

Nobody said we did, if there is indeed a real cost, we'll pay it, but we don't agree that there is.

KSoze wrote:

What if nVidia said "Hey you can have the Linux/whateverOS source to our drivers but you will have to buy the GNU version of our card that costs 20 dollars more" I bet you would not do it.

I most certainly would and I'm certain that many other FOSS supporters would also. However, there is no good reason why NVIDIA should need to charge more for a card with open source drivers, so many others probably would probably not pay extra just on principle.

Yesterday I discovered the

 

Yesterday I discovered the Free Software Magazine, and today I found that your story made the Top 10 Free Software Daily stories.
Nice job. ;-)

Awesome reptiler, thanks.

Awesome reptiler, thanks. Smiling

I gotta say I never expected any of it (so many diggs, so much syndication, being mentioned on diggnation etc.). I just went and posted about something I thought could be a relevant issue. Posting it as a blog entry instead of an article further indicates I didn't quite work on it for too long so to speak, as in having planned this.

But sometimes some issues are just that hot. Smiling

Anyway, I thought about responding to numerous comments that were posted here, but kept putting it off. Gotta say though you did a great job in your responses.

Cheers!

Thank you. I've been merely

 

Thank you. I've been merely trying to respond to some points which I thought just don't really match reality.
Especially considering that big companies now are starting to demand free drivers will put pressure on companies, including nVidia. When Dell, HP and Lenovo decide that their hardware doesn't come with nVidia-GPUs anymore because there are no free drivers this will make a financial impact on nVidia, no matter what those anti-FOSS-folks say...

Intelligence

 

There are people who are wondering if there are intelligence lifeforms in space, Now, I'm turning the question around: Is there intelligence here on Earth? Sure there is, there are also conflicting motivations,noble ones and not-so-good ones. I believe in the "global braintrust", the sum of the work of those intelligent and "not-so-intelligent" brains out there.

Market impact

 

By keeping its stuff proprietary through a licensing that requires a financial disbursement, a proprietary company effectively limits the market coverage of its products to those who are willing to afford it, thereby boxing itself in a corner.

Doubletalk

 

It's always interesting to watch a company spokesperson squirm when you confront them with the facts.

What has changed

 

What has changed? What has changed between the "proprietary era" and today? The Internet. That's what. The Internet made it easier for users to "compare notes": Why does his/her setup of this product work/does't work but mine does the opposite? While Windows raised new users' hopes of what a computer can do, it also diminished them by making them think that's ALL it can do. That's what hype does, A computer can do much more, it's really an all-purpose tool, an extension of the brain.

Interesting

Rich3800 wrote:

A computer can do much more, it's really an all-purpose tool, an extension of the brain.

That's an interesting statement, but seems quite true. It's the ultimate information digging tool and this information is then what your brain processes into more knowledge. And it also amplifies the efficiency of certain information and organization related acts as well as mental entertainment (which also includes games).

Cheers