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.”
They have even criticized Nvidia specifically for not releasing free drivers. Nvidia responded. They have said nobecause, 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!).