Re: Binary Drivers

From: Horst H. von Brand
Date: Sun Dec 24 2006 - 19:10:52 EST

Rok Markovic <kernel@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> It seems that debate around cars and drivers has gone too far (IMHO).


> I
> do not think that there is a question if we have any right to demand
> details about hardware from manufactorers -> we are NOT.


> But I think that
> we have right to know how to use it.

The card is designed for use with /Windows/, you get a /Windows/ driver.
That your PC is able to also run, say, Plan 9, is not the manufacturer's
business at all, it is /your/ choice, and /your/ problem if what the
manufacturer provides doesn't help you there.

The manufacturer is keeping his part of the deal. You don't like the deal,
tough luck.

> I will translate this to CAR
> language - We have to know how to drive the car but not all the details
> how is this done, so we can drive a car without the "driver". We do not
> need an exact knowledge about engine, ECU, suspension,...


> Now the real question:
> Why are manufatorers afraid to give us this information?

Not "afraid". It is more expensive to them:

- Because they would have to pick developer's brains and write it down,
make sure it is complete, check it for publishing, etc. That costs money
(and ties up key developers, and...) for /very/ little gain (open source
systems is something like a 5 to 10% of all systems, mostly servers where
highest performance isn't asked for, so the market for current high-end
cards (where the brains are there at all for picking) is /extremely/
- Because they would have to get permission to do so from third parties,
that means paying real money for little gain
- Because sometimes it is just "we tried several combinations, this one(s)
happen to work, dunno why". How do you write something like that down?
- Because wrong settings might break the hardware, people fiddling around
would then want a replacement, a very real cost
- Because you can't write any software at all without violating some
patent. In this area, it is probable that everybody is violating
everybody else's patents, and making that easy to find out (via source
code or specs) opens you up to lawsuits. Lawyers (and common sense) will
tell yo not to go there unless it is very worthwhile. And it isn't (see
- See the bletcherous workarounds for many device bugs (or downright design
braindamage) in the in-kernel drivers. They might be just embarrased by
the junk they shove out the door (We all know it happens with software,
right? Hardware is much the same...). And they can't just work a year or
so longer to get them ironed out, by then they could be right out of
Dr. Horst H. von Brand User #22616
Departamento de Informatica Fono: +56 32 2654431
Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria +56 32 2654239
Casilla 110-V, Valparaiso, Chile Fax: +56 32 2797513
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