Open-Source Nvidia Drivers
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fully-functional open-source (BSD-licensed) versions of their binary device
drivers, as soon as possible.
At the moment, Nvidia has released its 3-D enabled driver as a binary object
file along with some C wrappers for compatibility, as well as a modified
version of SGI's OpenGL library. While this solution is the best one besides
having an open-source driver, it does have many problems:
1. It subjects X-Window or the entire system to a large number of crashes,
and hang-ups. This is while a system where the drivers are not loaded, works
perfectly for weeks on end. So, if Linux users want to enjoy 3-D games, they
often have to put up with uptimes that make Windows look very stable.
2. It taints the system with non-free kernel modules and libraries. This
prevents getting help from the vendor or from other kernel developers, who
refuse to debug a tainted kernel (and rightfully so).
3. The kernel upgrade process becomes more complicated, as the driver needs
to be re-compiled after the kernel is up, while X needs to be shut down, etc.
4. The build process of the drivers often breaks with some kernel upgrades,
and requires third-party patches. (or even crashes the system after compiling
cleanly - e.g: one page stacks).
5. They don't provide a solution for people who wish to use the cards on
different computer architectures than the ones that Nvidia provides drivers
for. For example, the users of PowerPCs cannot use the 3-D capability of
6. There are many other technical problems that often surface.
7. The nvidia engineers that work on the drivers cannot be effectively reached
The current solution offered by Nvidia may be the second-best solution. But
this is one case where the second best solution is not good enough.
The response of the Nvidia engineers to this problem in
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/t253027.html was completely
unsatisfactory. They claimed that they cannot release open source drivers
because "We have lots of IP in our supported closed source Linux driver some
of which is licensed and cannot be open sourced.". Well, if Nvidia has
copyrighted code in its drivers, then they can surely invest some money
in hiring more developers to re-write it. They are a very profitable company,
So we request that an open-source driver will be released as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, we are going to collect a bounty for reverse-engineering the
Nvidia drivers and releasing an open-source driver based on this effort
(using the open-source Mesa library).