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SubjectRE: Why is Nvidia given GPL'd code to use in closed source drivers?
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Richard,

I admire your staunch stand; I don't always agree with it, but I admire you
nonetheless. I've been in the social justice business myself (and still am,
to a new degree); it ain't easy. In fact, I burned out a while back, and
decided to take a little rest.

Five years is long enough for rest, I guess.

> Making a program non-free is denying other people the freedom to
> study, change and/or redistribute it. It is an act of domination.

Quite true. nVidia wishes to maintain control -- to dominate -- the market
for video cards. As such, they are reluctant to reveal details of their
product which might be useful to a competitor. In a system that looks at
benefit-loss in terms of dollars-euros-yen, there is no incentive for nVidia
to open their drivers or provide proprietary information.

Cash-strapped Universities accept corporate sponsorships, only to lose the
freedom to publish new discoveries. Drug companies keep their research
private, rather than combin efforts with other companies to produce better
medicines. These same problems underly draconian laws that have twisted
copyrights and patents into corporate "assets." From deforesting the planet
to the fight for "GNU/Linux", it all comes down to one thing: corporate
dominance of society.

And Linux is the best thing that ever happend to GNU.

Why?

Because outside a few technorati "in the know", few people had *heard* of
free software until Linux caught on. The term GNU/Linux is correct both
technically and morally, but the *term* is less important than the theme.
Linux has opened a door for the promotion of free ideals in the general
population -- a truly remarkable event!

Counterpoint: Linux would not exist without GNU.

The relationship of GNU and Linux should be mutually symbiotic, not
confrontational. Would you be happy if it were called Linux/GNU, for
example? Or does GNU need to be first for some symbolic or emotional reason?

The goal is not the self-promotion of GNU, but the advancement of
intellectual freedom. Instead of being ignored by nVidia, they are meeting
us part way -- and that's better than not meeting them at all! nVidia
produce good hardware, and they provide a free (as in beer) driver that in
turn attracts people to use Linux/GNU. Those people increase the audience
that hears about the value of intellectual freedom, and they (assuming they
*are* educated by us) put market pressure on nVidia to release
free-as-in-freedom drivers.

In other words, we use market forces to open windows of opportunity, through
which we illuminate the masses who were unreachable before.

Confrontation builds walls; wedges break them down.

-- Scott Robert Ladd


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