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SubjectRe: Linux in a binary world... a doomsday scenario
On Tue, 2005-12-06 at 12:07 +0100, M. wrote:
> On 12/6/05, Andrea Arcangeli <> wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 05, 2005 at 09:31:30AM -0500, Brian Gerst wrote:
> > The problem with this statement is that Linux users are a
> drop in the
> > bucket of sales for this hardware. Boycotting doesn't cost
> the vendors
> > enough to make them care. And this does nothing for people
> who are
> > converting over to Linux, and didn't buy hardware with that
> > consideration in mind.
> Effectively this is why 3d drivers are the only thing we
> litearlly lost
> control of. But my email was general. I wasn't only speaking
> of 3d
> hardware.
> For 3d you're very well right, but once linux becomes
> mainstream in the
> desktop, things could change.
> Without proper hardware support linux is not going to become
> mainstream in the desktop area. In fact It's adopted in offices, by
> governments and schools for security, reliability and
> (low $$).

but... "proper hardware support" can be open source, that's the whole
point! Everyone considering binary only support "full" causes the entire
problem of not being able to run without binary modules anymore, which
in turn means you're either stuck with enterprise distro kernels, or
linux is stuck with a kernel that can't be developed on anymore in a 2.7
style series.

Nobody is arguing that hardware shouldn't be supported, to the contrary.
I and others are arguing that short term binary only "support" isn't
real support in the long term, and in both the long and short term leads
to a significant reduction in choice. Note: NVidia right now is nice
enough to do the blob+glue layer thing. Many others don't, they only
provide modules for certain enterprise distros. Now those schools and
governments of course run those enterprise distros... but what does that
gain in the end? Security? It doesn't; several of these binary modules
actually introduce security holes (the most famous one is an old 3D
driver of a company I won't name that had a "make me root" ioctl).
Price? Well those enterprise distribution companies need to make money
somehow... so while the price may be lower... you're stuck to them

> So , without some sort of effort from kernel developers, things
> arent going to change.

I would turn this around; without some sort of effort from the USERS,
things aren't going to change. As long as USERS don't use their purchase
power to urge vendors that linux and open source are important, nothing
is going to improve. Going binary is not a long term improvement! It's
more like a quick shot of heroin that makes you feel better today,
rather than going to a psychiatrist who helps you out of your depression
for the rest of your life.

> There could be, for example, a limited but stable API for
> external/binary stuff. This could force hardware vendors to lately use
> the current API for better performance and thus releasing drivers with
> an open layer a la NVIDA & c. or even opensource.

doesn't work; such a limited api wouldn't be used by the majority of
those modules, simply because most of them want to touch internals for
some reason (probably lack of judgement and just because they can, but

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