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SubjectRe: Must modules be GPL'ed?
Reason #5;
Really clever software. The company does software interface tricks
to get more out of the hardware that are non-intuitive. I believe
that this is the reason most companies actually have for driver NDA's.
After all, _anyone_ can count chips, but how exactly do you write
a stereoscopic, rectilinear, sonic-screwdriver driver?

Dan Taylor
On Sat, 27 Apr 1996, Alan Cox wrote:

> > >but I feel that it would be wrong to ALLOW to supply binary modules.
> >
> > Some hardware vendors feel that by publishing the software needed
> > to access their cards, they reveal too much about their hardware
> > to possible competitors.
> >
> > I don't this is the right tack to take, but they do have a point.
> I've seen various reasons for NDA's and some good solutions too.
> 1. "Corporate Policy". This seems to translate as I don't know but it
> would be easier to skin elephants with a toothpick than change it. These
> people seem however to understand commercial advantage
> 2. "Support". This happened with Connetix and the quickcam. They didnt
> want to get millions of weirdo's phoning up saying "I've plugged my quickcam
> into my gameboy using the board I found in the magazine" and it doesnt work..
> You can now get documentation that requires you promise to specifically
> state that the code isnt not theirs, not supported by them etc.
> 3. "We never thought about it". To an extent this happend with localtalk
> boards. Most of the info is now on the net in the form of DOS driver source
> once people asked enough.
> 4. "Very clever hardware". This I take with a pinch of salt. I've
> reversed a couple of boards the legal way (looking at the chips etc) and
> to be quite honest its not always that true. Sometimes it can be.
> It's up to the vendor I guess - the sad thing is they lose the ability to
> make easy drivers (by letting someone write it for them for Linux), and users
> lose out through less support. I have had one fun conversation. Someone was
> ranting about how DOSemu let people monitor ports and watch I/O access and
> it was terribly wrong and evil. He was even less impressed when I pointed
> out that its not hard to do directly on the bus, by linking a test tool with
> a loadable module (remember its only a .o file) and other things ;)
> Alan

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