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SubjectRe: What is accepted into the standard kernel sources ?
On 3 Feb 1998, Jan Vroonhof wrote:

> 4) Write a driver himself and release it under GPL in full (i.e. with
> full source).

> Nr 4) is the preferred option from the Linux community point of view.
> This may be totally naive but personally I fail to see what a company
> in the business of selling hardware could gain by not giving out
> source code.

That depends on how independently a piece of hardware performs
its task, and how "thin" the interface between the software
and the hardware is.

The trend today among hardware manufacturers is to cut costs
by moving tasks formerly done in hardware to host software.
More powerful host processors are making this possible. For
example, you could build a modem that consists of a line
interface and a D/A and A/D converter pair. Modulation and
demodulation, ie. the hard part in building a modem, would be
implemented in host software. Compared to the case where a
modem is implemented using a signal processor executing code
from mask ROM, why should the modem maker not be worried about
giving away something valuable to the competition by
publishing the source code?

Another example are passive ISDN boards, which typically
consist of two Siemens chips plus an address decoder. The hard
part in providing a ready-to-go ISDN solution is no the
production of the ISDN boards, but the host software doing all
the signaling and data transfer according to various
protocols. There are several manufacturers producing almost
identical ISDN boards. Don't tell me it wouldn't be an
advantage to competing ISDN board makers if a manufacturer
would make his driver software available in source form for
the competitors to look at and borrow parts of.

Johan Myreen

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