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SubjectRe: Why is Nvidia given GPL'd code to use in closed source drivers?
On Fri, 3 Jan 2003, Helge Hafting wrote:

> Andrew Walrond wrote:
> >
> > Yes but....
> >
> > I develop computer games. The last one I did took a team of 35 people 2
> > years and cost $X million to develop.
> >
> > Please explain how I could do this as free software, while still feeding
> > my people?
>
> > Am I a bad person charging for my work?
> No.
> >
> > Really - I want to understand so I too can join this merry band of happy
> > people giving everything away for free!
> >
> Nobody give everything away from free. Free software, in particular,
> runs
> on boxes that cost money. And people sell service and support.
>
> The problem with nvidia isn't that they charge money. The problem
> is that their product comes with strange restrictions.
>
> Everybody accepts that a nvidia cards cost money - chips and boards
> certainly aren't free. They even provide drivers for their card
> for free. They can trivially do this because they make their
> money on selling the hardware.
>
> The problems are:
> 1) The drivers are closed-source, so we can't fix the bugs. (Yes,
> there are bugs, and no, nvidia don't fix them immediately. So
> it'd be nice for us who understand C to fix this ourselves.
> Releasing the code don't won't cost nvidia because they aren't
> making money on it. They might actually sell _more_ hardware
> if they released the code. So keeping it secret don't make sense
> even from a extreme greediness viewpoint. Such a driver can't
> be made to work with a competing product either with a few tweaks.
>
> 2) Still, they _may_ have reasons not to release the code, perhaps
> a patended algorithm or some such. They could at least release the
> specs for their card, so a free driver could be written from scratch.
> But they don't do that either - strange. Some manufacturers _do_
> this, with no ill effects. They get a slightly bigger market because
> their equipment is ok with the free software world.
Another possibility is that they used some propriatary software libraries
which have restrictions. Didn't someone see some strings which suggested
that?

>
> This is very much like selling cars were the gas tank is locked, and
> you don't have the key. The gas stations have keys, but only
> some of them. So you can't fill anywhere.
> Or a tv that don't work on thursdays. Silly in the extreme,
> annoying for the user and no benefit for the manufacturer.
>
> Helge Hafting
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