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Re: Possibly offtopic : Binary only driver

On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 11:44:39 -0800, Stephen Pollei wrote:
> I guess I won't buy any games that need that kind of closed-source
> binary driver. If everyone switched to Linux and had that kind of
> attitude then I'm sure vendors would find some way to open up some code.

They won't. Why should they? Availability of source code is useful
primarily to those who can read and write programs. That's not the
majority of the worlds population.

> Not really, It just means that many of the kernel developers want to
> only support that which they can. Thats why they added the tainted flag.
> Binary-only modules don't benefit them and they can't help you with it. 

They could support kernels with binary only modules. Other OS vendors do
it. Other open source projects do it. They choose not to however.

> Ok but why exactly should the kernel developers care to support that.

Good question! I thought it was because the kernel developers wanted to
make a kernel useful for desktop systems, but if that isn't the case then
I guess I have no arguments left: this whole thing revolves around wanting
the kernel to be easier to use and therefore more useful than it currently

> Yep I hear windows have similar problems with third party drivers.
> They also have lots of bloat to support old obsolete and redundant
> api's. BTW I remember that this debate was done better online through
> some blogs.
> http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/eschrock/20040924#rebutting_a_rebuttal
> http://www.kroah.com/log/2004/09/26/#2004_09_26_sun_rebuttal_round2
> http://www.kroah.com/log/2004/09/23/#2004_09_23_sun_rebuttal

I saw that debate. Gregs arguments struck me as very poor, and I wasn't
the only one:


He basically said things like "Well Windows has multiple USB interfaces
and that's a bad thing" and expecting it to pass as assertion, ie there
was no analyis of why it was a bad thing. He just took it as read that it
was. In this case the cost of having the old interfaces (in financial
terms) was presumably outweighed by the benefits of retaining backwards
compatibility, otherwise MS would not have done it.

Remember, one mans bloat is another mans ability to upgrade ...

> One minor comment though, the fact that we have the source to everything
> changes all of the old rules that operating systems had to live by.
> Backwards compatibility is no longer necessary, enabling us to move
> faster, and be more flexible than ever. 

Yes, because as we all know software magically rewrites itself while we
sleep. Our IT systems are also upgraded by leprechauns.

> As proof of that, look at the
> huge range of machines that Linux runs very well on.

That is unrelated to backwards compatibility. The rest of your paragraph
is based on an unsupported assumption: that Linux could not be
fast/multi-arch etc without an unstable module API. I've never seen
anybody seriously try and argue that (Windows NT kernel is also

Anyway, this is all a pointless discussion. This is not me saying
"binary modules are good", I never claimed that, I'm saying they're
unavoidable and should be supported. 

I'm 99% convinced though that kernel policy will never change, no
matter how many people ask for it and no matter what their arguments

Probably, the only way we're going to get a sane ISV-supportable desktop
system is by forking the kernel at the start of major release cycles (2.4,
2.6 etc). So this whole discussion is pretty useless and I wish I had
never started it, people here are far more interested in theoretical
performance benefits being available RIGHT NOW than eg being able to buy a
working wireless card.

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