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Re: Opinion: NVIDIA drivers are a BAD Thing [tm]

At 01:56 5/18/2004, Sean Estabrooks wrote:
If we can discard the argument about whether open source is preferable
to closed source things become simpler.

I think we can; certain *I* can.

Being simplistic then, the more "votes" that companies
get because they support open source (intel seems to be a pretty good actor
these days for example)  the better.    The fewer "votes" that companies
who don't support open source get (NVIDIA in this case) the better.

We can agree on this too.

Everyone has to decide for themselves if their immediate needs outweigh
the benefits of  not rewarding closed source companies.   If *everyone* was
really idealistic and joined forces supporting open source companies there
is every reason to believe the market would respond favourably.  However,
it seems more people are content to just use whatever works and not follow
a more principled course of action.  Such is life.

I hope this part is not directed at me, since my point here is:

1. I got a nice machine (Athlon XP 2200+, 256MB, 40GB, eth, modem, cd, GeForce MX 400, 19" LG 900B monitor, UPS) for $400 from a friend whose business went broke. No one asked me what video card I wanted, and spending another $100 or more on another card was not an option, which is why I was delighted to get this great system for cheap in the first place.

2. For me, the nv driver sucked. Four hours of effort, and I had a horrible 800x600 resolution where opening a terminal window would cause huge amounts of white noise and flickering lines to appear on the screen to the right of it. Miserable, just miserable. (And not necessarily the general case... just what happened on *my* machine.)

3. The nvidia driver worked and did so *flawlessly*. The installation was easy. It is an acceptable solution for now.

4. I will now happily use this *working* system to do work, including promote Linux as fully-functional and as-good-or-better than Windows for my office. I will use it in many other ways beneficial to my happiness, my pocketbook, and the Open Source movement.

5. I will also use this working system to test and debug the open-source nv driver, which I could not do if I (a) didn't have the card at all or (b) couldn't use the system for anything other than to test the driver. (a) would be nice but reality happens to disagree, and if (b) then I'd have to sell my three-month-old system and get laughed at by my boss, who would take it as proof that Linux is a shackled, hobbyist operating system which cannot be reliably deployed across an enterprise.

6. I have already complained loudly to NVIDIA about their drivers being closed. I have made it clear that this *will* be major factor in future purchases.

7. In the future, we all want open-source. *NOW*, we want open-source *and* we want more widespread adoption of Linux. For users who are converting from Linux, being told to throw away a $100 video card because its unsupported sucks and reflects badly on Linux. Being told to throw away the same $100 video card which has perfectly good working drivers from the manufacturer because those drivers are not open makes us look like idiots. In marketing, customer perception *is* reality.

8. I've already made at least $50,000 worth of buying decisions in which preference for open competition (AMD), preference for open standards and competition (StarOffice), and preference for Open Source (Linux) were important factors. When I actually buy a video card, rest assured that the availability of good open-source drivers will be a major factor in my brand selection as it has been in the past.

9. But I will not, repeat will not, alienate the business community around me which could mean converting another 50 happy users by doing something which is damaging to me in the short run, totally unnecessary in the practical sense, and asinine in the views of my peers and bosses. I will not win a battle and lose the war. And I _will_ challenge simple-minded, uncompromising black-and-white views such as Rui's when presented as the One True View. I'm fine with people choosing one side of an argument, but it bothers me when they seem incapable of seeing both sides... zealotry is not a good thing for Linux.


-- Rodolfo J. Paiz rpaiz simpaticus com http://www.simpaticus.com

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