NVIDIA FreeBSD kernel feature requests

Miguel Mendez mmendez at energyhq.be
Thu Jul 6 19:54:23 UTC 2006

On Sun, 02 Jul 2006 23:51:35 +0200
Michal Mertl <mime at traveller.cz> wrote:


I'm going to reply to this, once, just to make my argument clear.

> I think that this reaction wasn't called for. Modern GPUs are
> extraordinarily complex HW and to write a decent driver will take
> appropriate effort. I understand that open source "infected" people
> (like me) prefer having the detailed HW documentation but we shouldn't
> refuse the vendor's efforts to provide good driver to us.

I agree modern GPUs are way more complex than the C64 VIC. However I
never asked for the source code of the driver. I ran one earlier
version through Siul+hacky's dasm and, believe me, you don't want that
code. NVidia's reason for not releasing the source code of their
proprietary OpenGL driver is that it contains licensed 3rd party code.
Let's buy that for a second. That still doesn't explain why the nforce
chipsets are undocumented. And that doesn't explain why there isn't
any register documentation for earlier GPUs. I mean, for Christ's sake,
if you're on a 6 month release cycle, who honestly cares about a card
that was released 2 years ago? But still no documentation.

You might be familiar with this quote: "Those who would give up
Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve
neither Liberty nor Safety".

In these days many freenix users happily give up their freedom in order
to gain functinality.

It's funny when you think about it, NVidia started when some engineers
left SGI. SGI has contributed a lot to the free software community,
e.g. XFS, while NVidia doesn't seem to care at all. Considering that
they're a _hardware_ company I find it amusing that they refuse to help
people do work for them for free.

> I haven't understood much of Mr. Zander's questions but I am pretty sure
> some readers did and probably have been talking to him off-list. I also
> tend to believe that his requests for features were based on good
> understanding of FreeBSD kernel internals (better that mine and probably
> also yours) and if we add the features or help him effectively use
> what's there everyone will benefit.

And as I see it, NVidia is asking FreeBSD developers to invest man
hours, for free, so they can release a _proprietary_ driver for FreeBSD
which you can neither use on !x86/amd64 nor study. Sounds like a very
nice deal.

I know many among the BSD camp consider people like Richard Stallman
and Theo to be extremists when it comes to software freedom. Maybe
you'll change your mind next time you're trying to use NVidia hardware
on a macppc box.

Miguel Mendez	<mmendez at energyhq.be> 
PGP Key: 0xDC8514F1

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