Why FreeBSD not popular on hardware vendors

Da Rock rock_on_the_web at comcen.com.au
Sun Dec 14 01:36:29 PST 2008

On Fri, 2008-12-12 at 14:25 -0700, Chad Perrin wrote:
> On Fri, Dec 12, 2008 at 03:02:28PM -0500, Jerry wrote:
> > On Fri, 12 Dec 2008 20:32:59 +0100 (CET)
> > Wojciech Puchar <wojtek at wojtek.tensor.gdynia.pl> wrote:
> > 
> > >NVidia MUST INCLUDE full documentation of their hardware.
> > >this is normal - hardware manufacturer produces hardware, programmers
> > >do make support for it.
> > >
> > >what is common today isn't normal.
> > 
> > I honestly have no idea what you are trying to communicate here.
> I think he's trying to say that open source drivers would be preferable,
> and to develop them we'd need the hardware specs so we'd have a target
> toward which to develop drivers.  Of course, "preferable" is my choice of
> term -- he seems to be more of the opinion that anything that isn't
> strictly open source should just be shunned, out of hand.  While it would
> be nice if that was a practical option, it isn't really, at this point.

Perhaps he'd be more at home in the Fedora community which are adamant
about that too... :P

> > 
> > NVidia produces both the hardware and drivers for same. It requested
> > additions/changes to the basic FBSD system to enable their product to be
> > fully functional. Changes that it seems other manufacturers would also
> > need.
> At least four things need to be clarified:
>   1. Would the requested changes have a negative effect on system design
>   in some way?
>   2. Would working on making those changes divert important resources
>   from other, perhaps more important, projects?
>   3. Are the changes the same as what other hardware vendors would need
>   before they could fully support FreeBSD, or are they different --
>   possibly even contradictory?  If the latter, we need to consider
>   whether such contradictions can be worked around without degrading the
>   stability and performance characteristics of the system, and see what
>   impact such work-arounds would have on the answer to question 2.
>   4. Is there any way we can talk them into helping us work on fully
>   functional open source drivers, as AMD (which bought ATI) has promised
>   to do for the Linux community?
> I don't know the answers to any of those four questions -- in part
> because discussion never gets past the "No!  You'll destroy FreeBSD if
> you try to support that hardware!" stage of discussion.
> > 
> > Now, if FBSD has no intention of working with other hardware and/or
> > software manufacturers/authors, maybe it should just post a big "KEEP
> > OUT" sign on its web page.
> > 
> > I seriously doubt that NVidia, or any other manufacturer is about to
> > divulge trade secrets or patented information. What point would there
> > be in that anyway? It is certainly not necessary. What developer in
> > his/her right mind would be interested in making their product usable
> > on a FBSD system if they knew that they would have to divulge all of
> > their trade secrets, etc.
> Actually, patents are publicly documented by definition -- we're just not
> *allowed* to use it, once it has been patented, without permission.  The
> sort of thing they don't want to divulge is trade secrets, which you
> meantioned -- not patents, which you also mentioned.  For some reason,
> though, some hardware vendors seem inclined to use patents as an excuse
> for keeping secrets, which never made much sense to me.
> IANAL, though I read about the law from time to time.

Ok, so moving forward on this point: How exactly does this help in
developing drivers for FreeBSD? Patents are ideas- right? So wouldn't
this mean that it would still require "guessing" and estimation of what
should happen and how to do it?

You also mention that they're publicly accessible- how? Whats the portal
and how would you search for required device?

I ask this not just in reference to NVidia (which has dominated the
discussion) but to other devices as well.

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