HAL must die!

Jerry freebsd.user at seibercom.net
Fri Mar 18 13:04:08 UTC 2011

On Thu, 17 Mar 2011 18:26:57 -0600
Chad Perrin <perrin at apotheon.com> articulated:

> On Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 07:48:58PM -0400, Jerry wrote:
> > On Thu, 17 Mar 2011 16:36:37 -0600
> > Chad Perrin <perrin at apotheon.com> articulated:
> > > 
> > > No, not really.  It's more the fault of the hardware manufacturer.
> > 
> > Chad, up until this point I had taken your response seriously. In
> > fact, I thought it was well presented. Then, you went and blew it.
> You're joking -- right?
> You haven't taken anything seriously so far other than your own
> attempts to misrepresent everything I've said.
> If you want to continue misrepresenting what I said back at me, I
> recommend you do so off-list rather than clutter up this list any
> further with it.  Maybe, if you contact me off-list, you can explain
> your clear anti-Chad bias a bit, too.
> >
> > I know you are now going say that the hardware manufacturer should
> > be responsible for the driver.
> Once again, you demonstrate only that you do not know anything about
> me. This seems to happen every time you use words like "I know" when
> referring to me, my motivations, my actions, and my opinions.  Maybe
> you should stop.
> The manufacturer does not need to take responsibility for any driver
> development it does not want to undertake.  That does not change the
> fact that many manufacturers bend over backwards to support one OS
> and fail to provide sufficient documentation for their hardware
> interfaces to make it easy for the developers of other OSes to
> develop drivers independently, so that though the hardware
> manufacturers are in no way obligated to write drivers (or even
> provide the documentation needed to support independent driver
> writers), they *are* to some extent susceptible to blame for the lack
> of drivers.
> Even as simple a step as opening up the source to the drivers they
> provide, preferally under maximally reusable (i.e. copyfree or public
> domain) licensing terms, for some OSes would be a big help to
> independent driver writers -- but many hardware manufacturers and
> vendors fail to do so for no good reason they have ever articulated.
> That is part of what is to blame for the lack of drivers for some
> hardware in some OSes.
> You act as though all it takes for a driver to get added to an OS is
> for some developer with commit access to snap his fingers, and it
> must be the fault of the OS developers that a driver is missing.  The
> truth of the matter is that developers must prioritize their work,
> and tend to do so based not only on what they think is important but
> also on what they are most qualified to address and what will take
> more time than they have to devote to the project.  Requiring
> developers to reverse-engineer drivers for other OSes creates some
> really awful speedbumps on the path to driver development.
> >
> > Look how much trouble nVidia had getting 64 bit drivers into
> > FreeBSD.
> If nVidia opened the source to just one of its drivers under a license
> that effectively guaranteed everyone could use the code, it would give
> everybody in the open source community a tremendous leg up on doing
> the work that nVidia did, saving nVidia a lot of time.  I have read
> that there are some patent issues that make it difficult for nVidia
> and AMD/ATI to do so, involving patents that Intel holds in fact, but
> I also see that while nVidia goes to the trouble of producing closed
> source drivers for FreeBSD, AMD/ATI has been working with an open
> source development group to provide documentation for everything not
> protected by patent to aid in the development of open source
> drivers.  While the latter takes a little longer up front, it also
> offers much greater returns on investment in the form of someone
> other than internal development teams doing the work to create
> drivers for many OSes.
> Somewhere in the chain, there's someone involved in those network
> adapters' manufacture that is standing in the way of easier
> development of drivers.  As a result, somebody -- a patent holder, a
> vendor executive, whatever -- is preventing the documentation and
> release of clear specs or source code that could be used to
> jump-start driver development.  If nobody does that, then yes,
> someone out there in the hardware manufacturing chain is at least in
> part to blame for the lack of drivers, given that it is obvious no
> developer has unlimited resources to write all the source code the
> universe needs in the next thirty seconds.
> >
> > You can blame the open-source community in general and *BSD in
> > particular for that problem. Even if they did come to some
> > consensus, they would end up in a pissing contest over the license.
> There wouldn't need to be any arguments over licensing if the most
> basic functionality were provided under licenses that are broadly
> compatible. I really don't see why anyone would think that using a
> license that precludes license compatibility with other software is a
> good idea.  It just forces people to duplicate effort endlessly:
>     Code Reuse and Technological Advancement
>     http://blogstrapping.com/?page=2011.
> > >
> > > I don't know why you have such a problem with me that you are
> > > unwilling to read my words as written, and just make up your own
> > > unreasonable interpretations and misrepresentations instead, but
> > > it isn't very amusing.
> > 
> > I wasn't trying to be amusing. Like I previously stated, I thought
> > your response was fine, until you stated preaching the company
> > gospel.
> I think you thought it was fine until you found an excuse to get
> pissed off by way of misinterpreting something I said -- to some
> extent, *wilfully* misinterpreting it.  That's really your problem,
> and not mine.

Chad, you are an intelligent individual. I have no doubt of that.
However, I think you have failed to think your entire "hardware
manufacturers are evil for not supporting brand X" operating systems

Did you ever attend a real business school? If so, you might be
familiar with the term "ROI" which stands for "return of investment".
Before gong there, lets explore the world of open-source computing.
According to what documentation I could locate, there are at least 23
different operating systems, in one form or another, presently
available. Microsoft controls +/- 90%, with Mac at approximately 5%.
The rest divide up what is left. FreeBSD is listed at a minuscule
0.01%. I found these at:
I obviously cannot vouch for their authenticity although they do seem
consistent with other published reports I have seen in the past year.

Now, it is a given that the conglomeration of non-Microsoft/non-Apple
operating systems fail to offer a consistent/uniform API for the
detection of and installation or procurement of drivers for devices on
their respective systems. This can be attributed to several phenomena
including testosterone poisoning (there was a rumor that the developers
of their respective OSs carry rulers around with them). It has also
been rumored that they suffer from Kainolophobia, Cenophobia and/or
Cainophobia. They most definitely suffer from Allodoxaphobia when it
does not agree with theirs.

Now, I have a proposal. If the fragmented open-source community really
wants to advance, and maybe FreeBSD actually reach a full percentage
point, it has to agree on a common interface/API for the detection of,
installation and configuration of devices on their respective systems.
A uniform driver base is a must. I am not talking about a semi-uniform
system; but rather a fully uniform system take works exactly the same
on each system. This won't be easy for reasons previously mentioned;
but it is doable. An additional benefit is that the time wasted now by
each vendor attempting to create and maintain their own API would be
eliminated. One common interface could be maintained by a far smaller
group of developers thereby freeing up time to work on other system
improvements. Obviously, licensing problems would have to be over come.
Not impossible; although each vendor would indubitably do an academy
award performance praising their own licensing implementation and
ridiculing the others. Break out the rulers and let the pissing and
moaning begin.

Now, back to my ROI reference. If the above were to actually happen,
hardware vendors would now only have to code and maintain one single
driver database. Actually three is you include Microsoft and Apple.
Interestingly enough, Microsoft and to a lesser degree Apple write
drivers for some hardware on their respective systems. In any case, I
believe hardware vendors would be willing to invest the time and money
in such a venture since they would be able to shown a return on their
investment without the need to divulge patented information regarding
their devices. Even better, if such a plan were put into effect, any OS
that refused to join the alliance would lose their right to blame the
hardware manufactures since the blame would then unequivocally be
theirs. A win-win solution for all involved.

By the way, you noticed that I did not say that the vendors should
implement a system that uses drivers developed for Microsoft or Apple
systems directly on their systems. That would almost be to easy since
it would eliminate the need for hardware vendors to code additional
drivers. I would not even vouch that it is totally possible; although I
am willing to bet that if enough money were involved, it would happen.
Obviously, the major players have nothing to gain by creating just that
sort of API.

Now Chad, I know that you would never publicly approve of this solution
since it goes counter to the "company line". Never-the-less, it would
work and is doable. Now feel free to blame Microsoft, Apple, hardware
manufacturers, the governor of Wisconsin or whomever else you feel is
responsible for the sad state of device compatibility and driver
availability that now exists in the open-source community.

If you have a better solution please state it as long as it is not the
same old, tired, socialistic propaganda that everyone should give us
something for nothing including divulging patented and or company
secrets. A philosophy that has proven to not work. The "they owe us"
rhetoric is worn out and really makes a fool out of those who express
such beliefs.

Jerry ✌
FreeBSD.user at seibercom.net

Disclaimer: off-list followups get on-list replies or get ignored.
Please do not ignore the Reply-To header.
Bureaucracy, n.: A method for transforming energy into solid waste.
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