RC3 Install Report

Bill Davidsen davidsen at tmr.com
Tue May 18 13:33:35 UTC 2010

Rahul Sundaram wrote:
> On 05/18/2010 02:57 AM, Bill Davidsen wrote:
>> Unfortunately the folks making those decisions are more concerned with the 
>> religious issue of free open source than "works for most people." They are 
>> unlikely to ever make it easy to install the vendor drivers. and frequently 
>> claim capabilities for the kernel drivers which in practice are only present for 
>> recent top of the line 3D hardware.
> I cringe whenever I hear people describe free software as religious
> issue.  Religion is based on blind belief and dogma.

And the idea that FOSS is always better than closed source software isn't based 
on blind belief and dogma? That having source is going to work better than 
having design documents for the hardware and firmware being used? Experience 
with the drivers would suggest that is not an accurate description of my 
experience, particularly on older video hardware which worked with older kernels.

>                                                 Free software is a
> set of principles and open source is a development methodology.  In the
> case of non-free drivers,  even ignoring the principles and the benefits
> of the development methodology, there is the simple matter of support. 

True, many older (3-4 years) ATI cards and laptop chipsets were supported before 
mode setting came into frivers. Now, even with modesetting disabled, the 
hardware only works in VASA mode. The developers are more interested in adding 
3D functions and wobbly windows than getting an older chipset to work usefully 
the way it used to.

> Fedora has the expertise necessary to fix issues in Xorg drivers but the
> non-free drivers are completely unsupportable by Fedora since the source
> is closed.  While making it easy might seem a benefit in the shorter
> run,  it is unsustainable in the longer run.  Newer kernel revisions
> will often break the non-free drivers in ways we cannot do anything
> about and instead of leading users to believe it is a supportable
> option,  we maintain a distance over them.  Setting aside all this, 
> these drivers are in a legal gray area and enabling support increases
> the liability for any distribution.
> We don't hide the fact that Fedora does not and will not support
> proprietary drivers or spend anytime making it easier to install.  If
> you disagree with that principle, ther are other distributions to choose
> from. 

As Antonio Olivares mentioned, just getting a kernel.org source to build with 
recent drivers is an adventure, So the better support for FOSS is more in 
principle than practice by his evaluation.

My point was that users care about software working, not it's purity. People 
wouldn't be looking for other drivers if the ones in the delivered kernel worked 
  acceptably for them. That particularly means that suspend and hibernate work 
on laptops, lest that wasn't obvious.

Bill Davidsen <davidsen at tmr.com>
   "We have more to fear from the bungling of the incompetent than from
the machinations of the wicked."  - from Slashdot

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