Re: We need a good and simple hardware database for Free Software users.

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On Fri, 2003-12-05 at 18:16, J.B. Nicholson-Owens wrote:
> Rui Miguel Seabra wrote:
> > [...] Linux developers usually ask for the result of lsmod and "send you away"
> > when they that instead of:
> > 
> > Module                  Size  Used by    Not tainted
> > 
> > There's the information that Linux is tainted:
> > 
> > Module                  Size  Used by    Tainted: P
> And rightly so--Free Software developers should not be burdened with doing
> support for proprietary programs.  If you want support from NVidia, ask
> NVidia.  They are the only ones who can really help you with their
> proprietary software anyhow.

Especially when XFree comes with nvidia drivers of its own.
Understood. Put that in the FAQ then "just use the free drivers that
come with XFree86 or you will be ridiculed off the list!" Fair enough.

> Exile In Paradise wrote:
> > [W]e should politely (and repeatedly if need be) ask NVidia to go the
> > rest of the way and open the source for Linux users and/or contribute it
> > to XFree.
> That's very unlikely to work.  So long as people are willing to buy their
> video cards and recommend their non-free software drivers, there's no
> incentive for them to help you.  You are giving them everything they want
> and demanding nothing in return.  Why should they want to change that
> arrangement?
> If you want to see change for the better, you need to stop subsidizing
> proprietors.  Stop giving money to people that hurt you.

I don't understand the attitude displayed here that NVidia was "hurting"
anyone by making a decent video chip, putting it on the market cheaply,
and even going as far as writing a driver for Linux... which in the
Riva/early TnT days I did not see anyone else doing, especially with a
GL core that took advantage of that (then) new hardware. 

I understand people's licensing objections and I am not arguing with
that... but to take a company and say they are "hurting" someone by
writing code they don't give you the source for seems to be stretching
an already strained point beyond the limit.

I bought a card, the manufacturer released drivers for it. I installed
the drivers, the card worked... when XFree had NO support for it (at
that time). I feel less hurt by that than say running Solaris x86 with
its "you want a driver, write it yourself" policy, and a hardware
compatibility list so anemic that the most modern hardware on the list
was end of life before the OS that uses it was written!

> In the meantime, recommend ATI graphics cards which one can use
> entirely with Free Software.

I don't work for NVidia or ATI, and am not paid by either to "recommend"
or endorse either card. In fact, I have and use both. NVidia is in my
Linux box because they were the only modern video card manufacturer I
could find that even OFFERED a Linux driver (with features no less) at
the time I bought my first new video card to put IN a Linux box. I had
junk in the closet for years that worked on Solaris x86 2.4 on and in
Linux with XFree... but here was a vendor who had Linux drivers on their
site, for a NEWLY manufactured card? Boggle! ATI couldn't spell Linux at
the time I could actually afford a new video card with more than 1MB ram
on it.

> As I understand it, ATI works with the Free Software community and
> eventually releases technical specifications so Free Software drivers can be
> written for XFree86.

Even better, and I already have ATI cards. If I get the time, I may change out.
But its hard to break what's already working for me, especially when it
has been working for me for years under RedHat thanks to years worth of
support from the manufacturer.

It really comes down to this... meany people want to run Fedora, they
have NVidia cards, and they want to get their box up and running without
having to worry about getting into an inane holy war in the process.

They post a question to the list to get help and get on with their
life... they want to know how to get the OS they want to run  on the
hardware they already have.

In return for posting, they get people sending back what amounts to
nothing more than unhelpful religious zealotry. Fine and good, but "so
what?" when your box is broken. No one likes being called "stupid"
(however its phrased, it basically amounts to that) or being told "you
bought the wrong card" and then suffering through reams of legalistic
nonsense... all while they are facing a box where the upgrade is running
into bumps.

Fix the box, then tell me why I need to buy someone else video card, not
the other way around.

NVidia supports Linux... maybe not as much as some would like, but
definitely more than most other card makers, and they were earlier into
it than anyone else that I saw. Having that support readily available is
why I bought more of their cards...

ATI didn't care about Linux until they noticed it was costing them
sales.  I find it hard to believe they just suddenly "came to Stallman"
and realized that open source was the "One True Way" out of the sheer
grandness of their corporate heart.

They saw a market, and are jumping in and more power to them. NVidia's
policy is now costing them sales as they lose Linux people to ATI...
think this through and its reasonable to assume that will have the
desired effect... the same as just calling them and asking them open
their driver source. Having ATI doing it only makes that more possible
and reasonable, not less.

I didn't think I needed to get that far into it, but it seems people
have to be very very specific nowadays, or they get blasted as "stupid
newbies" for no good reason.

Some of the posts on this list, especially regarding NVidia's driver
policy has made it easy for me to see why the BSD and Solaris guys I
know complain about "the holier-than-thou Linux guys" with bad

> If you have some technical skill and free time, the Free Software community
> could really use a database of workable hardware.  This database would let
> people easily find out what hardware to buy and recommend (makes and
> models), locate the necessary software, and possibly help the visitor
> purchase the listed devices by linking to places that sell these makes and
> models.

Yes, except that this NVidia thread has made it all too clear that *even
if* a manufacturer writes drivers for Linux OSes, they will be punished
for it unless they only make it open source and give away any and all
rights and research dollars spent etc etc etc"

That punishment is easy to imagine... they won't even be listed, even if
they bothered to support the OS at all.

I think a religiously biased hardware list isn't exactly the intended
goal... but with the demonstrated attitudes, thats what I would expect
the result of such an effort to be, and I for one can do without that.

The XFree supported card list is rife with manufacturers who could care
less about Linux... they don't even have to because the "community" did
their work for them and let them off the hook... and they get card sales
based on the fact that XFree supports them on Linux... not the
manufacturer themselves.

And we NVidia being held to a much different standard... because someone
else came along LATER and offered open source drivers... after NVidia
bothered to write its own drivers for Linux at all, which all those
XFree support card list manufactuers wouldn't even bother with.

Something just sounds remarkably "off" about that whole state of

I really don't intend to start a religious war or whatever here, but I
truly don't understand the perceived tone and background attitudes
displayed around this one issue on this list. 

I am confused by it, and the more I see, the more confused I get, in
light of some of the later points I raised.

In my mind its just as silly as the stock market punishing a company for
posting profits... because the profits posted weren't "in line" with
whatever rumors and after hours deals people made... missing the point
entirely that the company *posted profits*

*shaking head*

Now I know ATI has "better" Linux support than NVidia, from a licensing
standpoint. That will count in my next round of hardware purchases. But,
thats a seperate issue from "NVidia info should be in the FAQ"... the
ATI info should be in the FAQ as well for that matter.

The reason so many people ask for NVidia help is that they bought NVidia
cards... because NVidia supported them when no one else was. And they 
(the people who bought the cards and now ask for help AND NVidia itself)
deserve to get spanked for that? Boggling.

I for one at least thank "BoB" that someone put the religious war aside
long enough to find and post the export CC=gcc32 workaround so that I
could complete my upgrade cleanly and get my Fedora box to run in the
same state as it did with RH9 and others before it. One less thing in my
way during the upgrade.

In NVidia's case, the simplest solution is to stop offering their own
driver at all and just do what the rest of the card manufacturers on the
XFree supported list have done... Tell the Linux folks to "sod off" and
write their own drivers and stay out of their hair. And I won't blame
NVidia if they do.... what do they have to lose from a community they
tried to support who has already turned its back on them for doing so?

If everyone is going to buy ATI in the future, then NVidia has nothing
at all keeping them from just being a Windows-support company which 
makes their life easier, and apparently everone on this list who is
tired of seeing people ask about how to get NVidias driver working on

Honestly, why should a manufacturer even care about supporting that last
1% of computer people who run Linux instead of the 92% who run Windows
and the 4% who run Mac? (numbers courtesy of the Google Zeitgeist for
whoever wants to take issue with them.)
Exile In Paradise
Normally our rules are rigid; we tend to discretion, if for no other reason
than self-protection.  We never recommend any of our graduates, although we
cheerfully provide information as to those who have failed their courses.
		-- Jack Vance, "Freitzke's Turn"

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