Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (4343 mails)

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Re: [SLE] SuSE opens Linux desktop for Windows
  • From: Anders Johansson <andjoh@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 2 Nov 2002 12:04:29 +0100
  • Message-id: <200211021204.29821.andjoh@xxxxxxxxxx>
On Saturday 02 November 2002 08.42, Curtis Rey wrote:
> /"I have no ideological reasons for using linux, I use it because it's
> better than windows, but I really want my hardware to work. Whether it's
> by binary only drivers or with open source drivers, I really don't care
> as long as it works. / /
> //Anders "
> /
> I couldn't agree more. If converting M$ drones is going to happen then
> the "I really don't care as long as it works" is going to be the
> attitude of Joe and Jane Average.

Thank you for putting me in that category.

Please don't take what I said too far. I was primarily talking about hardware
drivers. When a regular program crashes I, being a trained programmer, can
usually find if not the exact problem, then at least close enough to be able
to put together a good enough bug report so that a person familiar with the
source can fix it. For this open source is brilliant.

With a hardware driver things are a little more complex. It's not enough to be
a programmer, you also have to know a thing or two about the exact specifics
of the hardware. It helps if you know about algorithm optimization too. Some
programmers know about this, most don't, at least not very much. Hardware
issues can be extremely complex, cf. the recent IDE/ATAPI debacle in the

Hardware drivers also don't have the functionality of a user space program.
More often than not they're just slinging data to and from the hardware. In
the case of the nvidia driver there's a specific API, openGL for example,
that needs to be implemented, and there's not much room for extra features.
Bug fixes and optimizations perhaps, but features belong in user space
programs not inside drivers. The exception being winmodems, winprinters and
the like, but the less said about them the better.

Some people say that with the nvidia kernel modules being binary only, it's
almost impossible to debug kernel issues. Supposedly it's difficult to
determine if a crash comes from the nvidia module or from something else. To
this I say if a crash is repeatable, just repeat it without the nvidia driver
loaded. Couldn't be simpler. If it isn't repeatable it's almost impossible to
debug with or without source, so it doesn't matter, as far as I can see.

Of course, if open source is a political/religious thing for you, none of the
above matters. Fair enough, that's up to you. I prefer having drivers to not
having drivers.


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