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Major PC Vendors Push For Open Source Drivers 232

hweimer writes "Remember the heat the Linux Foundation took for allegedly not giving enough attention to Desktop Linux? The latest events at the Foundation's annual summit paint a different picture. Industry heavyweights like Dell, HP, and Lenovo 'announced on stage that they will now include wording in their hardware procurement processes to "strongly encourage" the delivery of open source drivers.' The move specifically targets desktop and mobile products."
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Major PC Vendors Push For Open Source Drivers

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  • Re:A difference... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @06:48PM (#23245484) Homepage

    There is a difference between "strongly encouraged" and "required". Until it is required then it is not going to change much - the big hardware providers hold too much sway for Dell et al. to cancel multimillion (if not billion) dollar contracts because they won't provide the source code for a couple of piddly little drivers.
    Obviously, but there's a give and get in negotiations. I've dealt with enough RFQs that I know it's a wishlist and a bargaining ground and all the wanted features have a value. It's not a matter of getting the contract or not, it's a matter of whether the manufacturers can use this to squeeze margins. If providing open source drivers costs them less than the alternatives (lower price, developing other features etc) then it'll happen, even though they'd get a contract regardless. When it comes down to it, unequivocally disqualifying requirements are few and far between.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @07:46PM (#23246120)

    I always wondered why device drivers are not open source. As they make their money on the hardware they're not losing anything by giving the driver piece to the open source community to enhance.

    Reasons include: they don't like providing anything they do for free because a competitor might use it, they don't want to expose their embarrassingly poorly written code, they're afraid their poorly written code will expose their security flaws, they don't want consumers to know about the hacks they use to work around hardware flaws or which compromise quality for speed.

  • by jbengt ( 874751 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @08:04PM (#23246296)
    Wintel peripherals != most hardware
  • Also, they cut corners on development costs by buying some of the code and legally can't open source it - e.g. some proprietary codecs, or signal processing technology.
  • by JohnBailey ( 1092697 ) on Tuesday April 29, 2008 @09:44PM (#23247154)

    Most hardware? Which hardware is "most".

    Well.. Off the top of my head, Sound cards, video cards, SATA interfaces, CD and DVD drives, floppy drives, memory interfaces, mother board chipsets, processors, keyboards, mice, network cards, monitors, video cards, MP3 players, TV tuner cards, printers, scanners, temperature and fan speed monitoring sensors on motherboards, and many more devices. Linux is already more functional on first boot than Windows has ever been. It doesn't support all models from all suppliers, but nothing does, so pointing out a specific brand and model is not going to fly as a criticism. When I install Fedora 9 next month, the only drivers I need to install are my video card and perhaps my printer, although even that was already in the CUPS driver list with F8. Everything else is already in place and automatically detected. Not to mention support for common systems like mass storage which allow the use of USB keys, MP3 players, card readers, cameras, external hard drive caddies etc.

    Not wireless drivers,

    Correction.. Not ALL wifi drivers. Ask the FCC or whatever the local equivalent is. A Wifi card is a radio transmitter Thus is bound by strict regulations. 100% Open source drivers for a wifi card basically allow the informed user to muck around with a radio transmitter, which depending on the band, is illegal. Change the law, and Wifi could be universally supported within a very short time, instead of just some chip sets. Much of it already is. Otherwise there would be no way for the Eee to connect to a wireless hub, or for my N800 to connect to the Internet, which would be pretty awkward for a wireless Internet tablet.

    not graphics cards properly,

    No? Then how come my Nvidia card works flawlessly under Fedora. And has since I put it in my Linux box. Even the thermal sensor works and displays in Gkrellm's (Linux system monitor) sensor display. It's currently running at 53 degrees centigrade in case you are interested. 3D acceleration is also functioning perfectly, so I can play NWN under Wine or via the Linux client, And any Linux game that needs 3D features works well. Compiz Fusion also works very well, which it couldn't without the Nvidia drivers being installed. ATI is also in the process of releasing open drivers for some of it's cards, and Intel have had their cards supported for years with open drivers. Nvidia will very likely follow if they can work around the complications of the various IP restrictions in their drivers.

    does bluetooth work right,

    Yes. Plug and play. In my experience, easier than Windows. No driver to install, no software to install. It "just works". So I only have to plug my bluetooth dongle into any USB port and I can transfer files across effortlessly from my PDA or from my N800. I can also use my bluetooth GPS module with Fedora and my N800, but in the case of Fedora, it is a bit redundant as it's a desktop, and unless my home gets caught up in a tornado, it is unlikely to be changing location.
    In Fedora 9 I can also synchronize my Palm via bluetooth out of the box even with a live CD, so minimal functionality. Can Windows do that? Windows can't even recognize my Palm without me installing the drivers and an application to handle the PDA, and XP home needs extra software to share the Internet connection with my palm after a complicated set up procedure.

    how about mobile phone access beyond seeing it as a mass storage device?

    No idea. I don't have a mobile. Although I can't see any compelling reason why not. Some phones use Linux right now, and with the various Linux based phones in development at the moment, there will be more likelihood of support. Bluetooth has recently got a support boost and more bluetooth features are being activated.

    Linux needs similar support from many many companies before you can make a statement like this.

    Linux already HAS support from many companies. Apart from corner case s

  • by badpazzword ( 991691 ) <> on Wednesday April 30, 2008 @10:12AM (#23250296)
    Driver compatibility problems are the very first new users are slammed with when switching to Linux. Then the gui isn't going to help them a lot, and they have to get dirty and mess with the console since the very beginning, and if the problem is with the network card it can get especially annoying. The moment people realise they have to go through "that crap" is usually the moment they just nevermind about this Linux thing and roll back everything (except they have to use the XP/Vista CD to take GRUB off, but that's another topic).

Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.