Subject: Re: closed source drivers (was: ZFS)
To: Brett Lymn <>
From: Michal Suchanek <>
List: current-users
Date: 09/02/2006 16:07:54

On 8/31/06, Brett Lymn <> wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 30, 2006 at 02:32:39PM +0200, Timo Schoeler wrote:

> > it's a *political thing*. if you choose to use an open source OS it's
> > more than superlame when then developers start to accept binary drivers.
> > it's contrary to the OSs' 'karma', 'mission' or whatever you want to
> > call it.
> >
> That looks like an awfully emotion laden statement there.  Basically,

Not really. Last time I looked NetBSD had portability and clean
architecture listed as its goals. Blob drivers undermine both of
these. First, they are only released for certain architecture which
impedes portability. Second, thier interface is arbitrary, often
created for a different OS. This impedes clean architecture.

Also NetBSD is a free operating system and afaik it aims to remain
one. Priprietary drivers impede that because the system would be no
longer much free or opensource if it needed proprietary drivers to run
on pretty much any hardware. This could be the case if the use of
binary-only drivers increases.

For the same reason I dislike formats like Flash or Java applets that
can be used only on certain platforms. They are good enough for
entertainment if they happen to work on the platform I am just using
but I would not like to use them for anything of any significance.

I when I can choose what system and applications I run on my computer
I choose free system and applications. They offer much better
customization options so that I can adapt them to my liking. It is
also much easier to replace free applications than non-free ones.
Since I got used to that I find it much harder to get useful work done
on non-free systems. However, my work requires it so I use them as

> what you are doing is making any potential demand for a vendors
> product invisible to them.  You say "oh, I _would_ buy your product
> but you need to spend money on releasing documents first" (yes it does
> cost money to do this).  Talk is cheap.  If you buy the product and
> use the blob then you are a visible component of the vendors market
> share - they can see that they have had X downloads of the driver for
> OS foo, it could (maybe) be possible to apply some leverage to the
> vendor to say "look, we use your products, you make money from us, you
> could make more if you let us develop our own drivers".  It may or may
> not work, I have seen that go both ways.

Well, if they won't release the documentation for a commercial X
server wendor that can show them the number of copies sold so far I
doubt they would release it for somebody else.

You can choose to not use hardware that requres proprietary drivers or
you can decide that you require it for something ot that you do not
care. Whatever.

It would be interesting if some project NetBSD leaders decided some
policy about proprietary drivers for NetBSD. My personal policy is to
avoid them if they can be avoided wihout much loss.