RE: Why is Nvidia given GPL'd code to use in closed source drivers?

Scott Robert Ladd (
Tue, 31 Dec 2002 12:05:35 -0500

Paul Jakma wrote
> "what you get for christmas?"
> "a lump of coal"
> at least you get /something/. however, you didnt get what counts,
> programming info for the card.

I, and many other Linux users, do not consider nVidia's drivers to be "a
lump of coal." What "counts" is being able to use my hardware effectively.
Closed-source drivers may not be ideal, but few things in life are.

Even the conservative Debian distribution (which I use) has the nVidia
drivers available in the distribution.

In order of preference (for me):

1) High-quality drivers with open source
2) High-quality drivers with closed source
3) Poor-quality drivers with open source
4) Poor-quality drivers with closed source

Out of four possibilities, we're getting the next-to-best thing. Certainly,
I'd *like* to have the specs for nVidia's cards -- but given competition
between nVidia and ATI, I don't see that happening. One advantage nVidia has
(small as it may be) is high-quality drivers for Linux; it's one reason my
Linux systems have TNT2 and GeForce 4 cards installed.

Note that my Windows boxes run ATI cards; I'm not an nVidia shill.

One of Linux's historical weaknesses (when compared to the competition) is
video support. While I urge nVidia to open their specifications (and in the
end think it would be in their best interest), I'm also very pleased that
they provide high-performance drivers for free (as in beer).


Scott Robert Ladd
Coyote Gulch Productions (
Professional programming for science and engineering;
Interesting and unusual bits of very free code.

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