Nvidia has reiterated that it won’t provide open source drivers for Linux. They claim that there is no need for it. It does however provides binary Linux drivers and has open sourced a few drivers.
According to ZDnet Nvidia said in a statement: “NVIDIA supports Linux, as well as the Linux community and has long been praised for the quality of the NVIDIA Linux driver. NVIDIA’s fully featured Linux graphics driver is provided as binary-only because it contains intellectual property NVIDIA wishes to protect, both in hardware and in software,”, which was in response to developers’ direct criticism of hardware vendors that produce just closed source drivers.
This is beginning to sound a bit like the mess Creative had with driver modder Daniel_K. The Creative example shows that companies want to hold on to control of their hardware so they can have more control of when users need to upgrade. This should be practically a non issue in video cards since the technology changes so rapidly. You may change your video card out 2-4 times (or more if you’re a complete fanatic) over the life of an operating system to keep up with the curve. So what’s the beef?
The ZDnet story goes on to stay that Linux developers maintain that closed source drivers are “harmful to end users because it cuts them off from additional support and upgrades they might enjoy from the community”. In an email Nvidia sent to ZDnet’s Paula Rooney, “NVIDIA doesn’t expect Linux kernel developers to debug issues in NVIDIA’s kernel module”.
This has the potential to become a very hairy issue. Consumers can no doubt benefit from modding and open source work on hardware drivers. Companies want to maintain close control over their hardware and their driver code. There are legitimate concerns on both sides. The technology is proprietary to Nvidia, they spent a lot of money building it, so it’s understandable that they want to keep that under wraps. Open Source want to provide better support for the hardware. Enthusiasts want to push the limits. Be wary of sharp flying objects and caveman clubbing action in the debate.