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Re: Let's stop feeding the NVidia cuckoo

On Sat, Feb 26, 2005 at 03:10:47AM -0800, Ben Johnson wrote:
> I am trying to make sure Debian's
> stance on software freedom is compatible with that of
> the FSF and with mine, and if not, try and reconcile
> them.

The FSF has an issue with X as a whole, as the sample implementation
(aka XFree86/Xorg) is licensed under a mix of MIT/X11 and
three-clause BSD licences, both of which are open source rather than
free software licences.

> Let us consider this: after all, maybe nv is not
> voluntarily rendered illegible, maybe I was plainly
> wrong saying so. The outcome of the investigations of
> the other posters will ascertain this. Obviously, what
> still strikes me is that, as points out Justin Pryzby,
> to prefer this coding style Mark Vojkovitch would have
> had to program the registers and the functions "off
> the top of his head", which if there are many does not
> exactly sound the preferred means of writing source
> code. Correct me if I am mistaken.

I honestly don't believe anyone can possibly prefer to look them up
that way.  MarkV himself has made references to 'looking [the magic
numbers] up in the book'.

> Now, I am getting carried away. If it appears then
> that nv is "only" unmaintainable,

It's absolutely unmaintainable, but I don't think anything could (or
should) be made of the claim that it's not open source or whatever.

FWIW, I believe GPU microcode is in the same book: show me someone
outside ATI who can program a modern-day GPU.

> Now, not everybody installing Debian on their belief
> it is the distro most committed to software freedom is
> aware of the legal finesses that allow nv in main.

I do not believe there are any 'legal finesses' involved.  The licence
is clear-cut, and I don't see anything in the code to the contrary.

> I
> was baffled to learn nv is neither proprietary, nor
> free as defined by the FSF, to reach a common ground.

None of X is free as defined by the FSF.  It is open source as defined
by the OSI, and free as defined by the DFSG, but the FSF would not call
MIT/X11 or three-clause BSD free software.

> What did I do then as a paranoid freak ? I kicked it
> out, replaced it with vesa (which still relies on
> Nvidia's bios before you mention it, but at least to
> my understanding through a peer-reviewed interface),

Not really.  VBE is a standard, and it is accepted that you have a
common set of registers to poke, but the BIOS is still entirely closed.

> To sum it up, even if it can be demonstrated by sheer
> legalese that nv deserves to be in main, I still lift
> my voice to show my disaproval. May the naives like me
> encounter this thread on their favourite search engine
> !

If you want a fully free software experience, may I suggest a video
card from one of the few vendors these days who distribute
specifications to open source developers?

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