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Nvidia Wants to Remove Some GPL From Linux Kernel Code

By - Source: freedesktop.org | B 30 comments

The company's Robert Morell submitted a patch to remove the GPL license from the dma buffer interface in the Linux kernel so it can be used in Nvidia's driver. Not everybody is happy, especially Alan Cox, who has been involved in Linux development since 1991 and was most influential when he maintained the version 2.2 of the Linux kernel.

Cox unmistakably told Morell that he and "many others" are not happy with the idea of combining proprietary and GPL code. Cox declined to accept Morell's patch. The argument appears to be stuck at this time as words started flying and Cox told Morell that a patch acceptance will have to get the confirmation of all rightsholders of the code, some of apparently include Red Hat and Intel. The developer left Morell with the thought to get those confirmations via attorneys.

If it is up to Cox, it appears to be rather unlikely that Nvidia will get anywhere without making substantial concessions. However, he also noted that he will not fight tooth and nail either: "I also have better things to do with life than sue Nvidia and start an all out copyright and patent war in Linuxspace," he wrote. "It's simple enough. If Nvidia think their code is not derivative then why do they care about the _GPL being significant ?"

Morell, however, has not given up yet: "My intention is not to steal any code from the kernel or change any licenses," he posted on the discussion thread. "The goal here is to allow interoperation between drivers. […] I believe that the developers and maintainers of dma-buf have provided the needed signoff, both in person and in this thread.  If there are any objections from that group, I'm happy to discuss any changes necessary to get this merged."

Expect this discussion to last for some time and don't expect this discussion to improve the relationship between Nvidia and the Linux developer community.

 

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  • 21 Hide
    chewy1963 , October 22, 2012 4:25 PM
    WTF Nvidia? Just release your drivers via the GPL and you wouldn't have to worry about it! But noooo, you want to keep your drivers proprietary. In the words of the immortal Linus Torvalds: "F*&^ You, Nvidia!
  • 13 Hide
    sten_gn , October 22, 2012 3:57 PM
    Why do i have a cold feeling down my spine ...
  • 10 Hide
    cookoy , October 22, 2012 4:46 PM
    Don't allow a bad precedent no matter what its stated good intentions are. Just say no way.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    sten_gn , October 22, 2012 3:57 PM
    Why do i have a cold feeling down my spine ...
  • -4 Hide
    Dax corrin , October 22, 2012 4:06 PM
    Quote:
    Why do i have a cold feeling down my spine ...


    Because it's fall and it's cold out?
  • 21 Hide
    chewy1963 , October 22, 2012 4:25 PM
    WTF Nvidia? Just release your drivers via the GPL and you wouldn't have to worry about it! But noooo, you want to keep your drivers proprietary. In the words of the immortal Linus Torvalds: "F*&^ You, Nvidia!
  • 9 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , October 22, 2012 4:35 PM
    Arg! The linux version of steam is so close. Don't f*ck this up for me nvidia.
  • 10 Hide
    cookoy , October 22, 2012 4:46 PM
    Don't allow a bad precedent no matter what its stated good intentions are. Just say no way.
  • 2 Hide
    alidan , October 22, 2012 5:34 PM
    spasmolytic46Arg! The linux version of steam is so close. Don't f*ck this up for me nvidia.


    if the drivers go open, wouldnt you be able to code a work around to get cuda and physx up and going on an amd card?
  • -2 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , October 22, 2012 6:00 PM
    Quote:
    if the drivers go open, wouldnt you be able to code a work around to get cuda and physx up and going on an amd card?


    I want open drivers (although I don't care about CUDA or Physx), but I was more worried about nvidia starting a pissing match that winds up with them abandoning Linux support after they get told off. This is why I'm worried nvidia will screw this up for me.
  • 8 Hide
    division_9 , October 22, 2012 6:06 PM
    I understand why Nvidia wants to keep it's drivers closed. But I swear to god, this is about as awkward as a guy walking into the girls bathroom. It just ain't right.
  • 8 Hide
    jhansonxi , October 22, 2012 6:11 PM
    rantocFirst Nvidia get stoned for not providing drivers and now when they work towards that end they get stoned, what a grateful bunch of peeps!
    That's not the issue. The kernel developers have many problmes debugging involving closed-source modules and get often changes requests because of them. Since they don't have access to the code, they can't identify if the module or the kernel code is responsible for errors and can't tell if the modules have security holes.

    Nvidia sells hardware, not drivers, so releasing programming info for the GPUs doesn't cost them anything. Video development with Nvidia devices is slow because only Nvidia has the info. This also means that when older devices are no longer supported by Nvidia, they can't easily be supported by anyone else either. This is a significant problem with laptops because the GPUs are normally not changeable.
  • 3 Hide
    alidan , October 22, 2012 6:15 PM
    spasmolytic46I want open drivers (although I don't care about CUDA or Physx), but I was more worried about nvidia starting a pissing match that winds up with them abandoning Linux support after they get told off. This is why I'm worried nvidia will screw this up for me.


    if you dont care about phys or cuda, is there any reason to stick with nvidia?
  • 4 Hide
    spasmolytic46 , October 22, 2012 6:33 PM
    alidanif you dont care about phys or cuda, is there any reason to stick with nvidia?


    I'll admit it's been a few years since I tried, but I've always had issues with ATI/AMD cards in Debian (with both open and closed source drivers) Linux. they either don't work at all, don't work right, or are extremely slow and have limited functionality. Every time I've used Nvidia in Linux they have just worked, even if it was a proprietary driver.

    Nothing is more frustrating that spending hundreds of dollars on a videocard and no matter what you do it only works as well as some intel chipset on a motherboard.
  • 0 Hide
    DjEaZy , October 22, 2012 6:51 PM
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvidia-linux-driver-linus-torvalds-f-bomb,16070.html
  • -9 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , October 22, 2012 6:59 PM
    chewy1963WTF Nvidia? Just release your drivers via the GPL and you wouldn't have to worry about it! But noooo, you want to keep your drivers proprietary. In the words of the immortal Linus Torvalds: "F*&^ You, Nvidia!


    Linus is a raging nerdboy. Linux wants nothing more than to get some market share. . . how much of the market will they hold without Nvidia? 46.7% of all steam users won't be using Linux for games, then. Oh well Linux blows anyways.
  • 7 Hide
    claber , October 22, 2012 7:12 PM
    I'm impressed that Toms readers do not seem to know how nVidia and ATi work. Their driver teams have more engineers that the hardware teams. The drivers are a central piece of their product.

    Drivers contain: 3rd party licensed IP and trade secrets such as details on how the architecture works, as well as algorithms.

    Look at the games: drivers update can boost a game's performance significantly (not SLI). Just updating the driver, using the same card. It is a good example of how important the driver is.

    Another example: Quadro vs GeForce vs Tesla: virtually the same hardware, but the cost difference is due to the work needed to get the drivers developed.

    Graphics cards are much more about the driver then the hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , October 22, 2012 7:13 PM
    linux is an operating system drivers are a manufacturers way of getting their product to work with that system.
    why should Nvidia have to bow to any one if they don't want to sell more product to users of that particular system?
    it is Nvidia's right to protect their particular efforts and flair of their products. faced with the competition from intel and amd i can understand, but faced with the effort by microsoft and valve to control gaming and other applications that require the need for their dedicated video card it would be prudent to expand their horizons considerably than to continue blindly down the path laid out for their future controlled by microsoft or valve.

    something majorly proprietary must be involved for them to hold back like this.
  • 1 Hide
    computerguy72 , October 22, 2012 7:22 PM
    jhansonxiNvidia sells hardware, not drivers, so releasing programming info for the GPUs doesn't cost them anything.


    Wow. Almost your entire assertion is false. Nvidia competes with AMD, Intel and others and spends large amounts of money optimizing their drivers to remain competitive. Lots of manufacturers have the same attitude not just Nvidia. Heck the full driver set on Windows is 150MB and has gone through thousands of revisions. They finally start spending money on US with more development and support and boom lots of people start dumping on them. Intolerance has crushed us for years and we would be much further along without this mess.

  • 8 Hide
    SAL-e , October 22, 2012 7:51 PM
    claberI'm impressed that Toms readers do not seem to know how nVidia and ATi work. Their driver teams have more engineers that the hardware teams. The drivers are a central piece of their product.Drivers contain: 3rd party licensed IP and trade secrets such as details on how the architecture works, as well as algorithms.Look at the games: drivers update can boost a game's performance significantly (not SLI). Just updating the driver, using the same card. It is a good example of how important the driver is.Another example: Quadro vs GeForce vs Tesla: virtually the same hardware, but the cost difference is due to the work needed to get the drivers developed.Graphics cards are much more about the driver then the hardware.

    Actually I'm more impressed how people, like you, comment on issues they don't have clue about. The current issue is not about opening their drivers. Current issue is about nVidia's refusal, for years, to provide proper support of their hardware under Linux, refusal to provide documentation to the kernel developers in order to allow development of open source drivers for their hardware, but now when kernel developers developed feature of the kernel that could make nVidia's life easier they want to use it. No wonder why some of the kernel developers are upset about it.
  • -2 Hide
    jhansonxi , October 22, 2012 8:34 PM
    computerguy72Wow. Almost your entire assertion is false. Nvidia competes with AMD, Intel and others and spends large amounts of money optimizing their drivers to remain competitive. Lots of manufacturers have the same attitude not just Nvidia. Heck the full driver set on Windows is 150MB and has gone through thousands of revisions.
    You're confusing "GPU programming info" with "driver source code". It's unlikely the GPU has third-party IP in it's architecture (other than that of patent trolls).
  • 3 Hide
    PreferLinux , October 22, 2012 8:34 PM
    I think a lot of people here would do well to dig their heads out of the sand, and read a proper Linux source for Linux news...
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