Rant about ATI

Marek Wawrzyczny marekw1977 at yahoo.com.au
Wed Aug 9 18:39:03 PDT 2006

On Thursday 10 August 2006 02:20, Russell Shaw wrote:
> Miles Bader wrote:
> > Marek Wawrzyczny <marekw1977 at yahoo.com.au> writes:
> >>If *nux had an equal or majority of the desktop market share (I am
> >> allowed to dream), hardware manufacturers (of consumer grade products)
> >> would  not hesitate to put money into drivers and we wouldn't really
> >> bother to have this
> >>
> >   > discussion :)
> >
> > Er, yes we would because: (1) many people do not like closed-source
> > drivers, even if some (like you) tolerate them; and more importantly
> > (2) closed-source drivers tend to suck in general, and are a maintenance
> > nightmare (bit-rot, herrrre we come!).
> >
> > However, if linux had a large share of the "market", the stupid
> > attitudes of many manufacturers would probably change for the better.
> > Currently it seems due more to knee-jerk conservativism and clueless
> > management/legal-departments than anything else; there's just not
> > enough money at risk to force them to actually think about the issue for
> > more than 3 seconds.
> It will only take one open-source graphics card with published pcb layout
> or a kit available to give X the full flexibility it needs. Then those
> binary parasites can be ditched when a developer takes X in a new
> direction.

An increasing number of people I know are moving to laptops... so just having 
a graphics card is not enough. Brand name and performane is another big 
consideration amongst "power" users who often do want to play the occasional 
game (which I can't understand since I haven't played games in years).

Finally, you'd have to convince companies like HP, Acer to use the open source 
hardware since many less technically oriented users buy hardware from retail 
shops. Also, how would warranty be handled... who would be responsible, etc. 
Who would be willing to mortgage their house to get the thing off the ground. 
What about stock, patents, the whole legal side of things (I presume that 
some commercial compan(y|ies) may at some point consider this product to be a 
threat and could launch legal action to try and bury it with some patent 
infringement  claims, etc).

Would it mean that non open-source hardware ceases to be supported? 
Realistically this would mean that FOSS becomes an educational only tool. I 
guess this all comes down to who are FOSS users meant to be? Because, if FOSS 
is meant to be free and available to all, then it also needs to cater for 
people running non open-source hardware.

All in all, an open source card would be fantastic... an opportunity for 
electrical engineers to play bigger part in the play a bigger part in the 
open source community. But I am a pessimist first and from a commercial point 
of view and market penetration, I don't think it's going to be an easy 
battle. Any open source hardware should complement and quite possibly drive 
X, but not make it fully open-source only...

Marek Wawrzyczny

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