GPL flag for drivers

Alex Deucher alexdeucher at
Tue May 15 21:28:42 PDT 2007

On 5/15/07, Hal V. Engel <hvengel at> wrote:
> On Tuesday 15 May 2007 10:45, Alan Cox wrote:
> > > The anouncement is not as clear as I would have liked but AMD does have a
> > > history of supporting open source through their work on the Linux kernel
> > > and this is a good sign that at some point we might start seeing open
> > > source drivers for AMD/ATI hardware.  In addition this may put pressure
> > > on nvidia to open up either their driver sources or their hardware specs.
> >
> > I wouldn't hold your breath. They've been saying stuff like this for a
> > very long time and they still can't review a tiny bit of code and clear
> > an NDA on it so we can get 2D support for their current chips.
> >
> > Their actions speak volumes and I'll believe any more when I see it and
> > not earlier.
> There is one big difference.  The "they" that were "saying stuff like this for
> a very long time" were a different "they" (IE. ATI not AMD).  AMD has only
> been in charge of the merged company since the end of last October.  Mergers
> like this take a long time before things settle down and any changes in
> direction actually takes place.  Having worked for companies that were
> involved in mergers of similar scale I can personnally attest to how long
> this takes as some things may not be settled for many years.  The AMD/ATI
> merger is just getting to the point where we will start seeing how this
> really affects their direction and their corporate culture.  You also need to
> keep in mind that one of the things that happens when there are mergers like
> this is that anything that is not "business as usual", like the code review
> that involved an NDA, grinds to a halt as issues about who is in charge and
> what the new policy will be get worked out.  The larger the merger the longer
> it takes to sort these things out.
> Like you I will not hold my breath.  But AMD actually has a good history with
> the OSS community unlike ATI.  Because AMD was a much bigger company than ATI
> I would expect their corporate culture and policies to eventually become
> dominate post merger.  The question is was the announcement more of the same
> old stuff or did it reflect a post merger change in direction?  At this point
> we don't know and only time will tell.

I wouldn't say ATI always had a bad relationship with opensource; much
of the original radeon driver came from ati either directly or
indirectly (errata, support for new chips, XAA render accel,
databooks).  Up until the avivo stuff, ati chips were the best
supported video chips in X.  Today, next to Intel they are probably
the second best although lately nothing has come from ATI.


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