Re: [GnomeMeeting-list] PWC driver story continues.

On Fri, 2004-09-17 at 07:39 +0200, Wouter Van Hemel wrote:
> On Fri, 17 Sep 2004, Malcolm Caldwell wrote:
> > I think the point is that linux DOES have drivers for most purposes,
> > even if it does not have drivers for every piece of hardware (but then
> > again, what does???(*))
> >
> > The problem here was people went and bought these webcams because they
> > were supported in linux, but then the pin was pulled.  The problem here
> > is not linux.  The problem was with NON GPL CODE!
> >
> Which I had no problem of loading, if it were not of removing the 
> possibility of doing so. The non gpl code wasn't any problem for me.
> (Though I obviously want(ed) it opensourced.)
> > As long as you use non gpl code you can have the rug pulled out from
> > under you: it happened in this case: the author had the ability to stop
> > support and remove the code.
> >
> He pulled the GPL code too. Doesn't make a difference if the code is 
> binary or not. It was gone.

It was not 'gone'.  It still existed.  It was not in the *latest*
version of the kernel, but it was still in all the many many kernel
trees before everywhere (including created before it was
'removed'.  How many copies of that code continued to exist on our

Additionally, it was always said that the driver would be re-included if
someone submitted a patch and indicated they would support it.

> Bit-rot would have taken both opensource and binary code, after being 
> pulled; unless you disrespect the author's wishes and ignore the removal.
> > In fact, events show in favour of the linux 'zealots': now a pwc drivers
> > is being written, and no one will ever be able to remove it from the
> > public again!
> >
> It was mostly GPL already, except for a decompression function. The code 
> removed from the kernel was GPL. And it was removed from the public!

It was not removed from the public.  It was just not included in a few
revisions of the kernel, which AFAIK were not even marked as release

> No haughty 'zealot' had anything to do with reverse engineering, AFAIK.
> > (*) If I am not wrong it is easier to get linux to work with old
> > hardware than a modern Microsoft operating system.  If the hardware
> > company is not interested in creating new drivers who is going to do it?
> > Why should the hardware manufacturer create an incentive NOT to upgrade
> > to a new device?
> >
> The thing is, that dumb companies think that their newest products are so 
> worldshockingly innovative that everybody wants to copy them. So they all 
> keep as much specifics (and thus code) secret for a while. In general, 
> things wouldn't be so if engineers would control their creations and 
> inventions instead of greedy manager/economist/marketing/lawyer scum that 
> sets us all back. If all would open up their stuff, we could get on with 
> the future, instead of all blocking each others progress.
> And, ofcourse, they think that paying developers to work on code for Linux 
> (if Linux, why not MacOSX, FreeBSD, Solaris, ...?) will not pay off at 
> this time. Which might be right, depending on the product, I wouldn't know.
> > Is freedom of any kind a religion?  If I say we should be careful to
> > ensure that we protect free speech or a free press is that being overly
> > dogmatic?  OSS is not religion - it is just common sense.
> >
> Personally, I think that there is nothing common sense about removing a 
> working driver that many people use.
> The GPL doesn't allow free speech. It only allows GPL. If the GPL would 
> allow free speech, it would be respectful of other licenses. That's what 
> makes it extremist (depending on how rigid you follow every letter).

I am not expert on this but: The GPL does not restrict other licences
from existing, or even stop you using software with other licences.  It
does stop certain kinds of linking with GPL software.

> The GPL, or at least some kernel developers, stepped on many of their own 
> users in the name of their utopia, while things didn't need to be that 
> way. It's usually not a good sign when people need to start piling up dead 
> bodies to reach their higher goal. True freedom is allowing people the 
> choice of loading any binary drivers themselves. The GPL does not give 
> that choice.
> Don't get me wrong; I like the GPL. But it's execution could be more 
> according to its deeper values.
> > Maybe other licences do have enough protections but that does not mean
> > that the GPL is a bad licence.  It does have very strong protections
> > which any consumer should embrace.
> >
> Ofcourse. Nobody contests that. I like the GPL. In spirit, not to the 
> letter.
> > I am no expert in the linux kernel and its approach to binary drivers
> > but as far as I know companies are still free to create binary drivers,
> > even create binary drivers with a GPL stub.  They just cant expect that
> > such code should be included in a standard kernel.  Many
> > companies produce binary only drivers for linux and distribute them
> > outside the main kernel.
> >
> > There is a group of people who are responsible for the linux kernel code
> > (and we can see they even have legal obligations here).  They must be
> > able to say what can and cannot be included.
> >
> The binary decompression function was not included in the code. Only a 
> hook to allow loading it for those who want to.
> I would argue that allowing binary functions for e.g. video codecs is a 
> good policy - unless, ofcourse, you want to have a windows machine 
> installed to watch all the video stuff, because very little of it is 
> actually open-specification.
> The main kernel/software just shouldn't DEPEND on it.
> > Months?  Not even 1 month has passed in this episode!
> >
> In that month, how many people would have to switch to windows? I've 
> gotten my camera the day after the driver was pulled. I don't have 
> windows. I was not too happy.
> (Luckily there is some time between actual CVS code changes and official 
> stable releases.)
> A month is a long time to wait for using your new toy. :)
> > In the final analysis, I say that this episode shows the linux
> > developers to have been correct:  Now we will have a GPL pwc driver,
> > that will be supported as long as there is interest by people who want
> > to support it.
> >
> Aha, but that's the whole point of my unhappiness. None of the people who 
> wanted to have it removed, or who actually removed it, were behind the 
> effort of either reverse-engineering or contacting Philips to open up 
> their specs. That's what I mean with using the GPL in a wise or in a
> deconstructive way. The attitude wasn't very positive, and that's once 
> again what will be remembered by any companies looking towards drivers for 
> Linux - or users looking for a new operating system.
> If one wants to make software his religion, he should at least try to get 
> ahead with others, perhaps convince them, and not shoot off people that 
> don't have the same beliefs.
> > (Think of this: in the future pwc will just work, out of the box, with
> > any kernel!)
> >
> If the reverse-engineered driver will be considered 'legal enough'...
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