[clug] The GPL and kernel modules

Cameron Patrick cameron at patrick.wattle.id.au
Wed Jun 21 04:30:19 GMT 2006

Neill Cox wrote:

> Good advice.  A little hard with 3D accelerated video cards where both the
> major players distribute binary only drivers.  How are Intel's drivers
> distributed?

They are free software.  The kernel side is included in the mainline
kernel and the X driver is included with Xfree86 and X.org.

> How good is their hardware?  Last time I bought 3D hardware there
> didn't seem any good choices.

My laptop has an i8xx and plays Quake III fine, and plays DVDs fine.  No
doubt the i9xx chipsets are faster again.  I'm not a gamer, though, and
I probably wouldn't even notice if someone swapped my graphics card for
one which only did 2D.

Tangent: The Intel wireless drivers are a mixed bag.  The ipw2100
(802.11b) and ipw2200 (802.11b/g) have open source drivers which are
included with the kernel, but the more recent chipset (ipw3945? - it
does 802.11a/b/g and is found in recent Thinkpads) requires a
binary-only user-space daemon to drive the radio.

> Binary drivers do cause technical problems as well.  Apparently the ATI
> and Nvidia drivers are a major pain in getting suspend/resume to work for
> example.

This is more an example of driver authors not caring (or not thinking).
For a long while, Intel's drivers didn't suspend either.  Unlike the
Nvidia and ATI drivers, the people who cared about suspend could _fix_
the Intel ones.

Cameron (a huge fan of Intel chipsets; a pity they don't make ones that
work with AMD CPUs)

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