[clug] Internode dumps FOSS for MS Exchange

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Thu Feb 18 04:06:22 MST 2010

Hash: SHA1

On 17/02/10 03:35, Robert Brockway wrote:
> So to me that boils down to:  Yes you may choose to use proprietary
> devices but then you accept the limitations on interoperability that
> they impose.  These limitations may well limit future options and cost
> more in the long run and if open standards had been used.

An interesting additional example to this point that I read today is Arjen van
de Ven's (old) story of what might happen if proprietary binary drivers were
allowed into the mainstream kernel:


In less than a year, he argues, we would see the total fracturing and
corruption of the Linux kernel process, as the need to stay compatible with
older, non-updated, and sometimes broken binary drivers stalled the
development of new kernel interfaces.  Some might argue that it's a bit
implausible, yet we've all seen so many proprietary systems go down the path
described that it's all too realistic.  I read that article from a link from
this story:


Which announces that the Nouveau driver - a free, open source graphics driver
- - now supports basic 3D operations on nVidia cards.  It's already faster at 2D
operations than the nVidia-supported 'official' nv driver, and most people
predict that it will get to be pretty close to the proprietary nvidia driver
in 3D speed.  Nouveau is (famously) now in the mainline kernel.

So the interesting counterpoint to this whole process of "we wanted to support
our existing proprietary things so we bought more proprietary things" is
happening in the open source world.  However, here it's "we wanted to support
our existing open source things, so we joined a bunch of projects together to
make everything work better, and incidentally freed a whole bunch of people
form using proprietary things."

The question being asked now is "what's going to happen to the nvidia
proprietary driver".  The linux-mag article reckons that it will still
outperform the nouveau driver and have extra sauce - VDPAU, better power
management, video decoding offload and other stuff.  Maybe so, but I suspect
for most people it's not going to matter - they'll get a driver that does 2D
and 3D for their video card out of the box, and they won't even bother to see
what nVidia's driver might do.  Gradually nVidia will see downloads of its
proprietary driver lessen and at some point they'll say "well, we're going to
stop writing the proprietary driver because it's not economically viable".
There'll be a bit of a howl of protest, but most people will just keep on
using the nouveau driver.

Then at some point the nouveau driver will be _faster_ than the proprietary
driver due to the latter bit rotting.  nVidia's Tegra, Ion and other projects
are going to push into the embedded market, where Linux support is
increasingly important.  At some stage a manager in nVidia is going to realise
that it's cheaper to pay their Linux developers to maintain the nouveau driver
- - which now supports all those platforms anyway - than it is to keep writing
the proprietary driver.  And then there'll be that wedge in the door and
nVidia will start gradually start working with the open source community.

Of course, what we'd like to see is them just short-cut that whole process and
get to the bit where they fund nouveau developers _now_, and start working
with the community because they can see that investing in the FOSS process now
is going to sell them a lot more products than keeping it all in-house.  But I
don't hold much hope for that realisation, personally.

I don't think the Internode announcement is really that much.  It's like
Microsoft's announcement that TransACT had 'got rid of Linux and saved money
with Windows'.  What they actually did was get rid of one old Red Hat Linux 6
box running Oracle and replace it with a Windows machine that runs... Oracle.
 Everything else in TransACT that runs the mission critical stuff - all the
DHCP servers and RADIUS servers and so forth - run Debian Linux.  Simon
Hackett is talking about going to Microsoft Exchange not because he wants to
support Microsoft, but because he wants to fire up a bunch of developers and
companies out there to say "here's your lost business opportunity - come and
get it back!".  If it was anything else it would be a completely different

Have fun,

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