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Date:      Tue, 19 Dec 2000 13:08:31 -0700
From:      "Steve Shoecraft" <sshoecraft@1-link.net>
To:        <freebsd-hackers@FreeBSD.ORG>
Subject:   RE: FreeBSD vs Linux, Solaris, and NT 
Message-ID:  <000001c069f7$767b3b00$0c3084ce@max.home.org>
In-Reply-To: <200012191838.KAA13083@implode.root.com>

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	There are a number of reasons why a manufacturer can not/will not release
source code for a driver.  A few that come to mind are:

		a) A device driver is a reflection of the hardware.  Manufacturers in
highly competitive markets could potentially be giving away trade secrets
for their new wiz-bang technology by publishing the source code.

		b) Manufacturers license technology from other manufacturers for inclusion
into their product.  The license/NDA does not allow them to disseminate the
information (either through source or documentation).

	I can completely understand their position.  If *I* were doing business in
a highly competitive marketplace, I would be VERY weary of publishing my
proprietary information for my competitors to see.

	EXAMPLE: I have been trying to deal with ATI recently regarding my
All-In-Wonder 128 and TV-Out.  Although they have been *VERY* helpful in
giving me example source and datasheets for the R128 chipset, they cannot
give me the information on how to enable TV-Out.  This is because the
ImpactTV chipset on my AIW contains technology licensed from Macrovision,
and for them (ATI) to release the information to me would breach their
agreement with Macrovision and open them up to a nice fat lawsuit.  I *MAY*
have to try and get a license from Macrovision and then present my licensing
info to ATI -- and even if I did, I would not be able to distribute the
source for that component of the driver... (sigh)

	IMHO, we should more than happy if a manufacturer supplies us with drivers,
even if they are in binary form.  If they release the source code/datasheets
for a device, fantastic.  Personally, I'd rather have the driver for the
latest piece of hardware than wait several years until they feel releasing
the info wouldn't hurt them in the marketplace.

- Steve



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