02.06.14

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Note to the Press: Nvidia News is About Linux, Not Linus

Posted in GNU/Linux, Kernel at 7:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Photo by Alex Dawson, 2002

Linus

Summary: Cult of Personalities takes over the news again — news which, if anything, proves Stallman’s points to be valid

EARLIER this week Nvidia made an important announcement [1] that was picked up by the press [2-8]. Nvidia shows some signs of changing, conceding its purely proprietary culture. Finally there is a response with actions, not just words. Interestingly enough, a little message from Torvalds in Google+ almost generated more headlines than the original news [9-11] (a lot of the aforementioned links overemphasise Torvalds), especially because he previously gave Nvidia the finger (as in, “up your rectum”). Imagine what the reaction would be if Stallman had done that. When Torvalds does provocative stuff in order to attract attention then it’s portrayed as “cool” or “funny”, whereas the father of GNU gets smacked down if he even dares to try. The person who all along preached in favour of source code freedom is Stallman, not Torvalds, who had also created Linux as a proprietary kernel at first (so basically the same as Nvidia).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. [RFC 00/16] drm/nouveau: initial support for GK20A (Tegra K1)
  2. drm/nouveau: initial support for GK20A (Tegra K1) Directly Rendered From Nvidia
  3. Nvidia gets even more open saucy

    This Tegra K1 Nouveau support is still proof-of-concept but it is a sign that Nvidia is getting more open saucy having committed to better open source graphics support in September.

  4. Nvidia deepens Linux Nouveau support for upcoming Tegra chips
  5. Nvidia Seeks Glasnost With Linux, Contributes Open Source Code
  6. Nvidia slips love letter to open source driver devs
  7. Nvidia startles Linux world with driver contribution
  8. NVIDIA offers initial open source support for K1 graphics

    Chip maker NVIDIA has a long history of making sure there are Linux drivers for its graphics cards. But they’re usually closed-source drivers which means they’re not easy for OS developers and open source enthusiasts to work with. Linux founder Linus Torvalds was not amused by this approach.

  9. Torvalds gives Nvidia software thumbs up, not middle finger

    “This time I’m raising a thumb for Nvidia. Good times,”Torvalds said Sunday night on Google+, a strong contrast to a June 2012 speech in which Torvalds instead offered Nvidia a middle finger for its non-cooperation. Nvidia has preferred to offer proprietary binary drivers to let operating systems use its graphics chips, not open-source software that others can adapt, modify, and debug.

  10. Linus Torvalds Applauds NVIDIA For Posting Early Tegra K1 Open Source Drivers To The Nouveau Project
  11. Nvidia opens Tegra K1 driver, wins Torvalds thumbs-up
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A Single Comment

  1. linuxcanuck said,

    February 6, 2014 at 8:17 am

    Gravatar

    Stallman did nothing to bring Nvidia around. He has nothing to do with Linux and opposes proprietary anything. Linux (not GNU/Linux) comes from the Linux Foundation and not the FSF or GNU. It works with Nvidia and other OEMs to include drivers in the kernel. If Stallman had his way there would be no proprietary drivers in the kernel and likely no Nvidia. Giving any credit to Stallman is a joke. Mentioning his name in the same sentence as Nvidia would probably send him into fits of apoplexy. This is an obvious and weak attempt to keep his name in the news and nothing more.

    Linus Torvalds on the other hand has worked closely with OEMs to include drivers in the kernel. Nvidia was a source of frustration hence his finger to them. Their change of heart came out of his efforts and the Linux Foundation which he heads.

    Your title is correct. It is news about Linux, but Linux has nothing to do with Stallman. It has everything to do with the Linux Foundation which is represented by Torvalds. He is the frontman of Linux and has made it his mission to bang heads with OEMs and to call them out if necessary.

    This article is symbolic of the divide in the community between the GNU/Linux and the Linux people. It is a boring discussion which can do nothing to further our goals. It weakens the FSF and GNU when they and their supporters try to take credit for something they do not deserve or to issue blame to others. It emphasizes their own lack of success rather than builds anything. They would do better to spend their time in actually accomplishing something tangible.

    RMS has had a significant contribution and he continues to act as a conscience for FOSS. He will never represent mainstream thought and be current. He is always out of step with what the public wants. That is okay. We need utopian geniuses but when they become mainstream then we have a problem. Somebody has compromised their values and that should worry us far more than who gets credit for what.

    RMS is who he is. Torvalds is who he is. In many ways they are polar opposites. We benefit from having both because most of us live some place in between the poles.

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