Open Source License Question

Cliff Wells clifford.wells at
Sat Oct 30 08:52:50 CEST 2004

On Fri, 2004-10-29 at 23:34 -0700, Josiah Carlson wrote:

> With all that said, if one /could not/ use GPL'd libraries from
> commercial software, then nVidia and ATI would have lawyers knocking on
> their doors for not GPLing their video drivers, as technically, the
> nVidia drivers are derivative works of the Linux kernel.  Not being
> privy to the inner workings of nVidia nor ATI, I will not guess how they
> have managed to release binary-only drivers for linux, and will just say
> that it is being done.

AFAIK there are no ATI binary drivers for Linux.  Those drivers are part
of, developed from ATI's specs.  The NVidia drivers are binary ad
use the GPL'd wrapper approach.  The driver comes in two parts: the
proprietary binary module, where all the interesting stuff happens, and
a GPL-compatible shim between it and the kernel.

Whether or not this is *really* GPL-compliant is still up in the air.
Just because nobody complains about it doesn't mean it's legal.  I
seriously doubt any of the kernel developers have any intention of
"sending lawyers" to NVidia's door over it if it isn't, so the lack of
action doesn't really prove anything other than it works for practical
purposes ;)

Cliff Wells <clifford.wells at>

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