Well, I've been reading about Libre-Linux's catch22: AMD supports coreboot, but no free drivers for 3d acceleration and Intel has free drivers for 3D but doesn't support coreboot (which IMHO does no good for either of them or the users, and doesn't make any sense whatsoever).
And I just wondered, is it possible to have an AMD with coreboot and then an NVidia card with Noveau free drivers? I know next to nothing about this, but I guess the answer will be no, or it would be more popular, right?
And last but not least: what the hell is 3D acceleration used for?! I honestly have no idea; maybe I need it on a daily basis, or never use it at all.
> coreboot, but no free drivers for 3d acceleration and Intel has free
> drivers for 3D but doesn't support coreboot (which IMHO does no good
> for either of them or the users, and doesn't make any sense
DRM is a reason stated for this. Remember that both Intel states that
they support free BIOS (just the non-hardware-specific parts) and AMD
states that they support open source graphics drivers (just the part
running on main CPU), so it's probably not widely considered a problem.
> then an NVidia card with Noveau free drivers? I know next to nothing
> about this, but I guess the answer will be no, or it would be more
> popular, right?
Not having used Coreboot I don't see a reason why it wouldn't be
possible (although would most probably require keeping and maybe running
nonfree BIOS of the graphics card). Wouldn't consider lack of 3d
acceleration the biggest reason for unpopularity of Coreboot.
> honestly have no idea; maybe I need it on a daily basis, or never use
> it at all.
Games, video players and compositing window managers use it, e.g. Gnome
Shell requires it. All that uses OpenGL probably needs it (there are
slow software rasterizers).
I just took a quick look into this. Mostly out of curiosity. I hadn't ever considered this setup before for a freer system. The problem is ATI/nVidia don't work for free software users. However the older nVidia chipsets can be used with a reverse engineered graphics driver (although undesirable) and an AMD motherboard if that board does not include a graphics chip. It still doesn't really work for other reasons... but... it's a bit closer.
It can't be done with a laptop either. It's about $50 USD more to do a minimum setup with the latest generation AMD CPU + older PCI Express graphics card compared to an Intel solution.
That includes the cost of a graphics card and a motherboard without nVidia/ATI/Intel graphics built in.
However the problem still remains that the boards which support coreboot are not readily available (due to age of the boards which support coreboot) which is ultimately going to price the majority of free software users out of the market (because boards that are unavailable are expensive due to rarity).
Although I don't recommend nvidia cards, I must admit that the nouveau project is doing some great work. I get 3D acceleration on Trisquel 5.5 so GNOME Shell works fine.
And then throw in wifi to the mess and it's quite impossible to find a perfect combination.
The only good solution would be to manufacture hardware of our own. Sure, it will take a long time and cost a lot of money but then it would work. In the beginning many people thought having a complete free operating system was impossible, yet the feat was completed in less than 10 years (1983-1992).
A company that produces free software compatible hardware only would be awesome. Motherboards, graphicscards, wireless cards, etc. Everything that is problematic to run with free software basically. Another company would buy those things and build specialized laptops and desktops out of them.
A company that produces free software compatible hardware only would probably be born to die, but I agree, it would be awesome!
@lembas: yes, there were a lot of people thinking that a whole free OS was impossible, but the difference is that each piece (copy) of hardware has to be manufactured; you don't have to write the whole OS again with each copy/download.
And that's when we come again to the utmost Linux problem: hardware support.
@Chris: I thought that coreboot would be supported in modern AMD motherboards. Is the problem the integrated chipset for graphics with non-free software?
PS: Anyone else though it could be hilarious to have Sheldon Cooper talk about Linux vs. GNU/Linux? That would also be a hell of a publicity too.
Sorry if I wasn't clear.
I'm not entirely sure on the details. Here are the facts:
Intel Graphics: Good
AMD Graphics: Bad
nVidia Graphics: Bad (although we have a partial solution no thanks to nVidia)
Motherboards with AMD CPUs: Good
Motherboards with Intel CPUs: Bad
You can't get a motherboard with an AMD CPU and Intel graphics as the graphics are integrated on the CPU.
Even before Intel was putting the graphics on the CPU there were no motherboards with AMD CPUs and Intel graphics.
If you go back far enough there was a time when you could get an Intel video card and a motherboard with an AMD processor. There is a slight chance the PCI video card would work in a newer AMD motherboard. The problem is these are video cards from the 1990's. I don't know if Intel was cooperating at the time and even if they were the video cards were not 3d accelerated. In fact they probably supported a maximum resolution smaller than would be acceptable today. 1024x768 would probably be the max at the time if I'm not mistaken. Possibly less. I'm not entirely sure when these cards were around. It might have been limited to 800x600 even.
Something else I should point out is that coreboot isn't the only piece of non-free software. There is other microcode to worry about that would be an even bigger issue to overcome.
I think right now the best solution is to focus on developing a market for freedom friendly hardware. We're doing that. Later we can shoot for developing hardware based on a non-x86 architecture that has a better chance of being completely freed. I believe working with companies other than Intel/AMD/nVidia is the solution to the problem. It's not a great solution though as the hardware specifications will ultimately be less competitive. However if the software is optimised even a 1990's system can be competitive. It is quite amazing how much was possible even in the 1980's given the hardware limitations. Optimisation played a huge part in making things possible.
I think it's an OK analogy since you don't have to design the whole device either with each manufacture. With hardware, the design is something like 99% of the costs.