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Compiz is Free Software

Compiz is licensed under the GPL and will always continue to be licensed under the GPL. We believe that the GPL is the right choice of license because it promotes the ideas of free software, freedom to use, freedom to distribute, freedom to study and freedom to modify. Unlike similar software on closed platforms, Compiz will always be available to you in-source and free of charge.

Compiz and Open Source Drivers

Because of what the project stands for, we have always supported the development of free software drivers for video adapters on PC hardware. Up until a few years ago, people using nvidia hardware had no choice other than to use proprietary drivers for 3D/OpenGL which was the only piece of software left to complete a free software desktop stack for machines using nvidia. Conversely, ATI/Radeon and Intel have always offered hardware specifications which has allowed for open drivers to be written for their hardware. Since AMD has purchased ATI/Radeon, they've hired developers to work full time on the open source radeon driver which is continuing to yield impressive results. While it is an unfortunate reality that the two major graphics hardware companies, NVIDIA and AMD/Radeon, cannot open source their proprietary drivers because of years of non-disclosure agreements, intellectual property, trade secrets and other legalities tied into these drivers (respectively, 'nvidia' and 'fglrx'), the Compiz team respects their views and the laws involved nonetheless.

We are thoroughly pleased that an up and coming open alternative to the proprietary nvidia closed source driver is already able to run compiz, and thus would encourage users to consider testing the Nouveau driver for NVIDIA GPU's. This driver utilizes KMS (Kernel Mode Setting) as well as the common DRI/DRM graphics hardware infrastructure and Mesa/Gallium3D OpenGL library. While the Radeon and Intel drivers have vendor support, the nvidia corporation still refuses to cooperate with open source developers (at the time of this writing) through means of releasing hardware specifications for their chips, though the nouveau developers continue to reverse engineer the nvidia driver.

Why you should consider using these drivers

If you are using a recent distribution, then the chances are that you are already utilising these free software libraries and drivers to make compiz work. This is because these are the only drivers that can be legally distributed along with other free software. However, as it currently stands, proprietary drivers provide some speed optimizations and power management features that free drivers do not yet have. Here is a list of reasons why you should consider supporting free software drivers:

  • Updates for drivers can be rolled out by those who manage your distribution's software, and bugs can be fixed a lot faster
  • You do not need to rely upon a single hardware vendor to fix bugs which may be otherwise interfering with your system
  • If compiz were to misbehave, crash reports can be generated which can more easily locate problems within compiz or the driver
  • You will be able to use bleeding-edge kernels and other software without having to wait for the hardware vendor to update their drivers
  • You will be able to take advantage of shared work going on in all of the drivers, such as kernel modesetting, central memory management and some of the other benefits that DRI2 and GEM/TTM provide.

CompizAndOpenSource (last edited 2010-10-31 01:43:06 by 97-112-134-222)