FAQs to the VIA open source driver

There have been numerous questions regarding the recent open source release of VIA's 2D Xorg driver.

Why did VIA publish yet another driver, rather than improving any of the existing Xorg/openchrome/unichrome drivers?
Because this driver is all but new! It was the base for all the binary-only driver releases that VIA has made (and is still making) for select Linux distributions. So rather than having written a new driver, this is just the disclosure of an existing driver.

One of the commonly asked questions is _why_ not the complete source, including codec acceleration, TV out and 3D was published. I cannot disclose the particular reasons for VIA, sorry. But I can comment on the general reasons on why companies cannot disclose certain source code. As you may have noticed, the situation with regard to the ATI driver e.g. shows certain similarities.... Usually there are some parts of the code, particularly for the 3D driver, which cannot be disclosed due to either

  • parts of the source code are under a proprietary license from a 3rd party
  • parts of the source code refer to technologies (e.g. macrovision) which are subject to very strong NDA's by the licensor, which in turn prohibit the open documentation or distribution in source code form

Will VIA learn to build a community around that new driver? Will there be mailing lists and a public revision control system?
As of now, this is unlikely. Not because VIA doesn't believe in the community, but rather because the disclose of VIA's source now enables everyone involved to look at all the available drivers. Some consensus has to be found on which driver is best to be used as a base for a future Xorg mainline driver, and then the community and VIA can work together on merging bits from other drivers into that base. Creating VIA's own mailing lists (and community) would lead to more fragmentation, rather than unification.