View Full Version : Hardware and proprietary information

November 8th, 2007, 05:15 AM
Could someone please explain why, when a piece of hardware is purchased, all information related to making use of it is not supplied so that the purchaser could produce the software necessary to make full use of such hardware no matter what OS they intended to install it in?
It appears that most, if not all problems, we have encountered to date in regard to Linux have been due to lack of information to create drivers for our hardware.

November 8th, 2007, 11:54 AM
One of the possible reasons I heard of is that supplying this information will make it easier for other companies to detect patent infringements. Due to the practice in some countries/states to accept almost everything as a patent, it often happens that a company is using a technique which is patent protected without even knowing of it.

Binary drivers don't have this issue since decompiling is first of all often illegal without prior permission by the writer and furthermore patent infringements often happen in the driver and not just the hardware. Giving the information how to write a driver would also be likely to contain references or description of technique which are protected by patents.

Finally, probably companies producing hardware are afraid of having support for systems they don't know.

BTW, remember the "good old days" in which every printer came with a manual that explained the control codes for it? :popcorn:

November 8th, 2007, 12:13 PM
It's privelaged information. If they were to release all techniques for total access, it would make 'Reverse Engineering' very profitable.

It's like a safety latch: If you have a firmware layer that has to provide access, they can better control which ways their device is accessed.

Many, though, are becoming more and more Linux friendly, as Vista is pretty much a bust. And, to boost sales, they're releasing enough info. to access and develope drivers for their hardware.

But, if they released too much, a competitior could easily find out what each and every chip, data bus, and interface method was up to. And knock of very cheaply, avoiding the entire of the Research and Developement process.