Free Software Foundation Asks Hardware Vendors' Help

The Free Software Foundation has undertaken a new strategy in that it is asking hardware manufacturers to:

  • “Supporting free software drivers
  • Ending the “Microsoft Tax”
  • Removing proprietary BIOS locks
  • Supporting a free BIOS
  • Rejecting Digital Restrictions Management”

It is going to be interesting to see how many hardware manufacturers will actually try to comply with this request. I can see it as a real threat to Microsoft, who basically controls the operating systems of about 90% of the world’s computing systems. Which major vendor would want to go up against a giant of this size and aid the Open Source community?

Though the paper spells out that there is a large segment of Open Source users, it doesn’t mention how much of a market share Open Source represents. I have heard the following figures, but cannot personally attest to the accuracy of Microsoft at about 90%, Apple about 5%, and the remainder Linux and Unix users at about 5%.

And just for conversation’s sake, let’s just say there are ten major vendors who produce sound cards. If all ten produced drivers for Linux, what would be their expected monetary gain? It is unfortunate, but it may not be worth it financially for hardware manufacturers to provide hardware drivers for Linux. If it were, the vast majority would have done so already. That’s just my opinion.

What’s your take?
FSF documents and papers available here.

[tags]linux, hardware, drivers, FSF, free software foundation[/tags]