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Why are most laptop wireless or dedicated graphics drivers proprietary? I have searched the Internet for this but I have found no answers.

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Most OEMs sell Computers with Windows, if the driver works for WIndows, that's all they care. since that's what they're selling. –  Uri Herrera Aug 4 '12 at 17:01

3 Answers 3

  1. If I have to determine what is your graphics card is. I won't open your Laptop and see the internals to read it out. However observing the way you behave can yield enough to my research. ;)

  2. If you have really worked hard on some algorithms and there already are competitors in the market, you barely prefer to make it LGPL.

So the above two example can clear your concept. That is:

  1. You can guess architecture of graphics

  2. Others can copy your hard work.

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I recommend editing this post for clarity. I had no idea what you were trying to say before the recent edit, and I don't really know now either. Are you saying drivers are often proprietary because knowing how a driver works would somehow reveal how the video card itself works? The work with which valuable trade secrets are associated would typically be the microcircuitry on the card, and not the drivers. –  Eliah Kagan Aug 5 '12 at 2:26
  1. When a manufacturer produces a wireless or graphic card, they also produce the driver to make it work. Only they know how they work, so the're the first people to have the knowledge to produce drivers. Many of the manufacturers believe either by commercial purposes or security issues, that theirs drivers are the most suitable, and they have the power to make it open or closed source.

  2. Producing open source drivers sometimes require a lot of hard work and reverse engineering, and because most of this work is made by people doing it for free, that's why you see more proprietary than open source drivers.

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Say Company X makes a driver. Suppose they make it propetiary. They will have spent some money on it. Suppose they make it open-source. They will have spent the same amount of money.(In fact it may be cheaper as people may help develop the open-source driver) Example of open-source: Intel GMA graphics driver. Plus, open-source projects are also secure. –  Ramchandra Apte Aug 5 '12 at 4:31

Some manufacturers also consider the internal workings of their hardware and driver software algorithms a business secret. The smartly written driver may provide the speed advantage a certain videocard has over it's competitors and they wouldn't like to have their 'collegue's to have the same advantage.

Furthermore the videocard manufacterer may have signed a non-disclosure contract with the GPU chipmanufacturer.

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