Yesterday Intel had a very important major release. But it's not a new processor or platform or branding strategy that I'm talking about. It's the release of the open source drivers for the integrated graphics in the Intel 965 Express chipset family.
In the past this would have gone unnocticed. With the much higher attention that the dislike (to use a mild word) of the Linux and open source community for binary drivers has received lately, this actually made the news. From C|Net to Slashdot, the reactions to the release were quite positive. I consider this a Good Thing.
What is most important about this news is not that it makes the developers happy (that's important, too, but I want to go somewhere else here). It's the fact that this is indeed the right thing to do for the end user. Every company loves to claim this for anything and everything that they do, right? Watching the spin-masters is often awe-inspiring. But this one doesn't need any spin, this one stands on its own. Major Linux distributions do not ship binary driver modules anymore. So if your hardware requires such a module, there's an extra step during the installation - you have to download it (assuming you have a working Internet connection). And that binary module is not included in your distribution vendor's validation testing. Nor is it covered by their support contract.
So you get something that is harder to installed, less tested, and that you can't fix yourself.
Compare this to an open source driver (like the one Intel just released), which can be integrated in the automated install process of each Linux distribution, is regularly tested by the vendor and its user community, and comes with all the sources needed in case that you or someone else ever runs into a problem that no one else has solved, yet.
I'd call that win-win-win.