Several years ago, there was a troll named Jeff Merkey that wrote proprietary software and had a history of involvement at Novell and Microsoft. He wrote some proprietary Linux kernel modules and lied about the license so that it would let him use GPL-only symbols, and he also suppressed the "kernel is tainted" warning so the user wouldn't see it.
From what I can tell, he's just lucky nobody decided that he was important enough to sue or get an injunction against (his business eventually went under not too long after he did that). It certainly angered a lot of kernel developers.
Merkey also had a very childish, petty, egotistical attitude and went around and tried slandering several kernel developers that made him angry, including making a libelous statement that one of them had AIDS, among other such nonsense.
It seems that particular troll is all but forgotten.
I think Nvidia would not let their employees act the way Merkey did, and I'm sure their lawyers won't let them make derivative works of the Linux kernel just because they don't want to risk the legal consequences of that.
Nvidia is pushy, and I think what they really want from Linux is something like what FreeBSD has done, where Linux developers stop caring about open source drivers or fixing driver interface bugs and just freezes "something" bugs and all, calls it an ABI, and lets Nvidia do whatever stupid things they want.
Also, the "taint" warning is there for a good reason. It lets the user know they are running the kernel in a configuration that is totally unsupportable by either the upstream kernel developers or by the distribution that the user is running.
Yeah, you get an Ubuntu every once in a while that claims they "support" proprietary broken crap drivers, but they really can't. Their ability to support it is the same as your ability to support it. They can *ask* the developer and *hope* that it gets fixed, some month, year, ever....
I think they spell out what they consider derived works in the COPYING file.
NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".
Also note that the GPL below is copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation, but the instance of code that it refers to (the Linux kernel) is copyrighted by me and others who actually wrote it.
Also note that the only valid version of the GPL as far as the kernel is concerned is _this_ particular version of the license (ie v2, not v2.2 or v3.x or whatever), unless explicitly otherwise stated.
1) First off, in most companies, S/w Coding standards is company proprietary information. So thats why NVIDIA can't just open their drivers.
2) The drivers for the H/W are going to be at a VERY low level, and will basically show how NVIDIA accomplished everything in its H/W. You think AMD/Intel would like to see that information? This is especially notable, since NVIDIA has a lot of specialized components on its cards to handle certain tasks (they've hinted at such over the years...)
3) If the Kernel does not expose a way for a technology like Optimus to work, then the only way to accomplish it is though drivers. And since NVIDIA will not open their drivers up (nor should they be required to), anyone who opposes NVIDIA's efforts looses the right to complain about the lack of optimus support.
The nature of the way Nvidia and AMD's proprietary drivers and Linux itself works makes some things their drivers do possible to reverse engineer simply by watching the state of the hardware as you ask the proprietary driver to tell the GPU to do something. That's how Nouveau came about.
NVidia (and companie alike) will try, and you can't blame them for that,
it's just business as usual. GPL is the sole reason for today user freedom
and diverse software ecosystem. I think nVidia has to rethink their current
position (Linus loves them) and give back to the community. And thats just
exactly what developers are saying between lines. Don't be a douche, you
can't get love (gazillions of manyears of GPL development) if you don't even
consider supporting opensource drivers. It's not our fault that your engineers
and financial analysts took the road of developing a technology that can't be
nice with opensource. It's your choice, your financial bottom line and now
grow a pair and deal with it.
Damn, I'm pissed :)