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VIA Releases 800 Pages of Documentation For Linux

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the why-thank-you dept.

Programming 131

billybob2 writes "VIA has published three programming guides that total 800 pages in length and cover their PadLock, CX700, and VX800/820 technologies. The VIA PadLock provides a random number generator, an advanced cryptography engine, and RSA algorithm computations. The VX800 chipset was VIA's first Integrated Graphics Processor, while the CX700 is a System Media Processor designed for the mobile market. This is another step in VIA's strategy to support the development of Free and Open Source drivers under Linux, which comes pre-installed on VIA products such as the Sylvania NetBook, HP Mini-Note, 15.4" gBook, gPC, CloudBook, Zonbu, and VIA OpenBook. Earlier this week, VIA hired Linux kernel developer and GPL-Violations.org founder Harald Welte to be VIA's liason to the Open Source community."

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Anonymous Coward. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24356987)

Via (=Way) to go! :)

Via con Dios, hackers (3, Funny)

istartedi (132515) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359275)

Via con Dios, hackers.

Documentation Readability (1, Interesting)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360157)

Not having read the said documentation yet, is it readable? A lot of documentations from design centers in non-English speaking countries are frequently written in incomprehensible or ambiguous Engrish that are more often than not, nearly useless. Kudos for trying however...

Via what method? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24356991)

Guh?

Re:Via what method? (0, Offtopic)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357033)

Guh?

Hahaha you made a phunny. I'd answer you PDF but I doubt more than 4 /.ers would get the double meaning.

Re:Via what method? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357103)

I would post a great response to this, but you people would be too stupid to understand my genius.

Re:Via what method? (2, Insightful)

sadgoblin (1269500) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357185)

I'd post this, but I will get modded down... Hmmm...

Re:Via what method? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357263)

I'm only replying to this because I know I'll get modded up.

Re:Via what method? (0)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357797)

I'm replying to this to let you know I'd mod you up if I had mod points.

Re:Via what method? (1)

sadgoblin (1269500) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359255)

Yeah, they all tell me that.


Here goes my second, and last, post for today... Wasted... Oh well.

Re:Via what method? (1)

beav007 (746004) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362611)

Just thought I'd let you know that I just modded you up.

Wait...

linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357001)

what does this have to do with linux?

Re:linux? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357025)

Don't you know? All The World Is Linux. Even X. Let's be honest, only someone smart enough to work on Linux could possibly be smart enough to understand the documentation anyway. Us thickos who work on other OSes will just have to try not to get drool on the screen.

Personally I think Via should have made you click through an agreement that you were only ever going to use the documentation for Linux and none of those other pretend systems. That would have shown us!

Re:linux? (1, Insightful)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357403)

Don't you know? All The World Is Linux. Even X. Let's be honest, only someone smart enough to work on Linux could possibly be smart enough to understand the documentation anyway. Us thickos who work on other OSes will just have to try not to get drool on the screen.

Confession is good for the soul.

Re:linux? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357775)

What other operating systems NEED to write it's own drivers rather than depending on the vendor?

WHO CARES?

It's a really short list.

What other "non-X" developers are salivating over these docs?

REALLY?

Re:linux? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24358775)

It's a really short list.

FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFly BSD, ReactOS, OpenSolaris, Haiku, Syllable, Plan9

Off the top of my head.

What other "non-X" developers are salivating over these docs?

DirectFB, ReactOS, Haiku, Syllable, Plan9

Again, just off the top of my head.

It's O.K, we all know they're just wasting their time. Linux and X are perfect and there will never be anything better, so who else ever needs access to hardware documentation?

Re:linux? (1)

neumayr (819083) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360307)

Absolution is even better.
Given the graveness of your sin, a donation of, say, 25% of your income to the FSF just might save your soul.

Re:linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24360721)

You appear to making the equally uninformed assumption that Linux is the only GPL licensed kernel/operating system. It isn't. Out of the list posted here [slashdot.org] both ReactOS & Syllable are GPL/LGPL. Out of the others, all but OpenSolaris and Plan9 are released under licenses considered Free and GPL compatible by the FSF.

Re:linux? (5, Informative)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357027)

Now Linux drivers can be written for the hardware. Just like TFS says.

Re:linux? (4, Informative)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357209)

Well, as one of the other respondants pointed out, once the docs are out there, it can benefit any operating system, but the point is that VIA wants Linux, in particular (and the technologies like X that operate with the Linux kernel) to better support their products. I think of the three, the one that is most likely to be directly used by the Linux kernel dev is the crypto engine documentation. I think there are kernel-space crypto block device drivers (LUKS - at least, I think it's kernel space; I suppose it might be implemented in user-space) which could be accellerated by the padlock engine. In fact, I think the kernel already has some support for the padlock - whenever I boot my laptop, on which I have used LUKS to encrypt my /home partition, I get a warning that the padlock engine was not found (of course, because I have an Intel Core2 Duo, so don't have padlock).

Re:linux? (2, Interesting)

c (8461) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360939)

> but the point is that VIA wants Linux, in particular (and the technologies
> like X that operate with the Linux kernel) to better support their products.

It might be a lot more pressing than just "wants". It wouldn't surprise me if decent Linux support is now a requirement for VIA to get some of that "netbook" action.

c.

800 pages in length (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357059)

VIA has published three programming guides that total 800 pages in length

How many pages in width?

Re:800 pages in length (4, Funny)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357075)

700, with a depth of 300.

Re:800 pages in length (1)

Deltaway (1238354) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360399)

And increasing with time every passing second! But see, if we're just talking about the size of it, then Wikipedia beats it in all respects: It's larger, older, and gets larger as it gets older(at least so far). Let's get to the dimension of quality. Then we can really measure the colossality of the thing.

Re:800 pages in length (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357083)

How many pages in width?

Only one, certainly.

Re:800 pages in length (3, Interesting)

eddy (18759) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357861)

The only thing disappointing is that we still don't have PadLock[esque] instructions in AMD's and Intel's mainstream CPUs. You need to max out a modern 2-core highly clocked CPU to match a fanless C7 1.2GHz CPU in SHA and AES performance. What the hell is the problem? NIHS?

XSHA for teh wins already!

Re:800 pages in length (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24358791)

Oems don't care. Need to serve up ssl pages? Here buy this dual quad core machine, it will fulfill your needs...

Re:800 pages in length (0, Flamebait)

smallfries (601545) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359759)

A single core on a 3Ghz Core2 can match the performance of Padlock. I can't provide a link as the figures are unpublished but it's not particularly hard to work out how.

Offloading is a good idea for any heavily used operation. Special purpose hardware (like Padlock) is always more efficient than executing a program on general purpose hardware. There is nothing magical about this - overhead has been removed and the execution has been optimised for that specific case.

The fact that the Core2 can keep up says volumes about the poor implementation of the C7.

Re:800 pages in length (4, Insightful)

eddy (18759) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360481)

>A single core on a 3Ghz Core2 can match the performance of Padlock.

Which of course, is pathetic, all things considered. It's like hammering in a screw. Yeah sure, with a big enough hammer it'll go in...

>There is nothing magical about this

Who mentioned magic? I sure as hell didn't.

>The fact that the Core2 can keep up says volumes about the poor implementation of the C7.

Yes, an Intel 3.0GHz Core2 CPU at 100% load keeping up with a ~12W fanless CPU. I can see how you'd consider that a loss for the VIA implementation, if you're on drugs.

I don't know what the hell the point of your comment was, I seems to be argumentative just for the sake of it. The facts are simple: If Intel and AMD worked together on a cryptographic instruction set, we'd get FANTASTICALLY BETTER performance in these scenarios. We're talking 10-20x the performance of just bruteforcing it, spending CPU time that could be used for something better.

If you want to argue against that, I suggest you visit the local bar. I believe its name is /dev/null

Re:800 pages in length (1, Funny)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359731)

750 of the pages are saying "This page intentionally left blank". The other 50 are saying "To Do: fill in later".

font? (1, Insightful)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357085)

I hope they used a very tiny font!

I want to love Via, but they keep disappointing me.

Re:font? (4, Insightful)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357133)

I hope they used a very tiny font!

I want to love Via, but they keep disappointing me.

ATI started off with 800 pages as well. They kept adding to it, to the point where ATI graphic chipsets are almost as well supported Intels, and even have budding 3D support in the free drivers. I have faith in VIA.

Re:font? (2)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357553)

Disappointed for what? Do you expect a "10 PRINT HELLO WORLD" like thing in age of 2008?

Chipsets are way too complex stuff, they will indeed have 800 page documentation. People developing that kind of deep stuff actually uses all those 800 pages of documents.

Re:font? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24360197)

Do you expect a "10 PRINT HELLO WORLD" like thing in age of 2008?

800 pages of tiny font would be more information than 800 pages of a normal sized font. The GP is implying that they have likely not released enough documentation.

Get a brain! Moran. [google.ca]

Re:font? (4, Funny)

Asztal_ (914605) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357615)

They should have asked the OOXML people to help out.

Re:font? (4, Insightful)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 6 years ago | (#24361341)

Personally, I would say that hiring Harald Welte is a better indication of VIA's intentions than the release of documentation. Nobody in their right mind is going to hire the owner of GPL-Violations.org [gpl-violations.org] unless they are absolutely serious about Free Software.

Welte eats vendors for breakfast. Hiring him grants VIA instant credibility. If VIA drops the ball it is very likely to get crucified. Unless the executives at VIA have the intellect of fence posts this indicates a sea change for Free Software support from VIA.

my family have a confectionery business... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357089)

...and I would like to announce that we're publishing a recipe for one of our products each week... for Linux!

Although this is a cake shop, since it involves publication of documents it must be relevant to Linux.

Re:my family have a confectionery business... (1)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357109)

I'm sure Linux developers love having their cake and eating it too!

Re:my family have a confectionery business... (4, Funny)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357125)

I'm sure Linux developers love having their cake and eating it too!

The cake is a... yeah, you saw that one coming didn't you?

Re:my family have a confectionery business... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357771)

Please, enroll yourself in humour school.

fuck those faggots (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357143)

i've sen the pictures from comiccon and i've seen the linux faggots.... they need to build a big oven and throw them all into it. fucking faggots.

state of integrated graphics (4, Insightful)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357175)

makes you wonder, what with intel and via and amd/ati opening their documentation etc, if it will get to the point in the near future where nvidia will be the only binary blob in regards to video drivers.

come to think of it, this trend is something similar to what happened with wifi a few years back. Everyone was using binary blobs, then atheros, ralink etc release specs and oss drivers. let us hope this pressures the remaining vendors to do the same.

Re:state of integrated graphics (2, Informative)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357339)

and also the only one with fully accelerated 3d

Re:state of integrated graphics (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357593)

Intel has fully accelerated 3D for the features it supports. They may only have low end cards, which don't have support for more advanced features, but I'd like some assurance that my video card works now, and can continue to be supported in 10 years from now, when it's not hot stuff and the manufacturer decided they don't care about a product they no longer produce.

Re:state of integrated graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24358647)

yeah because you'll certainly be using this hardware in 10 years. Give me a fucking break. If you're still using 10 year old hardware now, then you are a fucking idiot. It is cheaper and easier to not use ancient crap.

Re:state of integrated graphics (4, Informative)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359013)

It is cheaper and easier to not use ancient crap.

That all depends on who's buying the parts...

Your mindset considered, you'd better not look too closely into industrial control systems.... your head might explode.

Re:state of integrated graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24362835)

Because industrial control systems need fully accelerated 3D...

I like how someone points something of utter common sense (nobody will be using 10 year old hardware), but there is always the whiny little guy, like you, who will bring up some super obscure, niche area where that same thing *might* be an exception. Sorry to tell you, but most people who use computers aren't in involved with industrialised systems and therefore will most likely not be using 10 year old computer hardware. Nice try though.

Re:state of integrated graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24364893)

FYI I'm using a half dozen 10 year old systems in my house as we speak, most of them from the heyday of the dot-com-bubble when a few year old high end used systems were available on the cheap (dual and quad ppro workstation/servers).

Plus a Dell desktop almost that old, plus a couple 10/100 routers from that era, etc.

Now why might you ask am I using all these items?
Because they are there. They work. And unlike most of my newer systems, I don't have to worry about them overheating when the place reaches 90 degrees in the middle of the summer (and while I try to keep it cooler, due to ventilation issues it often does) I know they will keep on chugging while my much newer systems, be they p4 or core based will be heading up the thermometer as they get run up. Sure the core 2's can be speedstepped down to decrease temps, but they usually end up on par with those older systems.

Just because YOU can't see a reason to use older hardware doesn't mean it's not a boon to someone else. If I hadn't had older hardware to cut my teeth on when I was younger, I probably would never have gotten into computers. Nevermind that if I didn't have these rock solid old boxes chugging along, I'd have been out of net access more times than I care due to hardware failures in the 'hot modern' boxes that I rely on for such frivolities such as flash, and 25+ tabs, and shiny 3d graphics in 32 bit or HD at 75fps running at 1920x1080 (okay, *I* don't run that, but some people find the need to...)

My point being a lot of you guys complaining about old hardware around here, probably aren't the kind of guys slashdot used to be about. They tended to be the kind of guys who'd have a C64 or Apple or Atari around because they enjoyed them. Be it the games, or the community, or the ability to work on them themselves. Nevermind when you could find a cool 'super-system' like an sgi indy or a sun sparcstation, or god only knows what else, and wanted to get it running so that stout little soldier could get one more journey in before the wastebin.

Attitudes like this are what really disappoints me about the 'mainstreaming' of open-source/free software. It leads to consumers who are too narrowminded to see the possibilities outside the real of 'next years hot thing'.

It's also partly why so little of my favorite hardware is still supported under linux. Nevermind trying to fit any newer linux applications onto any cool vintage hardware like a 386/486/pentium with sub-2gig hard drives.....

Re:state of integrated graphics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363715)

Hey, it's *asplode*.

Re:state of integrated graphics (1)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363961)

and why do industrial control systems need 3d graphics cards again?

Re:state of integrated graphics (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 6 years ago | (#24362489)

Yeah, I'm so glad I can't use my $500 video card today because it's much better to be able to use my $0.50c card in 10 years time!

Piss off you idiot.

I've still got my ZX81 (qitrh 16k rampack), BBC Micro, (the 386 & 486s I ditched), a P54C, a Pentium 75, a Pentium 150, a Pentium Pro Proliant 800 (I cba to find out what speed - probably 200Mhz), another Proliant a bit later 500Mhz I think, then its on to the Pentium IIIs - 10 all the same 700Mhz ish (from a skip), an IBM E-Server dual PIII 733Mhz (that runs my business), a Dell PIII I was using as my terminal until recently, a couple of AMDs - an 800Mhz Opteron and a 2400, some AMD roughly 1Ghz thing I never use, an Intel dual 1Ghz PIII and at the top of the tree an Intel quad core 2.4Ghz. You really don't want my list my pile of VGA/NIC/SCSI and other ISA/PCI/AGP cards and other peripherals.

That's 27 years of still working hardware, from companies who came and went.

Re:state of integrated graphics (4, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357537)

They need serious competition from ATI and Linux fans choosing ATI because of document availability.

Same goes for Via too.

The pressure can only be done via free market and people's reason for choosing a product. Lets say, a huge customer like a country Army chooses ATI for their computers over NVidia just because ATI is documented. I tell you to count days (not weeks!) before Nvidia does similar move. Just watch the governments after the documentation of VIA, the salesman will have a real hard to beat argument: "It is open!"

Does the security agencies, armies still buy Nvidia while choosing Linux/BSD because the source is open? It really makes no sense to have binary thing running in supposed to be open and secure OS.

Re:state of integrated graphics (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357619)

Honestly, I don't think that most Linux-users will be picking VIA. VIA is known for making really cheap hardware, but it many times doesn't last as long nor run as fast as Intel/AMD chips. Yes, the gPC and others use it, but for the average person who walks into a store and buys a computer, it will have an AMD or Intel chipset most likely.

That said, I think that it is great that VIA is opening up docs, and I can't wait for nVidia to do the same, compiz cubes for everyone!

Re:state of integrated graphics (2, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357757)

Now it is open, some very advanced developer may pick it and make that cheap hardware integrated graphics become the fastest performing integrated graphics in that class. They are very much tied to software/driver you know.

You know, such things happened, some people fixed Creative's advanced sound drivers to work fine in Vista I heard.
I got an impression that even big name guys like NVidia and ATI aren't performing the way they should because of drivers. Especially on OS X/Leopard I notice it. 70% of bad feedback about Leopard came because of Nvidia/ATI drivers.

Re:state of integrated graphics (2, Insightful)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24358787)

Well mobile and affordable/portable chips is a really big thing right now. Sure, users wanting powerful systems may not choose VIA but the market for small and portable computers is quite large. ^^

Re:state of integrated graphics (2, Informative)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 6 years ago | (#24361359)

Not only that VIA made a smart move with its Nano design.

Realising that its C7 design, and by extension the Atom design, are not what people want, they moved towards an ultra-low voltage Core Solo design for their ITX motherboards. The Nano is strong enough to run Crysis with an 8600GT, all on miniITX hardware.

Not to mention the VX800 can output at 1900x1200, and can do hardware-playback of MPEG2, MPEG4 h.264 & ASF, along with a few other formats. This is all going to be documented for linux. So, HTPC builders, get ready! If VIA or a VIA partner is going to release a miniITX box based on the Nano, you bet your ass that would be the best MythTV platform ever, especially since nVidia is promoting MiniITX with PCIE x16, so you could even have a monster video card to boot.

Re:state of integrated graphics (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 6 years ago | (#24361405)

Many of the netbooks coming out have VIA chipsets. I haven't picked one up to date because I knew the hardware was not particularly well supported. I've bought VIA in the past, and been disappointed.

VIA chipsets would be great for thin clients and X terminals as well, but once again, VIA's support has historically been sub par. I actually am a little surprised VIA hasn't done this earlier. VIA competes very well on the low power and low cost end of the scale and Linux is fairly important in this market.

Re:state of integrated graphics (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360333)

I'm sorry, but I'm not picking ATI just yet. I want to see results, not just "useless" specs as I will NOT be writing a video driver just because there is some specs for it.

nVidia cards just work with any modern kernel. And they will work for conceivable future.

ATI cards circa 2000 had some dev(s) working on them and ATI was co-operating or so was the word. That was when I chose the ATI card 7200 with 64MB, VIVO etc. And guess what? The drivers sucked and continued to suck. Then ATI discontinued Linux support for the dev(s) "writing" driver and then we had no Linux support AT ALL for few cards.

Today it just looks like a deja-vu for me. I don't see anything that resembles stability of nVidia drivers from any maker, be it open source Intel (crashed trying to get EVE Online running under Wine for example) or from ATI.

For a 2D desktop, I may chose Via, if they have drivers available, or embedded ATI (maybe, if cheap). But for major video cards like the top of the line cards today from BFG Tech (*best* warranty support I've seen from any company so far :), I'm still inclined to use nVidia. nVidia embedded solution (with DVI output) is also what I'm looking for.

This is from a guy that runs Linux as a desktop. That runs XP under KVM and hasn't booted Windows native for almost a year now (Vista installed on another partition on this box, for development testing).

Aside: There are blobs all over the system. For examples, look at,
    1. BIOS
    2. hard drive
    3. network card/chip
    4. the CPU itself

Finally, OSS is NOT anymore "secure" from security standpoint (ie. no bad code slipped into distribution) than any binary only blobs like Windows. There are just different methods of putting stuff into them.

When was the last time you installed from source, AND reviewed all the code/changes AND compiled with compiler you trusted? Was it done on a 100% secure machine without any hardware trojans? If you haven't done all that, you may as well be running that binary blob. There is no difference.

Re:state of integrated graphics (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363565)

"When was the last time you installed from source, AND reviewed all the code/changes AND compiled with compiler you trusted? Was it done on a 100% secure machine without any hardware trojans? If you haven't done all that, you may as well be running that binary blob. There is no difference."

at some point you have to trust someone, even if you review all the source how do you know the compiler your using isn't compromised? however, why trust many different sources with varying goals when you can trust one source that can be reviewed on what it's doing by others.

While almost impossible to review all of the code yourself, there are others who go through it to scratch their own itches, if anything suspect appeared it gets headlines on the project quickly, or just removed as quickly as it was added.

I'd compare your statement to, someone can use a bulldozer to open the walls of my house, so why should I lock my doors and windows?

and before you say nobody checks code, people do, far fewer than the number of users perhaps, but people do.

Re:state of integrated graphics (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360585)

I hope the linux people will buy ATI/AMD otherwise they will die soon, very soon.

First Atheros and now this? (5, Interesting)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357211)

It's just a coincidence they came one after another, but I think companies are going to quickly realize that there's no benefit to keeping things locked up.

Suddenly they won't need to pay to write drivers, just release the documentation to write them (of course, it would be nice if they gave us a base). The OSS community will make the drivers more stable, cleaner, and faster. We will use the drivers for things they didn't imagine. All of this will save them money and sell their hardware (features added for free? added incentive to buy my stuff? sign me up!)

I think we may have reached critical mass, at least on the driver side.

First this, then Atheros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357293)

Slashdot was a tad late, but if you check out Phoronix, they reported them in the reverse order.

Re:First Atheros and now this? (4, Insightful)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 6 years ago | (#24358571)

No, sadly we're no where near critical mass. Not yet. There's three main problems:

(1) Companies lose control if they open source their drivers. Examples: Dell recently killed certain features from their sound drivers, and a ways back Creative was upset at someone who hacked up features into their Vista drivers which were purposefully absent (but present on their XP drivers). Both Dell and Creative "lost" here even with closed source drivers - they'd have never stood a chance to screw over their customers if the drivers were open.

(2) Many companies, which should focus on hardware, still worry others stealing their technology from open sourcing their drivers. nVidia is the biggest example here.

(3) Managment people are stupid and can't seem to comprehend how giving away this information can benefit them.

Slowly things are going the right direction, but it'll be quite a while yet. For the time being the F/OSS community will just have to remain in the weird flux of having some things work better than their closed source counterparts (rt2570 works sooo much better on Linux), while some things are worse (x264 acceleration).

Re:First Atheros and now this? (2, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359709)

a ways back Creative was upset at someone who hacked up features into their Vista drivers which were purposefully absent (but present on their XP drivers). (...) Creative "lost" here even with closed source drivers - they'd have never stood a chance to screw over their customers if the drivers were open.

Creative licensed certain features for XP, that they didn't want to pay for in Vista. It wasn't that Creative was trying to force customers to buy more expensive cards, it was that Creative itself would have to pay an obscene sum to a third party for Vista support. Not getting permanent rights sounds like short-term cost saving on Creative's part but whoever cashed his bonus back in 2001 probably doesn't care. Whoever owned the rights probably knew they had Creative by the balls and got too greedy, so they did the only other thing they could which was to remove those features. Contractually Creative probably had to complain about the license violation. While it shows open drivers is good, but I don't think Creative was being evil here.

Re:First Atheros and now this? (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 6 years ago | (#24361051)

Perhaps accusing them of trying to screw their customers with that was overly harsh, I'll admit. Still, it still stands of an example where a company would lose control if they open source drivers, evil or otherwise.

Re:First Atheros and now this? (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24358847)

I'd really like to see some standardization APIs created for more devices so that you only need one driver per hardware class. Imagine if you could just remove the whole proprietary problem with devices so that drivers were simple and new hardware was much easier to support. Perhaps some completely new interface standards could really help, just like how firewire made media drivers obsolete. Any new features can simply be extended to the firewire driver and that one driver updated to take advantage of newer hardware. Perhaps it could even be like OpenGL where devices could actually implement their own newer functions without *having* to have an update to OpenGL. Wouldn't it be nice to see the same thing for graphics cards? ^^

Re:First Atheros and now this? (2, Informative)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360251)

Re:First Atheros and now this? (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360437)

I'm in love. Thank you. ^^

That's really great that some developers take the modular and API structural systems to heart. The divisioning of work is a great feature that allows for much easier development among other things. I hope the Linux kernel also becomes more modular and flexible in the future, and all software really. I think due to competition you'll see this kind of thing more and more, because the huge unmodular software stacks will become more ignored because they are more difficult and less usable, while the ones that are more modular and thus powerful will see more adoption.

How reliable is their random number generator? (2, Insightful)

KWTm (808824) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360219)

I see that one of the chips in question is for a random number generator. Despite providing documentation/specs on how this chip runs, to make it possible to write free drivers, it's not the same as having the actual source code for the chip. With any other type of chip this would be well and good, but with random number generators, you can't really test them, and will need to rely on examination of the source code to prove that it works. Even then, it would not be that easy --see the Underhanded C Contest of 2007 [xcott.com] in which people write encryption programs, and they work, and the source is open to inspection --and they STILL provide a back door to allow the encryption to be broken. (Man, that Underhanded C Contest is pretty scary.)

I hope the kernel developers and other programmers give us a choice whether to use random numbers from the Padlock chip or from some other source. Me, I'll just plug in my blinded webcam into my USB port [lavarnd.org] and multiply it into any random stream for good measure.

Re:How reliable is their random number generator? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364595)

You currently do have a choice. But the VIA RNG seems to work well.

Re:First Atheros and now this? (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360381)

Your network driver or even an encryption chip, well, not quite the same as a 3D driver.

Only the ignorant will say that a company will not need to write their own OSS drivers for 3D cards just because they've released the specs. It doesn't work like that.

Unichrome Pro support (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357253)

Next step: Release the documentation for the display adapters please.

The open source drivers mostly can't handle the mpeg2/mpeg4 acceleration, and without that the Epias collapse when you try to watch some higher resolution video. That makes them quite unsuitable for living room usage, which is a shame because they could make excellent HTPCs. With better drivers the better Epia boards could handle HD video just fine..

Re:Unichrome Pro support (1)

Kent Recal (714863) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359547)

Amen!
They may even expirience a small sales boost when all the linux enthusiasts and integrators can finally build their HTPCs around VIA-boards.

Re:Unichrome Pro support (2, Interesting)

billybob2 (755512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360143)

Even with the released documentation, we also need a good leader like Harald Welte to bring together the OpenChrome [openchrome.org] and UniChrome [sourceforge.net] developers to work on the same codebase. Right now the split effort is really wasteful.

Re:Unichrome Pro support (1)

Two9A (866100) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360193)

Most definitely. I've just spent two days grappling with the Unichrome driver for X, trying to get it to play video. Of course, the first time I try to play a video file, X crashes and takes IRQ #11 with it, taking the Ethernet chip offline.

So, I'd welcome better support for the CLE266, personally ;)

Re:Unichrome Pro support (2, Insightful)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363411)

I'd most like to see acceleration for the open source codecs like Vorbis, Snow, Dirac, and others, but mpeg is better than nothing.

MythTV on Mothballs (1)

BrunoUsesBBEdit (636379) | more than 6 years ago | (#24363719)

Amen!! When I saw how much power I had to draw to do CPU decoding of HD and STILL have stuttering, I retired it in favor of having more time to spend with my newborn. That was 18 months ago. I was sure that the scene would be better by now, but it is not. It's very sad.

When I saw the title of this article, I thought this was the breakthrough I've been waiting for... so sad.

While you are at it... STOP PUTTING VGA ON YOUR MOBOs!!!! --> See: http://www.bronosky.com/?p=54 [bronosky.com]

Yay, more documentation for shit hardware! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357277)

Seriously, I have experienced so much trouble with VIA chips it's not funny. If I can help it I will never own another product with a VIA chipset.

Re:Yay, more documentation for shit hardware! (1)

larppaxyz (1333319) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357327)

I've been running Opteron servers with VIA chipset for years. Most of my computers at home also have different VIA chipset. I never have had any problems. Servers have never crashed and they are running software that heavily uses I/O and cpu load is almost maxed out 24/7. And yes, they run linux of course. Can you tell us what kind of problems are you having or are you talking about some old KT133 chipset? I personally choose Intel or VIA when it comes to chipsets.

Re:Yay, more documentation for shit hardware! (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357587)

I just suggest that if you use Windows (any kind), give up MS manufactured drivers and get a WHQL certified chipset driver from Via instead.

For some reason (!) the Wintel manufacturer keeps shipping buggy drivers on Windows.

I tested this on a laptop and even a high end AMD based video workstation. Something really good happens right after installing them (hyperion or something) and rebooting. Instantly.

Of course, Linux like open source OS'es doesn't have such evil tricks etc.

Re:Yay, more documentation for shit hardware! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24358909)

Yes, individual experiences matter. A marketeer could tell you that a single negative experience is appeased with about 12 positive experiences. My problems have been with Nvidia chipsets and I still feel very reluctant to buy another Nvidia chipset product.

Re:Yay, more documentation for shit hardware! (2, Interesting)

neumayr (819083) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360591)

True that. I had negative experiences with VIA Socket 7, SIS Socket A and nVidia AM2 chipsets.
Seems I only have two choices left when it's time for a new mainboard..

Just about time - now for the other solutions (4, Insightful)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357315)

I'm trying to run Ubunu on a VIA epia for some time now, but their graphics solution is as unstable as hell. There is either the binary driver from VIA itself, or the OS one, but both are not quite what you would expect. Now the question for me is: will it also affect the CN400 chipset (and especially the graphics driver)? Because 5 minutes of average uptime before the machine freezes is not workable. I do think the UniChrome Pro support packages are most important for VIA, the rest already seems to work pretty well.

It seems that each time that a company is on the ropes, they pledge OS support. It would be a good idea for companies to do something when they are not on the brink of extinction. VIA is in a tight spot. They're moving out of the chipset business, and since the eye of Intel is currently on the mobile CPU/chipset business, they can expect the Nazgul to come riding in pretty soon (I don't know too many old testament stories, which seem more appropriate for VIA).

Re:Just about time - now for the other solutions (1)

thsths (31372) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357399)

> I'm trying to run Ubunu on a VIA epia for some time now, but their graphics solution is as unstable as hell.

Yep, same here. The rest of the board works quite well, but I had endless trouble with the built in graphics. With Ubuntu 8.04 it seems to work ok now, but the picture is still a bit fuzzy.

What are you doing with them? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#24358871)

Both of my newer via (C7) boards are being used as mini-servers right now, so I don't have much use for any graphics drivers, but prior to that I found that my Epia M and other unichrome-based boards worked fine with the via-provided, and later kernel-inherent drivers. They worked nicely for watching movies, some 3d games, etc, and no crashes. This was on a Debian-based system but being that Ubuntu is debian-based and the kernel is cross-distro I'd imagine they should be similar.

Re:Just about time - now for the other solutions (1)

guzzloid (597721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359141)

I'm running a CN400 on Debian etch. I had the same problems with ubuntu, but then I switched to plain old Debian + the latest openchrome driver, and the problem pretty much went away. I do still get the occasional freeze during rewinding in MythTV, but my average uptime is on the order of three or four months. Have you got the latest SVN checkout of the openchrome library?

This tutorial should work on ubuntu too:
http://wiki.openchrome.org/tikiwiki/tiki-index.php?page=Compiling+the+source+code+on+Debian [openchrome.org]

My main annoyance is the fact that I use TV-Out almost exclusively (it's a MythTV box), and the OS driver doesn't seem to be able to correctly sync interlaced video. Sometimes it syncs on the odd 50Hz interlaced frames instead of the full 25Hz full-screen refresh (it's a PAL system). Unfortunately, after a brief scan of these new docs, I can't see anything that would indicate an odd-even frame timer, and I don't know that any of it is applicable to the CN400 :-(

Re:Just about time - now for the other solutions (2, Informative)

guzzloid (597721) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359215)

p.s. also worth checking your X-Config too: here's my VIA video settings (tailored for TV-out...)

Section "Device"
        Identifier "VIA Unichrome Pro II"

        Driver "via"
        Option "ActiveDevice" "TV"
        Option "TVType" "PAL"
        Option "TVOutput" "S-Video"
        Option "TVDeflicker" "0"
        #Option "TVDotCrawl" "true"
        Option "EnableAGPDMA" "true"
        Option "AccelMethod" "XAA" # XAA - safe, EXA - CRASH
        #Option "EXANoComposite" "false" # disable exp. compositing
        Option "DisplaySize" "400 300"

EndSection

Re:Just about time - now for the other solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24361185)

I'm trying to run Ubunu on a VIA epia for some time now, but their graphics solution is as unstable as hell.

Try it on Mandriva. Dunno why, but same kernel, same desktop, different hardware support. So just give it a quick check on Mandriva before thinking the issue is between the vendor and Linux.

Re:Just about time - now for the other solutions (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 6 years ago | (#24361569)

I'm sorry, but I'm not that interested in Linux to try each distro to see if they work. And yes, it is a problem with the vendor and Linux: their support is not good enough for the open source drivers to work, if only for the basic 2D and 3D applications.

...for *Linux* (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24357343)

So, all other non-Linux:ish systems are out of luck?

How does one write hardware specs which are only usable to Linux?

I'm mighty confused.

That's just a mistake in TFS (5, Informative)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 6 years ago | (#24357877)

There is no such thing as OS-specific hardware documentation. The released documentation enables all interested OS-writers/driver-writers to write compatible software.

Re:That's just a mistake in TFS (0)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359083)

There is no such thing as OS-specific hardware documentation.

For your next intellectual exercise, please define Winmodem [wikipedia.org] for the class...

Re:That's just a mistake in TFS (1)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 6 years ago | (#24359877)

A Winmodem is a hardware-plus-software suite for M$-windows whose modem-functionality is done in software and the hardware-part is just a ADC/DAC converter.

Re:That's just a mistake in TFS (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360597)

A Winmodem is a hardware-plus-software suite for M$-windows...

...and what would you call the documentation for this hardware, hardware that appears to be {in conjunction with software} designed for only one OS?

Re:That's just a mistake in TFS (1)

BhaKi (1316335) | more than 6 years ago | (#24360983)

Although the hardware-plus-software suite is Windows-specific, the hardware itself can be controlled by any OS (given the required documentation) to the same extent as Windows. So the hardware, and hence its documentation, is not inherently Windows-specific. But yeah, I do agree that it's theoretically _possible_ to write hardware documentation in a very Windows-specific way although I can't imagine anyone who would willingly do that.

Re:That's just a mistake in TFS (1)

Dahan (130247) | more than 6 years ago | (#24364601)

I'm not sure what it would even mean for the hardware to be designed for only one OS. Can you give an example of how a Winmodem is designed only for Windows? In any case, seeing that Winmodems work fine in Linux [linmodems.org] , a non-Windows OS, whether they're "designed for Windows" or not is irrelevant.

Via what method? (1)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 6 years ago | (#24358201)

I just suggest that if you use Windows (any kind), give up MS manufactured drivers and get a WHQL certified chipset driver from Via instead.For some reason (!) the Wintel manufacturer keeps shipping buggy drivers on Windows.I tested this on a laptop and even a high end AMD based video workstation. Something really good happens right after installing them (hyperion or something) and rebooting. Instantly.Of course, Linux like open source OS'es doesn't have such evil tricks etc.

Fighting the Atom? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 6 years ago | (#24358845)

I've been using Via boards for awhile in lower-power (as in watts) webservers and media machines. In terms of power return on low-consumption machines they rock.

One thing I've wondered is why the newer "lower power" rigs are using the Atom processor, which from I can tell in stats is inferior to - say - the C7 in terms of CPU-power-per-watt output.

Re:Fighting the Atom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24365041)

One thing I've wondered is why the newer "lower power" rigs are using the Atom processor, which from I can tell in stats is inferior to - say - the C7 in terms of CPU-power-per-watt output.

Care to link to these stats? I've been told the different C7 design powers are around 10-20W while Atom is at about 2W (with idle draw at around 30mW!)... The differences in cycles can't be big enough to counter that.

About F'n Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24363419)

All I can say is, it's about f'n time. Never has there been a company who toot's their Linux Horn louder with out actually helping the community than VIA.

Here's a company trying to entrench themselves in the embedded world, being tight lipped about, oh...I don't know...getting their crap working on embedded OS's.

I hope this helps the OpenChrome people. They've done great work without Via's help.

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