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VIA Releases FOSS Graphics Driver

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the following-through dept.

Graphics 153

billybob2 writes "VIA has released a 113,800 line open source graphics driver with full mode-setting support for CRT, LCD, and DVI devices along with 2D, X-Video, and cursor acceleration. Harald Welte, VIA's open source representative, states that the next step is to add 3D (see preview), TV-out, and hardware codec support while integrating this work with existing open source projects. VIA has pre-installed Linux on a significant portion of the company's latest products, including the EVEREX gPC2, 15.4" gBook, and CloudBook. It has also helped port the open source CoreBoot BIOS (previously LinuxBIOS) to several of its motherboards." VIA seems to be making good on the promise of its open source initiative announced last April.

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Obligatory (4, Funny)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825769)

Yes, but does it support -- World of Warcraft?

Re:Obligatory (3, Informative)

creature124 (1148937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825779)

You don't even have to RTFA to find that out. it says it right there in the summary - 3D support is the NEXT step, but it isn't there yet.

Re:Obligatory (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826027)

The next [wikipedia.org] step?
Talk about a cookbook [youtube.com] answer...

Re:Obligatory (4, Insightful)

Merlin42 (148225) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825795)

Not yet, but soon hopefully. As stated in the OP.

It is really cool to see more hardware vendors moving to open source. Drivers are one area where more eyes are needed to help make the bugs shallow.

Re:Obligatory (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24825811)

God I hope not.

The less people playing that, the better.

Re:Obligatory (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826225)

MYTH 1: Global temperatures are rising at a rapid, unprecedented rate.

FACT: Accurate satellite, balloon and mountain top observations made over the last three decades have not shown any significant change in the long term rate of increase in global temperatures. Average ground station readings do show a mild warming of 0.6 to 0.8C over the last 100 years, which is well within the natural variations recorded in the last millennium. The ground station network suffers from an uneven distribution across the globe; the stations are preferentially located in growing urban and industrial areas ("heat islands"), which show substantially higher readings than adjacent rural areas ("land use effects").

There has been no catastrophic warming recorded.

MYTH 2: The "hockey stick" graph proves that the earth has experienced a steady, very gradual temperature decrease for 1000 years, then recently began a sudden increase.

FACT: Significant changes in climate have continually occurred throughout geologic time. For instance, the Medieval Warm Period, from around 1000 to1200 AD (when the Vikings farmed on Greenland) was followed by a period known as the Little Ice Age. Since the end of the 17th Century the "average global temperature" has been rising at the low steady rate mentioned above; although from 1940 â" 1970 temperatures actually dropped, leading to a Global Cooling scare.

The "hockey stick", a poster boy of both the UN's IPCC and Canada's Environment Department, ignores historical recorded climatic swings, and has now also been proven to be flawed and statistically unreliable as well. It is a computer construct and a faulty one at that.

MYTH 3: Human produced carbon dioxide has increased over the last 100 years, adding to the Greenhouse effect, thus warming the earth.

FACT: Carbon dioxide levels have indeed changed for various reasons, human and otherwise, just as they have throughout geologic time. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased. The RATE of growth during this period has also increased from about 0.2% per year to the present rate of about 0.4% per year,which growth rate has now been constant for the past 25 years. However, there is no proof that CO2 is the main driver of global warming. As measured in ice cores dated over many thousands of years, CO2 levels move up and down AFTER the temperature has done so, and thus are the RESULT OF, NOT THE CAUSE of warming. Geological field work in recent sediments confirms this causal relationship. There is solid evidence that, as temperatures move up and down naturally and cyclically through solar radiation, orbital and galactic influences, the warming surface layers of the earth's oceans expel more CO2 as a result.

MYTH 4: CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas.
FACT: Greenhouse gases form about 3 % of the atmosphere by volume. They consist of varying amounts, (about 97%) of water vapour and clouds, with the remainder being gases like CO2, CH4, Ozone and N2O, of which carbon dioxide is the largest amount. Hence, CO2 constitutes about 0.037% of the atmosphere. While the minor gases are more effective as "greenhouse agents" than water vapour and clouds, the latter are overwhelming the effect by their sheer volume and â" in the end â" are thought to be responsible for 60% of the "Greenhouse effect".

Those attributing climate change to CO2 rarely mention this important fact.

MYTH 5: Computer models verify that CO2 increases will cause significant global warming.

FACT: The computer models assume that CO2 is the primary climate driver, and that the Sun has an insignificant effect on climate. You cannot use the output of a model to verify or prove its initial assumption - that is circular reasoning and is illogical. Computer models can be made to roughly match the 20th century temperature rise by adjusting many input parameters and using strong positive feedbacks. They do not "prove" anything. Also, computer models predicting global warming are incapable of properly including the effects of the sun, cosmic rays and the clouds. The sun is a major cause of temperature variation on the earth surface as its received radiation changes all the time, This happens largely in cyclical fashion. The number and the lengths in time of sunspots can be correlated very closely with average temperatures on earth, e.g. the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period. Varying intensity of solar heat radiation affects the surface temperature of the oceans and the currents. Warmer ocean water expels gases, some of which are CO2. Solar radiation interferes with the cosmic ray flux, thus influencing the amount ionized nuclei which control cloud cover.

MYTH 6: The UN proved that manâ"made CO2 causes global warming.

FACT: In a 1996 report by the UN on global warming, two statements were deleted from the final draft. Here they are:
1) âoeNone of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases.â
2) âoeNo study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to manâ"made causesâ

To the present day there is still no scientific proof that man-made CO2 causes significant global warming.

MYTH 7: CO2 is a pollutant.
FACT: This is absolutely not true. Nitrogen forms 80% of our atmosphere. We could not live in 100% nitrogen either. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than nitrogen is. CO2 is essential to life on earth. It is necessary for plant growth since increased CO2 intake as a result of increased atmospheric concentration causes many trees and other plants to grow more vigorously. Unfortunately, the Canadian Government has included CO2 with a number of truly toxic and noxious substances listed by the Environmental Protection Act, only as their means to politically control it.

MYTH 8: Global warming will cause more storms and other weather extremes.

FACT: There is no scientific or statistical evidence whatsoever that supports such claims on a global scale. Regional variations may occur. Growing insurance and infrastructure repair costs, particularly in coastal areas, are sometimes claimed to be the result of increasing frequency and severity of storms, whereas in reality they are a function of increasing population density, escalating development value, and ever more media reporting.

MYTH 9: Receding glaciers and the calving of ice shelves are proof of global warming.

FACT: Glaciers have been receding and growing cyclically for hundreds of years. Recent glacier melting is a consequence of coming out of the very cool period of the Little Ice Age. Ice shelves have been breaking off for centuries. Scientists know of at least 33 periods of glaciers growing and then retreating. Itâ(TM)s normal. Besides, glacier's health is dependent as much on precipitation as on temperature.

MYTH 10: The earthâ(TM)s poles are warming; polar ice caps are breaking up and melting and the sea level rising.

FACT: The earth is variable. The western Arctic may be getting somewhat warmer, due to unrelated cyclic events in the Pacific Ocean, but the Eastern Arctic and Greenland are getting colder. The small Palmer Peninsula of Antarctica is getting warmer, while the main Antarctic continent is actually cooling. Ice thicknesses are increasing both on Greenland and in Antarctica.

Sea level monitoring in the Pacific (Tuvalu) and Indian Oceans (Maldives) has shown no sign of any sea level rise.

Re:Obligatory (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826269)

We really need a mod for "citation needed".

May as well slap it "offtopic" for now, unless there's some connection I missed between video drivers and global warming...

Re:Obligatory (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826545)

The citation is in TFS

Re:Obligatory (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24827355)

Shut your mouth, you cocksucking P.F.A.G.G.O.T.

Re:Obligatory (1)

lingiu (1354523) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828327)

WOW is not supported in Linux... but we can play through Wine in Linux

Re:Obligatory (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828585)

Whoosh!

I do hope this pans out... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825797)

I hope that this goes better than VIA's prior activities in this area. VIA has some very, very cute hardware for linux project purposes(loads of small form factor boards, without the restrictions that intel has been putting on atom), some decently interesting netbooks, etc.

If I can trust that VIA video will actually work properly under linux, their boards become considerably more attractive for my purposes. The prospect of coreboot support for such boards would be gravy. I'd love to be able to put together some little linux widgets with linux burned right into the motherboard.

Re:I do hope this pans out... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826353)

Via really has no choice.

The intel 945G chipset for Atom is fully documented and has quite good open source 3d drivers.

Atom kills VIA in Price/Performance/Power ratio across the board.

Once Intel fixes the problem of their north bridge requiring 6x the power Atom does then via is in really big trouble

It's interesting to see via go from ruling the mini-ITX market to now desparately having to play catchup in such a short time.

Re:I do hope this pans out... (5, Interesting)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826563)

Via really has no choice.

Agreed, everyone except for nVidia and maybe Matrox (side note: what a shitty company) is opening their specs.

The intel 945G chipset for Atom is fully documented and has quite good open source 3d drivers.

It sucks up 22W+ by itself though, and is very old. It's nothing compared to the VX800 or CN896.

Atom kills VIA in Price/Performance/Power ratio across the board.

-Price: Maybe. If you just want entry-level options (ie bare to the bone) and don't care about power usage, it's definately cheaper. Normal VIA parts are sold like boutique items. Except, strangely, their mATX boards go for 50$.
-Performance: Definately not, now that Nano has been released (but damnit sell 'em at retail!).
-Power ration: What? Nano desktop parts are what people have been measuring. Typical ULV C7s are like 4W-7W. Considering you get a chipset that ranges in that wattage too, and this is honest counting unlike Intel, VIA certainely has the upper hand.

Not to mention they don't need a P4 connector...

Once Intel fixes the problem of their north bridge requiring 6x the power Atom does then via is in really big trouble

Unlikely. Intel does not want to lose Celeron sales for the Atom. So their miniITX boards remain crap so they can sell whatever 945G boards they have left over that failed their low-voltage tests.

It's interesting to see via go from ruling the mini-ITX market to now desparately having to play catchup in such a short time.

I wouldn't call it catch up, but it's nice to see Intel and VIA compete. The only thing is I hope it drives down the price of VIA parts, at least within the 90$-150$ range, otherwise it's been a waste of time.

Re:I do hope this pans out... (1)

Idaho (12907) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827789)

I am surprised that VIA still actually exists. Probably it'll be a case of "too little, too late", but who knows.

Agreed, everyone except for nVidia and maybe Matrox (side note: what a shitty company) is opening their specs.

And NVidia is not completely free of trouble now that ATI/AMD got the performance lead once more, and NVidia allegedly has serious problems (low yields) on several recent GPU chips (9600 GT, among others). As for Matrox, wow, they're still in business?

Re:I do hope this pans out... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24827907)

Matrox used to have wonderfully open hardware with the specs downloadable directly from their own website and a dedicated developer relations team to help with any queries. They were the perfect model of how to do it.

Then something happened. I don't know what: brain-slugs, possibly. They yanked everything, even the specs for older hardware, and stopped communicating. What a bunch of dicks.

Re: Matrox (5, Informative)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828939)

On top of that, they fell behind badly in terms of performance, and the great signal quality from their cards is mostly meaningless in the age of DVI.

Looks almost like a case of corporate suicide, as in "nobody can be THAT stupid, so it must be intentional" ;-).

Re:I do hope this pans out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24827783)

Except for the non-desktop board, and probably future desktop boards, they're using the GMA 500, which is decidedly *NOT* a GMA 950, what with it being a PowerVR SGX GPU, which AFAIK is not openly documented.

So on that count VIA *WOULD* be ahead. Depending on what happens with Nvidia and if they feel the push to go Open Source/align with Via, things could come out very fun in the near future.

Re:I do hope this pans out... (3, Informative)

antime (739998) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828707)

But in the Atom SoCs Intel are using PowerVR, which is definitely not opensource-friendly. Until someone buys ImgTec the most you'll ever get is a binary blob driver.

Re:I do hope this pans out... (5, Informative)

Patrick Georgi (1355115) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828739)

The intel 945G chipset for Atom is fully documented and has quite good open source 3d drivers.

Our company works with almost a dozen hardware vendors, and none of them are so hard to work with and so open source hostile as intel. Try getting the documentation for the RAM controller of the chipset you mentioned.

I'm sorry, what did you just say? (2, Interesting)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829279)

Atom kills VIA in Price/Performance/Power ratio across the board.

Once Intel fixes the problem of their north bridge requiring 6x the power Atom does then via is in really big trouble

?? Didn't someone just do a watt/performance comparison of the atom _platform_ against an amd64, and it lost in both wattage and performance?!

I doubt if Intel would improve their northbridge much as they don't want this to be a viable platform against their celerons.

Might already be there, depending on purpose (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828279)

TFA says VIA has already released a 2D driver. If that works well, it should do for routers/firewalls/servers. And that is where I can see a small VIA based PC being used.

For gaming, I'd still prefer a full size PC with AMD or Intel dual core CPU and a separate ATI graphics card (NVidia binary drivers are acceptable, but now ATI is more attractive thanks to its Open Source program).

Re:Might already be there, depending on purpose (3, Insightful)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828391)

wtf are you on about, why would a firewall need a fast blit ?

I would guess you don't know shit about what a vga card does.

Re:Might already be there, depending on purpose (2, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828827)

Even a server or firewall needs some configuration. With the driver VIA has just released, there is an Open Source driver that can display text and 2D graphics. Which will do nicely for a typical GUI (Ubuntu?), so you are not limited to the console.

Re:Might already be there, depending on purpose (1)

BKX (5066) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829183)

Yes, but that's what HTTP interfaces are for.

Almost unbelievable (4, Interesting)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825825)

I really find it hard to accept that a company that around 5 years ago copied GPL code in many of their stuff made such a 180 turn and is now with full commitment in actually supporting the stuff that they have been copying for so long. The motives behind it and better: who was able to make this shift possible from inside the company, hiring an OpenSource devver is one, but the process before that is much more interesting.

Re:Almost unbelievable (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825847)

Not saying they did such GPL crime but, if you look at https://www.helixcommunity.org/ [helixcommunity.org] , don't you feel it is a bit surreal?

Such things happen. I call it "nerd coup" ;)

Re:Almost unbelievable (5, Interesting)

digidave (259925) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826349)

Obviously their motive is profit. They went the route of stealing code (although that might not have been management, just some rogue coder taking the easy way out) and it didn't work. VIA understands that there is a large and growing Linux community and that there is money to be made from being Linux-friendly.

Just because their motive isn't selfless doesn't mean Linux supporters shouldn't welcome VIA with open arms. This is the sort of support we've wanted for many years.

Re:Almost unbelievable (5, Insightful)

rossz (67331) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826385)

Maybe they wronged the open source community in the past, maybe they didn't (I personally don't know). Let's show them that we are forgiving of past mistakes and fully welcome them and their donated code into the FOSS world. They made things right, let's not dwell on the past.

Re:Almost unbelievable (2, Funny)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826931)

They made things right, let's not dwell on the past.

I'm trapped in the past, you insensitive clod!

Re:Almost unbelievable (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24827035)

They made things right, let's not dwell on the past.

I'm trapped in the past, you insensitive clod!

Then for you it's the present, stop complaining.

Re:Almost unbelievable (1)

rossz (67331) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827501)

Still running Windows 95?

Re:Almost unbelievable (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829135)

When they get things up to speed. At the moment, as much as I want to support burgeoning FOSS movements, their Linux drivers are still pretty weak. I'm working on a project now which will require a mini-ITX board, so my first natural choice to consider was VIA. While I don't need super-beefy hardware, TV-out and 3D (and Linux) needs to be supported for what I'm doing. I'm right now looking at mini-ITX boards with Intel chipsets, or I'll even consider closed-source nVidia drivers - but sadly VIA is still not an option. Not yet.

Re:Almost unbelievable (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829273)

Maybe they wronged the open source community in the past, maybe they didn't (I personally don't know). Let's show them that we are forgiving of past mistakes and fully welcome them and their donated code into the FOSS world. They made things right, let's not dwell on the past.

I'm not familiar with VIA, but one also needs to consider the strong possibility that the people involved with copying GPL code years ago probably aren't the ones making the current decision. Companies usually evolve through attrition.

Re:Almost unbelievable (4, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826697)

It is likely they went through a process of discovery. The discovered that keeping the software open source has very little impact upon maintaining competitive advantage on the hardware or making innovative leaps in hardware design and keeping those proprietary. For hardware producers, software is just another overhead and working to minimise that cost makes sense.

There is a real push to achieve low cost ubiquitous computing, UMPC's, smartphone/PDA etc. and every cost saving makes it far more achievable and obviously maintains reasonable profit margins for the hardware manufacturers.

At the moment hardware manufacturers find their profit margins squeezed while their products are carrying closed source proprietary software with 10 times the profit margin, it makes absolutely no business sense as a hard ware manufacturer to put up with this. I am sure most hardware manufacturers thought that M$'s idea of free hardware and 'renting' the software was a load of B$.

Re:Almost unbelievable (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827221)

The discovered that keeping the software open source has very little impact upon maintaining competitive advantage on the hardware or making innovative leaps in hardware design and keeping those proprietary

I've made it a point to mention the open source driver problem in just about every other e-mail to my Via rep. My guess is a few hundred other developers were doing the same thing. I've also made it a point to express gratitude on each win. Yes, it's good for them, they should have done it anyway, but it's going to make my life a bunch easier too.

Re:Almost unbelievable (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829023)

Their business is selling hardware (for now anyway).

If they open source the drivers, there's a chance that they can cut costs - there's a significant chance someone _else_ (redhat, suse, ubuntu, etc) might end up doing the work of keeping the drivers for the _old_ hardware working with the various Linux kernels out there.

Then their in-house coders can do the presumably more "interesting" stuff like write drivers for the newer hardware (esp pre-release hardware - in the initial stages you might end up having to change specs, after release you can send it to the open source bunch).

Uh, Via, makes gfx cards? Why that is NEWS to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24825831)

About time ./ had some real news !!

I went to newegg. No via video cards. Hm. A lot of hub-bub about nothing. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Re:Uh, Via, makes gfx cards? Why that is NEWS to m (5, Informative)

Super Jamie (779597) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825935)

they're mostly for onboard video chipsets, and this is awesome news for integrated devices and lightweight PCs like media centres, internet kiosks, settop boxes, netbooks, etc etc etc

simply the fact that one of the largest video chipset manufacturers in the world is writing open source drivers is huge, and an awesome step forward for linux and foss in general

not everything related to the phase "video card" is about pcie cards in sli and their crysis benchmark

VIA aren't really one of the biggest video makers (2, Informative)

Sits (117492) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828147)

By current units sold market share VIA is small. My understanding is that it's roughly 40% Intel, 30% NVIDIA, 20% AMD and everyone else is crammed into the remainder 10% (that's total shipments of both desktops and platforms, discrete and integrated cards). (Rummages around web) Here's a link to GPU units sold in the second and third quarters of 2007 [xbitlabs.com] . It looks like VIA sold almost 3 times less than ATI (but they seem to be on an upward progression).

It's the timing that makes this more interesting because Intel have pushed so much work on their open source drivers they are now the easiest "current" GPUs to get going on systems like Linux. Intel have done this by hiring engineers to work on Linux AND releasing specs which is kinda a double whammy. If this turns out to be the only way companies can achieve a similar smooth out of the box operation on FOSS OSes it's not going to cheap for others. It's also interesting that AMD had also taken big steps in specs and drivers direction before this move by VIA. Some would argue VIA's hand has been forced into this if they wish to remain relevant in the FOSS playground. Others point out that this is a process that can only be started by a willing company.

This is a brave play by VIA but there are more challenges to come. The next question is what they do with regard to the OpenChrome and Unichrome drivers [openchrome.org] and how to integrate the work they've done into the xorg [x.org] development process. Judging from their Linux kernel integration it looks doable so long as VIA have some help.

Re:VIA aren't really one of the biggest video make (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#24829131)

As a casual observer, it appears VIA is doing this way faster than ATI. This could imply they were actually planning it first, or always had the plan ready as a kind of emergency plan.

Re:Uh, Via, makes gfx cards? Why that is NEWS to m (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825955)

I could be wrong, but I thought most via cards were integrated into the motherboard. Meaning that you're not going to find a discrete card.

By your logic the fact that you can't find Intel cards at newegg would nullify an article about an Intel graphics chipset that doesn't suck.

I sincerely hope that being the only closed driver provider, that nVidia will follow, Intel, AMD and apparently Via's lead and provide open drivers.

Re:Uh, Via, makes gfx cards? Why that is NEWS to m (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826979)

A bunch of months ago now VIA quietly released an accelerated driver for their Chrome9 video chipset (not open source, but a big step in the right direction) - now I can run Compiz mostly trouble free.

http://linux.via.com.tw/support/downloadFiles.action [via.com.tw]

I found VIA sub par! (0, Troll)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#24825899)

VIA seems to be making good on the promise of its open source initiative announced last April.

The only problem on my part is that I find VIA products mediocre when it comes to gaming. I have also found that drivers for their products make my system (Mandriva) rather unstable.

Verdict: Avoid VIA technologies till enough open source code has gone into this new product. The community should act fast on this issue.

Re:I found VIA sub par! (4, Funny)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826033)

The only problem on my part is that I find VIA products mediocre when it comes to gaming.

Well, what do you expect from an integrated video card? They're hardly speed demons.

tv and hardware codec are what you really want (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24825963)

Seriously, with most EPIA fanless systems suitable for MythTV being Via chipset, the tv/hardware accel (some chips have hardware mpeg2/mpeg4 support for pity's sake), that's what would absolutely rule if there was an opensource driver that worked.

Re:tv and hardware codec are what you really want (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828421)

That's the money shot right there. They already added the encryption chip. It is annoying to know I have hardware mpeg on my $100 computer that I could be using for something I need my $500 box to do for me.

Now show them why OSS is good (4, Insightful)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826011)

As an act of faith, we should build something cool out of this - not to mention promote them to non-gaming computer users.

If we can optimize a graphics driver or do new things with it, they can sell more hardware and everybody wins. God knows ATI isn't making any money off of their drivers.

Hopefully we can use this to drive the point home.

Re:Now show them why OSS is good (4, Insightful)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826271)

But the question is, what?

Re:Now show them why OSS is good (4, Interesting)

carlmenezes (204187) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826381)

Well, I think a simple start would be to come up with a nice polished compiz theme and desktop (like a good avant [wikipedia.org] dock with some nice icons) that uses this driver to its fullest. We are now at the point where a Linux Desktop can look as good as, if not better than, Windows or the Mac.

Give the average Joe Bloggs a PC running Linux that is relatively immune to viruses and auto-updates Firefox, Flash, Java, GNOME/KDE and VLC when its not being used and you have one happy computer user.

Build computers that use VIA chipsets for all the family that you run tech support for and lets start driving Linux adoption up! The drivers are here.

Re:Now show them why OSS is good (1)

Edzilla2000 (1261030) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827833)

Well, I think a simple start would be to come up with a nice polished compiz theme and desktop (like a good avant [wikipedia.org] dock with some nice icons) that uses this driver to its fullest.

That might be a bit hard, considering this driver doesn't do accelerated 3D...

Re:Now show them why OSS is good (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828465)

Wobbly windows FTW!

VIA stuff doesn't support 720p or 1080i (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826079)

Their chips only support certain modes and none of those modes proportionally scale 720p or 1080i so their chips are effectively dead in the US market. They have potential for embedded stuff, but in less than 6 months, NTSC will be no more in the USA and VIA is just not an option for its replacement.

Fortunately, AMD-owned ATI is stepping up to the plate and their new Linux software rocks. (Stay away from nVidia which once ruled Linux but now blows chunx, not just in terms of chip defects, but in terms of un-supporting previously stable hardware in screwed up binary-only driver releases that you are otherwise forced to install when you need to upgrade your kernel for some reason.)

Re:VIA stuff doesn't support 720p or 1080i (3, Insightful)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826265)

Wait, what?

NTSC ending doesn't mean we'll all be watching 720/1080. It means everything is digital, MPEG2 streams. We're all a looong way off from HDTV-to-the-door.

Their chipsets can certainly do 1080p. Look at the CN400.

Re:VIA stuff doesn't support 720p or 1080i (2, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826541)

The only thing that's going away is over-the-air NTSC (and only analog at that; NTSC's resolution will come over the air digitally, not just HD). It'll be coming out of cable and satellite dish boxes for quite some time now, even if those devices are transitioning to direct digital out over HDMI.

Or that's my understanding of it, anyways. I haven't watched TV in several years now, if you don't count the BSG torrents.

Re:VIA stuff doesn't support 720p or 1080i (2, Informative)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826583)

Yeah, pretty much.

But I've had a lot of channels cut from the analog plan due to a shitty cable co, so I'm pretty much stuck with their digital plan.

OTA transmissions in Ottawa are no good. If you live in Toronto/Buffalo you're one lucky SOB, because you've got all the channels you could want in 720p/1080i for free and unencrypted. For me, not so much.

Re:VIA stuff doesn't support 720p or 1080i (2, Informative)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827449)

Huh. That is really interesting about Toronto/ Buffalo. But I guess any OTA region with decent channels would deliver quality media for management with a MythTV setup.

When I visted family in the states, I was appalled at how prevalent Dish network and DirectTV were, even beating out the local cable companies in user-prefs, (but I guess they really really suck). Thing is, you gotta jump through hoops via long google sessions to figure out the *only* way to get MythTV manage one of those boxes, is to google, then rig up a $50 infrared transmitter/receiver setup, (in a dark room I guess, closet would do nicely) because the SAT Cos make the only tuning possiblity an infared remote, for a single stream per device.

Arrghhhh (5, Informative)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826093)

So when I bought my Dell Ubuntu laptop last year, I thought, "Intel and nVidia are the LEAST evil of the graphics chipset manufaacturers." Wanting a little more oomph, I went with nVidia.

Now, a year later, nVidia is looking ridiculous by clinging to closed-source binary drivers while the rest of the industry (including ATi, for pete's sake) go open. And the fact that freaking VIA is more open than nVidia really makes me feel...frustrated. Sorry nVidia, but I can't recommend you as long as you lag like this.

Re:Arrghhhh (1)

tobiasly (524456) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826141)

Now, a year later, nVidia is looking ridiculous by clinging to closed-source binary drivers while the rest of the industry (including ATi, for pete's sake) go open. And the fact that freaking VIA is more open than nVidia really makes me feel...frustrated.

Don't feel frustrated... if your video card is a year old then it's time to get a new one anyway. :)

When I first read the summary, I thought it did say nVidia.. I'm sure I would have spit out my milk if I were drinking any. Ah well, not quite as exciting, but still very welcome indeed.

Re:Arrghhhh (1, Insightful)

philipgar (595691) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826281)

Because it makes THAT much of a difference that the code that operates your graphics card is compiled by nVidia, and not the ubuntu package maintainers. The whole argument for FOSS 3D video card drivers is just silly in my opinion. Very very very few people have the skills necessary to write good drivers for these chips (others can learn, but that takes months or years to do). The people who write these drivers do it as a full time job, and the drivers are some of the most important IP in a graphics card (if they were released under a gpl like license, it would be much easier for a new competitor to develop a product). Opening specs is somewhat possible, but costly to do, and a large pain to get the chance to do. At the end of the day it would allow the FOSS community to write drivers that half work on their cards. It could also break user's cards (which is an issue to the manufacturer, as many are warranted). It would take years to get a driver remotely comparable to the already available ones, and, that assumes a team of qualified people took up the challenge.

I just really love the fact that you consider it "evil" for them to not release source code for their products. For me, the nVidia drivers have always worked fine under linux. Of course, I don't game at all, and don't require powerful graphics cards in my machines. Personally I'd much rather have something that works well, even if I have to pay for it (which isn't the case with the nVidia drivers) than something that half works and is free and open.

Phil

Re:Arrghhhh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826501)

We'd have XRender that doesn't suck, kernel mode setting, and DRI2.

I'd rather have specs than proprietary drivers.

Re:Arrghhhh (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24827359)

Try 177.70, which improves RENDER performance substantially. The NVIDIA driver has had the equivalent of DRI2 for years and years, and kernel modesetting could work fine if the kernel interface for it weren't marked GPL-only.

Re:Arrghhhh (0)

Trogre (513942) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826555)

%s/skills/documentation/g

Re:Arrghhhh (5, Insightful)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826597)

Yes, because sharing source code so that you can get extra help from the rest of the world so you can all work together on software is horrible and wasteful and will produce crappy software and is way too expensive for any company to do.

Oh wait, there are several companies doing that already, never mind.

I buy graphics cards for their hardware, and I expect the software to utilize the hardware as best it can, and if anyone can help with that and with fixing bugs etc then all the better.

On the specific point of arguing "IP" politics though, do you honestly think the world has better graphics hardware right now because of the closed nature of graphics drivers? Because guess what, it's usually competition which spurs the development of better technology, competition which drives innovation in the world, so to tell me with a straight face that without the secrecy and closed nature of Nvidia's and ATI's graphics drivers, graphics technology would be further behind than if it were more open and there was more competition for making better hardware instead of screwing around with driver secrecy, that'd be a feat. I believe that most all patents and secrecy now days is nothing but harmful. In a world that's so inter-connected, there are very few examples I can find for justifying monopolies on ideas. They most always serve only to make the rich richer and poor poorer. (See Microsoft's patent FUD, for example, and try to tell me that did any good for the rest of the world.)

Re:Arrghhhh (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826727)

  The whole argument for FOSS 3D video card drivers is just silly in my opinion. Very very very few people have the skills necessary to write good drivers for these chips (others can learn, but that takes months or years to do). The people who write these drivers do it as a full time job, and the drivers are some of the most important IP in a graphics card (if they were released under a gpl like license, it would be much easier for a new competitor to develop a product).

What about the SuSE radeonhd developers? They work full time. You speak as if programming 3D graphics is rocket science. It is rocket science, if you don't have the specs. Otherwise, it would have been done YEARS ago.

Re:Arrghhhh (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828443)

Plan 9 has a fully paid full time driver writing team. Sadly it's just one guy and he does other stuff too.
But my EPIA runs 1280x1024 so I was happy already :)

Re:Arrghhhh (5, Insightful)

shermozle (126249) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827047)

And in five years' time, when they've stopped supporting your card in the latest kernel version, you do what?

Re:Arrghhhh (2, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827611)

And in five years' time, when they've stopped supporting your card in the latest kernel version, you do what?

I have a new card in my gaming rig and buy the cheapest discrete card I can for my alt? No wait, that doesn't fit the slashdot agenda. A laptop then, well then maybe I'll stick with the latest supported distro for that kernel version which should hopefully give it another three years of distro support. After that if it's not broken in eight years, maybe I could oh say stick with it and realize it probably doesn't run the latest eyecandy anyway? Or use the open source nv driver that'll give me an unaccelerated desktop against any kernel?

Honestly, of all the issues I could think of this one is way down on my list. You'll always get a dumb picture up, and performance graphics is still a rapidly moving target. And we're still waiting for competitive open source drivers, here's the current state on friday from Phoronix:

"At the end of the day, the current level of open-source 3D support for the R500 series is fine if you are just interested in using Compiz or just basic OpenGL acceleration or running a few older games. However, for any newer game you will find the frame-rate to be unbearable or not to play at all. You will notice there was no Doom 3, Quake 4, or Enemy Territory: Quake Wars benchmarks and that's because Mesa will not even work with these id Software titles. Additionally, the Unigine technology demos and Lightsmark within the Phoronix Test Suite aren't ready for Mesa graphics."

For now, enabling my nvidia driver was one checkbox in Kubuntu and it "just works". No doubt my next card will be ATI, but I have absolutely no regrets about going with nVidia when I did.

Re:Arrghhhh (2, Interesting)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827531)

I'm all for proprietary software and write it myself, but my experience with ATI tells me closed video drivers in linux are an extreme pain every time you do a kernel update. That's why I'll buy Intel next time -- existing open source drivers, not just specs. Whenever VIA gets 3D support done open source I'll consider them too.

Re:Arrghhhh (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827695)

Good for you. For me, I dropped $600+ on two cards in order to drive 4 monitors - all based on this supposedly great support they had for linux.
The drivers didn't effing work and the 'support' was completely worthless, little better than "did you plug in the cable" level.
I had to pay another ~$200 for two gefen "dvi doctors" in order to fix an obvious bug in nvidia's driver, a bug I could have fixed myself faster than it would have taken to recompile the drivers if I had source.
Three years later, their drivers still lag without full support for randr.

Your personal experience doesn't mean shit.

Re:Arrghhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24828107)

And either does yours by your logic

never forget quack.exe (4, Informative)

r00t (33219) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827731)

It was found that renaming quake.exe to quack.exe
would affect performance. The reason is that the
driver purposely degrades the quality for stuff
that is used in benchmarks. This is dishonest, and
it is a filthy hack. It's damn obvious why video
drivers are a major cause of crashes; they dig
around in kernel memory (totally undocumented) to
enable dirty hacks.

Open Source fixes this problem automatically.

Re:Arrghhhh (2, Insightful)

Vanders (110092) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827983)

The whole argument for FOSS 3D video card drivers is just silly in my opinion.

It makes excellent sense if your whole world is not limited to X.org. There are lots [syllable.org] of [haiku-os.org] other [reactos.org] platforms [directfb.org] that can benefit from Open drivers.

Re:Arrghhhh (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828487)

You forgot us [9fans.net] :)

Re:Arrghhhh (2, Informative)

ypctx (1324269) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828473)

If you really want to know why is it bad to have closed source drivers, check Nvidia's and ATI's linux driver forums. Example1, [nvnews.net] example2 [nvnews.net] , example3 [phoronix.com] .
Closed source development, compared to the open source one, sucks the monkey's ass.
ATI released the specs, at least partially, and this is the result [x.org] . That's why I didn't buy Nvidia.
I'm currencly using the binary driver from ATI, while waiting for the open source radeonhd to be completed.

Re:Arrghhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826627)

Sorry nVidia, but I can't recommend you as long as you lag like this.

They don't lag yet. Nvidia has still the best 3D accelerated drivers available for Linux. PERIOD.

(RadeonHD still has only 2D acceleration, latest one "should" have 3D acceleration which should work for 5 seconds or so, but haven't got it work on any of my radeons. Oh yeah, and ATi's propietary drivers fsck's up hibernate on my Thinkpad)

Damn I wish I had Nvidia :P

Re:Arrghhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24827309)

Same for me, bought my nvidia based laptop just weeks ago. But (unless nvidia goes open as well) my next laptop will definitely have a VIA graphics chipset.

Re:Arrghhhh (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24828417)

Although I very much welcome all the open-source graphics drivers, it is important to note that none of the open-source drivers discussed (Ati, VIA) support 3D and hence, compiz. From what I have learned, X itself is partly to blame here though I do not know the details. This will change in the next few months with GEM and DRI2, but I suspect it will at least be a year after that before the drivers catch up.

So, don't feel bad about your nVidia card. Realistically, they're still the best supplier of powerful 3D support under Linux. There is open-source compiz support for Intel chipsets and older Ati cards (r300 driver), and maybe others. But none of them match the power of Nvidia; fglrx comes close, but since it has bugs which prevent you from running Wine, full-screen Xv or MythTv, it just isn't there yet.

Too bad... (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826123)

... that it has to be a Taiwanese company doing this, rather than an American player.

Well... Taiwan On!

Re:Too bad... (2, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827371)

Linux is getting hugely popular on the low cost laptop scene here in Asia. When you overhear the average person on the street discussing the benefits of Ubuntu (or whatever) over Apple or Microsoft, it is safe to say that these latter two entities are no longer nearly as relevant as they once were.

If VIA didn't do anything about this they would absolutely lose out big time to the competition. People want cheap, they don't want to buy hardware and then have to pay more than it cost just for the operating system and an office suite. This action at its core is likely driven by profits and not good will, at least not in the upper reaches of the company anyway.

CRT? (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826175)

It worries me a bit that in the 3D driver video demo that they're displaying it on an old CRT monitor. Maybe we should all chip in a little and get them a flat panel.

Re:CRT? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826255)

it cant do 720 thats why haha

Ok - looking to replace NVidia then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826253)

I've got a NVidia driving 2 1920x1200 DVI monitors. What VIA product(s) will do this?

Re:Ok - looking to replace NVidia then (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826579)

Just give me one of your monitors and this problem will go away.

Re:Ok - looking to replace NVidia then (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24826645)

No, I'd still have the nvidia not supporting the 1920x1200 mode. But thanks for your kind offer.

(So much for claims of 'helpful online open source communities')

Re:Ok - looking to replace NVidia then (1)

XMyth (266414) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826673)

Someone above said that VIA has a problem with 1080p so he better give his other monitor to me.

Thanks

Re:Ok - looking to replace NVidia then (2, Informative)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827429)

Wrong segment of the market son. VIA aren't catering to the likes of you, they are aiming for laptops and embedded SOHO stuff. This is a far more lucrative area for their business model. I don't know that they even want to compete on the cutting edge with NVidia. I'm sure they certainly have the financial capacity to do so if they desired anyway, but the market is not screaming out for dual DVI setups just yet.

I'd be more excited... (1)

Lord Crowface (1315695) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826257)

If VIA offered an IGP that didn't get blown out of the water by even a crappy old Intel GMA950...

It makes sense for VIA to love FOSS (1)

femto (459605) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826303)

In a FOSS world, processor instruction set is of relatively minor importance. Change the processor and all one does is recompile the code, possibly, but probably not, with minor tweaks. In an open source world VIA would be free to break away from the x86 instruction set and compete in an unfettered manner with Intel.

Alt-Left-Click Message on Everex 7" Laptop (2, Insightful)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826717)

In the description in the link for it, it actually informs the user about needing to move some windows around due to all the buttons not being visible, something that has been a common problem while running desktops that weren't really made for low resolutions like Gnome. That's really something that should be fixed and I'm surprised it hasn't been by now. Some way for X to detect that there is no way for a window to fit on the screen and add some scrolly bars to it to make everything accessible. Perhaps it's purely the fault of the window manager or library though and not X, or maybe it's both?

Re:Alt-Left-Click Message on Everex 7" Laptop (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826737)

Come to think of it, someone might say it's bad programming on the part of whoever designed the window, but if so I think that's something that should be the default for all windows so that there's always a safety net. You can't always expect programmers to be perfect and foresee everything.

done a dozen years ago (2, Informative)

r00t (33219) | more than 5 years ago | (#24827757)

Some way for X to detect that there is no way for a window to fit on the screen and add some scrolly bars to it to make everything accessible. Perhaps it's purely the fault of the window manager or library though and not X, or maybe it's both?

The original FVWM ("Feeble Virtual Window Manager") did this. FVWM is still a rather nice window manager, assuming you don't mind editing ~/.fvwmrc to adjust it.

VIA has to support Linux (2, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#24826917)

VIA is actually in the embedded x86 space. Home routers, MIDs, and other appliance-like consumer devices seem to be appropriate uses of VIA's chips. Companies there are mainly using Linux(there are exceptions), so I don't see any other choice for VIA but to start improving their Linux support and releasing open source drivers. VIA's cpus can't really compete with normal consumer desktops. Intel's integrated graphics and low power cpus are much more capable, but not as cheap or quite as low power (yet).

Wow! Cursor Accelerator! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24827393)

Geee.. You linux guys get everything for free, even cursor acceleration! I see now that you're ready for the Desktop.

Re:Wow! Cursor Accelerator! (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828515)

We even read your email!

can anyone compile it? (1)

dominux (731134) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828067)

I am using Ubuntu 8.04 fully updated. The run.sh in the xf86-video-via-83.1.0 just gives me a ton of errors. I also tried going in to the X11R7 directory and following the instructions in the README to chmod +x a few files but this barfs on ./configure and complains I don't have packages xorg-server, xvmc adn fontsproto. None of which are in the repos.

you FAIL it!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24828131)

there oaRe only

Now 4 drivers? (2, Insightful)

Mike McTernan (260224) | more than 5 years ago | (#24828849)

I think this now brings the total drivers for the Chrome chipset to 4. There's already:

- Via proprietary binary drivers (support some 3D acceleration and TVout, but only available for specific distro/kernel combinations)
- Unichrome drivers (focus on code quality rather than features, so no 3D accel and TVout)
- Openchrome drivers (used in most distros, support some of the features, but imperfect and seem not to support Compiz)
- The new Via FOSS drivers (2D only at present)

Why couldn't VIA just contribute to one of the existing projects or send them docs and maybe funding? That would have been truely embracing open source.

I'd be interested to know if Via tried to contact any of the uni/openchrome developers.

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