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Creative GPLs X-Fi Sound Card Driver Code

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the intelligent-move dept.

GNU is Not Unix 369

An anonymous reader writes "In a move that's a win for the free software community, Creative Labs has decided to release their binary Linux driver for the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi and X-Fi Titanium sound cards under the GPL license. This is coming after several failed attempts at delivering a working binary driver and years after these sound cards first hit the market."

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Your mother fucks GNUs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666435)

breaaaaayyyy

Re:Your mother fucks GNUs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666785)

The Niggers be grateful that a brotha is in da black-house. Mah Nigga obama will be doin a lot of redistributing of the wealth startin' wit da white womens. I even heard that there will be 10 niggas for every white woman and thats a whole lot of late night rape. Dun worry dere will be love for the white men too in da form of Obama's prison release program. 27 prison niggas for every smooth as butter white man. As the secretary of sweet rape my message do all da whites iz 'we be rolling to your house around 8pm, bring your tears'.

Re:Your mother fucks GNUs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667631)

Big Nig apparently couldn't get a 48 hour break before his handlers directed him to begin stuffing his cabinet full of Zionists.

Cool (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666447)

I've been waiting to hear this for years.

At last! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666461)

This is great news! With proper sound card driver support maybe 2009 will finally be the year of the Linux desktop!

Re:At last! (4, Interesting)

kae77 (1006997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666549)

Honestly, being a casual Linux user, sound card support is not the defining factor holding back Linux adoption. While Ubuntu goes a long way to improving the user experience with Linux, even to get it to a 'standard' setup, I needed to use the console no less than 5 times. That's *needed* to, there was no GUI way to do what I was trying to do. While I personally have no problem doing that, I shudder at the idea of talking someone like my father through it. The day that I can combine Linux stability with ease of use... that will be the year of the Linux desktop. Driver integration and support goes a long way to doing that, and a flushed out menu system will put it over the top.

Re:At last! (4, Interesting)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666635)

While Ubuntu goes a long way to improving the user experience with Linux, even to get it to a 'standard' setup, I needed to use the console no less than 5 times.

Which "standard" issues required the console, if I may be so bold to ask?

Re:At last! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666755)

The same kind that would require using REGEDIT on windows. Screw that troll, linux is as ready as any other consumer OS on the market. The consumer mass just been too much hammered into that win32 thinking shape.

Re:At last! (1, Insightful)

kae77 (1006997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666775)

iirc, there was still a bit of configuration in X that I had to do manually. Which I know has improved drastically in the last 6 months. Configuration of display settings, the muddle between open source and restricted drivers. Wireless packages, etc. It was about 8 months ago to a year to get it setup, and there was quite a bit of googling, which turned up most of my answers in the forums. One kernel revision broke my ATI Mobility card, and I had to use an old kernel until the latest revision, which has now rectified the problem. While it wasn't a huge issue for me, getting someone who isn't literate to walk through it would have been a nightmare.

Re:At last! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666959)

I have not had those issues with Ubuntu at all and I have been using it for a while.
You might want to try OpenSuse. I think SAX is a much better X configuration program than what is shipped in Ubuntu. It is just that I like the rest of Ubuntu more than OpenSuse.

Re:At last! (2, Interesting)

kae77 (1006997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667149)

I'll have to look into that. My point was less about that though -- I quite enjoy Ubuntu and the tinkering. It's something that *I* like. But as for getting regular pc users to tinker, good luck. The distro has a long way to go before it's ready for prime-time. Ubuntu has taken some momentous steps forward in this direction, but it has a lot further to go. The strength of the Linux community is that it is user-driven. There is always as solution to the problem. But that is also it's detriment... there is no single place to bring these solutions together into a fluid package.

Re:At last! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667193)

True but then you have the issue of what do you do in Windows when things go poorly.
I have more problems with Windows drivers than I ever did with Linux. But that is just me.

Re:At last! (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667223)

I dunno what you're running and why you can't do it in the GUI but everything has pretty much worked straight away for me in Ubuntu (wireless and graphics). Yes I do need to enabled restricted drivers but there is a GUI option to do so.

Ubuntu has been the best for me. It works out of the box where as Fedora still gives me the missing cursor BS when I install it. But even that can be sorted without the console. It just takes forever since I'm not sure where my mouse is pointing.

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666927)

Seriously, do you need a list?

Installing the latest nvidia drivers not only requires me to use the console, it also requires me to turn off X. Feels like I'm using win 98 again.

Re:At last! (2, Informative)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667125)

That's funny it doesn't with my nVidia 7900GS or my 6800GS cards in either of the boxes I just installed it on.

Re:At last! (1)

jedie (546466) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667163)

is this a joke? when was the last time you used a linux desktop? 2001?

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667207)

Not anymore. Even then, does XP/Vista let you install nvidia drivers without rebooting?? I'd rather reboot X than reboot the whole system. Lame ass troll

Re:At last! (4, Informative)

Tawnos (1030370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667481)

Vista does, yes.

Re:At last! (2, Interesting)

TeXMaster (593524) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667241)

Funny, two weeks ago I installed Kubuntu 8.04 on my father's laptop and I didn't need to use the console to set up the nVidia video card using binary drivers. I didn't download the latest one from the websites, but if the nVidia package requires the console, complain to nVidial: since the distributions have no problem doing it via the GUI, it's obviously the mfgr's fault there.

Re:At last! (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667265)

The first thing i have to do in a new ubuntu install is go to a console and go "alsamixer" and crank the mic up so it might work with wine. Didn't quite happen with 8.10 tho, i apparently have to go killall pulseaudio then aoss wine [appname] now, but i havn't tried it yet. can't wait till pulseaudio gets better

Re:At last! (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667353)

Using wine is just *asking* for console hacks ;)

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667351)

i've never gotten wireless network access to work without using the console on a laptop of mine. i've used several different wireless cards (embedded and pcmcia) but invariably i have to use the console to set the ssid and wpa passkey, then it works fine from the wireless networking menu. that could be a result of my goofball wireless setup at home, but i'm sure it's not the only case of there being a menu option that doesn't necessarily work in every situation.

Re:At last! (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667381)

I am no Ubuntu user's but when you make comments like these, a lot of people wish you would provide some details. I know the Fedora community appreciates constructive, detailed criticism.

Re:At last! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666817)

I prefer having a working command line, as walking my mother through how to do something on windows is absolutely hideous (click here, click there, no not that one, close that window, click that tab), while on linux it's usually a simple one-line command that I can send to her via email, text message, or IM.

In my books, it's Windows that's deficient in the user case you suggested.

Re:At last! (1)

kae77 (1006997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667049)

Totally understand that. My father sees a black screen, and he freaks out. It's actually pretty funny for a guy with a master's degree. But especially when I need to compile software to get similar functionality (I'm looking at you, aMSN), that's just too much. Point being, he's used to GUI. Getting him to type in a web address is interesting enough somedays. While linux is not yet designed for people like that (I understand), without that kind of support, how can you expect a company like Dell or HP to push the OS as it's primary without doubling their support staff?

Re:At last! (4, Insightful)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667055)

Bingo.

The year of the linux desktop will never come until "making everything work" for 80% of the population requires precisely zero command line interactions, and precisely zero edits of obscure text files. And that most google searches for help end with instructions telling the user how to fix their problem or get their whatever working must also use precisely zero command line interactions, and precisely zero edits of obscure text files.

This includes hardware, common to obscure applications, common customizations etc.

If you have to edit a text file, your software is not ready for (l)users.

Re:At last! (1)

fizzup (788545) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667069)

Normally, I avoid correcting mistakes in Slashdot posts, but I'm going to make an exception in your case. Your post is cogent, which makes me think that you might care about this.

I think you should have written "fleshed out", which means to give something substance. It's like saying Ubuntu has a skeleton menu system that needs to have more things available in it so you don't have to keep going back to the console. This is in contrast to "flushed out", which means that the Ubuntu menu system is hiding somewhere, and it needs to be scared out into the open.

Re:At last! (1)

kae77 (1006997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667473)

sure! :) That sound about right.

Re:At last! (5, Interesting)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667257)

Honestly, being a casual Linux user, sound card support is not the defining factor holding back Linux adoption. While Ubuntu goes a long way to improving the user experience with Linux, even to get it to a 'standard' setup, I needed to use the console no less than 5 times. That's *needed* to, there was no GUI way to do what I was trying to do.

While I personally have no problem doing that, I shudder at the idea of talking someone like my father through it. The day that I can combine Linux stability with ease of use... that will be the year of the Linux desktop. Driver integration and support goes a long way to doing that, and a flushed out menu system will put it over the top.

I have come to disbelieve in the mystical power of the GUI. The GUI does not solve all problems. It can not provide radio buttons and check-marks for every situation. And it does not invoke a state of bliss for helping the wayward neophyte in a state of confusion. I accept that some will see this as heresy.

Granted - I've long been a heretic. The command line is what ultimately turned me from Windows to Unix. But I understand that I am not a "normal user" and so I was willing to accept that GUIs are generally Good Ideas. And I still think they are; I used them in my Linux environment all the time for a lot of tasks. But there are times when it just doesn't work as well as a command line.

This isn't a Linux concept. Various proprietary Unix environments have long straddled the fence between GUI and command line. And that includes today's most celebrated consumer Unix environment: MacOS X. Even Microsoft has given the command line increasing attention. And that's not even covering such dark arts as registry hacking.

But wait! Most users never see a registry hack! Yet Linux must always resort to the command line. Right? Not in my experience.

It's probably due to my particular interests - but I've always found a reason to dig in to the guts of a system. Either I'm doing something unique for my own use, cleaning up after having broken something, or cleaning up after someone else having broken something. And that's always required a registry editor or a command line (and sometimes a command line even when a GUI option was available as I just found it easier). And when I'm not doing something too out-of-the-ordinary, I've found the base Unbuntu install gives me a perfectly suitable environment. The clicky-clicky magic is baked right in. Here. Today.

And when it doesn't? Its often a cruddy driver involved that trips up Ubuntu's autoconfig magic. That "driver integration" goes further than given credit for.

That doesn't mean "Linux" can't use improvement. There's plenty of room for it. Cruddy drivers included.

I don't think you are the target user. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667367)

If "using the console no less than 5 times" is a problem, perhaps there are other options for you.

I gave my 70+ Dad an Ubuntu PC many years ago, and just recently moved him up from the old LTS to the current one.

Zero problems.

Maybe you need a mac, they are nice machines too.

Re:I don't think you are the target user. (1)

kae77 (1006997) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667421)

Mac's would be an option (as would Ubuntu) if it weren't for proprietary software that he has to run for his business. But again... the issue for me isn't whether he could run it while I'm there. The issue is whether HE could run it. Without any other help. As hideous as it is, he can buy a desktop from Dell or HP, install his own software and run it on windows. Ubuntu is not so easy.

Re:At last! (1)

KamuZ (127113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667535)

Well, it may not be a deciding factor but when you know the applications crash because you are using an X-Fi card with a crappy driver, then you get to worry. Flash applications crash more often and even mplayer from time to time on my PC, i used to have VIA sound (internal) and i had not a problem, bought an X-Fi for gaming (WinXP) and everything went to hell in case you are wondering.

Re:At last! (0, Troll)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667571)

I actually though. Only 5 times? Why could he not use the console even more?

I really hate this "GUI good, console baaad" bullshit. The console is a good thing, and yelling out that uneducated bullshit of yours should result in a good old straight punch in the face. Luckily for you, I'm non that kind of person.

The console is what makes the difference from being a monkey who uses a pre-fabricated toy to having the power over your computer and creating your own tools. It's the power to automate. The whole fuckin' point of a computer!

My ideal UI would have graphical output, but would be controlled like a console. (Perhaps with a small command line with history at the bottom of the screen.)
Look at Autodesk Maya. They did a wonderful job. Everything you do is a script command. (In Python now too!) Everything can be entered both ways. Graphically or in the console. And then you select some lines, and drag them on the toolbar, or add a menu item with a shortcut. Or you add some flow control statements, some variables, and some UI elements, and there you have it: Your new tool!

If someone would integrate Linux UIs so tightly (by disallowing programs without UI/logic separation and letting you choose between different scripting languages), we would get the power of the console with a modern graphical view. And I'd dedicate a huge thankfulness gift to that person. (= Something that is worth more than just money.)

Re:At last! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667597)

Aaah... sorry for that typo.

"tough." = "tought:"

I hope I did not ruin it, because I really wanted to bring something useful to the discussion. :(

Re:At last! (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667563)

This is great news! With proper sound card driver support maybe 2009 will finally be the year of the Linux desktop!

Until Creative releases another line of sound cards.

Finally (5, Insightful)

NuclearError (1256172) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666493)

I eagerly await any driver that is smaller and faster and takes up less resources than Creative's.

Oh noooooo.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666873)

Creative Drivers. Slowly I turned ... step by step ... inch by inch ...

Re:Finally (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667261)

Lets not be ungrateful. Of course I'd rather they just release the spec and let anybody have a hack at it, but this will work for now(even though Creative sound cards suck and they have sucked since the year 2000.).

I'm hoping that Creative, along with ATI, Nvidia and others are beginning to realize that many home users who tinker with Linux are not just poor students looking for cheap solutions. Many Linux users are well-off somewhat technical professionals with the patience and the disposal income >= that of middle-class latchkey kids to experiment with Linux hardware and other toys.

Fucking awesome (5, Interesting)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666525)

Maybe I'm a tool for having one of these cards (Ok, probably I'm a tool), but the giant amount of bullshit I have to go through to get it working in Ubuntu is really the only remaining things keeping me from booting into it more than a couple times a week. With the free Codeweavers SW and this in the pipeline, I can't imagine a need to boot into Windows too often anymore.

Re:Fucking awesome (1)

PeelBoy (34769) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666969)

Agreed. Luckily for me I still have onboard sound and my speakers have 2 inputs. I use onboard sound while I'm in linux and the SB while in Windows.

Re:Fucking awesome (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667081)

Back in the day I had a sound card I had to compile drivers for. It indeed kicked me out of linux several times; once sound worked, I was in.

Re:Fucking awesome (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667405)

I had consciously decided not to dable with their new card, especially since the SoundBlaster Live 5.1 works so well with OSS. But this news is just sweet.

Win? (-1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666531)

Binary only? I'd say that's a draw, not a win.

Re:Win? (5, Interesting)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666609)

The summary is misleading. TFA says that the source is available on their web site.

FWIW, you can't use the GPL if you don't make the source available.

Re:Win? (1)

cizoozic (1196001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666631)

Section three of the license requires that programs distributed as pre-compiled binaries are accompanied by a copy of the source code, a written offer to distribute the source code via the same mechanism as the pre-compiled binary or the written offer to obtain the source code that you got when you received the pre-compiled binary under the GPL.

GPL [wikipedia.org]

Re:Win? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666649)

Binary only? I'd say that's a draw, not a win.

I think you misunderstand. How in the hell would you open source a binary only driver?

Re:Win? (1)

fizzup (788545) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667247)

I think it would be possible, if you hand-entered the machine code and stuff required for the file format format in a binary editor. This would be cumbersome, but possible. It probably would not be enough to compile and link the binary and then simply type the data into an editor. You would probably have to actually write the program in machine code. If someone actually wrote a sound card driver this way, I would buy him a candy bar.

I just made myself think of all those tables of binary in Nibble magazine that I painstakingly typed in. Some of them before I even had the program that ran checksums on the data to compare against published values. I nearly died.

Crackle-crackle-cr[STOP] (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666567)

Crackle-crackle-cr[STOP]

Halt! Are you GPL? Ok, move on!

aaah-aaaaah-ooooh-aaaah! [sweet music]

Why is this even closed source in the first place? (5, Insightful)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666569)

Seriously, what possible financial/business gain is there to have creative hide these things? Are they really worried about other companies stealing their driver ideas for their hardware? I know graphics drivers can potentially (or used to anyways) have a large amount of optimized code that could _maybe_ be beneficial to competitors, but sound cards?

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (2, Insightful)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666705)

Creative is probably one of those companies that chargers a grip for access to their API. Open sourcing the drivers means nobody will pay for any API access anymore. On linux.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (5, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666707)

Just a shot in the dark, but maybe they had 3rd party stuff in the drivers and they couldnt legally GPL it...Dolby Digital, etc...and then they removed it now so they can? Just a guess.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667035)

i don't know much about sound cards, but wouldn't something like Dolby Digital be handled in the firmware or on a dedicated chip? otherwise you might as well have the application (music player, DVD/video player, etc.) decode the Dolby Digital data to the raw uncompressed audio channels that are sent to the speakers.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667211)

True but there could be NDA issues

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (2, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666757)

Releasing driver source code reveals most of the same information that is included in detailed technical specifications. It almost always includes enough info to make a compatible, competing product, and often has enough info to greatly simplify the process of reverse-engineering the device.

A hardware company like Creative should be wary of doing this - it could really hurt their monopoly on gaming-oriented sound cards.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (0, Flamebait)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666879)

Releasing driver source code reveals most of the same information that is included in detailed technical specifications. It almost always includes enough info to make a compatible, competing product, and often has enough info to greatly simplify the process of reverse-engineering the device.

A hardware company like Creative should be wary of doing this - it could really hurt their monopoly on gaming-oriented sound cards.

Thanks for the assertion, but I don't think so. Why should I or anyone else believe you?

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666989)

I'll vouch he's right, based on my experience in the semiconductor industry.

Still I think Creative made the right choice.
-nB

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667003)

He probably works for one of those Ethernet card companies that still thinks Ring Buffers are some kind of amazing trade secret they have to protect lest other companies copy them.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667263)

AFAIK there is no EAX support in any of their Linux drivers or specifications. EAX is the only thing that separates Creative from the better (sound) quality, vendors out there.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (3, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666833)

There was a story a while back about some company differentiating their normal and absurdly-expensive hardware pretty much entirely by having crippled drivers for the normal version. (the story was about them attacking some guy who published tweaks to make the drivers for the expensive version work on the normal version.) I think I recall that being the Creative X-Fi, if that's correct it could probably explain the closedness but not why they suddenly changed their minds.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667489)

It was a graphics card, I can't remember which. Basically if you made the cheap card use the driver for the expensive card then they were both equally good and had the same features (but one was much cheaper).

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667505)

It was Creative who did that, yes. That's why I'm so confused they've turned around and released the Linux drivers under the GPL.

I wonder - how difficult is it to take a driver written for Linux and write one for Windows using the information it provides? Is there some enterprising X-Fi owner out there willing to do it so the rest of us can have a non-sucky X-Fi driver for Windows?

Disclaimer: I don't own an X-Fi (after the incident mentioned above, I pledged never to buy one).

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666845)

Well, it's also possible that looking at the source can give you insight into the hardware design.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667015)

Sound cards don't go obsolete nearly as fast as other computer devices. (I'm still using the same emu10k1 based card as when I started with Linux), so creative likes to force upgrades by not updating drivers to newer OSes (as they admitted publicly). Looks like they now want to recover some of the good will they lost when they sued the kid for improving their drivers.

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (1)

Foktip (736679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667221)

Thats exactly what many of us have been saying for 3 years! And not only that, even the video card manufacturers have long since made Linux drivers.

I was forced to search far and wide for older supported cards that were actually in stock somewhere. Now i can finally get _working_ optical input for my Linux machine!

Re:Why is this even closed source in the first pla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667519)

They got a jumpstart of doing that to AdLib so yes they have a reason to hide it. The orig soundblaster was well know (at least at the time) to be an AdLib + Voice. They DID THE SAME THING to someone else...

YOU FAIL IT. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666639)

Sweet! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666653)

Now I can play all those great games that got built on top of the open-source ID engines!

Soundcards? (5, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666661)

Perhaps this is a sign that Creative are fearing for their existence. I mean, with high quality onboard audio (7.1, dolby etc) now pretty much standard on even budget motherboards, aren't the days of buying a separate soundcard history now?

Other than musicians perhaps, I can't think that anyone, even gamers/power users would still consider a separate soundcard as a 'required' upgrade, or even necessary at all.

Re:Soundcards? (3, Insightful)

Grokmoo (1180039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666749)

Indeed, I think you are right. In fact, not even musicians are really a market for Creative's cards. Most musicians want something with some good quality recording capability, and this is not something that Creative is known for.

Re:Soundcards? (1, Interesting)

ziggles (246540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666939)

The X-Fi still handles S/PDIF output better than my motherboard's onboard sound device. It's more flexible in letting applications output to S/PDIF directly or going through their Dolby Digital Live encoder. It lets me use the analog outputs simultaneously with the S/PDIF output. Little things that add up, it's worth the money I spent on it 2 years ago.

Re:Soundcards? (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666993)

Does onboard sound not put a strain on the CPU anymore? I recall that being the case with onboard 5.1/7.1 the last time i was shopping for hardware.

There's also EAX/EAX2 compatibility, I have no idea whether onboard can do the environmental stuff Creative has managed to get wedged into so many newer games. I never realized how much I had become used to environmental effects until my attempted creative replacement totally failed to emulate EAX (Xonar D2X)

Re:Soundcards? (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667525)

With quad cores as cheap as they are, I don't think it's an issue even if the onboard sound somehow uses an entire core ;)

Re:Soundcards? (1)

KamuZ (127113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667625)

I agree... EAX/EAX2 is pretty cool if you actually use it (ie. games). CPU utilization is lower compared to Realtek stuff (i tested this a year ago). And call me crazy but i actually hear the difference between both sound boards, maybe it's just the default equalization but i still like more Creative cards.

Re:Soundcards? (5, Informative)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667037)

Musicians (like me) will buy better-quality hardware than Creative. :3

Re:Soundcards? (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667057)

I mean, with high quality onboard audio (7.1, dolby etc) now pretty much standard on even budget motherboards, aren't the days of buying a separate soundcard history now?

Indeed. For most purposes the on-board sound is more than good enough these days. I haven't bought a sound card for personal use in years. The last motherboard I bought came with 7.1 built-in, and I only have crappy desktop stereo speakers.

If one of my clients does need a separate sound card I'll go with Turtle Beach [turtlebeach.com] . They've been a great alternative to Creative for many years now.

Re:Soundcards? (0)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667299)

Onboard sound doesn't render in multichannel (Dolby Digital Live/DTS Connect), it'll only push bitstream via SPDIF.. Also, separate cards tend not to suffer baseline hum or other audio artifacts that could come from motherboard/component RFI (or.. they render multichannel so it's pure digital from the driver to the receiver DAC...)

Does X-Fi even do multichannel rendering?

Re:Soundcards? (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667355)

Good, i hope i'm not alone when i say creative are a bunch of cockheads, they've pulled a lot of crap over the years and i hope they die. This whole thing makes me want them to die less, but they've got a long way to go.

Re:Soundcards? (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667429)

"I mean, with high quality onboard audio (7.1, dolby etc) now pretty much standard on even budget motherboards, aren't the days of buying a separate soundcard history now?"

Please dont say that. I just upgraded to a new socket AM2 board and I have had more problems with the on board sound then I ever had with a card. I used to have a Turtlebeach Santacruz and now with the horrid realtek garbadge I am fed up with on board sound. Realtek leaves the driver and interface software design to the motherboard manufacturer which always results in very poor quality and design. With a sound card from a respectable manufacturer (not realtek) the drivers are handeld by them and they mostly work the way they are designed. The turtle beach has no vista drivers for it :(. Realtek should write their own driver and take responsibility for their crap.

The boards in question are Gigabyte Nforce 750SLI boards. Great boards but my god the realtek garbage just tarnishes an otherwise great board. I cant get my microphone to function properly in halflife 2 games which was never a problem. The mic mysteriously looses gain and upon restart works again. My brothers system with the same board always minimizes his games because the sound driver detected a jack was plugged in to the front panel when nothing was. Now he has XP 64 and I have Vista 64. I can disable the auto jack insertion notification in Vista but he cant in the XP 64 driver. WTF! I had to disconnect his front panel audio jacks which complicated things. One board a friend bought had not only hard disk clicking coming out the speakers but every time he scrolled or clicked the mouse he heard it. Why I don't know but it was either crappy board design or drivers (most likely the former). It also had a realtek chip. Pure crap.

Re:Soundcards? (0)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667589)

No, onboard audio is still terrible shite compared to almost any other implementation. Poor quality circuit design combined with cheap DACs will get you all kinds of noise in your analog channels.

That and a lot of onboard implementations tend to mess around with your SPDIF output as well. Often times bad drivers and/or firmware will leave the PCM output open and will feed garbage to your amp causing odd noises.

GPL... (4, Insightful)

chrysalis (50680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666717)

GPL. So BSD coders will have to rewrite it from scratch.

This is better than nothing, but worse than good documentation and worse than a BSD driver (that could be merged to BSD and GPL licensed operating systems).

Re:GPL... (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666821)

Whoa... cue ALSA vs. OSS flamewar in 3... 2... 1...

Re:GPL... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666853)

That's BSD's problem. This is about GPL and Linux. Don't like it? What have you done about asking for a BSD version? Even if all three BSD users made some noise, they're still insignificant to the masses working with the GPL.

Re:GPL... (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666893)

Are the *BSD and Linux driver models similar enough for sharing drivers to even be possible?

Re:GPL... (2, Insightful)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667041)

1. Read the Linux driver.
2. Figure out how to talk to the hardware.
3. Write the BSD driver.

Step 2 is made much easier by step 1. Without step 1 you have to talk to the hardware without any kind of reference.

Re:GPL... (1)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667553)

I mentioned it further up above, but I'm also interested if someone will do this but with step 3 read as "Write the Windows driver" instead. You know, so we can have a non-crappy X-Fi driver for Windows.

Sound cards are irrelevant (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666815)

Not even gamers buy sound cards anymore [steampowered.com] . I bet Creative's sound card business is small fries compared to their consumer electronics business.

Fighting obsolescence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25666899)

Who buys audio cards anymore? Home users get "free" HD audio with every mainboard, and these days the drivers just work. An audio chip is about as much a center of attention as a USB controller.

Re:Fighting obsolescence? (2, Insightful)

bedonnant (958404) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667043)

i bought an asus xonar because my onboard chip had too much static, which made listening to music on headphones a nightmare. ie, moving the mouse increased the static. now with my sennheiser headphones, listening to my numerous flacs is a blast. my computer is my only source of music, and a dedicated sound card really made a huge difference, both in quality, depth, and non-staticness.

List of Binary-Only Kernel Drivers (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666965)

Does anyone know where/how to get a list of binary-only kernel drivers?

I tried to compile a list a few years ago but in 6 months all the drivers I had discovered had been made free.

Re:List of Binary-Only Kernel Drivers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667487)

Linuxant driver for Conexant WinModems is one.

In addition to drivers, there's lots of weird binary-only firmware-loaders for things like scanners, in which the device simply doesn't work unless you load a binary firmware blob every single time you use the device. Not quite the stability/security risk of a binary driver, but still impedes free GPL distribution of working drivers.

hardhack?!? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#25666975)

Can someone please explain to me why this is tagged as 'hardhack'? I wouldn't exactly consider the open-sourcing of some drivers to be the same as physically hacking a piece of hardware.

audigy? (1)

ihatethetv (935399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667071)

so are they not going to do anything about the older cards? are the OSS drivers perfect?

Thx creative, finally! Now someone can fix your crap.

Is Vista next? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667117)

Maybe next, Creative will start making drivers for Vista?

(Seriously - this is not a joke [slashdot.org] )

Why not BSD-license? (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667147)

This would've allowed for easier inclusion of the driver in BSD systems, without any threat to Creative — whatever extra freedoms are granted by the BSD-license compared to GPL, they are useless in the case of a vendor releasing a driver for their own hardware.

Re:Why not BSD-license? (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667235)

As a GPL fanboi, I agree completely.

My guess is that it's the license the people making the deciion had heard of.

Re:Why not BSD-license? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667471)

Maybe Creative would like assurance that they receive any enhancements made to the code.

Is this compatible with Audigy 2 ZS? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25667175)

I still have my old SB Audigy 2 ZS. Will this work for it? I like EAX for games.

If only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667377)

Creative is good to do this, but not having MOTU, Lynx, Metric Halo, and Apogee support, keeps linux out of the pro studio desktop.

Didn't they try and blockage a user made drivers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25667423)

I remember this story once before, where apparently they told a user to STOP HELPING their existing customer base because they wanted to limit a user's machine choices.

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/creative-audigy-xfi,news-891.html

Why the change of heart?

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