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DisplayLink Releases LGPL USB Graphics Code

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the more-car-computer-lust dept.

Displays 61

iso writes "USB graphics should be coming to Linux soon: DisplayLink has released an LGPL library that talks to one of its graphics chips over a USB connection. DisplayLink aren't one of the big guys in graphics, but it's always nice to see a hardware manufacturer go the open source route. Now, when can I get one of these touchscreen MIMOs on my Linux HTPC?"

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Try this: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27980557)

In Wolfram Alpha "King of England". Man, that thing sucks.

"coming" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27980583)

Are you forgetting about sisusb x.org driver ? How is this anything other than a slashvertisement?

Re:"coming" (5, Funny)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980631)

Well it worked... I've already used up all my actual graphics outputs and now I'm trying to think of an excuse (other than "it's cool") to get an expensive USB touchscreen.

Damn companies trying to trick me with that whole "making stuff I want to buy" scam.

Re:"coming" (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980755)

Damn companies trying to trick me with that whole "making stuff I want to buy" scam.

LOL.

I'm not too fond of gadgets, but admittedly, that MIMO (or at least the functionality it provides) really caught my eye. I'd imagine something like it could one day be in everyone's living room.

Then again, most of the gadgets being sold today can be a real bitch for someone other than a Windows or Mac user. Even the simplest device, if advertised as standards compliant and requiring no special drivers, usually means "Might work in Linux, but probably won't for the BSDs". On that note, if anyone knows of a USB-serial adapter that works in FreeBSD, my notebook would love to hear from you.

Re:"coming" (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981093)

I don't have firsthand experience; but FTDI says that [ftdichip.com] there are drivers for its USB/serial products for FreeBSD. FTDI based usb/serial converters are reasonably common. Both Sparkfun and Adafruit industries use them a lot with their arduino related products.

Reports also suggest [ipnom.com] that the PL-2303 is supported in FreeBSD. You can get an adapter based on it from Sparkfun [sparkfun.com] .

It's a nuisance not to be able to just grab anything; but it looks like you do have options.

Re:"coming" (1)

Xabraxas (654195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984057)

If the PL-2303 is supported then just go to your local Best Buy and pick up a Dynex branded USB-Serial converter. I am using one on Linux and it is a PL-2303.

Oh very supported! (1)

Benanov (583592) | more than 5 years ago | (#27994947)

pl-2303 is very supported. FutureDial cables for cell phones typically use them.

Re:Oh very supported! (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#27999913)

Thanks for the comments. And thanks to everyone else that replied!

Re:"coming" (1)

Night64 (1175319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981183)

It really worked. The link on TFA shows that the Mimo Monitor is sold out.

Well it worked... I've already used up all my actual graphics outputs and now I'm trying to think of an excuse (other than "it's cool") to get an expensive USB touchscreen.

Damn companies trying to trick me with that whole "making stuff I want to buy" scam.

Re:"coming" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27981529)

Don't worry. Barack Obama will soon nationalize the companies and instead of them making stuff you want to buy, they'll make stuff that government regulators think you should buy.

Re:"coming" (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983117)

Well how about a Home media and automation controller?

Re:"coming" (2, Informative)

Molochi (555357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980785)

The Displaylink driver accomidates a lot of USB display adapters and notebook docking stations made by a variety of manufacturers. HP, Samsung, EVGA, etc... have USB display devices that can use this driver. There's not much to bitch about here.

Re:"coming" (2, Informative)

Kuciwalker (891651) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980833)

Have you ever read the code for that? It's impenetrable! (I've tried to port it to other OS's.)

Re:"coming" (1)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982453)

Give K-Y® a try!

Re:"coming" (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981013)

For whatever reason(I don't know if the chips are cheaper, work better, are marketed better, or what) SIS usb based stuff seems to be on its way to obscurity and death, while displaylink based stuff is becoming more common.

Your point is valid, in that displaylink wasn't the first, by several years, to do USB graphics or the first to do USB graphics that work on Linux; but, because of the current marketshare, a displaylink driver is now bigger news than sisusb for most applications.

Re:"coming" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27985585)

If you've ever tried using one of those SiS adapters you'd know why - the performance is terrible. The DisplayLink stuff actually works.

Re:"coming" (2, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981563)

This is big, because the eVGA UV Plus USB videocards are powered by this company's chips, and those cards can sometimes be found for as little as $20.

They are now (in theory) Windows, OSX, and Linux compatible.

This could potentially be a very cheap way to add more monitors to a setup, regardless of OS, for use in mostly static tasks like programming, spreadsheets, browsing websites, etc.

Re:"coming" (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983091)

It could also be used for say a large digital picture frame.

More the merry-er'er...er. (4, Interesting)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980617)

It's always good to see more hardware developers opening their drivers to Linux development. I think more and more companies are realizing that linux desktops are not going to be the defacto standard, but that Linux will be in a lot of gear that could use their devices. Getting their drivers and devices cozy with linux only works in everybody's favor.

Re:More the merry-er'er...er. (2, Interesting)

AmyRose1024 (1160863) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980935)

Maybe they're starting to understand that most Linux users are just the type of people who like buying gadgets.

Re:More the merry-er'er...er. (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986173)

Maybe they think this could be useful for servers and embedded as wel, where there is a lot of stuff running Linux.

Well, a simple amasearch turned this up: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27980629)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001OXSEPK/ [amazon.com] should pick up one of those little displays.

max resolution? (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980789)

Is it any more then a small display gimmick ?

I mean, feeding my monitor/tv through USB would be nice, but there must be some technical glitch like lack of bandwidth for higher resolutions and frame rates.

Re:max resolution? (2, Interesting)

Tawnos (1030370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980863)

One of the guys here was trying DisplayLink over wireless USB - driving a high res picture at close to real time. It actually does a pretty good job, though the drivers are still a mess and really hack around the display stack.

Re:max resolution? (2, Informative)

Briareos (21163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980871)

Is it any more then a small display gimmick ?

I mean, feeding my monitor/tv through USB would be nice, but there must be some technical glitch like lack of bandwidth for higher resolutions and frame rates.

Of course it's not enough bandwidth for streaming video, but it's more than adequate for browsing the web (sans YouTube) or (gasp) working on an extra (up to 1600x1200) monitor...

More info can be found here [displaylink.com] .

np: Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Streets Of Philedelphia (Advance Base Battery Life)

Re:max resolution? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982625)

Agreed, given the bandwidth of USB, it can't do a good frame rate at any decent resolution without sacrificing color depth, but it is plenty for office work.

After upgrading the last office holdouts to LCDs, I saw a Tritton widget on clearance. It did 1600x1200 @ 60hz, could go larger with a drop in frame rate or color depth, but I was only replacing 17" CRTs. It was an easy way to get some more screens on my desk:)

These look to be a bit better. Hopefully run cooler, mine gets rather toasty.

Re:max resolution? (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985771)

I don't know what level this works in, but a decade ago we were running six X terminals with around a 1024x768[1] displays over a single, shared, 10Mb/s network. USB 1.0 gives this much bandwidth and USB 2 gives over an order of magnitude more. If you are streaming commands like 'draw line' and 'composite texture' then USB 2 provides far more than enough bandwidth. It's also enough to stream decent quality compressed video, so if the CPU can encode the video streams and the USB device can decode them you should be able to do full-motion video too.

It all depends on how the driver is written. If it looks like a dumb framebuffer thne you will need a lot more bandwidth than if it looks like a complex GPU. As a simple example, consider how text is rendered in modern X11 (and on OS X, and I think on Vista). The glyhps for the font are sent to the display, pushed into texture memory on the GPU, and then drawing them is a single command to composite the texture onto the framebuffer at a specific offset. This means that drawing an antialiased character only requires a few bytes of data to be sent to the display. The same is true for drawing common user interface elements; the images used to draw them will be cached in texture memory. Unless you are doing 3D work, you are using a lot more bandwidth between your GPU and monitor than you are between your CPU and GPU.

[1] I can't remember exactly what it was; some weird Sun single-scan monitors with a resolution I've not seen anywhere else.

Re:max resolution? (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986175)

Maybe look at these video's ?:
http://www.displaylink.com/how_it_works.html [displaylink.com]

Re:max resolution? (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986187)

OK, for those that don't want to watch the vids. Here is a summary: it's running several video's of which one was fullscreen. I don't know if the monitors were daisy-chained.

Re:max resolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27980899)

up to 1680x1050

Re:max resolution? (3, Informative)

N4EA (970928) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981039)

I use one of their units to drive a second 22" display from my Macbook Pro. It works wonderfully for everything EXCEPT watching videos. Terminal sessions, Eclipse coding environments, email etc are seamless on it. As another poster said though, it doesn't have the bandwidth to deal with video very well, but I knew that going in and that wasn't my reason for buying it.

Re:max resolution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27981281)

Indeed. Hi-Speed USB 2.0 only has the needed bandwidth (let alone throughput) for 32bit 1600x1200 at 7-8fps. These gadgets are more useful for spreadsheets and slide presentations, than HDVideo.

It does a decent enough job at 640x480 output to a projector though. The little touchscreen in the second link that uses Displaylink runs at 800x480 probably so video wouldn't suck on it.

Any video devices using MJPEG or H.264? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27981691)

Ignoring the "never re-encode" crowd, you could probably make a lot of interesting remote display products once real-time MJPEG or H.264 encoders can be added to a computer. Adjust the lossiness to suit the I/O path and application/user needs.

The little image-processing chips on digital cameras that allow video capture are proving that video encoding can go in real-time with low power consumption (low enough to run on their small battery). Get chips like those onto PCIe and then you could have streams of video out over lower bandwidth connections like USB or even wifi.

I wonder if there's enough time left to market something like that before the multi-core CPU and GPGPU convergence can compete in terms of power/heat/money budgets. Imagine if Canon or someone made a multi-lane PCIe card that had a bunch of their digital camera encoder chips on it. Shove in full framebuffer image streams over the high bandwidth bus, and return the compressed video stream frames for delivery to any other I/O port desired. You could even get one of those onto a PCIe-external/cardbus slot on a laptop (though not if the slot only supports the USB mode of operation).

Re:Any video devices using MJPEG or H.264? (1)

Molochi (555357) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983489)

They could have done this a few years ago before the push to HD. Now I think what you'd want to do is make a USB 3 dongle that could output HD video and audio over HDMI.

USB 3 is just around the bend with up to ~400MBPS (yes bytes) throughput. Still limited to 5v and .15A though. A lot of things that right now need a couple of PCIe lanes and an internal card are going to be very doable over USB on new computers come this time next year.

Re:Any video devices using MJPEG or H.264? (1)

Tycho (11893) | more than 5 years ago | (#27983685)

IEEE1394c at S3200 or 3200Mbps using the same wiring as 9-pin IEEE1394b S800 cables, is going to be have more throughput, carry more power, and have less CPU load than USB3 at 4.8Gbs, USB3's actual rated speed. The new cable requirements applicable to USB3 also makes USB3 cables use essentially the same type of cable as IEEE1394c, negating any sort of benefit with respect to cost that USB 2.0 has. Cost refers to the cost of silicon on the device, the cost of routing the traces on a PCB, as well as the cost of the cable. I'm hoping for IEE1934c next year, but lets see if Intel can screw the market over with USB3 like it did with USB2.

Re:Any video devices using MJPEG or H.264? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27988871)

"...but lets see if Intel can screw the market over with USB3 like it did with USB2."

I think that's a forgone conclusion. If Intel doesn't push the standard it won't be on most hardware. If it isn't on most computers by default, the devices that do support it won't have the initial volume of sales to drive down the price.

Re:Any video devices using MJPEG or H.264? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985777)

They could have done this a few years ago before the push to HD. Now I think what you'd want to do is make a USB 3 dongle that could output HD video and audio over HDMI.

As I said in another post, it depends on how clever the drivers are. If you have HD video, you typically have it in H.264 or MPEG-2 formats, and most GPUs can decode these in hardware. If you're using the operating system's interfaces for this then the software is going to be pushing the raw compressed video stream to the driver, and the driver can just push it over the bus.

Re:Any video devices using MJPEG or H.264? (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987633)

I've always wondered why nobody ever stepped up and this, innexpensively.

Look at TI's DaVinci lineup. It's supposed to be small enough to be used in digital cameras (I've only seen it in the OSD 2.0 preview units) and sips power, while being fast enough to encode 720p60 h.264 at real-time. I think there's a beefier DaVinci that can do 1080p30 h.264. (and some devices like Leadtek's Cell card can do it faster than real time at 1080p.)

The major problem with them, other than availability, is cost. Seriously, I'm not going to spend 300$ on a Cell card that makes no mention of an OS other than "Windows XP/Vista". I'm not going to blow 1000$ on a DSP/CPU combo that is supposed to sell for sub-10$ in bulk. And it needs to be able to transcode video using FFMpeg, and occupy a PCIEx1 or PCI slot, or heck USB or FireWire.

Re:max resolution? (2, Interesting)

John Betonschaar (178617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981473)

Is it any more then a small display gimmick ?

Maybe, but now that these screens seem to get linux support you can also do some pretty cool stuff with them. Get a really small ARM board like a Gumstix Overo or Beagleboard and you can make a pretty cool computer out of it that acts as a digital picture frame, clock, micro webserver, RSS reader, whatever you can think of.

I've actually been looking for a small USB screen that works with Linux for ages, so this is pretty cool news. Maybe now I can put my ARM board to use as a wireless DPF annex information display :-)

Get a Chumby. (1)

kinema (630983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27984365)

Why not get a Chumby [chumby.com] ?

Re:Get a Chumby. (1)

John Betonschaar (178617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986429)

I've looked at the chumby, but I don't like the design and form factor. Also you'd more or less need to 'hack' it to have it do more than it's supposed to do, which is showing chumby applets in Flash. But they're nice devices though, only not what I'm looking for.

Re:max resolution? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27985779)

If you're using a BeagleBoard, you'd be better off using its built-in DVI-D output for video than a USB adaptor. That leaves the USB adaptor free for connecting a USB network device.

Re:max resolution? (1)

John Betonschaar (178617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27986425)

External small displays with dvi-d are hard to find and ridiculously expensive, I've not found a single one for less then $300. The Samsung U70 7" screen I can get for less than $80. The USB connection is not really an issue, as with my revision of the Beagleboard you need to attach a powered HUB anyway, to power the board and to get the port in USB host mode (it's an USB on-the-go port that acts as a slave otherwise).

Re:max resolution? (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27987651)

Speaking of the BeagleBoard, there's no way to pass audio through that HDMI connector, is there? Possibly splice HDMI and a 3.5mm connector together?

That's probably the single most dissapointing part about the beagleboard, the lack of audio over HDMI. I know it's licensing issues, but it would have made the beagleboard the best HTPC for sub-1080p setups.

Re:max resolution? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27998043)

No, the BeagleBoard doesn't really have HDMI. It just has DVI, but they use an HDMI connector because it's smaller.

Re:max resolution? (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982203)

Is it any more then a small display gimmick ?

Obviously it doesn't have the bandwidth to be high performance, but nowadays you even get "docking stations" (I use the scare quotes because I was horrified when I realized this) that use a single USB connection (i.e monitor, network, keboard, mouse - the whole shebang over a single USB connection).

If you've just doing business graphics I guess it's OK. Not really meant for viewing video or playing games, etc.

Re:max resolution? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 5 years ago | (#27992977)

I have a Samsung USB monitor which is 800x480 with 32 bit colour.

You can play video on it without problems. It doesn't even tax your CPU that much.

Of more use though is having a second screen to keep things like an IM client, system stats, RSS feeds and info like keyboard shortcuts on. I have a 24" main monitor which allows me to have code on one side and a datasheet/web browser/more code on the other side which is something I can't recommend enough, but even so it's nice to have "non-work" related things available at a glance.

3rd Monitors (2)

GraffitiKnight (724507) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980885)

We use IOGEAR's USB-to-VGA adapters [iogear.com] at work with our laptops for a 3rd monitor. It works great, and uses the DisplayLink software. They also make a USB-to-DVI adapter.

USB docking stations? (1)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27980903)

Does that mean that USB docking stations are now supported?

Re:USB docking stations? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27981041)

It means that video through usb for devices (like notebook docking stations) that use Displaylink are supported.

VERY glad this came along... (2, Interesting)

Thantik (1207112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981109)

I'm actually ecstatic that this has come along. I have a small computer in my car and I've been working ever so slowly using an arduino kit to interface into my old analog dials (86 Fiero), and I can at the moment, display RPM, Speed, and I'm working on temperature/oil pressure.

The thing that's sucked about all this is I have the computer underneath a seat, with a regular ol' LCD panel bolted into the middle of the car, running off of a 12v/110v inverter. (the dash has been torn out so it's using the metal-reinforced parts of the car)

I've wanted to be able to throw a screen in the middle of the steering wheel (and eventually I hope to put like 4-5 of them horizontally within a new dash once I can find a fiberglass shop to do it) so I can finally rip out the instrument panel, this seems like a good solution to it.

Re:VERY glad this came along... (1)

snaz555 (903274) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982511)

Me too! This is totally, positively, awesome. I looked through the code and it should port super easy to any system that can provide a libusb-like host interface to the USB bus. Which isn't exactly tough. First I'm going to use it to drive a display using an Olimex LPC-E2468 [olimex.com] running plain uCLinux just to check it out; then I plan to port it to my own (MIT license) networking RTOS. This is exactly what I have been looking for!

Before you get too excited.... (3, Insightful)

mikeselectricstuff (556110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981463)

From a quick reading of the pdf, it looks like this is just an API to draw simple shapes on the remote display, NOT do all the clever automatic smart compression stuff that their Windows driver does to provide additional monitors. Potentially useful, but nowhere near equivalent functionality to the Windows/Mac versions.

Nearly useless.. (5, Informative)

dr.matrix (36588) | more than 5 years ago | (#27981919)

..for several reasons:
- they left out the compression
- they have deliberately obfuscated the init sequences (haha, big deal, see below)
- and they didn't put in anything beyond the stuff which we already
    reverse-engineered in January (see http://floe.butterbrot.org/displaylink/ [butterbrot.org] ).

Floe

Re:Nearly useless.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27984089)

Well- as much as I despise companies who take advantage of the GNU/Linux user base (which is different than taking advantage of its developers- since that is a usually a good thing for its users assuming documentation is provided to the developers) at least we get the recognition that GNU/Linux exists- and people don't have to wonder "will this work with GNU/Linux?".

Actually it's really useful ... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27985563)

... and they already addresses all of those concerns on the first post to their mailing list [freedesktop.org] .

System requirements? (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27982907)

Anyone have an Idea about what are system requirements?

Re:System requirements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28047715)

I have run slideshows on ASUS WL-500gp wireless router using this library (actually, an earlier version of it) after reprogramming the ASUS with OpenWRT. I think this had a Broadcom BCM5354 CPU running at 240 MHz. I seem to remember it had 32MiB RAM and (I think) 8MiB flash.

It could happily run a slideshow on four DisplayLink devices (using a USB hub) at the same time - as long as I kept the transitions at different times for each display.

I didn't do too much to make the USB transmission and host_bmp routines super-efficient, you could always hand-code that stuff in assembler if performance is important and portability isn't.

...How about solving a useful problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27985361)

I love Linux and all that it stands for. But who really cares about USB Graphics?

Get it running consistently on Laptops, Have it come multiple desktop enabled. Don't make me have to search down the one directory with the wrong permissions to get my sound to work...

Oh, and make it play a MF game before you enable some strange new graphics...

*readies self for flaming enthusiasts*

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