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Why Linux Loses Out On Hardware Acceleration In Firefox

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the ugly-bridesmaid dept.

Firefox 456

devtty writes with some bad news for Linux users, from OSNews: "The release notes for Firefox 4.0 beta 9 noted that it comes with hardware acceleration for Windows 7 and Vista via a combination of Direct2D, DirectX 9 and DirectX 10. Windows XP users will also enjoy hardware acceleration for many operations 'using our new Layers infrastructure along with DX9.' Furthermore, Mac OS X has excellent OpenGL support, they claim, so they've got that covered as well. No mention of Linux, and there's a reason for that. 'We tried enabling OpenGL on Linux, and discovered that most Linux drivers are so disastrously buggy (think "crash the X server at the drop of a hat, and paint incorrectly the rest of the time" buggy) that we had to disable it for now,' explains Zbarsky, 'Heck, we're even disabling WebGL for most Linux drivers, last I checked...'" An update to the story softens this news slightly, saying that "hardware acceleration (OpenGL only) on Linux has been implemented, but due to bugs and issues, only one driver so far has been whitelisted (the proprietary NVIDIA driver)."

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It's true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896330)

They're not wrong.

Re:It's true. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896336)

Let the nerd rage begin...

Re:It's true. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896522)

Google never had a problem getting it to work in Chrome.

In fact the dev builds on Linux were the first to have hardware acceleration.

Whether or not they're wrong about the drivers being shit (I won't disagree entirely) other browser developers aren't too incompetent to get it to work..

Yes, as I've said many times.... (3, Insightful)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896340)

Until graphics card manufacturers take Linux seriously, these problems are always going to occur. That's why it's stupid to use the argument that OpenGL is better than D3D because it's cross-platform. It's only cross-platform insofar as there is actually an implementation on Linux. After that, I'm wondering if it's better to use D3D and Wine instead of native GL!

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (3, Interesting)

crafoo (591629) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896402)

How can you lay this at the feet of the graphics card manufacturers? The closed source binary drivers (NVidia) work just fine. The open source ATI stuff is mostly junk. It's a bit unfair to say OpenGL is bad just because the open source guys can't implement it correctly in the Linux drivers.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896424)

As far as I know, it needs the card manufacturers to commit. I don't believe they "open source" all of their low level specs.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896756)

AMD does for their ATI cards. Unfortunately, none of the ATI drivers -- including the proprietary fglrx -- are exactly known for their rock solid stability.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (5, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896444)

OpenSource guys know how to implement graphics drivers, but they're horribly understaffed.

There are probably 50 times more closed source driver developers than OpenSource developers. The fact that they are able to do even what they do is amazing in its own right.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896492)

OpenSource guys know how to implement graphics drivers, but they're horribly understaffed.

Yes. That's because most programmers need to be paid money for their work so they can eat and put a roof over their head. This is the fundamental problem with Stallman's free software religion.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (4, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896580)

There are independent OpenSource graphics developers who do an amazing job (thanks for r300, Corbin Simpson!). But there are too few of them, mostly because the whole area of graphics driver development is fairly specialized and complicated.

PS: I'm a long-time lurker in Mesa IRC and mailing lists, and I'm planning to join Mesa development once I've more free time.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (0)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896750)

the whole area of graphics driver development is fairly specialized and complicated

and very few people can afford to spend the time and effort to do it without being paid for it.

Take none other than Corbin Simpson. He is a "college student from Eugene, Oregon. He is currently studying computer science at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon." As a student studying computer science, he has plenty of time to work on graphics drivers. Someone like myself, who works a 40+ hour week at an actual IT job, plus spending time keeping up my skill set, doesn't want to spend hours working in front of computer "for fun" after having spent eight hours doing so at work and having done the household chores when I could be doing things like playing with my dog, going to the gym, hiking, swimming ,or going to the beach and looking at the attractive young women in bikinis.

The reason there are too few of them is that no one is going to pay them to work on graphics drivers. Contrary to popular slashdot belief places to live, food, and even Mountain Dew are not free.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2, Funny)

Doc Ri (900300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896872)

I am all for paying attractive young women in bikinis to work on graphics drivers. But I don't see how that puts more of them on the beach.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (5, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896762)

And there are a few of us who get paid for coding open source software.
But you are right, we do not exist, we should never be brought up in any conversation...

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2)

trparky (846769) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896994)

Yes but the majority of the people involved in Open Source software do it for the love of programming for Open Source software. But love of programming doesn't put food on the table, a roof over your head, or pay for replacement hardware when your power supply in your desktop decides to take a crap.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

KillAllNazis (1904010) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896898)

No, a fundamental problem with an almighty economy.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896950)

This is the fundamental problem with Stallman's free software religion.

And yet it still works, but it might just take more time to get there. After all, the problem we are having here is running an open source browser on an open source operating system using open source video drivers. With all that open sourceness going around, this "free software religion" must be getting something right.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896960)

There are fields where your argument carries weight but certainly not in the field of hardware drivers.

Hardware drivers are paid for by the manufacturer of the hardware and their customers, it's already clear Linux users are almost exclusively spec their boxes with nVidia cards just because nVidia drivers suck less than the stuff from the competition.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896488)

How can you lay this at the feet of the graphics card manufacturers? The closed source binary drivers (NVidia) work just fine. The open source ATI stuff is mostly junk. It's a bit unfair to say OpenGL is bad just because the open source guys can't implement it correctly in the Linux drivers.

Logic fail: Does not compute.

Both Nvidia and AMD is graphic card manufacturers (or well, GPU.)

One work, the other doesn't.

Sure one is open-source and one isn't but I doubt that's the reason one work better than the other?

Would Nvidias work worse if it was open-source? If AMD closed their source would it magically start to work better?

If we talk about non-hardware manufacturers who have to reverse engineer / guess how the drivers should be written then yes, they would probably deliver a worse product.

I read some post earlier about changes within Linux and how much Nvidia had reimplemented / ignore the stuff within the kernel to make things work.

I don't know enough about the matter to write a decent reply and explanation. That guy(?) did.

I guess patents / not wanting to reveal stuff / DRM may not be as much as an issue with the kernel as it would had been with GPL 3? But it's probably more convenient when done as Nivida does things, and maybe they are freer when it comes to how to implement things because they don't have to "make it look good" and as close to what the kernel developers have in mind but rather just make it work and ignore the crap-fest which is Linux ABI stability.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (3, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896610)

AMD's closed source drivers on windows suck too.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1, Troll)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896802)

Reminds me of a friends Radeon 9200 and/or 9600. Which is kinda funny since they are the only cards/generation which people can truly claim where superior to Nividas offerings and that was only thanks to the FX-line and the 3Dfx purchase/Xbox GPU development I assume. Anyhow, so you play some Warcraft III only, and get a Windows dialog with the message:

"ATI bla bla reset GPU/card bla bla" ... and your game quit.

Awesome! Thanks! But I guess there was a reason / issue which lead to the reset. But yeah. Can't say I trust AMD/ATI as much as Nivida, dunno what I would do if the AMD/ATI card actually benchmarked better, but that's not very likely to happen anyway.

Put it all together:
Decent drivers + binary drivers for lots of OSes + performance + energy consumption + CUDA + eventually PhysX (don't know how much it matter)
and it's hard to make the scale tilt to AMDs advantage.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896816)

.. plus you usually could switch firmware to get a "pro-style" card for people who needed one.

bling lag (2)

epine (68316) | more than 3 years ago | (#34897004)

The Evergreen 5xxx cards were well ahead of Nvidia in performance and power consumption. Over the longer term, AMDs openness about hardware specs. will play out to their advantage. A policy direction like this one takes years to play out. They decided to invest development effort into cleaning up their code base so they could open source the majority of the specifications. This is a slow process and likely diverted talent from bug fixing their proprietary drivers. Meanwhile Linux is trending to a saner architecture for support of modern video cards. I can see Linux driver support (for AMD at least) becoming a strength two or three years from now.

From another perspective AMD simultaneously bet the farm and bit off more than they could chew with their fusion ambitions. Maybe they could chew it, but the kind of slow chewing you do when your cheeks are too full. The Global Foundries transition also added to the chipmunk cheeks.

It would have been a killer initiative had it been released on the original time frame, and still looks pretty good if their releases this year are quality out of the gate. They aren't in a good position to stumble again.

Slowly the driver support and the product releases are coming closer together. Hate to see them becoming the Postgres of the graphics industry. So much better it's not even funny, but at the bottom of most people's lists for reasons forgotten to time.

"The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed." Isn't that written somewhere in the Linux license agreement?

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896772)

Logic fail: False premise.

There are NVidia open source drivers and they work about as well as the ATI/AMD open source drivers. It is the closed source NVidia drivers developed by NVidia that work better than either of the open source drivers.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896832)

There are NVidia open source drivers and they work about as well as the ATI/AMD open source drivers. It is the closed source NVidia drivers developed by NVidia that work better than either of the open source drivers.

So are the open-source Nvidia drivers developed by Nvidia? If not you fail.

Stupid.

The fact whatever the code is open-source or not got nothing to do with the quality of the driver.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896896)

... except when you have to give away things you don't want to give away or are forced to give up patent rights or whatever.

But open-source or not isn't the issue there either. The license and protection of IP is.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896778)

Sure one is open-source and one isn't but I doubt that's the reason one work better than the other?

Even that's not accurate. There is also a proprietary AMD/ATI driver (fglrx)
for ATI cards and it isn't really any better than the open source driver in terms of stability.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896576)

It is partially true. Nvidia closed source drivers works damn well, but Catalyst drivers are a piece of junk. The only way to have a stable experience with ati cards on linux is to use xf86-video-ati opensource driver

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896742)

Given how sucky the ATI binary drivers are and how the open source drivers are so much better, maybe ATI should stop working on them at all and make the open source codebase the only driver on Linux for ATI cards.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (4, Interesting)

jadrian (1150317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896910)

Just fine? KDE 4.5 and 4.6 (upcoming) crash on log in with nvidias drivers ver 260.xx.xx [kde.org] (on openSUSE 11.3 32bit [novell.com] ?). Many other applications and applets also crash, particularly on 4.6 where krunner, amarok and search and launch activity are amongst the affected ones. This is one of the currently most reported bugs at the moment with a current dup count of 58 [kde.org] ! As if all this wasn't enough in 4.6 the window manager also almost immediately freezes until desktop effects are automatically disabled.

So basically when you try KDE 4.6 on openSUSE 11.3 with updated nvidia drivers what happens is. You can't login due to desktop crash. If you fix that by removing the offending applets from the config files. On login Krunner crashes and keeps re-spawning and crashing. If you manage to kill it then desktop freezes and if all goes well effects are disabled. And if you get past then you can use it... without krunner, effects, and some of its best applications.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (4, Informative)

u17 (1730558) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896422)

After that, I'm wondering if it's better to use D3D and Wine instead of native GL!

Then I guess it will surprise you to know that Wine implements D3D on top of native OpenGL. If Firefox worked better on Wine, it would only mean that the Firefox developers can't write decent OpenGL code, but Wine developers can.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (0)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896502)

... If Firefox worked better on Wine ...

So does it? If not what's your point?

Also if it does: Do it on all drivers or just a few?

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896556)

So does it? If not what's your point?

Also if it does: Do it on all drivers or just a few?

Isn't "the point" self evident to you? If Firefox/OpenGL is limited by the quality of linux drivers then Wine/OpenGL will be limited too. So there's really no point either in running FF natively or under Wine.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896526)

It may be the case that OpenGL is not an easy API to write for ; or that the available OpenGL implementations are easy to break, or that the OpenGL spec is loose enough that it is easy to implement badly.

The Wine developers almost certainly have more experience than Firefox devs of working around OpenGL quirks because they've been coding their version of DirectX for so long.

It speaks volumes about the relative ease of coding and general robustness of design of DirectX versus OpenGL if the Firefox team, who essentially started their experience writing clients for both platforms from scratch, and ended up with a DirectX client that works, and an OpenGL client that breaks.

From their comments, it seems that OpenGL is hard to develop for on Windows too.

This might just be down to a lack of OpenGL driver love from the GPU manufacturers, but I'd guess that DirectX is easier to write code for - I remember a time when most 3D games rendered using OpenGL or Glide. Now virtually everything on PC uses DirectX, and it can't just be because Microsoft paid the GPU manufacturers to make their OpenGL drivers suck.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896558)

I take it you only read the first half of the summary. They have an OpenGL version that works fine on Mac, and fine on Linux with the nVidia drivers. The problem is not that OpenGL is a difficult API to use, it's that the Linux drivers suck.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

after.fallout.34t98e (1908288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896634)

The last time I wrote any graphics code, OpenGL was much easier to write than DirectX. Granted that was during DirectX 7. I suspect MS has gone to a lot of trouble making DirectX much simpler for accelerated 2d (probably happened as they went to start writing Aero).

Implementing either OpenGL or DirectX for a particular card isn't that difficult, but doing so efficiently without significant bugs for every single card that driver is supposed to support is. The documentation for any 1 revision of the Radeon series is hundreds of pages long.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

ccr (168366) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896432)

Uhm, Wine does not work that way. It does not allow access to hardware level any more than any other user-space application gets, there is simply a emulation layer for D3D implemented that "translates" the API to OpenGL. Windows software using OpenGL, on the other hand, gets a much thinner wrapper to pass OGL calls to native OGL.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896464)

Uhm, Wine does not work that way.

Actually, that's only partly true. Gallium3D now has a Direct3D state tracker, so WINE can use the GPU directly for implementing the high-level parts of Direct3D, rather than going via OpenGL. Of course, this only works with drivers using the Gallium3D infrastructure (so, not the nVidia drivers).

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896822)

Right, but the problem still isn't OpenGL vs. D3D. I've used both D3D and OpenGL in Wine on nVidia; OpenGL is a bit faster than D3D (due to the fact that isn't translated), but both are equally stable.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896436)

Until graphics card manufacturers take Linux seriously

They probably would if it wasn't thanks to GPL.

I don't know what the issues would be with submitting the code as open-source and into the kernel but whatever. I assume GPL is a big reason regardless of whatever it's code into the kernel, binary blobs, changes within the API, whatever.

If it wasn't a bitch maybe they would care more.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896472)

And that is why FreeBSD has the best nVidia drivers, because it doesn't have the GPL.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896568)

I'm not sure if you're trolling or not. FreeBSD and Solaris have almost identical nVidia drivers to Linux - they have slightly different kernel shims, but they use the same blob. Most DRI drivers are also the same on Linux and FreeBSD, because they mostly run in userspace and are more dependent on X.org than the kernel (this is changing a bit with KMS).

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896740)

I'm not trolling but it's not my area.

And yeah, everyone seem to say Nvidia work better.

But then the Nivida drivers is closed and I read how they ignored stuff already made in other places to do their own solution instead. Probably/eventually because the underlying systems changed all the freaking time anyway. Or something such.

And yeah, I assume things hook into X.org to. But it's my area of expertise, I would had much preferred if someone knowledgeable would had said the same stuff instead :D

Since I've ran all of Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris all I can say is just that even with the Nivida drivers on FreeBSD and Solaris they more or less simply work, more so on Solaris I think. I don't remember but I think you had to redo something to get them running on FreeBSD after an upgrade. On Linux however didn't they used to become broken/disabled as soon as you upgraded something and then you had to install them again?

So even if there are implementations for all of the platforms and they may be similar obviously they work better on some than others.

Personally I like the stability of Solaris.

Reminds me of the day I was stupid enough to test Archlinux after all the fanboys yelling about how amazing it was. Was back in 0.7 but then a simply update broke both all USB devices (switched USB stack / device AFAIK) and the Alsamixer so my SIP-telephony didn't worked.

Such things may have been "fun" back in the days, if you tried to get things to work. But it's mostly just fun the first time it happens, and if you get them solved. It's not very fun at all when you do have things working and then someone else break it and you have to figure out why.

Some people may enjoy it, I don't.

If I remember things right I may have had a bunch of issues getting CounterPath X-lite software to run (the only good SIP-client which was available) in various OSes and distributions to. And in that case it didn't only had to "make sound work" but also make the mic work, let me adjust the level of the mic, have short delays, don't make longer delays, decent sound quality, don't crash, so on so on...

On Solaris it was pretty disturbing that everything, including Gnome, is installed with only SUNaudio support and not for instance Open Sound System which I needed to make things actually work, and which is also excellent.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896528)

I don't know what the issues would be with submitting the code as open-source and into the kernel but whatever. I assume GPL is a big reason regardless of whatever it's code into the kernel, binary blobs, changes within the API, whatever.

I think the problem is that when you turn the code into open source then anyone can see it. And the companies might not like that. It could be that there are trade secrets that wouldn't be secret anymore, it could be that there are skeletons in the code that nobody must ever, ever see, or it could be that the code is just too embarassing :-)

That's for example why Apple bought Cups. If you make printers, you can now use Cups to create open-source drivers as you always could, but the manufacturers don't seem to like the idea, or you have the right to create closed-source drivers for MacOS X using Cups (because Apple as the copyright holder allows it) so you can sell your hardware to MacOS X users. On the other hand, any manufacturer doing this will now have a driver that _would_ work on Linux with probably minimal changes, except it has to be open sourced to be allowed to run on Linux.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896856)

On the other hand, any manufacturer doing this will now have a driver that _would_ work on Linux with probably minimal changes, except it has to be open sourced to be allowed to run on Linux.

Not so. CUPS is dual licensed; the parts that let you write drivers are LGPL, while the rest of the distrtibution is GPL. That maans that you can write proprietary CUPS drivers regardless of platform. Printer manufacturers don't write Linux drivers because they don't want to support it. They write OS X drivers because they can't ignore the professional graphics and desktop publishing market, most of whom are still on Macs.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896866)

For clarity: printer manufacturers other than HP don't write Linux drivers.... :)

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896976)

Linux will run closed-source drivers just fine. There are several closed-source and restricted drivers that work perfectly well, not to mention binary blobs. Wireless cards are a very good example of where this happens a lot (mixed-source driver loading an OSS driver, but a closed-source binary firmware blob, for example). The nVidia graphics driver is another perfect example. There's absolutely no reason that this can't happen in printers as well.

Distribution rights and copyright are the main reason that closed-source drivers don't *ship* with most distros, but they're available on repositories. As for printers specifically, most Mac printer drivers are simply a .ppd file for use with CUPS, and you can copy the .ppd file directly without modification to use on Linux. CUPS does the translating and transmission using the PostScript language. Most printers being made these days support postscript innately, and just need a ppd to describe the capabilities and language version to use.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896886)

Really? Do they take BeOS seriously? BeOS used to be closed source, but I don't recall either graphics card manufacturer announcing BeOS drivers.

BeOS was in a lot of ways technically superior to Linux. However, Linux has the developers to make a difference. BeOS went down. The difference? Those developers chose Linux because of the GPL.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896936)

Of course money helps.

Anyway, why bother if it's not worth it (through sales of cards, money from the OS provider, driver sales or donations) and hard to do?

As far as BeOS vs Linux vs OS X I assume the number of installations and potential sales matters to. OS X may have even better drivers because there may be less stupid requirements, more stability and money involed. But at least with Linux you'd be able to sell to more people than with BeOS, Syllable, AROS, SkyOS. Sure no-one bothers with them (unless the drivers and card specs where open because then the developers of those OSes would probably try to modify and make them work in their OSes.)

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (3, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896454)

After that, I'm wondering if it's better to use D3D and Wine instead of native GL!

Wine, which implements D3D by translating it to OpenGL?

Re your argument that it's not cross platform...
D3D is available on at most 3 platforms – Windows, WiMo 7 and XBox
OpenGL is available on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, Playstation, Wii, Solaris, various BSDs, .........

Just the fact that it runs on both windows and mac is enough, and the fact that one of the implementations is poor does not defeat this argument.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896462)

card manufacturers take Linux seriously, these problems are always going to occur. That's why it's stupid to use the argument that OpenGL is better than D3D because it's cross-platform. It's only cross-platform insofar as there is actually an implementation on Linux

Yes, there are only two platforms in the world. OS X supports OpenGL and has much more market share than desktop Linux. All modern handhelds support OpenGL ES. But don't let that get in the way of a good ramble.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896514)

All modern handhelds support OpenGL ES

We're talking desktop here, not hand-held. The point is that card manufacturers put a huge amount of resource into D3D, and far less into OpenGL.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896586)

No, we're talking about cross-platform APIs. Using Direct3D limits you to desktop Windows and the XBox. Using OpenGL lets you use the same code on handhelds and consoles as well. Even if you only count desktops, Mac OS X uses OpenGL (and, according to TFS, FireFox works nicely with OpenGL there), and has a larger market share than desktop Linux.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896666)

It does, to an extent. If I was writing cross-platform (actually I am doing this right now), I would be working from an abstract interface in any case, so it's not such a critical decision to initially make (i.e. develop with D3D, because it's less buggy and works and then write a GL pathway).
But then the issue is whether or not it's worth investing and supporting the GL pathway. This is a decision each individual company will make based on potential sales. I'm not so sure it's worth investing in Linux in this respect and the Mac ships with NVIDIA card, doesn't it (I don't own one), which may explain why their support for GL is much better than ATI's.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896672)

And OS X still has a larger share than linux is likely to get in the next 5 years.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (5, Insightful)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896538)

Graphic cards manufacturers do take Linux seriously. At least Intel and AMD/ATI do, they contribute with open source drivers, engineers and even specs.

And after years of supporting opensource drivers, they still suck. The problem is that a good quality graphic driver is really hard. It takes years and several engineers to write one, so often the drivers are late or incomplete. As if that wasn't bad enought, Linux has needed to rewrite big chunks of the graphic stack: KMS, and now Gallium3D, which force a kernel/mesa driver rewrite. And then there are other problems, like the fact that X sucks and graphic drivers have not been able to make Xrender really fast (some times toolkits seem to be faster using software than using Xrender; also Xrender doesn't reports which parts of its interface are hardware accelerated and which ones are using a software fallback which makes hard to trust it)

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (4, Interesting)

Narishma (822073) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896596)

Isn't it funny then that the vendor who, according to you, doesn't take Linux seriously, is the only one with working drivers?

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (3, Insightful)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896682)

Delicious irony. I've been using nvidia cards for 10+ years mostly due to the driver support. Not just linux, ATI's drivers have sucked every time i've dealt with them on windows, too.

They've cleaned up their Windows act (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896998)

Can't speak on Linux as I haven't used it on the desktop but for Windows, their drivers are fine. I still wouldn't rank them as highly as nVidia's, but it is mostly advanced features. Stability wise they are great, and they support all the current technologies (DX11, DirectCompute, OpenGL 4.1, etc).

I've had a 5870 for about a year now and it has worked real well, I don't find myself saying "Man I wish I'd stuck with nVidia." Now I still like nVidia better, and I'll be getting an nVidia card next round if they have a competitive offering (they didn't when I bought the 5870, they currently do) but it is for little things. For example nVidia handles per application settings much more gracefully than ATi. I have no reservations at all about using and recommending ATi, if they are the better value.

That was certainly not always true. There was a time when I wouldn't touch ATi with a 10-foot pole. However these days, for Windows at least, they are fine to use. Graphics are fast and the system doesn't crash, which is really what matters.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (0)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896728)

Yes, isn't that funny? Unlike Nvidia, Intel and AMD take Linux seriously. They want to fix the damn thing and they are helping. Nvidia on the other hand doesn't care, they only support Linux because the big studios ask for it, and as soon as supporting old hardware becomes an inconvenience they drop support and then your only option is to use the Nouveau drivers (which work on top of the same infrastructure Intel and AMD are helping to fix). Or waste money in a new Nvidia card, of course.

No, not correct (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896942)

Rather nVidia's drivers are a result of two things:

1) Getting tired of the Linux situation. Much of the problems with the bullshit in X and the underlying layers nVidia just avoids by bypassing it all with their drivers. They do things their own way and it works. They weren't interesting in fucking around with all the politics and BS and waiting around for a reasonable standard to get developed, and just made something that works. They shouldn't have to, and didn't on Windows which provides a solid graphics infrastructure (which also allows for extension so you can implement other APIs like OpenGL) but htey did on Linux.

2) Their drivers use code they've licensed that they can't distribute. Various things are patented or licensed in some way and they can't just hand it out. So to do an OSS version would mean to rewrite the drives without it, and generally using programmers that had never worked with it to avoid issues of contamination. That is difficult and expensive. Before you claims that can't be the case note that AMD hasn't just opened up their binary drivers. The reason is the same.

Basically nVidia did what was best for their business, and best for their customers that want to get work done. They made Linux graphics drivers that work well. They aren't OSS friendly, but they can accelerate OpenGL well and they have been doing so for years. They weren't interested in ideological purity or the like, they were interested in having good support, and their strategy delivered and is STILL the only one that does, after all this time.

Maybe in a few years you'll be right, there'll be an open solution that works as good or better. Maybe at that point nVidia will use it. However right now I have trouble faulting them. Their shit works where the other's don't. That is really all that matters.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (5, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896946)

Heh. NVidia obviously does take Linux serious, because they continue to put out good, working drivers with each subsequent release, and are obviously the only cards to get for Linux users that needs working, stable 3D, such as those doing 3D CAD.

I've been using NVidia cards for more than 10 years and I've never had a single X server crash related to NVidia's drivers. The two times I tried AMD/ATI cards, I threw my hands up after numerous X server crashes.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (2)

pfanne (1550883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896818)

I think we will soon be at a level, where the open source drivers are may not be the fastest drivers but they will deliver a solid opengl implementation, for pretty much every ati and intel gpu. just release firefox with the option to enable gpu acceleration and the developers will fix bugs in the drivers within weeks.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

KyderdogDan (604335) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896828)

>At least Intel and AMD/ATI do And that's why the only whitelisted Driver is NVIDIA.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896642)

OpenGL is cross platform because it works on both Windows and Mac, which has a larger share of the market than Linux is likely to in the next 5 years. Also, it works on playstation, iphone, android, etc.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (3, Insightful)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896804)

Until Linux kernel developers take hardware manufacturers seriously these problems are always going to occur. See what I did there? The lack of good drivers is mostly attributed to the open driver developers not having access to the information they need in order to make a proper driver. That's obviously because NVidia/ATI do not want to give out their secrets. Can you really blame them? Linux needs a HAL that allows binary drivers to be plugged in with no recompiling, same as Windows has always done. Till that happens Linux will always have these type of problems because of the kernel having a childlike neediness to have everything recompiled just especially for that specific system. Nobody wants to acknowledge the need for full featured HAL.

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

tomaasz (5800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896882)

It's the games. With a good part of Valve's catalog being ported to Mac OS X, many bugs and performance gaps have been ironed out. Those simply hadn't been exposed until then. And we all know when the games are going to come to Linux, right?

Re:Yes, as I've said many times.... (1)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896906)

What % of desktops are Linux? 2%? It's not worth the development effort for a mainstream consumer product, especially given that a fair number of that 2% aren't gamers anyway (if they were, they'd be on Windows!).

Penguins, you got "NOOKED" lol...! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896342)

LMAO!

Re:Penguins, you got "NOOKED" lol...! (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896836)

If you are interested about 3D performance on ANY platform, your choices aren't terribly diverse.

It's down to only 2 vendors: ATI & Nvidia.

It doesn't really matter if drivers for crappy gear is "whitelisted" in MacOS or Windows.

Nvidia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896350)

This is pretty much why I always buy nvidia. Others may be catching up gradually, but nvidia has been consistent leader for as long as I can remember. Probably because they use the same codebase for windows and linux driver.

Nvidia's lead may disapper when Linux world starts moving over to Wayland though, as it appears Nvidia is not interested in doing a Wayland driver.

Re:Nvidia (1)

ccr (168366) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896418)

This won't be an issue anytime soon, as I see it. I doubt Wayland will be _really_ ready for prime-time until, say, 5 years from now on. And Nvidia may just seem disinterested outwards, it is entirely possible they are simply just considering the issue internally and do not want to make any verbal commitments, as is typical for companies.

Wine players already knew that. (3, Interesting)

Endimiao (471532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896352)

There are plenty of games that would be a bother to play via wine were it not for the Nvidia drivers. Thats why for more than 8 years I've installed nothing but Geforce video boards on most desktops, sad as it may be.

easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896376)

the drivers are not mature. I don't see the news as a bad thing, many bugs were discovered and will be fixed. When kde 4 came out many driver bugs were exposed and resolved. In the end of the day linux users will have a more stable and less buggy platform.

OpenGL no rosy story (1, Interesting)

pyalot (1197273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896398)

Even the nvidia drivers aren't the cream of on the top, they're buggy in their own right. And as for the OSX OpenGL drivers, well, let's summarize:

- OSX OpenGL drivers are horribly outdated and wrought with funny bugs
- Windows OpenGL drivers are practically non existent
- Linux OpenGL drivers depend on Nvidia proprietary blobs and a user who's gone some lengths to get the latest driver

That being said, I'm the author of Lithosphere [codeflow.org] , which runs just fine on windows, osx and linux. Sure, the driver situation's horrible, but it is not your problem really. Failing to write a stable OpenGL app with a working driver has nothing to do with crappy drivers. It has to do with being crappy at OpenGL programming.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896438)

Perhaps it doesn't help much to write a stable OpenGL app, if it will fail miserably on most of its users' computers. For this matter, it doesn't make much of a difference if it crashes directly or if it has to bypass the OpenGL drivers.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896512)

"- Windows OpenGL drivers are practically non existent". That's just non-sense. ATI and NVidia drivers both include OpenGL up to version 4.0. The Windows OpenGL drivers are so advanced they let you use directx 10 features, such as image arrays, on Windows XP.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (1)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896494)

Ah, but at least the OS X drivers are likely fairly consistent with the bugs due to the limited amount of different mac hardware out there.

I'm not sure why you say windows openGL drivers are practically non-existent, because every id game in the past decade or so has been openGL.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896588)

I'm not sure why you say windows openGL drivers are practically non-existent, because every id game in the past decade or so has been openGL.

- How long since the last id game?
  - Will the next id game default to OpenGL (on windows)?

While I generally prefer OpenGL over DirectX for a number of reasons, OpenGL really isn't doing so hot in recent years.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (1)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896766)

most 3d content creation packages are using opengl on windows, not directx

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (4, Informative)

metamatic (202216) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896636)

Ah, but at least the OS X drivers are likely fairly consistent with the bugs due to the limited amount of different mac hardware out there.

I think a more accurate statement is that OS X OpenGL bugs typically don't crash the UI, unlike Linux OpenGL bugs. OS X OpenGL bugs mostly involve features not working. Like antialiasing, for example. Apple does a lot of work at the Quartz level to get decent antialiased graphics primitives.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896544)

Re your website, you should try using the correct spelling for Geforce (not gForce) when referring to nVidia's product.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (1)

pyalot (1197273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896824)

Thanks, fixed.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896692)

>That being said, I'm the author of Lithosphere [codeflow.org], which runs just fine on windows, osx and linux.
+
>Linux OpenGL drivers depend on Nvidia proprietary blobs and a user who's gone some lengths to get the latest driver
=
You consider that only nvidia drivers work correctly under linux which is exactly the point of the mozilla developper.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896782)

From my personal experience I'd just like to say that you are exactly on the mark. The only possible exception being that if you are dealing with older OpenGL Mesa does the trick even on crummy cards but don't expect to do anything crazy with it. Recently we scrapped a big portion of our own in-house OGL code for Ogre3D, and until we switched we could never get anything other than a gray screen.

HD5970 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896806)

Curious... I just tried lithosphere with my Kubuntu 10.04 i7-860 HD5970 setup (proprietary ATI drivers). There are no errors, but the output plane just stays a flat plane no matter how I fiddle with the sliders using the provided examples. Could this be a driver issue?

Not sure what you are talking about on Windows (4, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896892)

nVidia supplies top-flight OpenGL drivers with their cards. They are in every way as stable and as fast as their DirectX drivers, and support the latest standards. ATi's OpenGL drivers are nearly as good. I haven't tested them recently but last time I did they weren't quite as fast as DirectX, but nearly so, and their feature support is current (4.1 with the current drivers). Their main issue is with older games since they can't limit extensions reporting which can cause problems for games that can't handle all the extensions modern cards have.

The support is true over many generations too. The very latest cards, the 580 and 6970, support OpenGL (version 4.1 in this case), and support had been there for a long time. Go back and get an original GeForce 256, you find that it supports OpenGL (1.4 in its case) and every card in between. Not an extra download either, it is part of the standard drivers they provide on their website (and their OEMs ship with their cards).

That isn't non-existent, that is heavily supported. More or less if you have a dedicated graphics accelerator on Windows, you have OpenGL support. The only major graphics provider I don't know about in Intel. I know their graphics chips have OpenGL support, though it lags a bit, but I've no idea how good it is.

Regardless, I'd say Windows drivers being "practically non existent" is very incorrect. If you want 3D acceleration for your system, you purchase an nVidia or ATi card. They are the only guys in the business anymore. They both supply current OpenGL drivers with their current products. Means OpenGL drivers are readily available, and in fact installed on most systems that have discreet 3D.

Re:OpenGL no rosy story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896988)

You are an idiot. I've programmed opengl on osx for YEARS and it has by far the best 3d support of any operating system. Period.

Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896508)

Linux video acceleration might not be great, but neither is mozilla's commitment. It wasn't all that long ago when firefox under wine run faster than native on linux.
I think that if firefox on windows would had used open gl instead of directx, wine would have had a pretty good chance of running of running it regardless of video hardware manufacturer.

GLSL vs KWin (5, Insightful)

MaikB (1877004) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896562)

This conclusion matches the observation of the kwin developers who are brave enough to use GLSL for desktop effects
http://blog.martin-graesslin.com/blog/2010/09/driver-dilemma-in-kde-workspaces-4-5/ [martin-graesslin.com]

Without citations to back it up, the response of some open source devs was, IIRC: The KWin guys don't understand open source. They are meant to get in touch with the driver developers and help getting the bugs resolved, preferable send patches. The clutter developers i.e. sent patches to solve driver problems.

IIRC, the mentioned contribution from clutter devs to the graphics drivers were made by Red Hat employees, which heavily backs the gnome development. Red Hat has lots of money and eve more important expertise in house to tackle such problems. The KWin guys don't have these resources.

Open source gives the means to find, analyze and fix bugs, but its not mandatory. Saying so would mean that one has to know the code bases of every open source library used by his or her application. Thats ridiculous.

The firefox devs sure don't plan to get into linux graphics driver development and thats fine.

The real problem is that the driver teams don't have enough resources (money and developers) to get the job done. I'd be happy to vote with my feet and only buy graphics hardware with good open source drivers to encourage to hardware vendors to hire linux kernel developers. But right now I have to stick with nvidia since their drivers, though not open source and certainly have their own bugs, are the only sufficient choice for OpenGL (and OpenCL) on linux.

Wait a minute (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896578)

If you need to hardware accelerate web browsers these days, I think that more indicates a problem with modern website design.

Re:Wait a minute (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896698)

Good point. But the web is becoming more than just hyperlinks nowadays. Can't stand in the way of progress (or regression, depending on how you look at it).

Re:Wait a minute (4, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896944)

THANK YOU.

Of late, of all programs that I run on my machine, it's the web browser that takes up the most CPU. More than Gimp, OpenOffice (I'm more of a Latex person meself, but still), PDF readers, or any other utility that you run in for core productivity, it's the fucking bloated webpages that are the most taxing on my CPU. It's the Flash plugins, and the javascript - I have to block /. in noscript or the scrolling becomes all laggy (and as you'd expect /. have more competent developers than other sites, it's better than most).

I have to upgrade my computers so i can browse the internets. Lame.

Binary Firmware Blobs? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#34896838)

I wonder if this has to do with the removal of binary firmware blobs from the kernel of some distros. I disabled DRI a few months back after seeing a lot of instability in newer kernels.

Honestly, hardware acceleration is something I've never really counted on in Linux anyways. I tend to use some pretty random hardware, and I know that kernel drivers and Xorg are typically in a constant state of flux. So I usually don't enable it unless I'm playing around with some games in Wine. Linux is fast enough for other things that not having it doesn't make any difference.

I got Nvidia =D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896842)

Thank God I got Nvidia drivers installed on Gentoo =D

Welcome to 2005. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896870)

I learned a LONG time ago that NVidia is the only serious solution for 3D acceleration on Linux. No, those other drivers just being able to run compiz don't count. It is why My new PC has an NVidia card, my last few have had NVidia cards, and my future ones will too.

I once maid the mistake of buying a laptop with graphics from a different vendor. The machine performed like a Pentium 2 in almost every 3D game, and you can be sure that it will never happen again.

I'm not a paid shill or anything, I just expect the hardware I pay for to work.

So, thank you NVidia for providing a solution that actually does what I need.

Re:Welcome to 2005. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34897006)

I switched to intel a few years ago when I noticed that my onboard video card ran compiz smoother than my dedicated (low end) nvidia.

twaco (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896952)

exemplified by froM the OpenBSD Mod points and be 'very poorly

Of Course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34896980)

Why would a server OS require hardware browser acceleration?

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