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Nvidia Engineer Asks How the Company Can Improve Linux Support

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the increase-its-sleep-number dept.

Graphics 581

sfcrazy writes "It seems that recent comments made by Linus Torvalds have made the people at NVIDIA take Linux more seriously. Recently Nvidia employee Stephen Warren asked in the Kernel Summit mailing list what could be done differently to make Linux support better. 'In a Google+ comment, Linus noted that we have mainly been contributing patches for Tegra SoC infra-structure details. I'm curious what other areas people might expect me/NVIDIA to contribute to. I assume the issue is mainly the lack of open support for the graphics-related parts of our HW, but perhaps there's some expectation that we'd also start helping out some core area of the kernel too? Would that kind of thing help our image even if we didn't open up our HW?'"

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581 comments

Ugh, this makes me mad. (5, Insightful)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 2 years ago | (#40425895)

[...] we'd also start helping out some core area of the kernel too? Would that kind of thing help our image even if we didn't open up our HW?

You seem to care more about NVIDIA's image than about what the Linux community actually needs.

I truly don't understand what the big deal is. Just open up your damn specifications already.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40425915)

Yea Just strictly license it just to linux and android and no other . I am sure that can be done.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (4, Insightful)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426105)

not if they plan on complying with the gpl

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (5, Insightful)

ethan961 (1895082) | more than 2 years ago | (#40425929)

If this engineer knows that will never happen (through no fault of his own, higher-ups would have decided this) then at least he's making an effort. People can get upset all they want, but nothing other than good is going to come out of this, whether it's exactly what would be ideal or not. Some help is better than none.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (5, Informative)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426071)

... Some help is better than none.

Okay, so how about pointing him in the direction of the nouveau project [freedesktop.org] ? Even if his company refuses to share the full API, just a few hints here and there could make an enormous difference.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (4, Insightful)

ethan961 (1895082) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426179)

I agree, helping the nouveau project would be greatly beneficial. My post was mainly referring to the general attitude some hold that nothing is ever good enough, and while it is true that the driver state is rather poor, potential for improvement exists. Instead of attacking Nvidia for their efforts, people should actually help and show them where to direct their resources. No, it may not involve the release of all their specs, but they can help in other ways.

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426215)

Instead of attacking Nvidia for their efforts, people should actually help and show them where to direct their resources

Let's all do NVIDIA's job for them. Isn't that what the linux community is offering to do if they would just open things up more?

Re:Of course (3, Insightful)

ethan961 (1895082) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426257)

Yes, it's their own fault that they're hindering the progress of the community. But corporations are corporations - the way I see it, we're lucky they're offering help at all in response to it, even if only to save their image. Truthfully I haven't bought Nvidia in years, it's been AMD/ATI for me for the last decade. Just remember that our wallets are the most powerful tool we have.

Re:Of course (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426545)

Absolutely!

However, AMD/ATI is a PR stunt. The drivers just wrap non-free software and can't be utilised at all on truly free software platforms. Intel is the way to go. While you can't buy an Intel card explicitly you can utilise boards and/or laptops without nVidia/ATI and then use an Intel CPU with integrated graphics.

http://www.thinkpenguin.com/ offers absolutely the best hardware for free software users. There are no proprietary drivers or firmware required and even the free software endorsed Trisquel distribution is supported. That isn't just some hardware. It's everything. An impressive feet given the selection of hardware available.

Actually. ThinkPenguin has the largest catalog of GNU/Linux hardware by far. There really isn't a comparable offering anywhere else.

Re:Of course (5, Informative)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426699)

However, AMD/ATI is a PR stunt. The drivers just wrap non-free software and can't be utilised at all on truly free software platforms.

Seriously? What do you think this [x.org] is about? What's the licence on this [freedesktop.org] that makes you think it's non-free? You seriously don't think this licence [freedesktop.org] cuts it?

Re:Of course (5, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426721)

It's everything. An impressive feet given the selection of hardware available.

Must be a Gnome user...

Re: Some help is better than none. (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426185)

Not really. What is needed is hardware that can be documented. Nice of nVidia to confess they are "not it". Spares having to consider them.

Re: Some help is better than none. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426739)

Somehow the TIGA boards come to mind. A common, open HAL would be a nice thing, though some might argue it would hinder creativity. On the other hand x86 and IBM's mainframes seem to be doing fine.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40425983)

You nailed it!
no, they don't care about linux, neither do they give a damn about the consumer, or anything.
The only thing on their agenda is the bottom line. Nothing else. And support is just one small fragment of the whole picture.
They could have been a brilliant contributer, if they wanted to, but they don't.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (4, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426317)

They could have been a brilliant contributer, if they wanted to, but they don't.

Not to diminish Linus's effort, but there is a backstory to his frustration, and nVidia have been given other incentives to become a better contributor.

NVIDIA was approached by one of the leading Chinese CPU teams to use an NV GPU in a pilot school PC project. Linux would run on the Chinese CPU, while GeForce GPU would provide the graphics power. 'Pilot project' in this case means over 10 million PCs in one order, broken down - 100,000 schools with 100-150 PCs each.

To cut the story short, the NV team appeared there, and in very arrogant manner told the Chinese side that they are a large US corporation, and that recompiling the Linux drivers would cost the Chinese a lot of money.

http://www.brightsideofnews.com/news/2012/6/21/china-nvidia-loses-face-and-a-10-million-pc-order-over-linux-drivers-and-nres.aspx [brightsideofnews.com]

They lost the relationship with the Chinese team, who have since approached AMD. The pilot project was worth an initial 250-350 million dollars, with the potential of much more to follow.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426531)

Porting to a new architecture takes a little more work than "recompiling," nice yellow journalism, though.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426575)

Racist.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426597)

truth hurts your butt

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (3, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426627)

Racist.

How is this racist? The only way you could construe it as racist is if you are ignorant of the origins of the phrase "yellow journalism [wikipedia.org] ".

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426679)

Did you miss the bit where it was "a project that required drivers that NVIDIA needs to develop anyways (after all, CARMA toolkit is consisted out of ARM-powered Tegra 3 processor and a 96-core Quadro GPU)"?

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (5, Insightful)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426143)

"You seem to care more about NVIDIA's image than about what the Linux community actually needs."

Of course they do. Why in the world would this surprise you? It's a public, for-profit company. The vast majority of contributions to open source by companies are not done out of altruism. They're done out of self-interest.

"I truly don't understand what the big deal is. Just open up your damn specifications already."

There's probably something in how they do things that they think (rightly or wrongly) that gives them an advantage over their competition that either isn't patented or can't be patented (or maybe violates someone else's patents).

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426293)

Or would give away something about how their hardware, or hardware development works that they don't want anyone to know too much about. Or at least not to wave around in public. I'm sure AMD know, enough staff move back and forth, but some random chinese hardware maker, that I'd be worried about.

Remember nVIDIA sells it's 'first silicon' runs, they don't usually prototype, they do simulations first, and from the simulations that are used to design the hardware they go straight to manufacturing. It's possible some of their driver support would have some hooks (or parts) of their simulation tools in it that they don't really want to be broadcasting around.

But broadly ya, for whatever reason, if their higher ups don't want to be telling the world how their drivers work, and so they won't. Hell for all we know it could be entirely paranoia from an MBA type who just doesn't understand and doesn't want his ass fired if something goes wrong.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426677)

We're asking for specs, not driver code. There's no reason they would have to give us any of those simulation hooks, or any information about them.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (2)

bug1 (96678) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426599)

"You seem to care more about NVIDIA's image than about what the Linux community actually needs."

Of course they do. Why in the world would this surprise you? It's a public, for-profit company. The vast majority of contributions to open source by companies are not done out of altruism. They're done out of self-interest.

Good engineers dont think like marketing people, they think like engineers. How to do stuff rather than how to manipulate people.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426173)

The big deal is that different graphics cards with different prices have exactly the same hardware, just different drivers.
There's no way to give the users what they want and maintain this important business practice.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426265)

open source fundamentalism is just as bad as democratic fundamentalism.

no, we force you to choose, and you can only choose our way!

Ugh, this makes me Stallman. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426303)

Maybe that's the problem right there. Open Sourcers DON'T understand why others will not open source a company's crown jewels?

Re:Ugh, this makes me Stallman. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426385)

crown jewels? the company makes graphics cards, no one is buying drivers without the card. Most software companies sell support.

you closed sourcers are so ignornant on what makes money.....

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (0, Redundant)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426663)

[...] we'd also start helping out some core area of the kernel too? Would that kind of thing help our image even if we didn't open up our HW?

You seem to care more about NVIDIA's image than about what the Linux community actually needs.

I truly don't understand what the big deal is. Just open up your damn specifications already.

It is a public company, not charity. It is supposed to care more about itself rather than some open source project. By law.

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426727)

It is supposed to care more about itself rather than some open source project. By law.

Which law?

Link please?

Re:Ugh, this makes me mad. (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426693)

The writing is on the wall for Windows and generalized desktop computing. It's not going to "end" but it will cease being "the thing" and become one thing of many.

Our computers will become our mobile devices. The keyboards, displays and other I/O devices will connect to our mobile devices in whatever way is most appropriate for the environment. (For example, at work, you will probably have a display and a keyboard. In the car, you will have an enhanced dashboard and controls. Other places, you will have to use the touch display or mumble at your device to make it work... or even "think" at it and have audio feedback in the form of words or other sounds.) Lately, all of the newest and most cutting edge devices run Linux on the front end and Linux on the back end. All this crap about components and other things are going away.

NVidia can go away with them. Patents run out. The Chinese will put out clone hardware which out-performs or is better optimized for the environment, nVidia is TRYING to be an important figure in the mobile hardware arena, but if they want to participate, they had better join forces with Linux in a serious way. Microsoft is NEVER going to be a player in the mobile markets. And I seriously mean never. They can't do it. Their history of failure proves it. They keep wanting to adapt Windows into something it can't be and they seem incapable of creating something entirely new... and what's more, no one wants it if it comes from Microsoft anyway.

If nVidia wants to protect the software portion of their devices, then they need to figure out another way. Get involved with a different blend of hardware/software interfacing and take a lesson from other processor designers and start moving your precious software into microcode and let OSes use more generic interfaces to access the hardware. In other words, stop putting your "secret stuff" into the drivers. People have already disassembled your code... they just can't admit to it in public.

The very thing that they don't want to do. (4, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40425911)

Open up the hardware such that proper drivers can be written for any card (recent or not) and platform w/o the need of binary blobs.

That shouldn't be an impossible task given how much weight NVidia has towards third parties.

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426017)

Isn't the solution "curated APIs". They approve and distribute what developers make for custom and legacy hardware and software. Apple could learn from this too.

JJ

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426463)

Then how does that address multiplatform code availability/readiness? Consider that Nvidia hardware does run on non-PC hardware as well - such as PowerPC/POWER platforms as an example.

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (1)

MrLint (519792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426517)

Apple has ascended beyond learning. Steve taught them that 'not invented here' is a mantra to burn into your soul.

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (5, Insightful)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426119)

Open up the hardware such that proper drivers can be written for any card (recent or not) and platform w/o the need of binary blobs.

That shouldn't be an impossible task given how much weight NVidia has towards third parties.

People keep spouting these things without actually taking into account that NVIDIA most likely has all sorts of contracts and license agreements they just can't break. Yes, it's fun to bash NVIDIA and try to paint them as some sort of a big, black demon worth all the hatred in the world, but in the end that doesn't actually *help* anyone, least of all F/OSS movement. Intel has the advantage in that that they entered the GPU-market a lot later than NVIDIA et.al., so they could avoid many of the mistakes their competitors did and they also have the whole, complete chain needed to produce and ship GPUs all by themselves and that really makes the comparison feel more like apples and oranges than anything directly comparable.

NVIDIA could possibly open up future hardware, but they'd still possibly have to then develop some areas completely from scratch in order to not run afoul of their previous engagements and such a move obviously would cost them huge amounts of time and money. And well, Linux-users simply ain't worth that. All this is to say that NVIDIA should open up as much as they can, that I agree with, but that it is also highly unlikely they could open it all up even if they wanted to.

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426163)

People are spouting that because nothing prevents nVidia from collaborating with Nouveau project in terms of sharing some basic information with them. Linus is right. They are the single worst company, period.

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (5, Insightful)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426201)

I see why you're writing as an AC.

because nothing prevents nVidia from collaborating

Copyright, patent and contract laws quite likely do. Oh, but let's not let real-life facts bother us, eh? Ignorance is a bliss and all that.

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426653)

Patents cover all software, including open source. Copyrights and contract - you mean nVidia doesn't own _ANY_ information about its _OWN_ hardware that it can share with Nouveau? Everything is contracted to someone else??? For crying out load, you must be an nVidia employee to spout such nonsense. Then, let me then repeat it until you get it, Fuck You, Nvidia, Fuck You!

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (1)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426689)

Do you have any actual evidence that this is completely stopping them from collaborating in any way or are you just repeating shit you read on the internet? I can accept that those things would prevent then from opening up completely but to make out like it shuts them down all the way seems a bit much.

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426233)

Compare to Intel releasing all the data needed for Ivy Bridge's GPU. I think 'IP Protection' or licencing is a moot point, rather if they show too much, then Intel or AMD can gleam ways to make their own hardware better. Likewise with AMD.

Intel has nothing to lose when they do it, because their graphics parts are substandard to even 6 year old parts from nVidia or AMD. I honestly can't even take using Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge as a serious graphics solution for anyone other than the most low-end devices that need to be smaller (Think MacMini/AppleTV)

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426301)

Intel are also not competing on high end. They're competing on simple, integrated and low power. If someone could, in the worst case, duplicate an Intel GPU it wouldn't really hurt intel. nVIDIA on the other hand...

Re:The very thing that they don't want to do. (1)

aklinux (1318095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426647)

I tend to agree here. I know that when we look at HP scanners, the stand alone scanners are difficult, if not impossible, to use under Linux. HP has released all kinds of stuff about the all-in-ones. I suspect this is something similar.

There was also the Philips Webcams a couple of years ago. Philips worked out something with that one former employee or contractor, don't recall which he was, to where he could release binary blobs that actually worked pretty well. The kernal people were pretty well up in arms over the situation and the hooks in the kernel for those binary blobs were coming and going for a while.

If this the case, I don't see why nViida doesn't just say so...

yup just the graphics support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40425923)

and mostly to do with tegra.

LOL slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40425925)

Slashdot needs to lose the "news for nerds" tagline and adopt "reddit news from yesterday, today." instead.

Re:LOL slashdot (1, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426691)

News for nerds, random bullshit posts by anonymous assholes.

Nvidia Open Source Policies (3, Interesting)

hackus (159037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40425939)

Eventually given how global markets expand and change, Nvidia will have to change its policies.

After all, they sell a GPU.

Consider how silly it is not to publish register information so you can write software for it. It is silly. Especially if Intel did the same thing with its chipsets because AMD might get some information on how a instruction works and try and copy it therefore making assembly language illegal and silly IP laws.

Eventually this policy is going to cost Nvidia in the pocket book, and they will either come around or sink into nothingness.

The exact same direction Apple is going to be heading to very shortly.

-Hack

Re:Nvidia Open Source Policies (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426337)

By opening up the hardware platform you will also allow people to create new solutions and applications that utilizes the hardware in new interesting ways.

But one problem that Nvidia may suffer from is that the division of the Quadra and Geforce cards will suffer so that the professionals select Geforce cards instead.

As for Nvidia going to sink - it's not likely as long as they actually provide top notch hardware. If they start to lag behind in performance then they will see more problems.

Re:Nvidia Open Source Policies (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426475)

I agree. I mean... maybe not tomorrow, but soon, it won't fucking matter, there won't be a GPU, the CPU will have massive parallelism too and another CPU would take the GPUs place and power consumption. The more they close up their shite, the faster it accelerates the transition away from dedicated hardware. It's happened before, it'll all happen again.

Re:Nvidia Open Source Policies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426533)

The difference between Apple and Nvidia is intent. Nvidia keeps the specifications that would allow low level programming on their products obfuscated because of licensing, for competitive advantage, and to uphold the image of distinct levels of performance by series by soft capping product features and performance. Apple does it in order to give a specifically tailored and homogenous user experience and so provides the APIs which it tunes to meet its internal performance and aesthetic criteria. Also, I don't have any Apple chipsets in my computer's generic hardware, my microcontrollers, or my other electronics, while I have an Nvidia NB chipset in a laptop and ATI chips in a video card, neither of which are properly supported under Linux. In a sense, devices containing Nvidia's chipsets are components which should integrate as seamlessly as possible into the systems they are added to, while Apple's products are meant to be complete platforms, usable and programmable without ever knowing what's inside.

Re:Nvidia Open Source Policies (5, Insightful)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426687)

Eventually this policy is going to cost Nvidia in the pocket book, and they will either come around or sink into nothingness.

And yet, our new deployment of thirty Linux-based image generators I just setup all have GeForce cards in them... Do we live in the same world?

nVidia cards, with nVidia's binary blob driver, are the only way I can get any work done in Linux. That doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon, either.

I wish it would. My home PC has a Radeon card... But the support under Linux just isn't there.

So score +1 Linus Torvalds? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426019)

I find your lack of faith disturbing...

A vulgar finger gesture got results.

Demand the moon, get a moon base.

Same thing as always (5, Informative)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426025)

It's unnecessary, and likely impossible, for Nvidia to open source its proprietary driver, due to licensed software they don't own (they have stated in the past). All that's needed is for Nvidia to release the documentation on the components they manufacture, as AMD/ATI did in 2008 (and Intel has always done). The existing nouveau driver team will take it from there. Nvidia can also choose to provide funding, salaried developers, or sample cards for the team. That would put them in a parity position with AMD and Intel.

Re:Same thing as always (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426169)

The minimum nVidia needs to do is release any and all specifications required to develop source code to utilise the card. If there are parts of the card they don't hold ownership over they need to indicate which parts these are and WHO does. Then with nVidia's help we need to go after them and/or reverse engineer these parts. The idea that you can use an excuse like this to justify not releasing the majority of the code/specifications is ridicules. Intel releases the code and nVidia and AMD both could as well.

nVidia goes out of its way to explicitly reject free software. The completely disavow themselves of anything to do with free software.

Until nVidia makes a minimum of effort we should avoid nVidia. I won't buy ATI graphics cards either until AMD release sufficient specifications for free software drivers/firmware. Right now the way AMD operates is total a PR stunt. They wrap a free driver around non-free code and there is no way to operate it in a free environment (due to the non-free dependency).

Re:Same thing as always (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426345)

That assuming that Nvidia has an agreement regarding the ownership of the other parts - what if they don't and are infringing on patents and that's why they are afraid of revealing how stuff works?

Re:Same thing as always (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426495)

So let me get this straight. Under you guidelines I'm not allowed to buy nvidia or ATI products because they're both "evil". Since my company's entire business proposition is based on the availability of cheap but powerful 3D graphics cards, I guess I'll just have to tell all 70 of my employees to go home.

And NO, Intel's graphics cards do not cut the mustard for the high end apps we do where our 3D model is 2 Gigabytes.

As much as it might seem like the "righteous" thing to do, voting with your wallet only works if there are viable alternatives.

Re:Same thing as always (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426193)

Posting anon because I've already modded this thread - I've clearly been way too far out of the loop for way too long. Is this to say that ATI is now the Linux-friendly manufacturer whereas NVidia is not? I thought that in the past, NVidia had the lead by way of better drivers, better stability, and VDPAU. Did ATI/AMD leapfrog ahead or is NVidia still the better way to go when building a PC with the intention of running Linux on it?

Re:Same thing as always (5, Informative)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426295)

Posting anon because I've already modded this thread - I've clearly been way too far out of the loop for way too long. Is this to say that ATI is now the Linux-friendly manufacturer whereas NVidia is not? I thought that in the past, NVidia had the lead by way of better drivers, better stability, and VDPAU. Did ATI/AMD leapfrog ahead or is NVidia still the better way to go when building a PC with the intention of running Linux on it?

ATI/AMD's New Open-Source Strategy Explained:
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=826&num=1 [phoronix.com]

AMD Releases 900+ Pages Of GPU Specs:
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=NjA1Mw [phoronix.com]

AMD Releases Additional R600 GPU Programming Documentation:
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=960&num=1 [phoronix.com]

AMD Releases 3D Programming Documentation:
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=amd_tcore_release&num=1 [phoronix.com]

Re:Same thing as always (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426207)

Here are the initial steps that can be taken:

1. Document the hardware. Releasing full specs would go a long way. Intel just released thousands of pages for its new stuff.
2. Have your engineers work on the nouveau project to support all of your cards in 2D.
3. Make nouveau your official linux driver for all 2D stuff. Initially this would be hard, but this is a case of if you bite the bullet, you will see rewards both short and long term.
4. We understand that the 3D stuff is where things are exciting. Move all of the 3D stuff to being a closed module of nouveau, or even to userspace.
5. Work with the virtualization people. You can do it, we know you can.
6. Work towards being able to open all of your cards. Can you work with people to set release dates for older cards? How about the ones you don't really support anymore?
7. Keep talking to the community. It does help.
8. Contribute to an open hardware project. Perhaps by agreeing to manufacture an open video board?

Re:Same thing as always (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426213)

NVidia doesn't even have sole ownership of their own hardware interface specifications. There will be no documenation. Ever. It is not theirs to give.

Re:Same thing as always (5, Insightful)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426273)

All that's needed is for Nvidia to release the documentation on the components they manufacture, as AMD/ATI did in 2008 (and Intel has always done). The existing nouveau driver team will take it from there.

Yea, how well has that actually worked. Oh yea, it's failed miserably. 4 years later and ATI Linux drivers are still garbage and the only reason Intel drivers work is because of the server market and because chips don't change often. It's not rocket science, writing graphics drivers are HARD and Linus continually poking his pecker into the kernel means they continually break and have to be tinkered with to work again.

The VOIP visitation recorders at work have to have updates turned off because Ubuntu craps itself whenever it tries to update. When the box is 4 hours away that is a big deal. Our windows machines have auto-updates turned on and never have problems. We've tried having a development machine at the office to test the updates, but for whatever reason, the number of VOIP boxes and minor hardware revisions make it impossible to develop a standard update profile for us to reliably push out to all machines. So we have to just lock them down as much as we can and hope for the best. We are working on a Windows based solution so we can eliminate the Linux boxes in the future.

It needs to be repeated so it sinks in, Linux needs a reliable ABI so ATI and others can just slap a Linux driver onto the CD that comes with the card and call it a day.

Re:Same thing as always (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426297)

Either you are lying, or Ubuntu installation at your work is managed by saboteurs.

Re:Same thing as always (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426441)

AC call's truth on his story. I've had Ubuntu installations on a variety of proprietary hardware devices pitch SHITSTORMS in upgrades.

Last year it was actually my nvidia card that caused it in fact. Years ago, it was some weird dell raid controller in the non-poweredge line...

We had to stop updating two office servers entirely as a result..

er (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426609)

So that's two "shitstorms"...

Oddly enough that isn't compelling in its depth of analysis, and in both cases you can point to closed vendor hardware....

hrm... patern?

Re:Same thing as always (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426583)

"4 years later and ATI Linux drivers are still garbage"

Seeing AMD trying is all it takes to make me a loyal customer for life.

NVIDIA dont understand their own buisness, or the basics of Free software.

NVIDIA is a HARDWARE company, not a software company, placing restrictions on software essential to operate their hardware makes it more difficult to sell their hardware.

You would think they would have worked it out by now.

What's wrong with your update system or ubuntu? (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426605)

I run gentoo on a myraid of boxes and update quite regularly including bleeding edge kernel and ~ARCH ("not yet gnerally released for this this archetecture") packages, which is as bleeding edge as you can get, and I havn't had a update failure outside of the X config (which I have been churning a lot on purpose) in forever.

If your distro is crap, maybe you should change your distro.

If your admin is crap, maybe you should change your admin.

I would characterize your characterization of patch stability under linux as "uncommonly unlikely, or procedurely impure" just on blind weight-of-anecdote compared to everyone eles I know.

Then I did drop Ubuntu because they started to bring in non-open tidbits (and freaking mono) so maybe you are choking on some binary bull (or someone else's platform envy). /doh.

Re:Same thing as always (3, Informative)

wrook (134116) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426643)

4 years later and ATI Linux drivers are still garbage

Actually, I have an HD6950 in my box. I had been running the proprietary driver basically because it was set up by default and I was too lazy to change, but yesterday I decided to give it a go. In terms of performance, it is not garbage (I haven't looked at the code). There are actually quite a few advantages to the open source driver.

For one, the 2D operations seem to be significantly faster. I had to screw around with Catalyst on the proprietary driver to get good desktop performance, but the open source driver is considerably snappier out of the box. Also, Gnome Shell was crashing on me frequently with the proprietary driver (usually when doing an expose type event), but this seems to have stopped completely with the open source driver (it has also never crashed with my Intel card on my netbook). Finally video playing seems to have been improved. No matter what I did there would always be some situations where I would get tearing with the proprietary driver, but I never get tearing with the open source driver. There is probably a way to fiddle with Catalyst to get everything working well on the proprietary driver, but I could never seem to find the sweet spot in terms of performance and stability

I'm not a big gamer, but I have a few games. Some games work flawlessly. Some have reduced framerate. One game (the World Forge Ember client did not run at all due to driver problems.

Apart from Ember (which is kind of screwy most of the time anyway), every game I've tried is playable at a reasonable framerate and resolution. I suspect that hard core gamers would not be happy playing some of the more modern windows games under wine, but I don't have any of those to test. On the whole, for a casual open source gamer, the open source driver actually has a better user experience for me. Admittedly, I have a fairly high end card, so I don't know what it's like for a cheaper one, but I don't get a dramatic drop off in performance. The improvement in other areas more than makes up for it in my mind.

Quite possibly for a specific application you have in mind, it's not acceptable, but that's a far cry from "garbage".

Re:Same thing as always (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426709)

Why not use debian?

Same thing as always: DRM. (2)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426319)

It's unnecessary, and likely impossible, for Nvidia to open source its proprietary driver, due to licensed software they don't own (they have stated in the past).

It also can break DRM.

Easy (5, Interesting)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426029)

Firstly, deal with the goddamn shitfucking Optimus hardware that's out there!!!!!!

For fucks sake (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426031)

How about you start supporting the fucking GPUs you are selling people, like this Nvidia Optimus shit!?

Crazy talk, I know, not kicking your paying customers in the nuts. Sounds like something wild and crazy that Apple would try to pull.

Optimus (5, Insightful)

jaminJay (1198469) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426043)

Better power management. KMS. More timely releases. Stop whinging that there are problems with Linux/Xorg/whatever preventing you from doing something and work with those up-streams to fix it. Stop making excuses, start releasing code. Extract the proprietry stuff to (a) smaller blob(s) and expose the trivial interconnects and such at the very least. Never say it can't be done: everything's possible. Etc.

Re:Optimus (3)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426067)

Better support for the hybrid graphics chips going into laptops would help a lot.

Let me help you out here Nvidia (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426055)

Hey, Linus! Fuck you too!

he knows (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426069)

. I assume the issue is mainly the lack of open support for the graphics-related parts of our HW,

He knows exactly what people want. The entire point of the question is to make it look like they are doing something without actually doing something.

Re:he knows (4, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426281)

He also knows that this is not going to happen, and is looking for a middle ground. Fanatical "open source or GTFO" movement isn't look pretty in this either.

Re:he knows (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426499)

Fanatical "open source or GTFO" movement isn't look pretty in this either.

To be fair, neither is the proprietary planned obsolescence movement.

Re:he knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426615)

Principled and uncompromising is called "fanatical" these days?

Re:he knows (4, Insightful)

wrook (134116) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426695)

But it's not a middle ground. It's not related.

Let's say I'm trying to get to the bus station. You live in the area and so I ask you how to get to the bus station. You say, "I don't really want to tell you that." I get pissed off and complain loudly that even though you know the way to the bus station, you won't tell me. People start saying, "Boy, that guy's not friendly at all, is he?"

So in order to avoid the bad reputation you say, "Well, I still don't want to tell you where the bus station is, but what if I offered to cut your grass. Would that help matters?"

Of course I would love for you to cut my grass, but it isn't at all related to the issue of the bus station. It's not a middle ground, it's a red herring.

Here is some idea (1)

dark-templer (673947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426101)

Help open source community write a generic high level opengl/whatever they need This layer will be hardware indepenedant, then at least write something in Galliume3D interface for nvidia cards and maintain it. Do it anyway, if we use nVidia cards and want to switch to Wayland everything works alright. Do it in a way, my laptop backlights work! Do it in a way that is easy for sysadmins to maitain. Finally, if you want to keep the same source on every platform Galume3D is much better. If you think it misses feature, improve it.

I'm sticking with Radeon (4, Interesting)

ArcRiley (737114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426133)

Very happy with my Radeon chipsets, don't have to worry about kernel version incompatibility or graphics lockups from some bug we can't even begin to fix. I've had both problems with nVidia hardware.

No PR move from nVidia is going to change my mind beside opening the specs.

Alright, I'll bite... (4, Interesting)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426145)

Frankly the GPU support issues are going to be the big key issue no matter what. Whether you think its wrong/stupid/immoral/wasteful/anti-american or whatever to use Linux as a gaming platform or for any other sort of performance-critical real-time 3d rendering *some* Linux users will still disagree with you and do it anyway. Whether flaws in your business plan and/or shady under-the-table anti-competitive agreements made years ago with certain big software vendors preclude you from giving Linux full support or if its really some legitimate logistics problem *some* Linux users will still disbelieve the excuses and not forgive you for it. Some of those Linux users still consider themselves your paying customers. You will never truly live this down, but don't worry; judging by the word on the street these days neither will any of your competitors.

However, if you want to set up a smokescreen that hides the fact that *someone* in the higher end of Nvidia's chain of command is openly prejudiced against open source software (or just made a shit ton of cash on Microsoft stock perhaps and refuses to believe therefore that Linux is anything other than a waste of the company's time) you could at least consider making an attempt at distro-native packages for your driver that show evidence that you are capable of and willing to put at least half as much effort into working within the rules and parameters of various distro's packaging systems and with their tools properly as you've already put into that big self-extracting NVIDIA-Linux-x86-whatever.run bash script monstrosity to make it capable of the far more arduous task of cleaning up after itself enough to get a working GLX after it has fully subverted and broken said packaging system by using very crude non-native tools and methods that are not dependency-aware.

And.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426167)

Cue the circlejerk whinefest

In a nutshell: no (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426177)

"I can't operate your cancer, but would it improve my image as a doctor if I cured your limp?"

Optimus Support! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426211)

Ever since I bought a new laptop 6 months ago the biggest problem I have had is the crap known as optimus. (I will not buy Nividia again until this is fixed)

I couldn't get it working in Fedora no matter how hard I tried. I've had to switch distributions to Ubuntu where bumblebee works. It should be Nvidias job to get this working on Linux if they want us to use their hardware. Also, thanks to to the person who rated my laptop version as working perfectly on Linux in the customer reviews, you're an arsehole.

nvidia same as adobe flash (1)

digitect (217483) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426221)

Nvidia has the same problem Adobe has with Flash: Closed source equals instability.

Between Fedora 14 and 17, I have never experienced so much system instability in Linux, and I've been a user since RH 5.1. My X is now guaranteed to lock in 5 minutes either by watching a Flash video or doing a yum install kmod-nvidia.

The year of the desktop, yeah, right.

Summary of Previous Discussion (5, Informative)

peanutious (730210) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426285)

Here's a summary of some of the most insightful discussions posted on slashdot when this discussion came up last week:

nVidia Issues:
*Proprietary drivers that don’t always survive kernel upgrades. So people who rely on nVidia's proprietary binary drivers can't always update their kernel or they lose their graphics until nVidia puts out an update. (from UnknowingFool) nVidia only provide a binary blob driver which makes bug fixing for it dependent on Nvidia's whims. (from AC)
*open source drivers – nVidia refuses to provide specs and API's for their hardware which make writing open drivers much more difficult and time-consuming because of having to reverse-engineer everything to get a workable driver. (from AC) As a result, open source drivers are unable to use full card functionality like full 3D acceleration (from UnknowingFool)

Summary of graphic chip vendor support (from Lonewolf666):
*AMD provides specifications and a small developer team that actually works on open source drivers.
*Intel provides open source drivers.
*NVIDIA makes good binary drivers, but those have problems when a new kernel version comes out with changed interfaces: Only NVIDIA can adapt them, and until they get around to it, NVIDIA may not work with the latest kernel version.

From rajafarian: If the kernel maintainers have a question about the hardware, they can't ask NVIDIA they have to test and reverse engineer to find the answer whereas with other companies, they may get an answer directly from the manufacturer. Get it? "...NVIDIA just made the damn drivers. Now that is not good enough." Not from a kernel maintainer's or Stallman's point of view, I'm pretty sure.

From jmorris42 : Name another major chip vendor who hasn't figured out that getting into the Linux kernel is a required checkoff for market success. Doubly so for any product used in the enterprise vs the fanboi market. NVidia's CUDA is about the entire list these days, the last major holdout.

From basscomm: Windows users who have SLI and multiple monitors have been able to enable SLI and use both of their monitors at the same time since about 2008. But under Linux, no dice. So if I had two monitors (which I do), and two Nvidia GPUs in SLI mode (which I do), and I wanted to run some 3D app that took advantage of SLI, I would have to: reconfigure X to disable my second monitor and enable SLI, restart X, play the game/use the app I wanted, when I was done I would have to reconfigure X again to enable my second monitor and disable SLI, restart X again, and reopen all my apps. Hardly ideal.

Given all of this discussion, here are a few ways nVidia could work better with the community:
*Open Source drivers - 1) provide specs 2) provide developer team that works on the OS drivers 3) provide rep to interface with the OS community 4) provide enough detail to get 3D working well
*Proprietary drivers - 1) monitor upcoming kernel builds and proactively update drivers before the next kernel release or 2) have a dedicated nVidia contact to work on updating drivers ASAP when notified that an upcoming kernel build breaks them
*Overall - enhannce SLI and multiple monitor support,

Nothing Really (1)

chadruva (613658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426313)

Nothing, really!

I can complain a lot about their lack of support of modern X stack, xrandr, etc. But my next card will be nVidia, unless performance is not an issue at all (in which case integrated Intel is more than perfect).

Unless AMD put its stuff together and starts either releasing quality closed drivers or pumping some extra effort (money, more docs, help) onto OSS drivers, I don't see any threat to nVidia in the linux perfomance graphics segment.

I do not think Intel will try to get head to head on the performance GPU market and thus they do not represent a serious threat to nVidia in the linux perfomance graphics segment too.

How About... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426361)

How about we just stop the dancing around, and either plant a mole in nVidia's dev team to leak the info to the community, and/or crowd-source a fund to pay anyone that can hack into nVidia and flat-out steal the shit outright?

Once the info is out there, there's no getting it back.

Fuck nVidia.

Re:How About... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426669)

How about we just stop the dancing around, and either plant a mole in nVidia's dev team to leak the info to the community, and/or crowd-source a fund to pay anyone that can hack into nVidia and flat-out steal the shit outright?

Once the info is out there, there's no getting it back.

Fuck nVidia.

or, how about getting Anonymous to nuke every bit of nVidia's web presence...websites, download/support servers, everything...continuously...months if necessary...until they either go bankrupt or publish the hardware specs?

also, publish the full names, recent photos, home addresses, bank account/credit card info, vehicle make/model/registration data, and anything else that can be found on all the nVidia senior corporate officers and board members

we need to make the way nVidia behaves unprofitable, unpleasant, personally risky for corporate officers/board members, and not a viable business model so that in future, no company will dare to attempt to market a GPU without opening the HW specs for fear of being nuked off the 'net, and their corporate officers and board members put at risk of having their personal and banking info made publicly available through a dozen torrent sites

I hate to interrupt you slashdot... (1)

mynis01 (2448882) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426433)

...but here's some things I wish NVIDIA would add to their closed source driver: 1)Allow us to just shut off the nvidia card on optimus laptops and use the Intel one for video display. That would at least make the laptops with optimus usable. Brownie points for letting us run CUDA/vdpau stuff on the nvidia card without using it as a display adapter. 2)Re-enable coolbits/nvclock. My GTX 670 GPU sits to about 80-82C while using BOINC with it, and it would be nice to be able to underclock it inside linux, or at least speed up the fan. 3)Make it so the proprietary driver doesn't make my TTYs all ugly!

stable driver ABI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426445)

why the hell do we need open source graphics drivers? we just need ones that work reliably.

the main reason they don't exist right now is the linux driver ABI simply doesn't exist, effectively changing with every release. provide a stable interface and vendors will provide stable drivers.

Non-issue .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426481)

Simply switch to AMD's great open-source drivers - problem solved! Er wait ...

Read slashdot... (1)

XB-70 (812342) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426487)

...and actually respond to the comments. Start making us feel like we're part of the development loop. Let us know when you run into a problem and why something is difficult or an obstacle. If we know and understand the problems you're facing, we'll be far more likely to have a positive attitude towards your product line and cut you some slack. If you ignore us and create a huge, anti-feedback corporate wall, we'll feel shunned and ignored and respond with negative posts (whether we're accurate or not about what's really going on).

I know! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40426503)

you could suck my cock. Lick the shaft and fondle my balls until I bust a nut all over your face. Now go clean up you fucking slut.

That will improve linux support.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (5, Insightful)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426553)

Years ago I got good support from Nvidia. I had a problem and sent a bug report and got a response late on a Saturday night (West Coast) that involved a kernel patch to fix a bug in the kernel that was causing the problem. I was an Nvidia fanboy for many years after that. I helped dozens of people get things like Twinview working.

In recent years, working with Nivida has been very frustrating and I can no longer recommend them for Linux systems. For example some interaction between closed-source Flash and the closed-source Nvidia drivers turns people blue in Youtube videos but not other sites.

There has also been a heart breaking struggle to remove video "tearing" (vsync problem) when watching dvds and blurays. The last time I checked I needed to use the GL video to remove tearing when watching dvds but I still have some tearing when watching blurays which is kind of heart breaking. At the very least Nvidia should have a sticky post in the Linux forum explaining all the hoops one must jump through to try to get rid of video tearing. Also, having the sticky posts show up on all pages, not just the first page is a big PITA. It wastes my time and attention. It is disrepectful.

I don't understand why video tearing is such a recurring problem. Are these environment variables still needed?

export VDPAU_NVIDIA_SYNC_DISPLAY_DEVICE="DFP-0"
export __VDPAU_NVIDIA_SYNC_DISPLAY_DEVICE="DFP-0"
export GL_SYNC_TO_VBLANK=1
export __GL_SYNC_TO_VBLANK=1
export GL_SYNC_DISPLAY_DEVICE="DFP-0"
export __GL_SYNC_DISPLAY_DEVICE="DFP-0"

When an nvidia driver update causes tearing to start again, or worse, if it causes X (or the entire machine) to crash, it feels like you are telling me "F- you!"

I get it that opening up your drivers is not an option. The problem is that this decision causes a lot of breakage and you do not make it easy to fix this breakage. Please just make it easy for me to get your drivers to work. Is Twinview plus non-tearing video playback really too much to ask for? Also, what about the problem with non-tearing and composite? Has that ever been fixed? If not, maybe that's something you could help with.

Years ago I felt like I was getting support. Nowadays I'm not feeling the love.

Re:The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1)

mynis01 (2448882) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426625)

I don't use any of those environment variables. Just use mplayer with vdpau or vlc with glx output and the problems disappear (as long as I disable cairo-compmgr). I run two 1080p devices with different refresh rates stacked on top of each other in twinview and I don't have vsync issues. This is a bash script I use to disable compositioning when mplayer starts (replace cairo-compmgr with your composition manager of choice): '\'' if [ -z "$(pgrep cairo-compmgr)" ] then $* else killall cairo-compmgr $* cairo-compmgr & fi '\'' Lets say we called that script "no-comp.sh". Then you make another script to bind a hotkey to that launches your program that you want to use without compositioning: '\'' bash no-comp.sh smplayer2 '\'' As soon as you close smplayer2, your composition manager will start right back up.

Stop developing a closed kernel module... (3, Insightful)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426557)

Move everything to userspace, and use an existing driver, or a very small open driver, to access the card. There should be no reason, even if they're crying "trade secrets" for this to happen. If nouveau can do it, and they're not crying trade secrets over it, then nvidia proper can do it too.

Re:Stop developing a closed kernel module... (2)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426701)

Move everything to userspace, and use an existing driver, or a very small open driver, to access the card. There should be no reason, even if they're crying "trade secrets" for this to happen. If nouveau can do it, and they're not crying trade secrets over it, then nvidia proper can do it too.

Everyone is free to keep secrets, even you. If you have a problem with their actions then use other chipsets.

Well if you can't tell us what is -in- the blob (1)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 2 years ago | (#40426655)

Try de-obfuscating the interface to the blob itself. Just come out and say "our blob is something we are all stuck with, therefore, this is how you will now and alwyas operate the blob."

If you cannot, for some legitimate reason, release the API for your hardware, then release the API for your stoftware interface as a well defined and "warrented" interface.

Then make that interface your -hardware- -interface- by pushing that back into the GPU or a "front end" processor.

In short, you claim you have a mess you cannot share with us for all sorts of odd reasons...? Then put your mess inside your own junk and give us an interface we can then use. You test and warrant your half and we'll test and warrent ours. This is far superior to this thing where you calim to need to come into our yard and move the furnishing to match some fung shui most holy and secret.

And if your blob interfce is too broken to play well, then its to broken to expect us to want and need so its kinda moot that you gave it to us anyway.

This is not that hard. Not that you are that unique. Ever try to get an interface document for a Brother label writer etc? All this "my ball" crap is killing innovation.

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