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NVIDIA Begins Releasing Documentation For Nouveau

Soulskill posted about 10 months ago | from the baby-steps dept.

Graphics 147

sl4shd0rk writes "Nvidia, perhaps inspired by the infamous Torvalds Salute, has decided to do something about its crummy image with Open Source developers. The company has begun to release public documentation on certain aspects of its GPUs. Reactions from developers have been mixed; much of what's already been released wasn't a big mystery, but Nvidia says more is coming and they will also provide guidance in needed areas as well. Linus said, 'I'm cautiously optimistic that this is a real shift in how Nvidia perceives Linux. The actual docs released so far are fairly limited, and in themselves they wouldn't be a big thing, but if Nvidia really does follow up and start opening up more, that would certainly be great. They've already been much better in the ARM SoC space than they were on the more traditional GPU side, and I really hope that some day I can just apologize for ever giving them the finger.'"

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147 comments

Valve/Steam (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about 10 months ago | (#44939383)

Anyone else think this is a result of Valve's announcement of focus on Linux-based Steam?

Re:Valve/Steam (5, Interesting)

digsbo (1292334) | about 10 months ago | (#44939417)

That was my first thought as well, though I cynically suspect this new openness from NVidia suggests the Steam box will be AMD based, and NVidia is trying to control damage with this move.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939575)

Totally agree, and this is a pretty interesting guess!

Re:Valve/Steam (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939937)

Interesting, that.
Last month I built a new small ITX-based system around an AMD A10 APU (the ones with the integrated GPU).
I was thinking as I was building the thing how great those would be for a "steambox" in a small silent case next to the TV: wouldn't need a large GPU board sticking sideways from the mainboard, the integrated GPU is decent enough for gaming if you don't want to run crysis at shag-my-eyes gfx settings.
As a CPU the specs are nothing to scoff at, with good bang per buck; it's quite affordable.
I wouldn't be surprised if AMD A8 or A10 APUs turn up in reference "medium" level steamboxen.

Re:Valve/Steam (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44942333)

No matter how many lemmings jump off the cliff, "boxen" will remain a non-word used only by clueless idiots in futile attempts to sound intelligent.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44943107)

Then they're not very intelligent to think that using the word "boxen" makes them seem intelligent.

Oh wait?

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 10 months ago | (#44941729)

That was my first thought as well, though I cynically suspect this new openness from NVidia suggests the Steam box will be AMD based

oh mah dog! That would be something :) AMD would own gaming market for next 5-10 years.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 10 months ago | (#44942021)

That was my first thought as well, though I cynically suspect this new openness from NVidia suggests the Steam box will be AMD based

oh mah dog! That would be something :) AMD would own gaming market for next 5-10 years.

Well, it would make Intel very happy if that's the case - AMD's in loads of hurt, so having both the Xbox One and PS4 be AMD based is good news for Intel - it means AMD will not likely fold in the next 5-10 years. And having AMD around means Intel is pretty much free to do what they want as there's still viable competition. AMD was looking fairly dicey and Intel's probably worried it may attract government oversight and investigations. Or worse yet, force AMD's patents to be sold off to many competitors, making it very expensive to license (since Intel and AMD cross-license).

Yeah, i was going to post that too. It may also be that Nvidia is worried that AMD will try to gain mindshare among Linux gamers. PS4 is running orbis (~freebsd) with AMD. Developers of C++ games may find it easier to port code to Linux from BSD than in previous generations. If the Steambox idea holds up, and the PS4 is truly indie-friendly, I can see a lot of games being ported.

Make that gamers in general, because all next-gens are using AMD chips. NVidia may hate the console business, but it does generate a lot of PR for AMD, and if AMD comes out with a mobile chip, that's going to have a fair bit of mindshare.

All in all, Intel's in a good spot - with AMD making console chips, they've got steady cashflow and will survive (and console CPUs may consume enough fab time that AMD may only be able to produce limited amounts of regular PC chips - meaning Intel will end up having to make up for the shortfall in CPUs for servers and desktops.

AMD is in a good spot - they have good income for the next 5+ years to stem the red tide and provide competition for Intel.

The only one losing out is NVidia - they have to compete hard for attention now.

Re:Valve/Steam (2)

deviated_prevert (1146403) | about 10 months ago | (#44943063)

Intel is counting on Haswell to increase chip sales. AMD is hurting like crazy and the gamer market will not hurt them with consoles. BUT the reality is that Arm SoCs are cutting into both intel and amd. The shine is off the 45-65 watts small space heater chipsets and the race to heat whole rooms with 100 watt plus chips is over.

1000 watt water cooled gamer pc power supplies are a footnote in computing history. Low wattage is more than just a trend it is where computing is heading like it or not. Huge NVidia based cards with leaf blowers attached are a dead end and I think NVidia is starting to realize this. NVidia is in trouble and they know it. Essentially what PC sales are left are all heading down the low power road. NVidia needs to partner with someone soon and a partnership between NVIdia and Amd is not a bad step to avoid a melt down to an all arm and intel duopoly.

It would be a good thing to see them create a real alternative to Intel and produce low wattage embedded boards that knock everything else for six and can run whatever the manufacturer or home brew builder desires. A friendly move towards Linux just indicates to me that Microshaft has given them the willies by going all intel on their Surface products and Asus, Acer, Lenovo and all the rest are jumping on the Haswell bandwagon as well because it is the way Microshaft is heading. I have the sneaking suspicion that Microshaft could care less if RT arm based devices actually sell, perhaps they were created to not sell!

As long as Nvidia does not see the writing on the wall and regards AMD as competition they do not see that Intel is actually blind siding them into oblivion. The market for expensive separate gpus is a dead end Nvidia's ventures into arm SoCs is not enough to save them from what is happening but a joint venture effectively creating an OpenSource product that can run anything including Windows just might! Asus tried to pull the wool over users eyes with a bullshit quick boot of a crippled Linux install in a Windows partition..can't remember what they called it but it was complete bullshit. AMD in combination with Nvidia could really shake things up and do things that would get users excited again, challenge the MPEGLA and included the bad set of codecs, then unlike Samsung don't roll over and take it up the butt, instead tell Microshaft to take a flying f&%k and include support for fat devices and don't pay the turds for it. REBELL FOR A CHANGE and create something which Microshaft is afraid of so that the jerks will run to their lawyers to stop you from selling it like Apple did to Samsung! This is how to be innovative and most importantly get sympathy from the public, nothing helped Samsung to sell the hell out of Galaxy phones more than the Apple bullshit law suits! DO THE SAME THING TO Intel, Apple and Microsoft and their MPEGLA and stupid patents, give them a big taste of their own medicine and make them choke on it, users will be lining up to buck the system and by your products!

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#44943299)

NVidia needs to partner with someone soon and a partnership between NVIdia and Amd is not a bad step to avoid a melt down to an all arm and intel duopoly.

By creating a monopoly in the discrete graphics card market, great idea.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44944611)

BUT the reality is that Arm SoCs are cutting into both intel and amd. The shine is off the 45-65 watts small space heater chipsets and the race to heat whole rooms with 100 watt plus chips is over.

Power = power. Or less vaguely, electricity = computational power; more = better.

Low-end stuff is going low-power but if you want a system to do video editing+encoding, CAD, compilation of large software or any of the other common problems then buying a mobile phone glued to the inside of a normal desktop chassis is a really dumb idea. [In short: Workstations are not going anywhere. Professionals will still use them, just home user penetration will drop off.]

Re:Valve/Steam (2)

Smauler (915644) | about 10 months ago | (#44944003)

Well, it would make Intel very happy if that's the case - AMD's in loads of hurt, so having both the Xbox One and PS4 be AMD based is good news for Intel - it means AMD will not likely fold in the next 5-10 years. And having AMD around means Intel is pretty much free to do what they want as there's still viable competition. AMD was looking fairly dicey and Intel's probably worried it may attract government oversight and investigations. Or worse yet, force AMD's patents to be sold off to many competitors, making it very expensive to license (since Intel and AMD cross-license).

AMD is _not_ in loads of hurt in the graphics market. It's falling behind, but it has contracts to sustain it for a decade to come. nvidia have the better product. That does not mean they will succeed. nvidia is the company we have to worry about, because of their market possibly drying up, their valuation dropping, and a load of other things.

I'll keep with nvidia, just like I kept with 3dfx.

Also, AMD make great chips... I don't hate them, and if they ever make better cards than nvidia, I buy them (I have bought one in the past). Their software is crappy though.

Re:Valve/Steam (2)

geek (5680) | about 10 months ago | (#44939463)

Anyone else think this is a result of Valve's announcement of focus on Linux-based Steam?

Why would it be? SteamOS will be using the proprietary drivers. This article is about the open source drivers.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 10 months ago | (#44939647)

That assumes a lot. Not everyone will switch distros (or choose SteamOS) when Steam is available for Linux as a whole.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 10 months ago | (#44940155)

I don't think "switching to SteamOS" is even the point of the OS. Sounds like it's basically just an open OS primarily designed for steam branded hardware. I'm sure there will be nothing preventing others from using it in more traditional setting but I don't think Valve expects that to be a big thing.

Re:Valve/Steam (2)

Falkentyne (760418) | about 10 months ago | (#44940685)

I don't think "switching to SteamOS" is even the point of the OS. Sounds like it's basically just an open OS primarily designed for steam branded hardware. I'm sure there will be nothing preventing others from using it in more traditional setting but I don't think Valve expects that to be a big thing.

The goal here isn't to solely make an OS for Steam branded hardware. If you visit the website: http://store.steampowered.com/livingroom/SteamOS/ you'll see it's to be made available for off the shelf hardware for anybody to install on their computers and to manufacturers with a small licensing fee. Obviously they'd put in the effort to make this compatible with both AMD/Nvidia offerings and presumably for Intel IGPs as well to appeal to the largest base possible. The more people install the OS the higher the chance they'll be buying and playing steam enabled games.

If you can run also run streaming software for local/online media that would be all I'd need for an OS in the livingroom. Some people might want TV tuner compatibility as well which I see no reason why it can't work. Give me XBMC and Netflix for Steam OS and I'm sold.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 10 months ago | (#44941017)

I don't think it's for hardware either. I think what they're trying to do is normalize Linux in such a way that makes it more friendly towards game development.

The current problem with linux is that it varies so heavily from distro to distro that some things might break for some games. Varying kernels, varying window managers, varying this and that...however if you establish a good baseline, that makes things much easier from a support perspective.

This is an interesting model to adopt by the way. Traditionally if you want a living room gaming platform, you have to create your own hardware and software from scratch, and mass produce it as a loss leader, taking a big initial investment and big risk (one which still hasn't paid off for MS, and Sony has joined the loss club recently as well.) But with this method, you just take an already existing OS and make a relatively small investment to turn it into your platform, and then let hardware manufacturers make hardware that works with it. They'll also pay for their own marketing, which in the process helps promote your platform. This worked for Windows and it worked for Android. I see no reason why it wouldn't work for Steam either.

The customers could see a benefit over existing consoles because as time passes, buying new hardware for better games doesn't mean throwing out all of your old games (a benefit that traditionally only PC's and smartphones/tablets have enjoyed.)

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

Smauler (915644) | about 10 months ago | (#44944303)

The current problem with linux is that it varies so heavily from distro to distro that some things might break for some games. Varying kernels, varying window managers, varying this and that...however if you establish a good baseline, that makes things much easier from a support perspective.

I still run Vista as my gaming operating system. It's getting on for a decade old, both my system and Vista, which I bought at the same time. I've upgraded the graphics card to a 460GTX (about the best my motherboard can handle, with its PCI express 1 interface). Processor is a core 2 duo (though a relatively quick one).

This is the problem facing Linux... people can run old systems and old MS operating systems and they do work if you know what you are doing. I can play any game I want now, with my system I bought almost a decade ago, and it will run well. There's no reason to switch

I am going to upgrade soon though....and I'll still probably keep my copy of Vista for games.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44944585)

This is the problem facing Linux... people can run old systems and old MS operating systems and they do work if you know what you are doing. I can play any game I want now, with my system I bought almost a decade ago, and it will run well. There's no reason to switch

This is one of my primary criteria for systems. My last system was built with the goal of a decade lifespan but I bricked it during a bios update after five years. Replacement has already been in service for two going on three years and I'm planning replacement in 2020 before support for Win7 ends.

What this means is I'll be upgrading what I have from a Radeon 5670 to either an GTX650 Ti or Radeon 7770 - depends on reviews in regards to driver stability and performance. Recent /. discussion with link to article about artifiacting that slows Radeon's down was very informative and changed my mind in regards to the Radeon as primary. Personally have zero brand loyalty other then stability and I hate to say that ATI's software (Catalyst) sucks better then a Dyson Vaccumn cleaner. Pitiful as the drivers used to be pretty decent but you can't install just the driver anymore. You have to have their fscking shit catalyst control center with it.

First thing I though when I say the topic was "The River Lethe has frozen over, turtles are singing and pigs are flying" Oh that's the god damn Mutant Teenage Nija Turtles, nothing important but if Nvidia is finally starting to share some of their information and do the same thing as AMD in regards to their video drivers, I'll seriously have to consider the fact that the 2nd coming is occuring.

Fast Turtle

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 10 months ago | (#44939875)

Let's not be short-sighted here: assuming SteamOS drives at least some notable level of adoption of Linux for gaming, nVidia will have an increased interest in being known as a good graphics-card choice on Linux.

They will stand to benefit by just looking serious about Linux, but more specifically: having good Open Source graphics drivers can only help, even if their proprietary drivers are good to begin with. It will be more readily bundled by distros, will be easier to install, will have reduced kernel compatibility trouble, will keep FOSS purists happy, and might be able to run on a broader range of platforms.

None of those are specific to SteamOS, but increased adoption makes them more relevant to nVidia's bottom-line

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 10 months ago | (#44940881)

I'm almost certain nVidia needed time to clean-up their code so it's up to par with OSS coding quality. You don't invite your boss to you house for a party before cleaning things up a little. SteamOS is only a coincidence but who knows, maybe there's some interesting strategy at work.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#44942367)

will keep FOSS purists happy

I doubt that's a concern at all given that Steam is a distribution mechanism primarily for non-free DRM software.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 10 months ago | (#44942595)

You could be right - they've not cared before.

If I understand correctly, nouveau beats the equivalent Open Source driver for AMD's chips - nVidia might be thinking of this is as a way to stay well ahead of AMD when it comes to Open Source Linux drivers.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

citizenr (871508) | about 10 months ago | (#44941719)

Valve is huge into open source GFX drivers - they made a big deal out of Valve-Intel collaboration that let them speed up opengl engine by almost hundred percent directly because they could work with driver source and Intel software engineers.

Re:Valve/Steam (4, Insightful)

Luciano Moretti (2887109) | about 10 months ago | (#44939465)

That was exactly my thought.

Valve is making a big push into the Linux game space, and is likely putting some pressure on partners to "play nice" with Linux. While Valve isn't likely big enough to cause a complete reversal on their own, I'm guessing that Valve + Shield + success with releasing mobile specs + other internal pressures is causing them to reevaluate their stance in regard to desktop graphics accelerators.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

Threni (635302) | about 10 months ago | (#44939965)

Play nice? Don't be daft. Linux has always been pointless for driver/card manufactures because Linux has never been popular on the desktop. Finally there's a chance people will now use Linux this way and there's some money in it you watch them all crawl out.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44941799)

Who's daft? Linux may not have been popular on the desktop, but that's by no means the case with workstations. You know, those high-powered machines with those oh-so-expensive Quadro cards inside. There's more to computing than games you know.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44942429)

Who's daft? Linux may not have been popular on the desktop, but that's by no means the case with workstations.

of course it is, the vast majority of those workstations are used for things like Photoshop, Premier, Lightroom, Final Cut, Pro/E, Creo Parametric, Solidworks, Inventor, NX, AutoCAD, Maya, 3Ds MAX, Cinema4D, form.z, etc, and very few of those kinds of applications even have linux versions available.

Re:Valve/Steam (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44939467)

I had assumed I somehow magically woke up on April 1st.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44939475)

Why would valve care? they could just run off with closed drivers.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 10 months ago | (#44939711)

They can't ship the OS with them. Even Ubuntu installs them separately later.

Re:Valve/Steam (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939861)

Why couldn't they license them for redistribution?

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

gagol (583737) | about 10 months ago | (#44943061)

GPL?

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#44943725)

GPL?

Many companies ship the linux kernel with proprietary drivers, have a look at Android smartphones for many examples.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

gagol (583737) | about 10 months ago | (#44943929)

Hence the "?", thank you for the details.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#44944579)

To elaborate further there are provisions to allow for non-free code to link to the kernel using its external interfaces. Though there is also a mechanism to override that such that certain interfaces can be marked such that they can only be linked to by GPL-compatible licensed code. I find the latter to be very anti-freedom and user-hostile though.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

apcullen (2504324) | about 10 months ago | (#44940709)

But they could certainly install them automatically using a post-installation script

Re:Valve/Steam (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939501)

Definitely. They like to keep this stuff locked up tighter than a hooker's snatch. SteamOS means millions of new users that care about open source software and that money will be going straight to AMD/ATI since they publish their info.

I have it on good authority that their board of directors mandated this release to prevent fiduciary duty lawsuits.

Re:Valve/Steam (5, Funny)

intermodal (534361) | about 10 months ago | (#44939555)

They like to keep this stuff locked up tighter than a hooker's snatch.

I'm not so sure that analogy means what you think it means.

I have it on good authority that their board of directors mandated this release to prevent fiduciary duty lawsuits.

Nothing like putting the douche in fiduciary, eh?

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940475)

I'm not so sure that analogy means what you think it means.

I agree. A more apt analogy would be a nun's snatch.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 10 months ago | (#44940551)

"Nun's Snatch"? God's dick is big enough to fuck whole nations...

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

gagol (583737) | about 10 months ago | (#44943091)

But somehow he only impregnated one woman 2046 years ago, and did not have the balls to tell her himself, He had to send an "angel". Basically, "God" live in his mother's basement and is universally shy.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 10 months ago | (#44944427)

Well, by many other accounts in the same book, God's own visage is terrifying, so he often sends his servents when his intent is not to scare the shit out of the recipient of the message.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 10 months ago | (#44940569)

The only nun I ever knew had been enjoying the services of a priest for a long time. She quit the profession eventually. I don't think the analogy holds too well.

"None" (1)

Guppy (12314) | about 10 months ago | (#44940971)

I don't think the analogy holds too well.

That's cause you're holding it wrong. Here, you're supposed to hold that one like a joke:

*Ahem*

Q: "What kind of meat did the Priest have on Fridays?"

Re:"None" (1)

gagol (583737) | about 10 months ago | (#44943105)

A: shrimps!

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44943145)

I have it good authority that's the working title for GTA VI.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 10 months ago | (#44940537)

They like to keep this stuff locked up tighter than a hooker's snatch.

I'm not so sure that analogy means what you think it means.

I think he meant to say "tighter than a gnat's chuff", but got lost halfway through the sentence.

where are these tight ones? (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 10 months ago | (#44939729)

Where might one find these tight ones?

Apologies to any sensitive women for encouraging this.

Re:where are these tight ones? (3, Funny)

Oysterville (2944937) | about 10 months ago | (#44940101)

The sensitive women are who you are looking for, for what should be apparent reasons.

Re:Valve/Steam (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 10 months ago | (#44941141)

SteamOS means millions of new users

Potentially, sure.

that care about open source software

You're incredibly naive if you believe that bit.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

gagol (583737) | about 10 months ago | (#44943955)

Well, I am one and knows others. I live in a very small village. Not hard to believe at least 2 millions people worldwide is interrested in open tech, have the means to buy the SteamBox+Games and will. Unless you count only USA as the whole world, your premise is badly broken.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 10 months ago | (#44944599)

You're incredibly naive if you believe that bit.

You just missed all of those Android users being branded as 'linux zealots'. Oh, wait...

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#44942505)

SteamOS means millions of new users that care about open source software

I highly doubt that, in fact the users will primarily be using it for closed-source non-free DRM software, they don't care about open source.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 10 months ago | (#44944503)

You might be surprised. I'd only try SteamOS under the pretext it would be easier to integrate with Steam than Debian, and less insecure/pointlessly obfuscated than Ubuntu. Nobody else I know who uses Steam uses it on Linux (despite the demonstrated framerate improvements in tf2/l4d2) because Linux itself is perceived as too hard to install and use. All SteamOS has to do is keep me satisfied and be easier to get up and running with optimized hardware 3d accerlation and a Steam client than Ubuntu or Windows. If they can pull that off they really could rake in millions of new users that "care" about open source software, even if most of those are just their own former Windows client users who are only looking for any upgrade path that doesn't include Windows 8.

Re:Valve/Steam (5, Insightful)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 10 months ago | (#44939589)

Not really. I think it was a response to the increased fragmentation of display servers. They'd have to support X and Mir and Wayland with their drivers. It's easier to just provide documentation and let the open source drivers do most of the heavy-lifting. Also, AMD's open support has been met with a lot of praise lately, due to DPM being available for the open drivers. Thinking more long-term, the Wintel platform is starting to give signs of decline, so it doesn't hurt NVIDIA to hedge their bets - and the most economical way of doing that is by releasing specs.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44941055)

Open source drivers for AMD hardware aren't really coming along that well as we had hoped when the specs were first released. I doubt we'd get a good open source Geforce driver even if they released all their hardware specs tomorrow. It'd be nice if in addition to the specs they at least provided a (even closed, but easily interfacable) shader compiler, they've been perfecting that for years.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

WarJolt (990309) | about 10 months ago | (#44939611)

I think embedded and mobile development benefits from open source.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 10 months ago | (#44942191)

I think embedded and mobile development benefits from open source.

Only in that you can get a ready made embedded OS on the cheap.

Proprietary stuff it depends - partners of SoC vendors (you usually have to be one in order to use their stuff) get access to documents and source code to what gets turned into a binary blob a lot of the time.

So embedded OEMs and vendors can get access to the code if they need it, make changes to suit them build it and ship it. As far as they're concerned, it's "open source" to them.

They even get access to the private documentation too, but like most SoC vendors, the documentation typically sucks. If you're lucky, all you get is a register list and have to figure out how something works on your own (if you're a partner, you mean your support contact who'll answer your questions). If you're really lucky, you'll get a document telling you how it works and how to drive it. If you're unlucky, you'll just get an abbreviated register list.

Re:Valve/Steam (2)

stewsters (1406737) | about 10 months ago | (#44939623)

Yeah, i was going to post that too. It may also be that Nvidia is worried that AMD will try to gain mindshare among Linux gamers. PS4 is running orbis (~freebsd) with AMD. Developers of C++ games may find it easier to port code to Linux from BSD than in previous generations. If the Steambox idea holds up, and the PS4 is truly indie-friendly, I can see a lot of games being ported.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939911)

Hopefully it will also get AMD to get their drivers better as well..
Also, maybe it will get NVIDIA and AMD to have that experimental directx support in their prop drivers, to make "porting" games easier. I doubt it, though, since M$ will likely sue them.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 10 months ago | (#44940549)

Wine has experimental DirectX support for DX11 because DX11 is an open spec.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44941175)

AMD has been releasing specs for a long, long time, which is why the FOSS AMD drivers are pretty damn good (at least compared to Nouveau). Stallman was giving the finger to ATi long before Linus gave the finger to Nvidia, and eventually enough people followed suit that ATi sat up and took notice.

Re:Valve/Steam (1)

becker (190314) | about 10 months ago | (#44940137)

Releasing the documentation has actually been a lengthy internal process that started long ago. The present timing hasn't been strongly motivated by any external event, although there was a little extra push to release at least one document before the X Developer's Conference.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940453)

Anyone else think this is a result of Valve's announcement of focus on Linux-based Steam?

Uh yes.

Re:Valve/Steam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940653)

Anyone else think this is a result of Valve's announcement of focus on Linux-based Steam?

If you think that, then I have a bridge to sell in New York City.

Re:Valve/Steam (2)

Monsuco (998964) | about 10 months ago | (#44943987)

Anyone else think this is a result of Valve's announcement of focus on Linux-based Steam?

Valve, unlike most Linux vendors, probably won't get their panties in a wad over whether or not a driver is "free as in freedom" vs "free as in beer". I'm guessing a SteamOS probably would use the closed source drivers. This anouncement sure helps the Noaveau team, but Valve users will probably just use the NVidia drivers anyway.

Linus Torvalds (-1, Troll)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 10 months ago | (#44939511)

Fuck You,

Sincerely
Nvidia

Re:Linus Torvalds (3, Informative)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | about 10 months ago | (#44939629)

Torvald's comments to Nvidia were to do with Optimus (their GPU switching stuff), not their closed graphics driver

Re:Linus Torvalds (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 10 months ago | (#44940073)

I thought that was part of the graphics driver, but I'm not familiar with the details.

Re:Linus Torvalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940225)

He doesn't mind binary blobs being loaded by vendors, and doesn't really care about TIVOisation. The Optimus stuff is the crap you find in laptops for chipset switching, which at the time, NV went out of their way to ensure they didn't work on Linux systems, and wouldn't even had over the docs to allow driver writers to do the work.

The issue with NV drivers breaking each time a kernel version goes up, is a problem for users, and Torvalds isn't particularly bothered by this changing ABI mess and NV not working together with the kernel people to minimize it. Linux will never have a stable ABI, the devs don't want it, so the onus is on NV to get enough code in the kernel for their drivers to prevent users for the rigmarole of having to do the NV driver dance every time they get a new kernel.

Re:Linus Torvalds (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 10 months ago | (#44940607)

"ABI" - Application Binary Interface. Linux has a stable ABI, he's ranted at noobs who broke the ABI before. "Application" being the operative word here... noticeably inapplicable to drivers and only tangentially related to HAL.

In other words: I'm sorry AC, I'm afraid I can't mean that.

Re:Linus Torvalds (3, Informative)

blackiner (2787381) | about 10 months ago | (#44941129)

Sort of. The userspace interface is the ABI that linux keeps constant. Basically all the syscalls, ioctls, and Linus even likes to include the nuances of how they operate as part of the ABI. This is the stuff that must not change, and it does a pretty good job at keeping it constant. Supposedly apps compiled to target the 1.0 kernel can still run just fine on the latest kernel, provided the libraries it links to also maintained good ABI stability.

The ABI breakage that occurs happens with in kernel functions themselves. These are things that are not considered standardized API functions or syscalls that should be accessed by userspace. But, in order to produce closed source drivers for Linux, companies like NVIDIA will need to link to these functions. Linking to these is of course a violation of the GPL, though, so NVIDIA gets around it by writing an open source shim that gets compiled when the driver is installed, which then connects to their more proprietary parts. One of the points of the GPL and allowed in kernel ABI breakage is to make it more difficult for people to keep their drivers closed source and outside the kernel.

Re:Linus Torvalds (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#44942621)

"ABI" - Application Binary Interface. Linux has a stable ABI

No, not for kernel modules it doesn't and that's obviously what we are talking about here. The lack of a stable ABI for kernel modules is also the reason why version information is stored in modinfo and a kernel module only loaded if it matches the running kernel.

"Application" being the operative word here... noticeably inapplicable to drivers and only tangentially related to HAL.

You're taking that too literally, this [linuxfoundation.org] document may help you gain a better understanding of this subject.

Re:Linus Torvalds (0)

bored (40072) | about 10 months ago | (#44943809)

That document fails to point out the largest problem with the linux driver model. It basically forces the distribution maintainer to support a gobsnot pile of devices by backporting driver fixes, or it requires the users to upgrade their kernel every-time something fails to work. Which is basically continuously.

Neither solution is particularly helpful, as upgrading the kernel means its just as likely some other subsystem fails.

The model of only fixing what is broken, rather than throwing everything away and trying the latest version is NOT as robust a solution.

Frankly it also ignores the fact that over the last couple years the majority of the code changes in each kernel release are fixes for drivers. Heck didn't Linus just say that the current kernel RC was 70 something percent driver changes? So with that many bug fixes/changes going into drivers its amazing that anyone can claim the kernel drivers are stable pieces of software.

So basically, your hoping all the driver writers get their act together one day and release a kernel where all the drivers actually work for a given system configuration. Otherwise. your forever trying to find a combination that actually works for your PC. Or you learn to program in C, and start maintaining the drivers for your particular piece of hardware (what I end up doing as I also do this professionally). I have yet to find a linux distribution that works as well without extensive hacking as a fairly basic windows install. There always seems to be something or another that doesn't work.

My most recent laptop, with the most recent version of my distribution of choice failed to load the correct firmware for my bluetooth adapter (cause it didn't understand the PCI device id, and fell back to stupid mode), failed to understand the LCD brightness controls and has a serious bug in the HD4000 drivers GL SL 1.4 causing it to fail to shade polygons correctly in a number of games that require a recent version of GL SL. Plus, there was a fair amount of fun getting the EFI configuration correct, along with a number of other issues.

None of these would have been serious issues if the OEM customized a version of linux for the machine (aka someone could have fixed it), but as it was that job fell to me. I'm not really sure how your average slashdot user actually gets linux working correctly. I suspect that most people installing ubuntu or whatever don't actually get it working properly with most of their hardware. Instead setting for laptops that dont resume properly, or suck up unnecessary battery life running the LCD at 100%, or running the graphics card at a small percentage of its performance because the driver failed to setup the PCIe port properly, etc.

Basically, the driver model is busted and the arguments for keeping it the way it is boil down to religious wars rather than an attempt to fix a glaring problem.

Re:Linus Torvalds (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 10 months ago | (#44944507)

I'm not advocating for it, just pointing out that the idea that Linux has a stable ABI (in the context of kernel modules) is completely bogus.

Re:Linus Torvalds (1)

RR (64484) | about 10 months ago | (#44940725)

I thought it was about Tegra, and Optimus, and GeForce, and maybe some bad memories of Nforce. NVIDIA has never before been a friend of open source.

Re:Linus Torvalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939693)

Considering the progression in their comitment would it be something like:

"Fuc ,

Sincerely
Nvidia"

Re:Linus Torvalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940477)

Pffft, oh the irony. The nouveau devs have referred to the firmware's proprietary microcode as "fuc" for quite some time now.

Since the competitors have done their work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939543)

Since Intel, ARM, and Vivante have already spent their millions on delevoping the 3D graphics to compete with AMD, nvidia, and Immagination, nvidia might now feel it is ok to open source some of its specs.

Sounds good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939639)

AMD/ATI is more open, but sadly, their driver stack pretty much sucks on Linux. NVidia is closed, but their drivers work quite well. I use only AMD processors in my builds, but only NVidia GPUs (I tried out a Radeon card this year and had to return it because of the driver support).

So open drivers may make it easier for distros to provide out-of-the-box support for some hardware, but I'm guessing that the high-end features may still be requiring proprietary drivers.

Apologize? No. (5, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 10 months ago | (#44939645)

I really hope that some day I can just apologize for ever giving them the finger.

There's no need to apologize later Linus. They behaved badly and you called them out on it. If they change their behavior for the better, simply praise them for that then.

Re:Apologize? No. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 10 months ago | (#44939727)

That was my thought. You don't take back a valid criticism when someone changes their behavior. You acknowledge that the bad behavior is now in the past.

Re:Apologize? No. (1)

Brandano (1192819) | about 10 months ago | (#44940201)

Still, it WOULD make the news

Re:Apologize? No. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 10 months ago | (#44940643)

They behaved badly and you called them out on it. If they change their behavior for the better, simply praise them for that then.

Ah, you're probably not married then.

Bayesian Social Science is mostly harmless.

Re:Apologize? No. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 10 months ago | (#44940747)

They behaved badly and you called them out on it. If they change their behavior for the better, simply praise them for that then.

Ah, you're probably not married then.

Actually, I was very happily married for 20.5 years. My wife died in January 2006.

Re:Apologize? Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940767)

I don't care if you disagree with nvidia's side on this. Linux behaved very poorly and should have immediately apologized (and should do so now). What is he? 12 years old? Time he grows up I think.

Re:Apologize? Yes. (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about 10 months ago | (#44940927)

Yes he's 12, but in the way that he says what's on his mind and doesn't cripple his communications with political correctness. Linus isn't about telling people "you're doing great!" when they're bad. He calls them out when the fail horribly and makes sure everyone knows about it.

Re:Apologize? Yes. (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 10 months ago | (#44941293)

Acting 12 is pretty good in a world of corporations yelling MINE MINE MINE while squabbling like 2 year olds.

Re:Apologize? Yes. (1)

antdude (79039) | about 10 months ago | (#44943445)

Or like seagulls from Finding Nemo movie.

Re:Apologize? Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44941435)

How is "Linux" going to apologize, a printf?

Re:Apologize? Yes. (1)

Behrooz Amoozad (2831361) | about 10 months ago | (#44942023)

more like printk

NVIDIA is merely pulling a PR stunt like AMD did (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940015)

It'll be newsworthy when they actually provide enough documentation or source code under a free software license that makes it possible to support its graphics cards with a wholly free driver.

Just releasing a binary driver isn't good enough. AMD release enough of its code such that they could call it "open source" and yet if your running a completely free distribution (few are) it won't work. Why? Because it's actually heavily dependent on a non-free component still. They've even admitted it.

AMD has been good in the coreboot space.
Intel has been horrible in the coreboot space.
Intel has been excellent in the graphics space.

Now if we could just get Intel to cooperate in the coreboot space or AMD to cooperate in the graphics space we might actually have a better and somewhat freer desktop. Something that maybe wasn't an absolute nightmare. I didn't switch it GNU/Linux to continue my dependence on non-free software. I switched because I actually give a shit about having total control over MY system/hardware.

Re:NVIDIA is merely pulling a PR stunt like AMD di (2)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 10 months ago | (#44940955)

What non-free component is the radeon driver dependent of? AFAIK, radeon is completely free. Even the FSF's approved distros use it, and Stallman is not known for his flexibility. Are you referring to S3TC? The driver is hardly "heavily dependent" on it.

Re:NVIDIA is merely pulling a PR stunt like AMD di (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 10 months ago | (#44943473)

Guessing this
http://people.freedesktop.org/~agd5f/radeon_ucode/ [freedesktop.org]
The license says "free to redistribute in binary form" but its not open source and the license specifically forbids reverse engineering.

Will this make my GF2 GTS run well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940865)

I just installed Mint 15 on an old P4 that was going to be thrown out. 4GB of RAM, a couple 500GB disks, and a crusty old GeForce 2 GTS. Running OpenGL screensavers right after installation and my first massive download of updates produced a slideshow, so I grabbed the Nvidia proprietary drivers but now those screensavers just show a plain black screen and gripe about modules not being loaded.

So I have to choose between the frame buffer driver and horrible performance, the Nvidia driver and various issues I have not been able to solve with dozens of Google searches, or Nouveau.

I'm not expecting miracles given the age of the hardware, but I cannot imagine 30fps in the Molecule screensaver is out of the question.

Re:Will this make my GF2 GTS run well? (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 10 months ago | (#44941039)

Forget it. NVIDIA's blob is frequently applauded for perfomance, but support for older cards is nonexistant. Geforce FXs and 6s don't even work with GTK3 DEs on either driver. Your best bets are replacing the video card, removing it altogether or using those old Mesa DRI drivers that don't use Gallium 3D. I'm sure they're still around.

don't know (1)

Vince6791 (2639183) | about 10 months ago | (#44942177)

Intel and AMD have their cpu architectures opened to the public, why not gpu architectures so the linux and bsd communities can develop better drivers for wayland and mir windowing systems, what are they hiding. Or at least Nvidia and AMD can build an opengl only gpu for the open source world(linux, bsd). Fucking corporations.

Re:don't know (1)

syockit (1480393) | about 10 months ago | (#44944609)

what are they hiding.

Patent infringements, perhaps.

Nintendo should join the party (1)

fragMasterFlash (989911) | about 10 months ago | (#44944141)

Nintendo should give up on making console hardware and stick with handhelds and offer their traditional console titles via Steam.
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