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XGI, VIA Release Open Source Drivers

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the pretty-pictures dept.

Graphics 315

An anonymous reader writes "XGI has announced the release of open source drivers for its Volari family of graphics adapters. Efforts at X.Org to merge the new code into the head branch are already underway. Almost simultaneously, VIA has announced the immediate release of open source drivers for S3 Graphics UniChrome, VIA ProSavage and ProSavage DDR. Could these moves signal the beginning of a period of rapid improvement in Free drivers for video cards?"

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So what card? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224271)

So based on this news what is the best card to buy?

Re:So what card? (3, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224320)

Nvidia makes some pretty good cards.

Re:So what card? (1, Interesting)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224422)

Something tells me he is looking for a card will fully "open" drivers. Nvidia releases "free as in beer" drivers (and they work very well might I add).

Re:So what card? (1)

GerbilSoft (761537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224680)

Unless you're using an older Toshiba laptop (pre-A/M/P/R series) with an nVidia GPU and are experiencing the infamous Black Bar problem [nvnews.net] .

Re:So what card? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224365)

Hey! Don't you know AC first posts are supposed to be along the lines of:

OMG FROST PIST!!!

Re:So what card? (2, Funny)

Andy Mitchell (780458) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224388)

That very much depends on your application(s) and your budget. To be honest, if all your going to do is run X Windows it really doesnt matter too much if the driver is a bit suboptimal because all modern cards are darn fast for 2D applications.

Re:So what card? (3, Interesting)

Trelane (16124) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224536)

While it's true that current Xservers only exercise the 2D portion of the graphics card, Xgl (OpenGL/DRI-based X11) is under heavy development, and will likely be the future of X graphics. Hence 3D performance will likely be of critical importance in the near-ish future (though how much of a difference good versus great 3D performance will make remains to be seen)

What this translates to for me personally is that XGI, VIA, and Intel chips are all major contenders for my future desktop, as the current contenders (Nvidia, ATI) both have binary-only drivers that come with some pretty serious headaches (ati in particular, Nvidia much less). Again, I'd also very much consider older ATI cards, as their specs are available to X devs and (hence?) have good drivers. But given my current fight with my ATI card, I'm seriously considering not buying modern ATI again.

Re:So what card? (2, Funny)

MoogMan (442253) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224508)

I think what you're implying is that this release won't really make a huge effect on gamers per-se.

But then gamers don't use linux and that old argument.

I think the point is, there needs to be someone to slowly push graphics card manufacturers towards open source. And this (hopefully) is it. Eventually ATI and nVidia will (hopefully) follow suite.

Re:So what card? (1, Funny)

dsginter (104154) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224512)

In my experience, if you are looking for the "best video", then you'll need to install Windows or buy a Mac. Don't get me wrong - I've been using Ubuntu on my PC at home for almost two months now but this has really showed me the value in a copy of Windows.

I have all these people telling me that I must be doing something wrong but they all get real quiet when I ask them to make an ISO of their drive for me to use.

Hopefully, the VIA hardware isn't envumbered with patents and the whole friggin' thing will be out there for the hackers to make right. Only at this point will OSS have a real desktop environment. Then they just need to sort out the whole KDE/Gnome/etc mess.

Re:So what card? (1)

CrazyWingman (683127) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224610)

I have all these people telling me that I must be doing something wrong but they all get real quiet when I ask them to make an ISO of their drive for me to use.

Woah - what is that comment supposed to mean? Are you saying that Windows and Mac folks will make you an ISA of their drive? Are you trying to say that the tools do not exist in Linux to do this? Are you trying to comment on the installability of the OS?

You're just kind of leaving the whole thing dangling, and while I'm sure most people assume you're trolling, I'd kind of like to know what you're trying to say.

Re:So what card? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224620)

Troll!

As friendly as Ubuntu wants to be, it can't compare with SUSE and/or Mandrake (or whatever they both are called nowadays) in the Ex-Windows User handholding dept.

Use one of those and then reconsider your post.

As for why people get quiet when you ask for an ISO of thier hard drive...well that's just stupid.

In fact..you are no longer allowed to use linux. Go back to MS.

Re:So what card? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224631)

Wow! A whole two months?! You must be some sort of 1337 haxor or something! I bet I couldn't get along without a copy of windows hanging around either!!!!111 [/sarcasm]

Re:So what card? (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224639)

They all get real quiet when I ask them to make an ISO of their drive for me to use.
Well duh! Now go order me some lunch.

Re:So what card? (5, Interesting)

didde (685567) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224542)


A couple of weeks ago I managed to fry my highend NVidia GPU (don't ask how). At the local 'puter store they only had a bunch of ATI's available at that moment and since it's not easy to use the machine without a GPU I had to settle for one.

I have to say, I've heard nothing but bad things about ATI cards under Linux as they're drivers are proprietary and rumored to be quite poor. Let me tell you, my X800 is working like a charm! It took me about 10 minutes to download the RPM from ATI.com, run it through alien [debian.org] and then install. It Just Worked.

Also the TV-out is awesomely overscanned form the get-go as opposed to the NVidias I have been using.

Sorry for the offtopic, but I am rather chocked that ATI has such a bad rep among you Slashdotters. Proprietary or not, the drivers works flawlessly for me.

(No I am not an ATI employee)

Re:So what card? (1)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224630)

Try actually using that excellent 3d card of yours for playing GL based game, either native or through cedega and then we'll see how quickly you become a convert.

It looks mostly like the integrated market. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224594)

From TFA:
The UniChrome family display driver supports the VIA CLE266 and the new VIA CN400 Digital Media chipsets featured on the popular VIA EPIA M series and VIA EPIA SP series mainboards respectively, and will provide developers with the flexibility to autonomously incorporate support for latest applications based on VIA hardware.
and
On top of the UniChrome drivers, VIA also offers display driver sources for the VIA ProSavage and ProSavage DDR integrated graphics controllers as well as the integrated Network driver source supporting six VIA Chipset South Bridges.
So the really good news is full kernel support for these everything-on-the-motherboard systems (which are usually in the less expensive/less upgradable systems).

Re:So what card? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224614)

Via UniChrome is a Mini-ITX thing.

Check mini-itx.com [mini-itx.com] for motherboards.

w00t! Look forward to lots of high quality linux based PVR/MediaPC thingies. Just plug in a thumb drive, or livecd...

What do they have to lose? (4, Insightful)

LiNKz (257629) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224287)

It isn't like they have much to lose. They sell hardware, the drivers simply let that hardware operate. They probably also know this will earn them points with the Open Source Community.. which is always a good thing.

Re:What do they have to lose? (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224327)

True, but a lot of hardware companies hoard their IP as though it has intrinsic value. They seem to assume that since it cost something to produce, it must be worth something.

Hopefully this will result in an improvement in the drivers and a detectable increase in sales for this hardware.

What do they have to lose?-Their Shirt. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224398)

"True, but a lot of hardware companies hoard their IP as though it has intrinsic value. They seem to assume that since it cost something to produce, it must be worth something."

One way to find out. Give it to your competitors.

Re:What do they have to lose? Back to how it was ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224522)

This is simply a move back to how it was in the old days (80's / early 90's) of PC's when lots of lowlevel technical information was provided with graphics cards. Good to see this happening (again!)

Re:What do they have to lose? (5, Insightful)

harrkev (623093) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224670)

Yup. This is a win-win proposition for them. They just scored major brownie points with major geeks (myself included). I can tell you that if I was looking for a new vid card right now, I would seriously look into their stuff. A week ago, I would have looked ONLY at nVidia.

The impact is that they will likely see a noticable improvement in sales because of this. And as far as their IP, nobody can even come close to nVidia and ATI. You only have to worry about your IP if you are concerned about the people behind you catching up. If you ARE in last place, you have nothing to loose ;)

Re:What do they have to lose? (1)

Matlo (824176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224392)

Drivers are good. But could they also release software to deal with the card's features? Some GUI to activate the TV output or something... With my Nvidia, it's a pain to do that. You have to go to XF86Config-4 manually...

Re:What do they have to lose? (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224484)

have you tried running nvidia-settings?

Re:What do they have to lose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224409)

I don't think they give a damn about points. They care about getting sales. Yes, this makes 'Open' a good thing for the consumer (Capitalism is supposed to be about the consumer, yes?) But I'm not sure if this makes them smart or just less stupid; how much money have they lost their investors by not addressing that share of market that wants or needs 'Open' drivers earlier than today?

Don't forget the bigger picture. There are still forces that want to see 'Open' die, and the Satellite OSes that use it. So one might add 'brave' to the above mentioned 'smart' and 'less stupid.'

It's a racket and everyone knows it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224442)

Firmware allows the same card to be resold as a 'professional workstation card' or as a 'consumer card'. I can't remember exactly which but I think some of ATI's FireGL's are identical to several of their 9x00 or X800 cards.

Secret drivers no doubt also contribute to this scenario. It's just a way of conning people into different rebranded (but physically identical) products.

Re:It's a racket and everyone knows it (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224641)

...or you could look at it as giving people only what they are paying for.

Is it really a racket, then or is it actually more of a manufacturing strategy? On the surface, we all want to think that price should be based on what it costs to make it. But there's more to it and, really, the only time material, labor and overhead costs come in to play when pricing an item is finding out where your break-even point is. After that, it's essentially demand setting the price. The fact is, that there are several markets... the home user market, the professional user market and on and on.

And forget that you're a technical type and think like a business man who doesn't know tech. When you are told you have these three graphics cards to choose from, each with comparable capabilities, one of them has this ridiculously low price for its class. Are you inclined to buy that one? Most business people don't because it causes them to doubt the lower-cost device. "Why is it cheaper? Must not be as good."

But back to manufacturing, it's important to lower manufacturing costs where ever possible... if it were your job to do it, you'd probably be no different. It's cheaper to make a bunch of the same product and then disable features and sell them as lower-end rather than to manage that many more product manufacturing lines.

Is it frustrating to the technical consumer to know this? Hell yeah. I've got a Dell Inspiron advanced port replicator and a Dell Latitude advanced port replicator that are freaking identical hardware and they work interchangeably except that some ports don't function properly. I haven't decided to crack these two things open to find out what's different, but there is a fairly significant cost difference between the two devices.

Is it a racket? No... I think that goes a little too far.

Re:What do they have to lose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224475)

They sell hardware, the drivers simply let that hardware operate.
That's not even close to accurate. There is a significant amount of technology involved in video drivers. If drivers just "let that hardware operate" then you wouldn't expect new drivers to ever improve performance. Anyone even remotely familiar with gaming on the PC will tell you that significant (30+%) performance gains can sometimes be seen with a driver update.
These companies aren't competative in the 3D market, so they may have nothing to lose. nVidia or ATI, on the other hand, most certainly would.

Re:What do they have to lose? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224676)

In 3D drivers, sure. In 2D drivers; no. Unless you think mapping the framebuffer and putting 2D commands into a FIFO is high-tech.

Re:What do they have to lose? (1)

glenrm (640773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224667)

the drivers simply let that hardware operate
Huh, there is no software development or IP involved with driver? More likely they don't have the programs that nVidia and ATI have and would like some open source chaps to fill the gap. Still as a learning tool and being able to play with Video card driver code it should be of interest.

Open is good (2, Interesting)

Starraisin1 (560241) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224290)

I wish all other hardware companies did this.

Re:Open is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224445)

Yes, this thinking certainly worked well for IBM with the PC ;-)

Re:Open is good (1)

Eric604 (798298) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224616)

I wish even harder

Re:Open is good (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224644)

Don't forget that recently Plextor opened their Plextor PVRs Tuner Cards [slashdot.org] .

Maybe these will be the start of a trend?

C3 systems (5, Interesting)

renehollan (138013) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224292)

This is good news for fanless C3-based systems using CLE266 MPEG acceleration hardware: Via had released closed-source drivers (and, indeed, forked Xine to use them in a product called VeXP). These drivers were reverse-engineered to support an open source equivalent, which was less than completely reliable.

Re:C3 systems (1)

putzin (99318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224531)

This is the big news for anyone building a strong PVR running Linux. Currently, the biggest headache is decoding and processing HD content to display, which takes a 3K+ processor to handel adequately (without doing anything else). But with opensource drivers that can do MPEG decoding on the graphics chip (which XvMC tries to do, but not terribly well yet) one can use a smaller proc and less memory (quiet) or a faster proc and handle other jobs (transcode or burn a DVD at the same time). Anyway you look at it, with MythTV growing up so fast, and with all the fun hardware advances making doing this sort of stuff easy, this makes buying a Via board a real win instead of just a lower cost option.

Re:C3 systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224549)

Still, by all accounts the opensource drivers were miles better than the via drivers. Did you know that you have ot run as root to access the MPEG2 decoder when using the via drivers? Or the fact that they don't build for xorg AT ALL?

Re:C3 systems (1)

acaspis (799831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224662)

Has anyone checked whether the precompiled libddmpeg.so which is hidden in the, uh, "source" release from VIA can be re-generated from sources ?

If not, I'll stick with the drivers from unichrome.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net] .

Well . . . (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224298)

You paying attention to this ATI?

Re:Well . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224476)

Maybe ATI just have no visability of this on their radar screens.... :)

Re:Well . . . (1)

I confirm I'm not a (720413) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224526)

Maybe ATI just have no visability of this on their radar screens.... :)

Sadly, I think you're right. But that's OK... when it's time for me to replace my current (ATi-based) card, I'm not going to have any visibility of ATi!

Re:Well . . . (1)

dinivin (444905) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224570)


Uhmmm... As I understand it, XGI and Via simly released the source for their 2D drivers. ATI, on the other hand, has released specs for the 2D core of their cards. They've also released specs for the 3D core of their older (r100 & r200) radeon cards. In addition, ATI releases binary-only drivers for all their radeon cards.

Seems to me that XGI and VIA have some catching up to do.

Dinivin

Re:Well . . . (1)

coolGuyZak (844482) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224652)

Don't forget nVidia. Your drivers are sweeter than honey... but making them OSS means that when there is a driver API change. I can run the new kernels (have my cake) and use your drivers (and eat it too).

ATI? (1)

ANTRat (751579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224300)

mabey ATI will follow so i can finally use my 9600xt for gaming in linux *hopes*

Desparate times... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224305)

These companies have absolutely nothing to lose by releasing their driver "secrets" into the open. They are both non-players in the graphics card market.

I doubt this move will have any influence on ATI or Nvidia to open things up but we can always hope...

Re:Desparate times... (2, Interesting)

OAB_X (818333) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224341)

It was mentioned in a comment on slashdot somewhere that the code in the ATI or nVidia drivers may be propriatary and closed source as liscensed from someone else. They may have bought code from company x but company x may not allow for that code to be open source. So instead of re-writing the drivers entirely so that nVidia/ATI own all of their own code, they may just stick with the binary drivers to protect other companies IP.

Does it suck? yes, very much so, but the world is like that with software patents. Though I am not sure how those patents would apply in this case.

Re:Desparate times... (0, Redundant)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224440)

*Does it suck? yes, very much so, but the world is like that with software patents. Though I am not sure how those patents would apply in this case.*

if it was *patent* protected it wouldn't matter if the code was open or not. now it's just seeeeeecret 'protected' - which is not really protected at all.

if they put their minds to it i'm pretty sure they could come up with open sourced drivers quite fast.

Re:Desparate times... (1)

julie-h (530222) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224482)

This is not due to software patents, but copyright. There is important to see the difference.

Copyright is a good thing, but software patents are not!

If it wasn't so copyright Microsoft could steal your code, and use it.

Desparate times...SUE ME! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224507)

"It was mentioned in a comment on slashdot somewhere that the code in the ATI or nVidia drivers may be propriatary and closed source as liscensed from someone else. They may have bought code from company x but company x may not allow for that code to be open source. So instead of re-writing the drivers entirely so that nVidia/ATI own all of their own code, they may just stick with the binary drivers to protect other companies IP."

And of course we ONLY have their word that that's the real reason.* Sounds like the same reason they used for the nForce ethernet driver...until someone reverse-engineered it. Then they suddenly became all helpful.

*Security (from us) through obscurity.

Re:Desparate times... (1)

Stregone (618612) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224683)

Releasing their drivers open source would be nice, but it isn't needed. They just need to release the specs for the chips.

moderate root as 'troll' (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224486)

Non-players soon to be players.

But they paid you to post what they did, didn't they?

Huh?

Hopefully.. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224312)

The quality of these drivers becomes extremely good in the X tree such that both ATI & Nvidia lose sales because of it.

The only way those two will release their own drivers as open-source is when they feel a pinch in the pocketbook.

Hopefully..We'll get our way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224454)

"The quality of these drivers becomes extremely good in the X tree such that both ATI & Nvidia lose sales because of it."

If wishes were fishes. So what's the open source timetable for video drivers as good as what Nvidia's producing? Month? Two months? Year? Two years? Keeping up?

"The only way those two will release their own drivers as open-source is when they feel a pinch in the pocketbook."

A threat is useless without teeth. That reminds me. How's that open source killer video card coming along?

Re:Hopefully.. (3, Insightful)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224521)

Matrox has had free open source drivers for their cards for quite a while. Hasn't seemed to impact ATI and Nvidia yet. Still, one can hope.

Re:Hopefully.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224527)

Yeah, maybe all five people using Linux as a desktop OS will stop buying from Nvidia and ATI...

Re:Hopefully.. (1)

linuxbeta (837266) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224559)

Down with Nvidia!

Off the cuff quick answer... (2, Interesting)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224313)

...to the question about free drivers: yes, maybe, I certainly hope, all of the above.

We already get our drivers for $free on most platforms. Free as in open and easy, I certainly hope so. While we've made great strides in compatibility over the years, getting the hardware people on board and co-operating is still lagging.

When 95% of each sector of the hardware market is co-operating, then we'll just have to hope coders are doing something useful with the platforms now that they're working.

I'll put this in my personal "Good News" category for future reference.

Doubt it (2, Informative)

soniCron88 (870042) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224325)

"Could these moves signal the beginning of a period of rapid improvement in Free drivers for video cards?"

I doubt it. Just a coincidence. Wishful thinking. Once nVidia releases open source drivers, you may start to think otherwise.

Re:Doubt it (2, Informative)

erikharrison (633719) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224466)

nVidia does release open source drivers. The nv driver in X.org is maintained by nVidia.

The nvidia driver, however, is not open source. The difference is the nv driver supports 2d acceleration only, whereas the nvidia binary driver supports hardware 3d.

Unless I misread the XGI info incorrectly, this is exactly the same case with them - they have binary drivers that support hardware 2d and 3d, and they have open sourced their 2d code.

Not sure about the situation with Via, but overall, I think this is a trend. Assuming that the hardware manufacturers are right, and open sourceing the complete stack would give away proprietary and competitive secrets, open sourcing the 2d path likely holds no such danger - it's old, and 2d ain't where it's at any more. Open sourcing the 2d code wins points, and possibly developers.

not yet (1)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224332)

Maybe when ATI and nVIDIA release open source drivers as they are the drivers (pun not intended) of graphics technology

Re:not yet (1)

Stibidor (874526) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224518)

It seems doubtful to me that either ATI or nVidia will open source their drivers any time in the imaginable future. It seems very likely to me that the driver implementation would be tied extremely closely to the implementation of the hardware, and I don't think these capitalistic giants are prepared to give away any trade secrets at this point. We'll see how it all plays out, though. Should be interesting.

Re:not yet (1)

putzin (99318) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224595)

What everyone seems to either forget or to not have ever known is that Nvidia and ATI don't own all the tech in their cards, and so the drivers have to stay proprietary for monetary reasons. And, unless opensourcing the driver makes them enough money to offset having to pay the IP costs to open up the code, it's not likely to happen.


That said, ATI still seems to be missing the boat in that the drivers don't do much and the stuff they do isn't all that great. Good, not great. Nvidia is better. With hardware mpeg decoding sort of working, and the driver supporting OpenGL very well, along with the TV out portions of the card, saying I won't buy Nvidia because the drivers are not open would be silly. Open drivers would be nice, but if it doesn't happen, I'll still buy Nvidia because the current software is pretty good, and they are doing a bang up job straddling the fence IMHO. Could be better, but Linux still doesn't sell enough hardware like this to justify the costs. I don't blame them.

All I know is (2, Funny)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224334)

If the performance on those cards is anywhere near decent I'll be buying one.

XGI is decent for desktops but lacking in gaming (3, Informative)

gmikej (856115) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224335)

I bought a XGI card for my HTPC thinking that it would be the ideal card for my analog TV (s-video was supposed to be great). It works alright- but it will not boot to ONLY S-video. That means that every time I need to reboot the HTPC I need to drag in my monitor.

I've heard that newer NVidia cards can boot straight to TV.

Now I just have to decide on whether I wait for someone to work out a Open source driver for the XGI card or just spend the ~$40 on a NVidia card when I have a perfectly decent XGI card already.

heh- who am I kidding. I'm cheap. And patient.

...
Come on guys- let's start reverse engineering these XGI drivers!

Re:XGI is decent for desktops but lacking in gamin (1)

modnemo (670684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224491)

I was able to boot directly to TV (svideo) with my nVidia GeForce 2 MX in linux no problem, I don't think that feature is only reserved for newer cards.

3D or just 2D? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224338)

Somebody please comment whether the drivers
include support for 3D (or if the chips
have 3D support anyway) or just 2D.
What is the license, GPL compatible?
Please reply soon, or I have to RTFA myself!

Yay! (0, Redundant)

Pugflop (797868) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224339)

Pr0n with 24 bit color and hardware acceleration!

W00t!

This is great news. (4, Interesting)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224348)

Ha! Finally, hardware manufacturers are discovering the great secret: They're in the business to sell hardware! They're not in the business of producing software drivers for Microsoft.

And guess what? I think this will ultimately increase their sales. As more drivers are available, choosing hardware to run Linux or some obscure OS won't be so difficult, so people will be more likely to buy a piece of hardware.

I think this will also improve the quality of their products. Often, drivers, like any other software, contain bugs, which can cause it to appear as if the hardware isn't working as well as it should. Or perhaps the driver isn't quite as efficient as it could be with system resources, so it seems as if the hardware isn't quite as fast as it should be. When these things are released under open source, it is more likely that things like this will get fixed and improved, and that will ultimately improve the vendor's hardware product without requiring any significant effort on the part of the vendor.

XGI and VIA are doing a smart thing. I'm heading over to write them an email about them and thank them. I suggest that others do the same. This is great news, and I hope other vendors will follow.

Re:This is great news. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224640)

how about they have the balls to put a "compatable with linux" sticker on their hardware? hell have a disclaimer that says , "dont call us for support, we will tell you to sod off, but it works with linux."

I'm tired of companies enjoying the sales to linux users but refuse to admit that it works or even act linu-phobic..

that's great they released the drivers, now they need to stick a penguin on the boxes.

Could be (3, Insightful)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224353)

Could these moves signal the beginning of a period of rapid improvement in Free drivers for video cards?

Only if nVidia and/or ATI follow suit. (I know that in some cases they can't, but they could take an approach like Netscape and Sun did, release everything you do own and leave out the stuff you don't).

XGI drivers are 2D only (5, Informative)

olafura (539592) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224355)

When looking through the kernel source code there is only support for 2D. Kernel bugreport [kernel.org] X.org bugreport [freedesktop.org]

MOD PARENT DOWN - PARENT IS A GOATSE TROLL! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224356)


Re:MOD PARENT DOWN - PARENT IS A GOATSE TROLL! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224535)

That doesn't really work if there is no parent.

Sinatra's Elated! (1, Redundant)

CrankyFool (680025) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224362)

Volari, oh oh, cantari, oh oh oh oh
Let's fly way up to the clouds, away from the maddening crowds....

Moderate Parent Up!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224461)

+5 Dean Martin

Re:Sinatra's Elated! (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224539)

Volari, oh oh, cantari, oh oh oh oh
Londo Molari from Centuari Prime?

But what are we really getting? (2, Interesting)

GweeDo (127172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224385)

Are we getting a fully open source GLX driver as well? Does that GLX driver exploit all the features of the chip? If there is hardware shaders can the GLX driver use those? Or are we getting something like the open source "nv" drive that only does 2D?

Re:But what are we really getting? (1)

acaspis (799831) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224547)

I don't know about XGI, but the VIA "open source" drivers contain at least one binary object (libddmpeg.so). "Source", they said ?

Re:But what are we really getting? (1)

labratuk (204918) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224557)

There are no 3d drivers being released here. Only interesting thing is the xvmc support for the via chips.

Sorry, but the XGI announcement is a half-truth (2, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224572)

The XGI drivers are 2D-only; you still have to use the binary library provided by XGI for 3D.

This sucks, too, because the performance of the XGI Volari V8 is comparable to a Radeon 9600 or Geforce 5700. And I'm sure that their drivers suck, so there's probably more performance in them. And it's dirt cheap, too. A 256MB card comes in at just under $100, and a 128MB card at $85.

XGI needs to be told that this isn't enough.

Still no rapid open source for All In One Radeon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224386)

Even though there are open source video drivers for All In One Radeon, there is very slow development on All In One Radeon tuner applications. I have gone to gatos.sourceforge.net and downloaded the tuner drivers for an older X.org, but now that X.org is improving, I can't watch TV on the latest X.org. I have trouble compiling from source after half a dozen attempts

I doubt it. (1)

Detaer (562863) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224399)

"Could these moves signal the beginning of a period of rapid improvement in Free drivers for video cards" VIA is hardly a leader in the video industry. Seems to me like this type of prediction is just going to wind up letting people down. Hope is nice, but lets not slide down this slippery slope.

Re:I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224433)

"slippery slope"

This does not exist, by the way. Please alter your comment to better fit Reality and re-post.

Thank You.

Extraordinary coincidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224401)

Is it just an extraordinary coincidence that both announcements by these two Taiwanese manufacturers of graphics chips of open-source drivers for Linux were made on the 11th and 12th April, or is there some connection between VIA Technologies, Inc and XGI Technologies, Inc?

Whatever the background, it's wonderful news. Maybe nVidia and ATI will see some real competition now from these manufacturers with open-source drivers, and push to find a way through the 3rd-party licensing morass which supposedly prevents them from open-sourcing their drivers at the moment.

just a nit (1, Insightful)

digitalgimpus (468277) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224413)

... merge the new code into the head branch...


Does anyone here consider the head to be a branch? IMHO a branch is taken from the head. The head is just a trunk. Not a branch.

W00T Fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224424)

teeth into W4en [goat.cx]

They're free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224436)

But my video drivers are already provided free with the box... why duplicate the effort?

Re:They're free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224650)

I get the drivers AND card for free. It's just an fcking expensive box.

Others need to follow. (1)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224468)

This is good news. I will be giving XGI and VIA priority on my next hardware purchase.
Got burned by Matrox (triple head card) when they dropped Linux support after kernel 2.6 came out. They now point you to a third party where you can pay ~US$200 for what Matrox provides to windows users for free.
Currently using Nvidia. Not open but it works and is easy to install.

Good Choice (1)

tbcpp (797625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224495)

I'm interested in seeing how XGI will do with full opensource support. I'd think the opensouce community should be able to help XGI optimize it's drivers. Sure ATI/NVIDIA will still rule the Windoze gaming market, but I can see a cult following developing behind XGI real soon.

I was right about XGI (2, Interesting)

kenneth_martens (320269) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224510)

I'm glad to see this positive development from XGI. Releasing open source Linux drivers can't help but give them positive publicity. Back in November of 2003 [slashdot.org] I said we had "an opportunity to persuade [XGI] that supporting Linux by releasing drivers would gain them positive reviews and have an impact on sales." XGI has released the drivers, now it remains to be seen whether this drives sales.

I don't know who persuaded XGI to make this commitment to open source but I fully intend to consider XGI for my next video card. I'm using an nVidia card today on the basis of their closed-source driver support for Linux, but I'd rather support a company that embraces open source.

Why this won't happen with more popular cards (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12224553)

Read up on video cards and Macrovision ... if companies making popular cards like ATI and NVidia start open sourcing drivers, it'll allow end users to trivially circumvent DRM plans (also read up on the whole 'trusted path' idea ... encrypted straight from CPU to monitor).

It's time to shift your support to companies that support open source (and by consequence, oppose DRM).

Next question... (1)

bad_outlook (868902) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224555)

Is there a PCI-e card that I can buy to replace my OEM ATI card that'll use these free drivers? The card is pretty new, 128Megs and such, but slow, so if I could buy an upgrade *and* get away from the ATI drivers, I will...

bo

Ok this is really good news... (2, Informative)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224624)

Why? Well, I have a bunch of machines here that use the KM 266 Via Chipset and support is scarce. Even proper 2D support is rare (I've only seen it in Fedora 3 and SUSE). Other than that, most other distros will either report 24 bit color (it's 32), or force you to use the generic VGA driver (which is SLOWwww).

And 3D support? Non-existant. Not that the 3D is spectacular on the KM series anyway, but it's certainly passable for screen savers, programs like Celestia, and other non-'Doom 3' purposs.

And it's not as though the KM 266 isn't capable of better. Under Windows it performs just great for what most of my users want - just not under Linux.

Thank you VIA, it will only help you...

Where are the ProSavage/DDR source downloads? (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224642)

I haven't managed to get the DRI drivers to compile, install, and run from CVS/SVN in quite some time - I keep hoping there'll be a new release that supports it (yeah, I know, it's not ATI or NVidia performance, but I can't exactly swap the graphics chip in my laptop...)

I tried following the links, but the download section for my actual ProSavage/DDR chipset only has Windows drivers...

XGI floored (1)

fireshipjohn (20951) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224643)

Well we seem to have slashdotted XGI at http://www.xgitech.com/

So I'm sure they are getting good feedback :)

Now if their sales increase at the same rate...

Not as big a deal as the headlines say (4, Informative)

jensend (71114) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224654)

The XGI release is 2d only (the kernel code is for fb support, not DRI), and from what I see on the Unichrome driver effort's mailing list archives the VIA source release is just making available to everyone what has been available through a "developer portal" for some time and does not make any more of the chipsets' features usable.

So the only possible real news here is a shift in the attitudes of these companies. We'll see how that works out in the future (whether enough information is released to allow open-source 3d drivers for XGI and full support for the VIA MPEG enc/dec acceleration).

xgi (2, Interesting)

DarkSarin (651985) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224678)

who here has actually used an xgi card, and what was your experience?

I am extremely curious--they are cheap, but I want to know about performance.

Something i wonder is... (2, Interesting)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#12224691)

...are there open source video drivers for Windows? Can they even be made by an individual, or do you need special software for it (namely, libraries and so)?. Do they need signatures?

I ask because outside nVidia, Windows drivers are usually lacking one way or another, specially when it comes to stuff like OpenGL. It could be interesting if someone worked independently on Win drivers for mainstream videocards.

PS: It's great to see some companies realizing they are on the hardware buissnes, not software. Thank you. I had interest in the S3 Deltachrome/Unichrome series, and now i'll most certainly try one out.
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