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AMD Promises Open Source Graphics Drivers

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the feel-the-love-linux-gamers dept.

Graphics 264

MoxFulder writes "Henri Richard, AMD's VP of sales, has promised to deliver open-source drivers for ATI graphics cards (recently acquired by AMD) at the recent Red Hat Summit. A series of good news for proponents of open-source device drivers. In the last year, Intel, the leading provider of integrated graphics cards, has opened their drivers as well. But ATI and NVidia, the only two players in the market for high-performance discrete graphics cards, have so far released only closed-source drivers for their cards. This has created numerous compatibility, stability, and ethical problems for users of Linux and other open source OSes, and prompted projects like Nouveau to try and reverse-engineer NVidia drivers. Hopefully AMD's decision will put pressure on NVidia to release open-source drivers as well!"

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264 comments

First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105459)

Now, if only I had an account...

I could not read the summary (5, Insightful)

niceone (992278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105461)

I'm sorry, I could not read the summary. I have worked in R&D... I got as far as "VP of sales has promised" and had a panic attack.

Nice (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105463)

They're just trying to get them some press. Unfortunately Linux gamers are an edge case. People needing video card support on Linux above vanilla SVGA as a whole is an edge case.

Re:Nice (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105497)

No, some other users just want fully operational 2D graphics with dual head support. More especially for dual DVI cards where the external TMDS is not supported under X.

Re:Nice (1)

yahooadam (1068736) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105867)

that was one large problem i faced when trying to move to Linux

i have dual head, just getting 1 screen to work can be a pain, but 2 is a nightmare

there are even tools around trying to help you get dual head, though that only works if the drivers are working properly

Honestly, ATM i wouldn't care if ATI drivers were open source, but ffs make them work AMD - of course open source means people can mess around with them, and then we are much more likely to get working drivers for all distributions

Dual head (5, Funny)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106043)

Now there's something to do if you had a million dollars.

Re:Nice (4, Insightful)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105499)

Well, if there is a good video card support on linux, linux gaming will just strengthen. It isn't a godgiven that you can play games only on Vista.

Re:Nice (0, Troll)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105517)

Well, if there is a good video card support on linux, linux gaming will just strengthen. It isn't a godgiven that you can play games only on Vista.

The problem is, most Linux desktop users use it to develop or manage it as a server. They won't pay for a game. They will not pay for anything at all, most of the time. The only companies paying for Linux are enterprises who need support and closed software. The rest are there for the free ride.

Sophisticated open source games basically can't happen, since you need a lot more than good developers to make a good game. Check the open source games around. You'll notice lots of smart programming, poor graphics and poor or non-existing story line. Let alone high quality music and voice overs.

We've seen how much the open source community understands design and graphics with GIMP, and it's best we stop beating that dead horse.

Re:Nice (5, Interesting)

OmegaBlac (752432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105733)

The problem is, most Linux desktop users use it to develop or manage it as a server. They won't pay for a game. They will not pay for anything at all, most of the time.
I, a Linux user, am more then willing to pay for the same commercial games that are available for Windows. Matter fact I have payed already when I purchased UT, UT2k4, Quake 4, and Doom 3 which I have installed exclusively to play on Linux. I have no idea where you got the idea that most Linux users are unwilling to pay for software let alone games. Did you poll every single Linux user? Or did you form your ignorant opinion out your ass? I'm sure there is a large number of Windows users that don't pay for their software hence the existence of warez groups offering commercial software for free. And what about the large number of people unwilling to pay for Windows or games which drives many software companies to develop draconian drm & copyright protection measures?

Re:Nice (2, Interesting)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105891)

I, a Linux user, am more then willing to pay for the same commercial games that are available for Windows. Matter fact I have payed already when I purchased UT, UT2k4, Quake 4, and Doom 3 which I have installed exclusively to play on Linux. I have no idea where you got the idea that most Linux users are unwilling to pay for software let alone games. Did you poll every single Linux user? Or did you form your ignorant opinion out your ass?

It's pretty simple, really:

  • You != an average Linux user.
  • Loki Software [wikipedia.org] proved the lack of market for Linux games 5 years ago when they shut down in 2002.
Now granted, part of Loki's problem may have been that they were shipping ports of Windows games several months after the game originally shipped on Windows, but the fact that Linux gamers wouldn't wait a month or three to support their platform of choice was damning.

I'm sure there is a large number of Windows users that don't pay for their software hence the existence of warez groups offering commercial software for free. And what about the large number of people unwilling to pay for Windows or games which drives many software companies to develop draconian drm & copyright protection measures?

The market for Windows software is large enough, even with the pirates, to make it profitable to sell them software. The problem with Linux is that the number of "Free or bust" users is large in relation to users who would pay for software, thus making it a losing proposition to try to do anything but niche software on Linux (by that I mean it may be worth selling Oracle at $10,000 per CPU, but it's not worth selling TurboTax at $30, because you have to sell a lot fewer copies of Oracle to break even or make a profit).

Re:Nice (4, Insightful)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105999)

Why should software development companies waste money developing games for Windows when they could get a far larger market share by making games for Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, DS, PSP, etc.? The PC gaming market is much smaller than the console games market, and Nintendo is helping widen the gap with the Wii and DS which appeal to non-gamers as well.

Re:Nice (3, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106099)

Why should software development companies waste money developing games for Windows when they could get a far larger market share by making games for Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, DS, PSP, etc.? The PC gaming market is much smaller than the console games market, and Nintendo is helping widen the gap with the Wii and DS which appeal to non-gamers as well.

Many developers do exactly that. Some traditionally PC-only developers have been looking towards the consoles to keep them afloat (id). Other publishers (EA, Ubi) go for the spam approach -- develop the game for as many platforms as possible, which right now means release on Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii, PC, DS, and GBA. The PSP doesn't get a port for the same reason as Linux -- the user base is too small (the PSP has a much larger userbase than linux, and is probably larger than the Xbox 360 and PS3 userbase as well, but it has a reputation of being a poor seller with users more interested in hacking for homebrew than buying games; thus, it doesn't get in on the port frenzy and has to hope for a one-off tie-in at some point later).

That said, the PC does have some strengths. Specifically, the mouse and keyboard layout is great for RTS games (I'd also mention FPS, but I believe it's easier to do FPS on a console controller than it is to do RTS on a controller so FPS is not a clear-cut PC win). Also, breaking into the PC market is much easier, given that anybody can develop a game and publish it on the web. Microsoft is trying to capture that market for the Xbox 360 with XNA, but it's still going to be a little while before XNA has enough support to make it worthwhile (needs network support, proper packaging to share games, the ability to play other people's games without spending $100/year on the creator club subscription, etc). I wouldn't be surprised to see big names like EA or Ubi decide to quit porting to PC, but even that won't totally kill PC gaming. It'll probably turn the PC into the platform for the "hardcore", with only hardcore FPS, RTS, or simulation games being profitable on the PC.

Re:Nice (2, Insightful)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106171)

World of Warcraft is one of the most profitable games ever created. If they had taken your advice, would it have been?

Re:Nice (5, Insightful)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106161)

* You != an average Linux user.
        * Loki Software proved the lack of market for Linux games 5 years ago when they shut down in 2002.


I think we also have to take into account the fact that the Linux landscape has changed drastically in the last five years. How popular was the iPod in 2002?

Re:Nice (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106195)

And perhaps we could also add a link to http://appdb.winehq.org/ [winehq.org] . Here we see, that there certainly is a good deal of effort put into running Windows games on Linux.

Re:Nice (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106167)

You've missed 1 key point: 5 years ago!

Linux is a MUCH better desktop OS than it was 5 years ago. Coincidentally, that was about the same time I tried to use Debian as a desktop. It stunk and I quickly dropped it. Then 2 years ago, I found reason to try it out again. Slackware was pretty good, but still iffy for a desktop.

Now I've got Kubuntu. It's amazing, and definitely a good desktop OS. The home PC I have ordered was chosen based on the idea that it would only run Linux, and Windows didn't matter. (This one is going to be my 'game' PC in the living room now.)

Loki was too early. If they tried the same thing now, they'd have a LOT better success.

As for the 'waiting' issue... Was that the only issue? Or did Loki fail to advertise that they were going to be releasing that game in a few months? Because if I didn't know about it, I'd just pick it up for Windows, assuming Linux would never get it. Maybe there were other issues as well, that don't come to mind immediately.

Loki didn't prove anything except that they didn't make it.

Re:Nice (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106289)

Loki Software proved the lack of market for Linux games 5 years ago when they shut down in 2002.

Actually, you are incorrect. Loki Software died mainly because of managerial incompetence and mismanagement. You can read about some of that here. [linuxtoday.com]

And, as others have pointed out, the Linux desktop has matured a lot in the last 5 years. Even if Loki died because of a lack of customers (which is not the case), the same would not necessarily happen today.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105849)

The problem is, most Linux desktop users use it to develop or manage it as a server. They won't pay for a game. They will not pay for anything at all, most of the time. The only companies paying for Linux are enterprises who need support and closed software. The rest are there for the free ride.

FUD, FUD, FUD, FUD, FUD, FUD, wonderful FUUUUUUUD! Not even good, new FUD either. Just the same old shit.

Re:Nice (4, Insightful)

dc29A (636871) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105539)

They're just trying to get them some press. Unfortunately Linux gamers are an edge case. People needing video card support on Linux above vanilla SVGA as a whole is an edge case.

Having solid drivers isn't just "an edge case". Go install the default ATI or Nvidia driver on a recent linux distro then upgrade it to a non open source one from the company. It's like day and night. I noticed a huge difference between having a default driver vs company made one, silly things like dragging a console with transparent background is no longer a pain, it's smooth. The desktop feels fast and I don't even have any 3d desktop installed.

Then you got things like multiple monitor support. My Feisty install without closed source drivers just wouldn't work. It kept resetting the screen resolution after reboots, wouldn't recognize my second monitor, I couldn't even force it, it was a black screen. Once I installed the closed source driver, shazam! All my video worries are gone. Now I am happily using a 2560 x 1024 dual monitor setup with hardware acceleration.

Also you got 3d desktops like Beryl. With eye candy being a major selling point in some operating systems, 3d features will become important if desktop linux wants to get more popular. I hope all graphic card companies will develop good drivers for Linux.

Re:Nice (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105741)

Go install the default ATI or Nvidia driver on a recent linux distro then upgrade it to a non open source one from the company.

I do it all the time, and absolutely don't see any of the 2D performance differences you've listed.

Xv (video playback) is slower with nv than nvidia, but not significantly so. And there's no way to compare the same between ati and fglrx, since the later doesn't even have Xv support at all.

The open source drivers for ATI and NV of course don't have GL support, or at least, not very good support. Unless you're using GL, you shouldn't notice a significant difference.

Things like support for dual monitors and TV can be tricky, but usually doable with a proper modeline, as divined by the X11 gods...

Of course, I do agree with you that proper open source 3D/GL drivers are important. With ATI seriously depreciating Xv, it won't be surprising if they start to omit hardware 2D support and leave the software drivers to emulate/convert it. With HDTV gaining popularity, GL video output is simply much faster than Xv overlay. And, of course, it's hard to say what other clever things people might come up with when those features are easily and widely available.

Re:Nice (2, Informative)

Tack (4642) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105859)

And there's no way to compare the same between ati and fglrx, since the later doesn't even have Xv support at all.
Are we sure about this?

[tack@caladan ~]$ /sbin/lsmod | grep fglrx
fglrx 523792 9
[tack@caladan ~]$ dmesg | grep fglrx | head -2
[fglrx] Maximum main memory to use for locked dma buffers: 927 MBytes.
[fglrx] module loaded - fglrx 8.32.5 [Dec 12 2006] on minor 0
[tack@caladan ~]$ cat /etc/X11/xorg.conf | grep fglrx
Driver "fglrx"
[tack@caladan ~]$ xvinfo | grep Adaptor
Adaptor #0: "ATI Radeon Video Overlay"
[tack@caladan tv]$ mplayer -v *avi 2>&1 | grep Xvideo
Xvideo image format: 0x32595559 (YUY2) packed
Xvideo image format: 0x59565955 (UYVY) packed
Xvideo image format: 0x32315659 (YV12) planar
Xvideo image format: 0x30323449 (I420) planar
using Xvideo port 115 for hw scaling

Re:Nice (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105875)

With the r500 series, ATI's already eliminated separate 2d acceleration. It's only a matter of time before nvidia does the same.

Re:Nice (1)

tot (30740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106369)

I do it all the time, and absolutely don't see any of the 2D performance differences you've listed.

Text anti-aliasing is one 2D area where nv is very much slower since it lacks render extensions. The speed in text rendering is clearly noticable.

Besides, Google Earth is nice with nvidia driver, for what it's worth.

Nice-Gameplay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106073)

"Also you got 3d desktops like Beryl. With eye candy being a major selling point in some operating systems, 3d features will become important if desktop linux wants to get more popular. I hope all graphic card companies will develop good drivers for Linux."

Interesting how "eye candy" is a selling point for an OS, but not a video game.

Re:Nice (5, Insightful)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106109)

Having solid drivers isn't just "an edge case". Go install the default ATI or Nvidia driver on a recent linux distro then upgrade it to a non open source one from the company. It's like day and night. I noticed a huge difference between having a default driver vs company made one, silly things like dragging a console with transparent background is no longer a pain, it's smooth. The desktop feels fast and I don't even have any 3d desktop installed.

Agreed... this is why I was excited about possibly having open-source drivers, and posted this article. My current box has onboard NVidia, and a low-end ATI discrete PCIe card... frankly, I can't wait for *one* of them to have open drivers. Although using the binary drivers improves 3D performance and a lot of strange display bugs, as you point out, it's a huge pain to keep them up-to-date with kernel upgrades since they can't be bundled with the main kernel. I don't like putting a big binary blob in my kernel, which by all reports is out-of-date with respect to a lot of other kernel subsystems, and may open up security holes.

I don't do 3D anything (word processing, programming, web browsing mainly), but baseline unaccelerated SVGA is definitely *not* acceptable: 2D graphics acceleration is necessary for a smooth and productive desktop experience. The open-source 2D acceleration is actually pretty good at this point, but of course it simply DOES NOT WORK with a lot of the latest ATI cards in particular.

The current pace of open-source driver development is positively glacial, largely because most of the people who have sufficient documentation to easily improve the drivers are under NDA. Read this incredibly frustrating blog entry [livejournal.com] from a developer who's under NDA with ATI... using only a few hundred lines of code, he has patched the open-source Radeon driver to support most of the newer ATI cards... but ATI has spun its wheels for months without allowing him to release the code.

Beryl is a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106159)

http://themes.beryl-project.org/ [beryl-project.org]

Isn't it just so telling that _all_ of the most popular themes are ripoffs of the Windows GUI?

Mainstream gaming (3, Interesting)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105651)

I agree that hard core Linux gamers are an edge case. However, most of us would like to be able to play Penguin Racer or Tux Kart occasionally. Useless eye candy like 3D window switching effects help relieve boredom as well. This doesn't require the latest hot graphics card with dedicated cooling towers. However, it would be nice to have stable drivers that track kernel evolution for entry level 3D cards - sufficient for simple games and effects. The present situation is that old low end Vanta Nvidia cards (suitable for Tux Kart) still require proprietary drivers - and Nvidia is losing the motivation to keep them updated (they did patch old drivers for the security hole mentioned on Slashdot a while back).

IMO, using binary blobs that run in the card, not in the kernel (i.e. downloadable firmware), are a reasonable way for vendors to hide trade secrets while keeping the card updateable and the kernel driver open source. As long as shared memory between the graphics card and main system is restricted to a window, bugs in the firmware shouldn't cause security holes in the kernel. In fact, one benefit of micro-kernel architecture is that isolated drivers that run in their own process and address space, can run in an intelligent I/O card instead.

The IBM Series/1 was built on the principle. All I/O was done by intelligent cards with a common API: submit Device Control Block with command, memory block, and parameters to start an operation. Receive vectored interrupt and find results in updated DCB and memory block. Interrupt included address of DCB, so interrupts were trivially "object oriented".

Re:Mainstream gaming (5, Informative)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105847)

It sure is nice when GLX works and you can do CAD, modeling, simulations and 3D programming(OpenGL) on a Linux box. So there are practical uses beyond gaming for those fancy 3D cards.

Re:Mainstream gaming (2, Insightful)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106055)

the current situation is pretty rediculous. the way i see it, a graphics card manufacturer makes a card where the capabilities of the chips on the board are unknown, the firmware on the board in a binary blob, the meaning of the various pins in the pci-express slot is unknown and a second binary blob installed in the kernel of the operating system is also unknowable. how did it ever get this ridiculous?

Re:Nice (2, Insightful)

gsasha (550394) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105673)

Wrong.

3D should not be about gaming only. Right now there are 3D-based window managers, and it's not inconceivable to have more real 3D-based applications. The fact that some mainstream cards have problems with drivers does nothing to help these use cases.

Re:Nice (2, Insightful)

mackyrae (999347) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105693)

Linux gamers are an edge case because it's too hard to game when your graphics look like $*&#!

Re:Nice (3, Insightful)

lakeland (218447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105787)

Not any more. Compiz and Beryl are becoming the standard way of drawing onscreen in much the same way as aero and quartz. That means unless you have decent 3D you will stuff up desktop performance. Gamers might have much higher demands, but the days of 2D chips being adequate for desktop use are over.

Re:Nice (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105813)

Nice to see you dont know squat about linux.

3d acceleration and the Video acceleration is used daily by EVERY linux user (short of text based server installs.

What you just said is as redicilous as saying "Vista users dont need anything but 2d Svga."

I run Wxvga all the time WITH 3d and guess what I dont play games in linux at work.

And I am not a "edge case" but a typical linux user.

Re:Nice (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105917)

The high-end is still reserved for gamers, researchers, and people doing visualisation. A modern (cheap) GPU, however, does a lot more than a framebuffer. The most obvious thing it does is compositing. Pretty much every application does some form of alpha blending (see those icons on your toolbar?), even if it's with a 1-bit alpha channel, and there's no reason this couldn't be done in hardware. At the windowing system level it's even more important. Draw every window to a texture and let the GPU handle the shadows (not just a gimmick; on OS X is't a huge visual clue as to the active window) and overlaying.

Pixel and vertex shaders are a whole new ball game. There's a lot of text on my screen. All of it drawn from truetype fonts. A truetype font is basically a series of bezier curves. Microsoft Research released a paper a few years back where each of these curves was approximated to a triangle [microsoft.com] . A vertex shader program then inspects each of the rendered triangles and corrects the error between the triangle and the bezier. This allows an entire font to be uploaded to the GPU and rendered at any resolution with very little CPU load or RAM usage (compare this with Apple's hack of just storing a table of glyphs in the video RAM, which doesn't scale very well).

Pixel shaders can be used for a lot of things. With pixel shaders you can perform a lot of convolutions in hardware, giving some nice effects. You can use a pyramid algorithm to perform a number of things, like bi-cubic filtering, blurring, etc in a fraction of a second.

Sure, you could do a lot of these on the CPU, but the GPU is going to do them a lot faster, and probably use less power (important for mobile users).

Even without needing the 3D support, it's useful to have all of the features working correctly. Power management is a big one, since the kernel needs to be able to save the state of the GPU somewhere before turning it off, and Linux uses a lot of hacks to try to avoid needing to do this.

Re:Nice (3, Interesting)

howlingmadhowie (943150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106013)

you're not only looking at linux gamers, you're looking at the thousands of linux-workstations used in the special-effects-industry. if they could come with really stable drivers as part of the kernel, that may help sway the balance of power away from the good nvidia cards currently used.
there are a number of reasons why this would be in ati's interest:
  1. the cards cost up to 4000 euros a shot, so it's a lucrative market
  2. they could advertise with "we make the cards they used for harry potter 14"
opening up the drivers ensures that every linux kernel within a short time will come with a version of these drivers and there will be a good chance that the cards will just work and work well.

I'll believe it when I see it (2, Interesting)

The One KEA (707661) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105491)

$SUBJECT. If AMD really means it, it bodes well for the future - I always hoped that their openness with the Linux community over the x86-64 porting effort wasn't a one-off.

The big question though is whether or not they will try for mainline inclusion, or if they will go with an out-of-tree effort.

Ethics? Still, nice to hear. (4, Insightful)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105505)

This has created numerous [...] ethical problems for users of Linux and other open source OSes,...
Damnit, Jim, I'm a computer user, not a philosopher! But honestly, I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues. Once again, it's just another thing that some of the Linux community puts above having things Just Work(tm). However, since some of these closed-source drivers aren't working for some, it's nice that AMD wants to open theirs so that eventually they can be modified until they work. A win for everybody, actually.

Ethics? Yes. (4, Insightful)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105643)

I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues.

True, right now they don't care. But that doesn't make it any less important to develop Free drivers.

Richard Stallman had his realization that Free software is necessary based on his experience with a printer driver [wikipedia.org] .

Ethics? Yes.-Going the distance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106155)

"Richard Stallman had his realization that Free software is necessary based on his experience with a printer driver."

So were can I download an open source printer?

Re:Ethics? Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106229)

It is apparent that whoever purchased the printer never asked if the feature was available with
whatever software the company decided to accompany the printer with. Granted the printer was
industry's first but little bits like that make space for other manufacturers to jump in as well
and cover the gap (just recall how OS/2 lost it because of the manuals). Stallman never understood
that and believe me, he will never will. And I am pretty sure that the manufacturer of the printer
never promised Stallman contractually or otherwise that he would getting be his hands on the
company's IP. He never understood the difference between open/standardised APIs and IP.

Re:Ethics? Yes. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106373)

I think we all can appreciate the efforts RMS has made, but saying things like "the prospect of charging money for software was a crime against humanity" is hard for most reasonable people to come to terms with. On the other hand, this is the same community that complains about George Lucas "raping our childhood memories"...

Re:Ethics? Still, nice to hear. (4, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105879)

I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues. Once again, it's just another thing that some of the Linux community puts above having things Just Work(tm).

Under Linux, most things Just Work(tm) because people with those ethical issues took the time to do something about it. You can't possibly claim that GNU or Linux exist in an amoral vacuum.

Re:Ethics? Still, nice to hear. (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105973)

Free Software has never been about ethics, it's always been about making stuff work. One of the pre-requisites to making stuff work, however, was the availability of the source code and the rights to fix or adapt it, and redistribute the changes (so not everyone needs to do the same fix themselves). BSD started with a bunch of guys trying to fix UNIX. GNU started with RMS trying to fix a printer driver. Linux started with a guy trying to fix Minix.

The last one is the most interesting, since fixing Minix ended up meaning completely re-writing it because (at the time) the license didn't allow redistribution of modified versions (only patch sets, and those were growing unwieldy).

To an outsider, it might seem that ethics or ideology were the motivating factors, but in reality it's just a desire for things to work. The problem with binary-only drivers is that they might kind-of work now, but at some point they might not and then there will be nothing we can do about it.

Re:Ethics? Still, nice to hear. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106029)

Damnit, Jim, I'm a computer user, not a philosopher! But honestly, I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues.

Ethical I doubt. But if you're moving to Linux, which is pretty much full of open source software and almost no commercial software, then you gotta have some belief that this model is working better and/or cheaper than the closed source model. And even if you're not the one doing the fixing, you have the belief that the availablity of source so someone else can fix it is important. I wouldn't touch a Linux kernel graphics driver with a ten foot pole, yet I certainly care about that. I'm fairly pragmatic about it, if there's no open source equivalent that fits my needs I'll go with the closed source. But I certainly care and have a preferance.

User safety and trust, right to tinker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106079)

Linux distributions are developed and marketed as secure, or to be more precise, that no code is deliberately contained in them that acts against the user's best interest.
What code a closed-source driver contains is unknown. It might contain a backdoor granting specific people root access to your computer. And the most important lesson anyone can learn about computer security is that "might" translates as "will". As long as you don't know absolutely sure that something doesn't contain a backdoor, you have to assume it will. And with closed-source, you cannot ever be sure about that.
Then there is the thing about your legal right to modify the driver. This is a practical as well as ethical point. In the world before open source, or rather free software, the wheel was necessarily invented again and again and yet again, because even if a software company knew the source code of a competitor's application, it could not legally use it. If you (a hobbyist, or a company) simply wanted to add some functionality to a piece of software, you could not legally do so.
Code could be licensed, but there was not always an incentive to do so for the owner, and it's unaffordable for hobbyists. Enter free software. People can share and use each other's code without worrying. Apart from technical problems (of which there are plenty, I know), the wheel will never have to be reinvented again, and everyone can add whatever functionality they whish to such free software. This will in the long run speed up the technical pogress in IT far beyond what proprietary software could hope to achieve.

Re:Ethics? Still, nice to hear. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106153)

Gee people are dieing from lack of food, medical care, shelter, and clean water. I am glad that this "ethical" dilemma if now over.
I am all for AMD/ATI open sourcing their drivers. If they do and they are stable I will even replace my Nvidia board with and ATI card. I need to one soon so I can run FSX. Yes I boot Windows and Linux on my PC.
Ethical?
Good freaking grief.

"Just work" (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106331)

Non-free drivers and specifications will NEVER work. They will always fail users, because the developers cannot possibly predict how users in the future will use their products. Will the drivers with an 8 year old non-standard printer/modem/camera packaged for Windows 98 work on Vista? Probably not. Have the developers producted updated drivers? No, why should they? The line is discontinued. But the hardware is still in perfect condition. If the drivers were free, someone could easily update them, but a lack of specifications makes that impossible.

Non free drivers will ALWAYS end up screwing users, because it's impossible to produce something futureproof. In ten years, your 2nd generation iPod won't play modern codecs, only obsolete ones.

    We already see perfectly functional hardware abandoned because of inadequate software.

Think about the OLPC. Why do the drivers have to be free? Because if not, they are dependant on the developers (at their liberty, even if they are still in business) to produce software to work with newer, superior protocols and technology.

There exists a hi-tech car park, where cars are filed by a robot into pigeon holes. The company that built it went bust, never releasing the software. If the software goes wrong, that's hundreds of cars irretrievable without demolition. No company to take responsibility, or to fix it.

can they? (2, Interesting)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105507)

The agp specification is proprietary and you need to pay (heavily) for the spec. Releasing their driver source would be like giving away the agp spec. It might not be legal.

Re:can they? (2, Informative)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105527)

I don't think their driver source has anything in it that discloses AGP specifications. They've been using Linux apgart code for a while, in a manner that may have already been violating the license.

Re:can they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105937)

The agp specification is proprietary and you need to pay (heavily) for the spec. Releasing their driver source would be like giving away the agp spec. It might not be legal.
Copyright regulates "works" (i.e. expressions of ideas) not ideas. If what you said were true, reading, for example, a C++ book would mean that you can't write any C++ code anymore.

Re:can they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106309)

Wrong. google for "agp spec".
The spec is free, and always has been. You're confusing them with the PCI specs, which PCISIG charges lots of money for. Intel however, never asked for a cent for the AGP specs.

Seeing is believing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105519)

Don't buy ATI until they have followed through with that promise. As far as I am concerned, they have until July, when their new low end card becomes available. If there are no Linux drivers for that card then, I will buy an NVidia based card.

Re:Seeing is believing (1, Insightful)

AC-x (735297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105829)

Right, so instead of buying a card from the company that has just promised to release open source drivers you'll get one from a company that hasn't, yeah that makes perfect sense.

Re:Seeing is believing (1)

incer (1071224) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106059)

Actually, I believe it's about buying a card from the company that has drivers that work. I switched to nVidia for that reason, for example.

Re:Seeing is believing (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106219)

I think the coward's point was that nVidia's drivers are better right now. If ATI hasn't made good on their commitment to open source (and thus foster an environment for better drivers) then he's just going to keep on as if nothing has changed.

Why should he believe the promises of an PR person and let that influence his buying decision?

I just ordered parts to build a new PC and the GPU is an onboard Intel X3000. Why? Open source drivers. If ATI has open source drivers the next time I buy parts, I'll probably choose them for the GPU, even if nVidia also has open sourced, despite the fact that I've been an nVidia fan. Why? ATI has better hardware! It's just too bad their drivers have always sucked, on all platforms.

The AC stated it like an ultimatum, but I think he/she was just stating a fact: Their next purchase would depend on ATI's action or inaction.

Re:Seeing is believing (1)

MooUK (905450) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106117)

At the moment I'd buy a decent Intel graphics chip. They may be generally inferior, but I'm used to being nowhere near cutting-edge with hardware, and out of all the options under linux they are the best.

Re:Seeing is believing (1)

AaronW (33736) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106135)

I have one of their cards now in a machine at work... the ATI drivers are quite buggy compared to nVidia. I would just go with nVidia until ATI has gotten their Linux act together.

I curse at my ATI card constantly due to the frequent bugs I hit (often every few minutes or even seconds the text in my editor gets corrupted, and my mouse cursor is also corrupted).

Plus, Google Earth doesn't seem to work with ATI.

This is great (2, Insightful)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105521)

I only buy Nvidia because it just runs better under Linux even though ATI is better on Windows. I happen to run both and I want the best of both worlds. My guess is this is partly because of the change of momentum towards Linux on the corporate desktop over the last year.

Some people will be sure to downplay this, but I think this is really the beginning. It will take time, but I expect that Linux desktop graphics will closely compete with the Windows desktop soon.

Nvidia, this is your wakeup call. Follow suit, or my next graphics card will ATI.

Re:This is great (1)

WaZiX (766733) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105831)

If they do it, whatever Nvidia does, my next _WILL_ be an AMD/Ati. To me, they deserve at least my next sale just for having started the movement.

Great News (let's hope it will actually happen).

Re:This is great (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105843)

but I expect that Linux desktop graphics will closely compete with the Windows desktop soon.

What are you saying? That the graphics on Linux are going to get slower and more ugly?

Re:This is great (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106129)

On the other hand, if DirectX 10 is as good as some people tell me, Open Source community will still have to play catch-up...

Personally, I can't wait for really good open source drivers. Somehow it gives me a feeling somebody, somewhere is actually working on them.

Hopefully it will help corporate adoption of Linux (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105533)

Some of the most popular corporate laptops (Dell D600 I am thinking of you) have perpetually had nasty graphics drivers that have resulted in much suffering on the part of users.

For the D600, I have a rather nice choice of either good performance and much graphical corruption (weird cursors and such) with the official ATI drivers, or horribly slow performance and no corruption with the existing open source drivers.

Oddly enough this only happens with some Distros, so I am sure there is a magic setting I could change some where, but honestly, I shouldn't have to! Especially just to get basic desktop functionality.

Don't Promise it. Do it. (3, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105537)

Really it isn't hard. Identify the code you own, replace the code you don't, put on a GPL header and release.

Promises are cheap.

you missed a step (1)

Falladir (1026636) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105845)

If you're a corporation with deep pockets, you also have to make sure you haven't been infringing on any software patents.

(This is what bothers me most about our current patent laws: there is no burden on the patent holder to apprise possible infringers of the situation.)

Re:Don't Promise it. Do it. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106089)

GPL? All of the existing DRI drivers are MIT licensed, except for the small amount of kernel glue, which is the same license as the kernel (GPL on Linux, BSD on *BSD).

I have a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105543)

I have absolutely no idea about video drivers. but can somebody explain why good open source graphic drivers are not made. Is it a question of amount of research involved or not able to match the performance expected......

Re:I have a question... (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105671)

video performance is kind of like trying to drive in a city where maps (actual correct as of this moment ones) are top secret burn before reading
some stuff you can just guess (main library police office fire department city hall factories over that away homes over this away) but some things you need to get a chunk of map (like 2nd 4th 9th streets all have half streets next to them and 8th st is north only) then you get into wierd stuff like both an airport and a seaport with situations where you can get a ticket if you drive the wrong car to one of the ports (or even that you are driving a CAR AT ALL).

plus some of the OEMS do tricks like have a flash upgrade change bits of the map or change chips on newer versions of the same board.

in short it becomes a game where not only do you not have the names of the players but you are not sure exactly what game is being played

Re:I have a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106225)

Drugs are bad, m'kay?

Re:I have a question... (1)

dotgain (630123) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106315)

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Actually, I hope they don't. (1)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105549)

Hopefully AMD's decision will put pressure on NVidia to release open-source drivers as well!
Actually, being an ATI fan, I hope NVidia doesn't release open source drivers. ATI will get a lot of goodwill with this, at the very least, and at most, if Dell's experience with Linux is good, perhaps they'll get more sales. Go ATI. :)

Re:Actually, I hope they don't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106267)

Actually, being an ATI fan,

You're a *fan*, of a *company*?

God, marketting just loves brainless people like yourself.

Way to go!

Re:Actually, I hope they don't. (2, Informative)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106379)

Actually, being an ATI fan, I hope NVidia doesn't release open source drivers. ATI will get a lot of goodwill with this, at the very least, and at most, if Dell's experience with Linux is good, perhaps they'll get more sales. Go ATI. :)

I'm sorry, but that's a really stupid attitude, since you're a *consumer* of their products. You benefit from your favorite company's *innovation*, not from their sales figures.

Hoping that your favorite company's competition continues to fail basically ensures that your favored products start to suck... without NVidia and Intel at nipping at its heels, I can assure you that ATI cards would stagnate.

For example, I am an AMD fan when it comes to processors. I like the value of their mid-range offerings, I like HyperTransport, I like their innovation in the 64-bit area, and I consider them more friendly to open source. But does that mean I want Intel to suck? Far from it!! I want Intel and AMD to fight each other tooth and nail. I rejoice at the low-power Core 2 Duo processors, knowing it will force AMD to come up with something better. I delight in the price wars that have forced AMD to discount its processors, allowing me to buy a dual-core 64-bit Socket AM2 processor for $60 from Newegg.

The way I see it, I want my favorite products to encounter incessant and BRUTAL competition... and to triumph through innovation.

an alternative reading... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105583)

VP of sales: We have to delay the r600 again!!
CEO: WTF?!?!? Ok, ok. Let me think a moment... with all those problems, it seems that we are not developing _anything_... I got it!! You just have to go to one con, one full of hippys with long hair, and make a new press release stating something wonderful of our new cards... No! much better! something wonderful of all of our cards. That is. This will give us some good press and nobody will remember the delay
VP of sales: what kind of press release can afford such incredible thing??
CEO: I don't know... well, these hippys are always requesting new and shiny drivers that works with their toy operating system. Just promise that.
VP of sales: But... we promised that 18 months ago, and still...
CEO: And?
VP of sales: Well... but our customers are not stupid.
CEO: We'll discuss that later. Just give me a month without news of r600 and I'll remember you in the next stock options party.

They're probably just press whoring, but... (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105591)

I'll bite, though. I've been a Matrox and Nvidia user ever since I gave a hoot about the card driving the pixels in my machines and stopped buying Trident and S3 cards (so.... maybe 10 years now). For some reason, I've never given ATI a second look, aside from the fact that they seem to be the chipset of all rack-mount servers I've ever used.

I'm in limbo now, though. I'd love to upgrade my Geforce FX 5200/128M card, but I just won't until I can get dual-head and acclerated 3D under FreeBSD/amd64 with an *open source* driver (it matters to me -- I'm sick of binary blobs). Period. The first company who gives me hardware and open sources the drivers (or at least the damned specs) will get my business the minute a driver is available for my platform, and I'll become their biggest volunteer fanboi/astroturfer to reciprocate the deed (on- and offline).

I'll believe it when I see it, though. I ain't holding my breath.

Re:They're probably just press whoring, but... (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106063)

I'd love to upgrade my Geforce FX 5200/128M card,

Id love it if mine worked. I had FreeBSD working on it for about 3 years, and last month I did a cvsup and portupgrade of xorg. Since then, I have been stuck in comamnd line mode!

I will never buy anything from NVidia again unless they opensource their drivers, and I shall make damn sure that everyone who shares the data centre knows why.

ATI Rage drivers for spark64 would be nice too, even if only in text mode!

The fact is, this closed source stuff completely sucks. Pay for it? Its not worth a fig!

Day one Sale (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105595)

I havent bought an ATI card ever (unless you count the GC and Wii). I would imediate buy one if they had robest OS drivers. Currently I always buy Nvidia.

It is that simple really, not about gaming nessesarily, more about trust, I trust OS more.

Re:Day one Sale (2, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105817)

Same here. If ATI acts on this promise and gives out open source drivers which allow use of all features at normal speed, I'll be making the switch back to ATI.

Otherwise, its nVidia for me, period.

Now, if both ATI and nVidia make truly open source drivers, that will make the choice difficult, though it would be a quite pleasant situation to be in.

Re:Day one Sale (1)

Randseed (132501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106149)

I've the same opinion. It isn't so much whether nVidia's drivers are open source or not. Honestly, this is the one case where I really don't care. What I do care about is whether the drivers (in whatever form they are) work and are kept updated. None of this crap about "Well, you upgraded to a development kernel to fix some other bug, now your graphics won't work because we release binary only shit."

nVidia has historically been better to me than ATI has. I have one desktop with an ATI X700, and one box with a nVidia 7600. The nVidia machine works a hell of a lot better in Linux and, frankly, in Windows too.

Intel driver Open Source? (4, Interesting)

slashdot.org (321932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105629)

Last time I looked at the Intel driver source, there were a ton of calls into the video BIOS. Not something I would call an "Open Source" driver. This may have changed since then,- I really hope so.

Why is it important to have more source you might ask. Well, for one thing it would be really nice if we can get rid of the video BIOS altogether. A full source driver which shows how to switch video modes is a very good start to accomplish this (although not necessarily enough).

And then you might ask, why do we need to get rid of the video BIOS? Well, when evaluating graphics chips for an embedded systems, I found out that the video BIOS can spend an insanely long time initializing stuff and displaying stuff that we don't want/need (some like several seconds). In general, video BIOSs are over-engineered and do waaaay more than needed.

If you are aiming to build a near-instant-on system, and/or something that doesn't look like a PC, you want this sort of flexibility. If AMD steps up to the plate, that would be awesome.

Re:Intel driver Open Source? (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105909)

Intel's open source drivers really aren't; it's completely undocumented vendor supplied code. ATI followed the same model before the Xbox 360 contract came up, and it's likely what they're going to return to.

Re:Intel driver Open Source? (5, Informative)

Josh Triplett (874994) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105915)

Last time I looked at the Intel driver source, there were a ton of calls into the video BIOS. Not something I would call an "Open Source" driver. This may have changed since then,- I really hope so.

Why is it important to have more source you might ask. Well, for one thing it would be really nice if we can get rid of the video BIOS altogether. A full source driver which shows how to switch video modes is a very good start to accomplish this (although not necessarily enough).


Look into the new "modesetting" branch of the Intel driver, currently moving towards the default. It moves all the work of modesetting and other related hardware manipulation from the video BIOS into the driver, and avoids the video BIOS entirely. This does indeed give the benefits you describe in your post. Some of this modesetting code also moves toward sharing between drivers, to support modesetting for all Xorg video drivers. (Some of it consists of driver-independent code, such as dealing with funky monitors.)

Vague... (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105631)

Anybody got any more details? They talk about the lack of a timeline, but "graphics drivers" is also vague, and could mean 2D, or just another small subset of features.

I'm certainly not going to go out and start buying ATI cards until all the details are worked-out.

Time to sign the pledge! (1)

the Hewster (734122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105675)

Looks like it's time to sign the pledge to support open, 3d graphics drivers http://www.pledgebank.com/open3d [pledgebank.com] and put some pressure on graphics card manufacturers.

Re:Time to sign the pledge! (1)

Tovok7 (948510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106255)

No! The time to sign petitions is (hopefully) over! No it is time to vote with our wallets! Let's all go out and buy one ATI graphic card the second the drivers are released as free software!
Then sales will explode and that sets a huge sign for other hardware manufacturers far beyond the graphic sector. Eventually, in a few years, a manufacturer who is not supplying free drivers will not be able to compete on the market. But unfortunately I don't expect the wave of freedom reach unto the embedded device like cellphones.

What about licensed functionality? (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105701)

If there's licensed proprietary code in the drivers that ATI/nVidia doesn't own, it'd take a great deal of lawyers and possibly price hikes to make it possible. Just because something's closed source doesn't mean to say the only reason it's not open source is laziness or hatred of F/OSS...

Re:What about licensed functionality? (1)

notamisfit (995619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105925)

Which is why ATI drivers before r300 were open source?

fiArst (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105833)

go fi8d something in a head sp=inning

Nouveau-equivalent for ATi? (1)

mqudsi (1074334) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105869)

Does anyone know if there is a Nouveau-equivalent for ATi? The FGLRX package feels so wrong!

ATI dri effort (1)

Sits (117492) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106139)

See ATI dri drivers [freedesktop.org] . Support for the r300 and above came about through reverse engineering effort so in many ways the ATI reverse engineering effort is far further along (in so much as there are end user drivers that are even capable of the basic desktop effects)...

ATI cards are terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19105893)

I stopped using NVidia and currently spec mobos with the Intel X3000 because of the driver situation. Not sure what it'd take for me ever use an ATI card - a lot.

Don't support Windows but I have installed ATI 'drivers' on a Windows box for a relative. Their 'drivers' include a media player and rely on the .NET framework, their linux drivers display similar incompetence and even copyright-infringement (needless bundling of linux AGP code).

Yeah, it'll take a lot for me to ever switch a client to ATI cards.

Excellent (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19105969)

This is turning out to be a good year for good news! It was only when I started thinking of things this is better than, that I realised we've also had the apparent collapse of DRM for music (it's not over yet, admittedly, but if you were around between 1987-1990 you may remember that from Glasnost to the collapse of the USSR was also a slow motion thing...), the apparent flop of Vista, the imminent failure of the whole Palladium/TCM foundation of Vista's treacherous computing, Dell shipping Ubuntu pre-installed... whatever next? Darl McBride's corpse dragged through the streets by an angry mob of lawyers? Bush / Cheney resign? :)

Damn you AMD! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106021)

It used to be so easy, I didn't even have to consider ATI's video cards. Now I have to start to keep up with two lines of confusing model names.

I think I'm going to cry (1)

boolithium (1030728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106027)

In 1997 I had a 486 with a 2.5 GB hard drive, which why that might seem behind the curve, my previous machine was C64, so it was a big upgrade for me. My choices seemed to be limited to Windows 3.1, Beos, OS2, or this little project called linux (I guess freebsd too, but I actually use my computer :p ). So I got one of my fancy friends to use his isdn line to download me a Mandrake install cd.

A decade and like 30 distros later I'm still a loyal user. In the past couple years I have watched the great evils of the world morph into our new allies (ie.. IBM, Novell, Intel). But this all came with a underlying Faust kind of deal. Each kernel was tainted with philosophical contradiction. That video driver was nothing more than a cheap whore while the wife was out of town. A big ugly binary among pristine virgin innocent source included apps. All you who think linux can't play games might want to note opengl, sdl, and openal are finding there ways onto your nazi boxes more and more. And bling, ha, one word beryl, Mac aint got shit on us. We're the beast in this mother fucker. Oh and by the way with all that bling and a tweaked kernel, the newest gnome and plenty of other gentoo goodness I'm at about 196MBs of ram used. We'll see where games can be played.

By the way in case anyone from nvidia is reading this, please go fuck yourself you "nvrm: xid" bug ignoring sons of bitches!

Words are cheap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106053)

A VP of sales knows it all too well. I believe it once I see it.

I've got an older nVidia card now and I'm placing my hopes on http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/ [freedesktop.org]

I'm GNU/Linux all the way and will only buy hardware that supports it.

Slashdot greatest hits (2, Interesting)

Sits (117492) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106085)

ATI Committed To Fixing Its OSS Problems [slashdot.org] was posted only a few days ago (that one came from Chris Blizzard's blog) and the cautious tone is backed up by other Red Hat summit reports [livejournal.com] . However, since we're here why don't we pick out the highlights (along with overlooked gems) from last time?

Elsewhere on the web folks are wondering whether this means that the a new GPGPU will be accessible but the actual graphics driver itself will remain closed. AMD/ATI has also announced open source drivers before which translated into more stable and more frequently released Linux binary x86 drivers...

H.264/VC-1 acceleration (1)

swmike (139450) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106093)

What some might have missed would be the opportunity to sell gfx cards due to all of a sudden being able to do H.264/VC-1 offload/acceleration in linux for HTPC usage.

The first manufacturer to offer this would get a lot of sales due to people using their cards for HTPC. I know I would, because currently I can't play 1080p VC-1 and barely h.264 properly, even on a Core2Duo.

Too little, too late. (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106123)

ATI has opened the driver because they realise it's now next to worthless anyway: The open source people have created something that just works better in every way (except maybe speed), and they did it just stabbing blindly at registers. Their in-house programmers have reams of documentation to work with, so they have no excuse whatsoever for being behind. They should be fired, after the suits that perpetuated the whole "we can't open the code" farce for a decade.

nVidia doesn't get as much flak because they at least pretend to care. That, and they don't leave early adopters with bricked hardware (not even 2D drivers) for over half a year.

NVidia can still do this for little risk (1)

Midnight Warrior (32619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19106253)

NVidia can still come off okay too, if they start now. They don't have to risk their IP either. If they contribute money and/or access to older video cards, then they have fostered the development of Nouveau. If they give the team the resources to succeed without giving them access to the source code to the proprietary drivers, then they have fostered the reverse engineering without committing their own staff or risking lawsuit from revealing potentially infringing/stolen intellectual property.

At the very least, they should review the Nouveau contributors and declare them to be free of NVidia influence (a condition of fending off an IP lawsuit). This may not do anything to foster the development directly, but it certainly gives the open source advocates all kinds of warm fuzzies that the company is genuinely interested in making quality open source drivers.

I'd settle for quality working drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19106279)

given how much I've paid, I've had nothing but problems with ATIs drivers. in fact, given my experience, you can expect:

complex and error prone installs esp. with AIW cards
devices which can't find or loses its drivers
BSODs, crashes and lockups
no real support unless it's self serve and MS related

of all my hardware, video cards are the worst and cost the most
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