Appeasement Isn't Working

by chromatic

Open source and unencumbered drivers for 3D acceleration on Linux are lagging behind their proprietary counterparts. When 2D hardware goes away and everything requires 3D hardware, what options are there for people who use free software? Old hardware... unless something changes. Yes, I'm being deliberately provocative. No, I'm not really kidding.

It's okay if you're the pragmatic type, but it's important to be aware of the limitations of mixing low-level proprietary software required for the proper operation of your computer with free operating systems. You don't have to agree with me. That's fine.


11 Comments

Dominic
2006-07-26 03:35:58
Don't forget that the OpenGraphics Project is only a month or two from its first hardware release. . .
Carla Schroder
2006-07-26 09:33:47
My wise old mommy taught me these important things:


1. don't assume business people are smart
2. don't assume business people are visionary
3. don't assume business people can find their own behinds with maps and guide dogs


Companies like nVidia and ATI are run by ordinary mortals who are more concerned about conveying an impression of possessing big swinging brass nads than delivering good, useful, customer-friendly products.


The Free Software movement gives powerful tools to any individual who wants them. Hardware is more difficult because you can't escape the costs, so Free Hardware is going to take some serious cash. Maybe the next billionaire who wants to make a real contribution will put it into hardware, instead of Yet Another Linux Distribution. Yeah, we sure need more Linux distributions. :P

aussiebear
2006-07-26 12:41:21
You have not heard of this project?



nouveau : Open Source 3D acceleration for nVidia cards
http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/


They are making progress. :)



There is a future!

Carla Schroder
2006-07-26 13:12:29
But aussiebear, that is still a dead-end, because as long as the hardware is closed and specs are kept secret, third-party drivers are always going to be playing catch-up, and unable to deliver all features. Still, it's better than nothing.
aussiebear
2006-07-26 13:52:59
I'd rather see a glimmer of hope than nothing...


I guess there's always the Open Graphics Project.
http://lists.duskglow.com/mailman/listinfo/open-graphics

chromatic
2006-07-27 11:10:50
I'm hopeful that OGP will produce open, working hardware. It's a difficult project, but it has great (and large) goals.


However, I missed a point in the original post, and that's the whole issue of Linux on a laptop -- what choice is there for video card within a model line and what chance is there to change to a supported video card in a laptop? Ouch.

Inhibit
2006-07-27 13:00:31
Link to the Intel GPL drivers? I can't seem to find any fully open source Intel drivers (that are better than the GPL DRI ATI drivers), just a nebulous "wink wink" that they'd feel fit to release them in the future.
nl
2006-08-08 10:57:23
The real issue isn't that the ATI/nVidia video drivers for linux are proprietary, it's that they're crappy; they don't even work very well, causing lockups for a lot of people, they only work with certain kernels, which locks you into a distribution (or at least that distro's kernel) that you may not particularly like, and they're just generally a giant headache to get up and running, editing Xorg.conf files and all that.


If the drivers were more reliable and there was an installer that automatically installed everything in the correct place and modified the necessary config files so the kernel blobs 'just worked,' we would more than likely not be having this exchange.


I agree with chromatic that in our capitalist system, the best answer is to vote with our dollars. Buy motherboards and laptops with the integrated Intel chipset, if you can, and keep writing AMD/ATI and nVidia to tell them why you won't buy their products. If there is one thing these companies understand, it's money, and in this case money literally talks.


I don't understand ATI/nVidia's collective choice to essentially ignore the Linux market. Ignoring the long tail of the market and concentrating on one platform is about the least visionary thing you can do. So many linux users, including myself, use the money we save by ditching Windows to buy better hardware, and that usually means a top-notch video card. If they would only provide decent and user-friendly kernel drivers, Linux users could be one of their largest buyers of after-market video cards. It seems like those companies are shooting themselves in the foot by ignoring such a large niche market. (Let's face it, we Linux desktop users are still a niche, but a potentially profitable one.)

ViGa
2006-08-31 02:20:47
You are right, we need a new strategy for drivers in Linux to make them independents from the kernel versions and as pluggable binaries modules built by manufacturers and sold with hardware. But you should write this to Linus Torvalds who explained his kernel strategy for Linux: "drivers will never go out the kernel, they are staying completely dependent of it and have to be integrated in the kernel sources and must be compiled with it each time generating a new kernel binary (including modules which are only dynamic linked kernel parts but never independent and pluggable modules)".


Linux will never emerge from dark, as long as the drivers will stay more dependents from the kernel than from the hardware.

aditya shekhar
2007-10-09 05:34:42
why do nvidia donnot launch driver as ati has catalysts?
chromatic
2007-10-09 15:44:11
@aditya, NVidia has several reasons. First, they believe that their drivers and hardware information gives them a competitive advantage. Second, there are some patent issues with regard to their hardware and software (I believe S3 texture compression is one of the major patented items). Third, they don't believe that the F/OSS community will contribute much in return, as they've received few or no contributions to some of their existing open projects.


I don't agree with all of these reasons, but I can understand them.