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AMD Graphics Open Source Software Windows Linux

AMD Ports Open-Source Linux GPU Driver To Windows 107

Posted by timothy
from the good-place-for-them dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An AMD engineer has inadvertently revealed that their Windows Embedded graphics driver is ported from the open-source Linux driver. AMD China last year began porting the open-source Radeon Linux kernel driver to Windows Embedded Compact 7, rather than using their Windows Catalyst driver. The resulting WEC7 driver for Radeon GPUs is proprietary, but that's allowed per the MIT license that the ATI-AMD Linux driver code is provided under."
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AMD Ports Open-Source Linux GPU Driver To Windows

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  • The resulting WEC7 driver for Radeon GPUs is proprietary, but that's allowed per the MIT license that the ATI-AMD Linux driver code is provided under."

    • Nothing says there's a problem. It's just an interesting little tidbit.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Nothing says there's a problem. It's just an interesting little tidbit.

        Rather like saying "There will be weather today."

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I just gave a shout upstairs to confirm this. Mom says there is indeed weather out there. Interesting....
        • by md65536 (670240)

          Rather like saying "There will be weather today."

          Rather like saying "There will be interesting weather today."
          And it's interesting for some to read about, because it's interesting.

        • by Pieroxy (222434)

          Nothing says there's a problem. It's just an interesting little tidbit.

          Rather like saying "There will be weather today."

          But, there will be weather today !

          • Nothing says there's a problem. It's just an interesting little tidbit.

            Rather like saying "There will be weather today."

            But, there will be weather today !

            Indeed, at least twice... Sources say.[Citation needed]

          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            I'm not so sure. When I was in San Diego a lot of transplants from the east coast would say "it's nice here, but I miss having weather".

        • by syousef (465911)

          Nothing says there's a problem. It's just an interesting little tidbit.

          Rather like saying "There will be weather today."

          See if they'd used GPLv3 it would be. "There will be weather today...and I know this because....and you can work it out for yourself like so">

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Not really. You're assuming the drivers were obviously (and always) ports from Linux.

          It's also an interesting inversion - usually drivers get mauled from Windows into Linux, and not the other way around.

          That would be more like saying "There will be weather today on the moon."

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          Rather like saying "There will be weather today."

          No, it's like saying that it will be partly cloudy with a 20% chance of rain with a high of 70 degrees, and then you dismissing that by saying "Well of course there's some kind of weather today."

      • Too right, this indicates that there must be a certain quality to the free software driver that the original Windows driver lacks.

        I'm guessing it's a lack of bloat, after all, how many people will need full DirectX support on an embedded machine? But all the free testing on their code as it's developed in Linux should also be a good reason.

      • by JCCyC (179760)

        Yeah, like burglars think widespread use of faulty locks is not a problem. Just an interesting little tidbit.

    • by snowgirl (978879) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @05:05PM (#37706402) Journal

      The resulting WEC7 driver for Radeon GPUs is proprietary, but that's allowed per the MIT license that the ATI-AMD Linux driver code is provided under."

      Some people don't consider something "Free" until it is free in perpetuity. I don't fully agree with people like this, but I see their point, and can acknowledge their definition.

      On the other hand, this is pretty awesome, and probably makes a lot of sense. Graphics drivers for Windows are known to carry heavy optimization and code-sensing techniques in order to provide the best performance possible for Arbitrary Game Choice(tm). The Linux driver is however a good all-around driver without all this special pathing. So, it should be easier to port.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Why isn't it free in perpetuity? Does "in perpetuity" mean all possible branches and ports?

        Actually that's part of the goal of MIT licenses and others, to not be so uptight as a GNU license would. FSF may feel that any future closed branch taints the entire project with sin but not everyone feels this way or wants their software to be treated that way. Open source could become marginalized if it goes back to being only for politicized geeks, but gets a big boost if others see that open source can be good

        • Why isn't it free in perpetuity? Does "in perpetuity" mean all possible branches and ports?

          If you are using my code I don't see why I can't expect it so. Replace "my" with "our" and "i" with "we" and you start to get a clearer picture.

          BSD is mostly attractive for business which don't need contribution can afford competition, and want to keep the door open to move to closed source eventually.

          GPL is attractive for independent, often non-profit projects that want contributions more than money, are really hurt by competition and don't have plans to eventually close the source code.

          While the MIT/BSD l

          • by snowgirl (978879)

            ...surely you can understand why *contributors* may be suspicious and thrusting of contributing to BSD licensed projects.

            Thrusting contributors? God, as if the climate weren't sexist enough. (*TEASING!*)

          • BSD is most attractive for companies who want to use the software others created and make it closed source

            GPL is attractive for everyone unless they want to sell the actual software and not make money from services

            RedHat do not sell software, so they have no problem with GPL, Apple do so a large part of OSX is a closely guarded secret ...

        • The RMS view of open/free carried more weight when it was much harder to mirror. We used to order CDs of things in the mail, and even used the Internet to do so. The time to download things was actually longer in some cases than having the code shipped physically. Drive storage was also puny. Games and professional applications that needed a CD to load only cached certain files to the hard drive.

          Now having the old copies online in several places and kept on thousands of enthusiasts' home systems (or laptop

    • by SlashV (1069110)
      That's no problem. I don't want WE7 anyway, so whatever.
    • by 0racle (667029)
      Your point being? The license is irrelevant. AMD, as the presumed owner of the Radeon source, could make the Radeon GPU driver for Windows Embedded closed source even if it was released GPL.
      • by snowgirl (978879) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @05:10PM (#37706466) Journal

        Your point being? The license is irrelevant. AMD, as the presumed owner of the Radeon source, could make the Radeon GPU driver for Windows Embedded closed source even if it was released GPL.

        Yes, BUT not with any derivative code included. They would need to get a release from all the other contributors that were not working for hire for AMD. Namely, if I write an extra chapter to The Da'Vinci Code, and the original writer could totally change the license that the original Da'Vinci Code was released under, but could not include my extra chapter without my permission. (GPL makes this question simple, since you're already providing the source, you are known to be able to include any derivative works, since they also must be GPL.)

      • by Plombo (1914028)
        They don't own the copyright to all of the open source Radeon code. Some of it was done by community developers or developers for Red Hat and VMware.
      • Your point being? The license is irrelevant. AMD, as the presumed owner of the Radeon source, could make the Radeon GPU driver for Windows Embedded closed source even if it was released GPL.

        That would be impractical. It would not include publicly contributed bug fixes for one thing, which would all have to be done over. Missing a few of course, and it degenerates from there.

    • by MrHanky (141717)

      The problem is that AMD's open source Linux drivers have very poor power management compared to their proprietary drivers, making them unsuitable for embedded use. Hopefully, this means they'll work on improving that aspect of them, though.

      • by c++0xFF (1758032) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @06:18PM (#37707126)

        And this is where people start wishing the code were GPL instead of MIT.

        If the original driver were published with a copyleft license, those power management improvements would have to be shared when the drivers are released. With MIT, you can only hope that AMD will see the benefit of sharing their improvements.

        You can argue about what freedom means all you want, but it's hard to argue that having almost guaranteed access to improvements wouldn't be good for the users of the Linux driver.

        • by MrHanky (141717)

          True. But to be fair to AMD, they're developing the drivers themselves for the main part, the open as well as the proprietary ones. Unfortunately, that also means the code needs to pass their legal department to make sure nothing interesting goes public.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          All you're saying is in theory true, except AMD has a ton of internal code that does this. If they were forced to deal with the GPL by external code they'd probably not use it at all, just a stripped down version of catalyst or the AMD-written parts of the Linux driver or a combination thereof.

          It's not as simply as just seeing the benefit, actually getting it through the legal clearing process takes a lot of time and resources. And they don't even always say yes, there's a lot of headaches and holdups there

        • More likely, AMD would note the GPL and decide not to use the code at all. The MIT license is more suitable than the GPL for code you want broadly adopted, for exactly this sort of reason. And the benefits are real: for example, closed-source and open-source stuff can more easily interoperate if they can use the same code base. No luck, though, if the proposed code base is GPLed. A few years ago, Richard Stallman gave a talk in Toronto during which he claimed the GPL was motivated by his desire to make c
    • by ludwigf (1208730)

      The resulting WEC7 driver for Radeon GPUs is proprietary, but that's allowed per the MIT license that the ATI-AMD Linux driver code is provided under."

      I wonder what the source of the article is, that the driver will be proprietary.

      I wonder if taking the code written by the community, port it to windows embedded and add some proprietary sauce to it was also part of the original plan. So maybe AMD sees Linux community as a form of cheap labor?

      Nope. This is a fairly recent project, conceived and started years after we got back into supporting open source graphics drivers, and the request was for a driver that could be released in source code form.

      Source [phoronix.com]

      • by Tomato42 (2416694)

        I wonder what the source of the article is, that the driver will be proprietary.

        IFAICR, Windows Driver Development Kit License requires a proprietary licence (or at least it did in the past)...

    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      What I don't get is why? Just because it's on windows doesn't mean they have to close source it and make it difficult for devs to debug the damn thing. That's what got them into the mess they're in in the first place, drivers so crappy they had to let others make them.

      I feel sorry for all the windows users that can do nothing about it because ATI/AMD have shown time over that they're absolutely shit at software drivers.

      • I feel sorry for all the windows users that can do nothing about it because ATI/AMD have shown time over that they're absolutely shit at software drivers.

        And so we come full circle, because this is exactly why the GPL exists.

        Everyone gets it wrong - the GPL isn't there to stop people "stealing your code" - it exists to make it possible for users to fix problems in the code.

        Go read about RMS and the buggy printer driver.

    • No problem for me. Maybe, those who wrote the code and see other guys get money from it, putting it into a proprietary license, and in the future possibly prevent improvements on the free code base using patents, maybe those have a problem and wish they used the gpl v.2 or later. But I'm too pessimist, for now let's hope the free code stays free and let other people do what they want with it.

  • Why would anyone care? How is this front page news?
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @05:08PM (#37706446)

      Actually, when you think of it, it's rather inspired. AMD does eventually drop support for old cards after a period, providing an opensource option allows for programmers to maintain support indefinitely. Plus, I'm guessing that this will increase the number of programmers interested in working on the drivers.

      • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

        by snowgirl (978879) on Thursday October 13, 2011 @05:11PM (#37706482) Journal

        Actually, when you think of it, it's rather inspired. AMD does eventually drop support for old cards after a period, providing an opensource option allows for programmers to maintain support indefinitely. Plus, I'm guessing that this will increase the number of programmers interested in working on the drivers.

        Except the WE7 driver won't be open source, so... no.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    2011 will be the year for Linux (graphic drivers) on the desktop!
  • I stopped using Gnome Shell because the open source driver overheats my system and catalyst wasn't compatible. Does this move implicates that the open source radeon driver doesn't suck anymore?

    • by gerddie (173963)
      For the OSS driver you should have a look at this page. [overclock.net] Normally, my HD4850 would run a ~75 degree C, with the "low" profile the temperature dropped to 40 degree C and all 2D stuff still worked fine.
  • We *want* AMD to be making money off of the linux driver to keep them interested. If they depend on it for a commercial product they're going to keep pouring resources into it. As it is I can't even get my LCD panel to show a picture in the right spot (it's shifted up and left on two radeon cards, perfect on nVidia/nouveau). It needs more engineering resources, and this Windows blob might just be the enticement they need.

    I realize copyright law is going to be a problem to navigate around, but we should r

    • We "want" AMD to be making money of the *hardware*, and realising writing a decent OpenSource driver is a good way of selling to people who use Linux ...

      The Driver is not there to make money it is there so that people will buy the hardware....the best graphics cars is subjective, one that works well is not ...

  • They didn't "port the driver", they copied two functions, radeon_suspend_kms() and radeon_resume_kms() across:

    "I have ported radeon_suspend_kms() and radeon_resume_kms() functions from linux to CE. Actually I have validated that the evergreen_suspend() and evergreen_resume() work already on CE. But when the resume work is done and the screen is shown up, I found the 3D engine works wrong."

    Since these two could well be little more than mov %radeon_register, $magic_value, the entire "ported driver" could consist of little more than a dozen bytes of code. Even SCO's lawsuit was built around more evidence of copying than this...

    • They didn't "port the driver", they copied two functions, radeon_suspend_kms() and radeon_resume_kms() across:

      "I have ported radeon_suspend_kms() and radeon_resume_kms() functions from linux to CE. Actually I have validated that the evergreen_suspend() and evergreen_resume() work already on CE. But when the resume work is done and the screen is shown up, I found the 3D engine works wrong."

      Since these two could well be little more than mov %radeon_register, $magic_value, the entire "ported driver" could consist of little more than a dozen bytes of code. Even SCO's lawsuit was built around more evidence of copying than this...

      Well, they're not huge, but they're a bit bigger than that - radeon_suspend_kms is 67 lines, radeon_resume_kms is 38 lines. http://lxr.free-electrons.com/source/drivers/gpu/drm/radeon/radeon_device.c [free-electrons.com]

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