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NVIDIA Responds To Linus Torvalds 497

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-actually-get-a-degree-in-pr dept.
jones_supa writes "NVIDIA's PR department has issued a statement following the harsh comments by Linus Torvalds last week where he referred to the graphics company as the single worst company he's ever dealt with, called them out on not supporting Optimus, and other issues. Basically the company replied they're committed to Linux using their proprietary driver that is largely common across platforms, and this allows for same-day Linux support with full OpenGL implementation. They also say that they're active in ARM Linux for Tegra and support a wide range of hardware under Linux. Despite having not made any commitment to better support Optimus under Linux nor providing technical assistance to the Nouveau community, NVIDIA assures us that 'at the end of the day, providing a consistent GPU experience across multiple platforms for all of our customers continues to be one of our key goals.'"
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NVIDIA Responds To Linus Torvalds

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:34AM (#40384231)

    Basically the company replied they're committed to Linux using their proprietary driver that is largely common across platforms, and this allows for same-day Linux support with full OpenGL implementation. They also say that they're active in ARM Linux for Tegra and support a wide range of hardware under Linux. Despite having not made any commitment to better support Optimus under Linux nor providing technical assistance to the Nouveau community, NVIDIA assures us that 'at the end of the day, providing a consistent GPU experience across multiple platforms for all of our customers continues to be one of our key goals.

    Posting anonymously because some people are _incredibly_ opinionated on this subject, but not everybody has the opinion that everything linux related must be open source. Linus Torvalds, while a visionary and certainly one of the most technologically-minded people of our age, disagrees with this, and that's too bad. Just because Linus Torvalds thinks you're doing it wrong doesn't necessarily mean you are.

    Cheers.

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:40AM (#40384275) Homepage Journal

    I think Torvalds less critical of closed source drivers and more critical of closed specs. Nouveau would be improved greatly if Nvidia provided more transparency on the hardware.

  • by kanto (1851816) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:42AM (#40384303)

    Posting anonymously because some people are _incredibly_ opinionated on this subject, but not everybody has the opinion that everything linux related must be open source. Linus Torvalds, while a visionary and certainly one of the most technologically-minded people of our age, disagrees with this, and that's too bad. Just because Linus Torvalds thinks you're doing it wrong doesn't necessarily mean you are.

    Cheers.

    Afaik Linus Torvalds has admitted on this topic that proprietary is better than nothing at all so try again, I think he's asking for simple co-operation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:45AM (#40384355)

    He should start looking at making a stable API for drivers, and draw a line in the sand to firewall GPL compliance.

  • It Is Positive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by assertation (1255714) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:47AM (#40384387)

    It is positive sign that they care enough about the Linux community to bother to have their PR department give the usual empty corporate zero content response.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:49AM (#40384413) Journal

    Sure, Linus made Linux and uses it to push his agenda (i.e. that of FOSS)

    No, Linus uses FOSS to push Linux, not the other way around.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:51AM (#40384449)

    No the "Consistent Experience" statement is just PR bullshit.

    If providing a "consistent experience" was a true goal of the company they would be implementing Optimus on Linux.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:00AM (#40384569) Homepage

    With Intel and AMD as their competition, why risk tipping your hat for what arguably could be called a niche market. Keeping secrets about low level hardware optimizations is a competitive market advantage.

  • lol.. consistency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:00AM (#40384575)

    I haven't had an NVIDIA driver work the same in Linux as it does in windows. Ever. Random screen blanking (nouveau driver), weird X errors (poly request too large or internal Xlib length error) and re-compiles every time there is a system kernel update. In comparison, all you need to do in Windows to get the NVIDIA driver working is hold down the enter key with a stapler while it's installing. Accept all the defaults. reboot. it's working.

    At "the end of the day" this is not consistency, it's crapsistency.

  • I used to agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:02AM (#40384599)

    These days I have a GTX460 and I get tearing all the damn time. I have turned off compositing, I have turned it on, I have switched to xfce I have tried gnome3.

    I hear the Open driver would fix this. If you can't even stop the tearing, then let someone else write your drivers.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:07AM (#40384643) Homepage Journal

    and I suppose this response from nvidia outlines why Linus is frustrated with nvidia.

    the response doesn't have anything to do with the issue he complained about and the response is just about waving hands to make people look the other way, "look, we do provide drivers! we provide the same drivers on the same day!(but please don't ask us about optimus)".

    (also, traditionally one reason for closed source and binary blob graphics drivers has been just plain old bullshitting and lies about what the card does on card with hw. also about selling same products for different clients for wildly different pricing).

  • by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:07AM (#40384645) Homepage

    Open source software in general has (among others) some practical advantages:

    1. You can keep using it as long as people are interested in doing so, even if underlying hardware or software platforms change.
    2. Any feature / improvement can be put in, when someone feels like putting in the effort.

    With a closed source driver, those 2 options are thrown in the trash. This is especially important for hardware drivers, if there's no way to patch drivers to work with newer versions of an OS (or another OS), then no further driver releases basically means: "throw away your graphics card".

    The net result may work fine for many people, but it tells me NVIDIA puts their roadmap before their user's roadmap(s). I read that as marketing, not user support.

  • Re:Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peppepz (1311345) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:10AM (#40384685)
    Yeah, you're right, who's this Linux Torvalds to judge who contributes to the Linux kernel and who doesn't.
  • OP here.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:10AM (#40384701)

    Openly bashing NVIDIA for doing things their way is wrong, because it's their product, and, therefore, their decision.

    I'd really love to see NVIDIA open their specs, but if they don't want to, they're not going to because they don't need to.

    And I completely agree with this from a business perspective. It's easy to rant or cheer from the sidelines when you don't have a business to run. NVIDIA produces some of the best GPU architectures on the market, arguably the best in their industry, and I can understand that they would like to do everything they can to not lose their trade secrets. Especially with AMD not doing so great against Intel in the CPU market..

  • by ndtechnologies (814381) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:21AM (#40384821)
    So ATi opens up, and the community COMPLETELY failed to deliver a usable solution. WTH should Nvidia care? The FOSS community has already shown that they can't do it. Mod me down if you want, but I speak the truth. We failed. As long as Nvidia continues to provide a driver that works, and works well (which it does), then I will always use Nvidia cards.
  • by green1 (322787) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:24AM (#40384871)

    Speaking as someone who was gullible enough to think that nvidia had linux compatible hardware, and who bought an nvidia card with the specific intent of running linux. I don't care one bit whether the drivers are open source, or closed source. I just want them to WORK. something that has consistently not been the case. The open source drivers miss hardware acceleration, and various video resolutions/modes on my card, and the closed source ones often don't have the acceleration working right either, and sometimes cause X to crash.

    I've learned my lesson, this is my last computer with an nvidia card in it.

    I don't care how you support linux, but if you claim to offer support, it should be every bit as good as the support you offer to any other operating system you support. If this isn't the case, then it should be noted, clearly, on the same table that brags about that support in the first place. I was sold my current card under false pretenses, based on lies on nvidia's website. I won't make that mistake again.

  • by KingMotley (944240) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:25AM (#40384883) Journal

    What makes you think that your bank account PIN can't be guessed? Please post it.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:26AM (#40384889)
    They could keep their low level optimizations and simply release the technical specs to their hardware. Then the nouveau people can program the driver without even seeing NVidia do or do not do in their own code.

    Keeping the source closed might mean they have some secret tricks but at what cost? At the end of the day updating a binary driver is a pain in the arse. Every time the kernel changes, the video driver must be updated. The natural inclination for Linux users is to favour AMD or Intel products and forget about NVidia completely. And yet NVidia is stuck with testing and develop a driver that runs across an eclectic range of kernels and distributions. If they opened the source, or assisted nouveau by releasing the tech specs they could turn over a lot of support and maintenance to the distributions themselves.

    They could even implement some reasonable and sane end of life policy where once a GPU is more than 2 years old they turn over the specs or some reference driver so the hardware can be community supported. It would gain them a lot of kudos and alleviate them from a lot of the hassle of maintaining drivers.

  • Re:OP here.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by David Chappell (671429) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:33AM (#40384967) Homepage

    Openly bashing NVIDIA for doing things their way is wrong, because it's their product, and, therefore, their decision.

    The right to make a decision does not include the right not to be criticised for the descision one make.

  • by David Chappell (671429) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:41AM (#40385057) Homepage

    Why should the Linux community take the burden to design, maintain and upgrade a "stable API for drivers" only to bend to the desire of a company that by their own admission doesn't care about Linux?

    Because this is a problem for ALL drivers and every other OS does the correct way. Why should hardware manufactures take the burden to design, maintain and upgrade drivers only to bend to the whims of the linux community?

    By and large the "whim" of the Linux community is "tell us how your card works on the register level and we will write the drivers ourselves." Most manufactures fell in line years ago when they figured out that they were being asked to do less, not more. Nvidia is one of the last holdouts.

    The most likely reason for their unwillingness to release specs is incompence. They have most likely never produced decent documention even for internal use. In other words, their developement process is disorganized. Producing good documentation might mean employing two or three extra persons. But, it would be worth it since not only Linux driver developers would benefit, their own developers would benefit. After all, the binary drivers of which they seem to be so proud do not exactly have a reputation for high quality.

  • Re:OP here.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by progician (2451300) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:42AM (#40385075) Homepage

    because it's their product, and, therefore, their decision.

    As long as they don't sell it. Once they sold their products to millions of user, they are also responsible for that what they are selling has no built-in secrets what so ever.

    NVIDIA sells hardware. That's one market. NVIDIA distribute software. That's an other. Not releasing the information about their hardware creates a situation where NVIDIA (an the rest of the hardware market virtually) is abusing its market leading position on one market, to sniffle the other. All this because of contracts all around between Microsoft, the gaming industry and so on. For fuck sake, that's my fucking video card, I'd like to know how to use it. I didn't by with a computer, and I could use it in a completely different architecture. No, they narrow the market choices, to control not the product, but the customers, so they can get juicy extra money through anti-competition deals from software companies.

  • Re:OP here.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slashNO@SPAMomnifarious.org> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:43AM (#40385097) Homepage Journal

    No, I'm happy to openly bash them repeatedly for making a choice that sucks. Yes, it's their choice to make. If I didn't think that, I would be advocating they be sued to force them to make a different choice. Otherwise, I'm expressing my opinion of their awful and stupid choice. And I should be perfectly free to do that. It's not like freedom is a one-way street here.

  • Re:OP here.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wisty (1335733) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:48AM (#40385191)

    I wouldn't call Linus's off-the-cuff speech "bashing". While his exact words were "Fuck you, nVidia" it was in a jovial sort of way. Americans might not understand, but for most English speakers (especially Brits and non-natives) "Fuck you" is not always incredibly harsh.

    His main criticism was, they were making a lot of money off Linux (selling chips to run Android), and were being difficult to work with.

    Also, it was an off-the-cuff remark. He's not a Presidential candidate or CEO, he's a programmer. Some people talk in a way that PR flacks don't, and if they are well known it causes a bit of a PR shitstorm. The media reports their "rant", instead of the 49 other minutes before it, in which they were speaking quite insightfully.

    Seriously, everyone knows about the Tanenbaum–Torvalds "flame war", in which Linus came up with such withering remarks as "linux still beats the
    pants of minix in almost all areas", and Andrew shot back with things like "You would not get a high grade for such a design :-)", and sprouted fanatical anti-free-software rhetoric like "For the true hacker, not having source code is fatal, but for people who just want a UNIX system, there are many alternatives (albeit not free)".

    Strong stuff.

    I guess people are more interested in shit-slinging (or even pretending that there was shit-slinging) than the technical points these guys raise.

    I've heard Linus is a bit mean at times (rejecting patches? refusing to mentor new contributors?), but the idea that he's an angry angry man seems to be more myth than anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:54AM (#40385267)

    Just like it was enough for ATI? Right now you have a choice between drivers that don't crash and drivers with features. Pick the open source drivers and you get fast 2D that doesn't crash. If you want 3D that can do more than ppracer you get the crash happy Catalyst drivers. If you want a full featured driver you're fucked on AMD/ATI hardware.

    It's been what 5~6 years since ATI specs were released and the enthusiastic user base promised that the "community" would push out amazing drivers? When is that going to happen?

    At least with NVIDIA you can have a choice. If you don't need the full feature set the Nouveau can work. If you do need the full feature set the blob works at some small inconvenience (usually absorbed by the distribution) when installing new kernels. If NVIDIAs blob was crash happy crap like Catalyst, then yeah I'd say "fuck you" NVIDIA. But despite the hate and FUD the blob remains the _only_ driver that is not gimped or unstable.

    When we get full featured functional open source ATI drivers, then and only then, you can say "see!!? Open source drivers work if you release the specs ten years ago." I'll ditch the blob and buy an ATI. Until I see "release the specs" actually working (AMD/ATI), I'm not going to get all excited about NVIDIA not doing it.

  • by MarkGriz (520778) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:01AM (#40385385)

    Good luck selling your cars in a state where you don't comply with state law.

    Do you think car manufacturers don't have to meet California's tougher emissions standards because Federal law trumps state law?

  • by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:45AM (#40386031) Homepage Journal

    The AMD community supports all (11 now?) chip types, over all (4 now?) generations of Radeon released (since 2000).

    KMS (kernel mode setting) and other features of the Linux graphics stack are supported over all hardware, including TV out, and other features.

    3D is a work in progress. Yes, it's been almost five years, but the features do work.

    I would say that, objectively, the open source drivers have been a success. I would even say that the open source drivers are arguably superior to the closed ones. Work continues (especially in the 3D area). Does the proprietary driver support stuff like multi-seat?

    Of course, you claim that it doesn't work at all, and that the effort has been for nought. Please clarify. Bug reports would probably be welcome (not sure, but check x.org, freedesktop.org).

    At the least, please post your hardware information, so that other people will know to avoid it.

  • by peppepz (1311345) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:59AM (#40386227)
    We have OpenGL to match MS' DirectX. We share the OpenGL baseline with anything not made by Microsoft (e.g. Android, iOS, OS X) and that's the API exposed by closed drivers, too, so I don't think you can say that *game developers* can't code on Linux because of the lack of a stable API for drivers; they're two completely different problems.

    Saying that linux devs shouldn't have to budge at all and that the graphics manufacturers (who really don't need the currently tiny linux market at all) have to do all the work is ridiculous.

    First, nobody said that graphics manufacturers have to do any work. As you know, linux devs have already done a reverse engineered driver for NVIDIA hardware without any help. Second, the Linux market isn't tiny at all if you consider that most of the Tegra hardware that NVIDIA sells will end up running Linux (for Android).

    The example of AMD and Intel shows that the supposed problems about IP protection were little more than the FUD we all believed them to be.

    In fact some are speculating that it's too late because the PC at home is dying to the tablet and smart phone.

    I have to agree with you on that, and I deeply regret it, as I currently see no alternative to the PC and I'm afraid that we might end up in a world where all commodity hardware is of the "walled garden" kind. Looks like those in the "software is a tool" camp will finally get all the tools they seem to love so much; maybe they'll start to appreciate the value of open source again once they experience life without it.

  • by toejam13 (958243) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:00PM (#40386251)

    Every time the kernel changes, the video driver must be updated.

    I see that as a problem with the kernel developers, not the video driver developers.

    I've read elsewhere that developers from Nvidia are frustrated over the volatility of the Linux kernel interface to the graphics subsystem. It changes frequently and often with little advanced notification. You don't hear that complaint about Windows, MacOS or FreeBSD.

    Perhaps your ire is aimed at the wrong group.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @01:07PM (#40387171) Journal

    This would be an argument IF Nvidia and AMD were doing things even closely to the same way, but they are not and haven't been for several years now. Nvidia has always used the classical "Build a big ass bad ass chip, then cut it down for the mainstream and budget markets" while AMD is using the "Build a mainstream chip and then add more chips to ramp UP to the high end" which is a completely different approach and one knowing how the other did X or Y frankly i doubt would help much as their designs are just too different. hell just look at the specs of any two roughly equal Nvidia and AMD chips, Nvidia has fewer but much more powerful cores while AMD has hundreds of weaker cores working in concert.

    so I really don't see how knowing how one does X or Y really is gonna do shit. After all they could always reverse engineer the hardware or write a custom kernel to look at what is going on if they were THAT curious and it certainly didn't seem to bother AMD to open up THEIR specs, most likely because as i said their designs and Nvidia's are just too radically different for one to be copying the other. I mean how long as AMD been using the X2s for the high end now? 5 years? 6? it wouldn't make any sense to suddenly change their designs just because Nvidia opened their specs, not to mention it would mean basically tossing their designs and roadmap, it just wouldn't make sense.

  • by toejam13 (958243) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:48PM (#40392317)

    At a minimum, it places an extra burden on other kernel developers, unless those changes are being made in common header files that propagate out with each new build. At most, you're playing a game of chicken with a major partner who could dump all support of your kernel and back a competing free Unix-like OS.

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