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VIA Announces Open Source Driver Initiative 134

Aron Schatz writes "VIA has announced that they will start a new site ( — doesn't exist yet) specifically for the development of open source drivers. From their press release: 'Over the following months, VIA will work with the community to enable 2D, 3D and video playback acceleration to ensure the best possible Open Source experience on VIA Processor Platforms. 'To further improve cooperation with the community, VIA will also adhere to a regular quarterly release schedule that is aligned with kernel changes and release of major Linux distributions. In addition, beta releases will be issued on the site as needed, and a bug report and tracking feature will also be integrated.' Nvidia should be next."
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VIA Announces Open Source Driver Initiative

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  • This is good timing. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @05:44PM (#23005814) Journal
    They've timed this to fairly well coincide with a new processor design [] that promises better performance than what they've had to date. Hopefully not just drivers but optimizations for their CPU will take off in maturity alongside the growth of their deployed footprint.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @05:45PM (#23005828)
    NVidia use a whole lot of IP from other vendors, and they CAN'T make everything open source because of that. NVidia has made massive efforts in helping their products work on linux as smoothly as possible, and should be praised for their efforts, not berated.

    If Via own all the IP they use, great! They'll be able to open source the lot. NVidia doesn't, so can't, so why give them a hard time after all their efforts to open source as much as possible?
  • The real meat of it for me is the video playback.

    From what I can find online NOBODY has h.264 accelerated playback in Linux, and the best solution is to use a hack that loads a commercial software decoder made for Windows.

    Until I read this I thought my next HTPC would be ATI if things ever came to be, but now it may be VIA.

    I will build my next PC as soon as I find a fairly inexpensive card/chipset that will do HDMI out, and hardware H.264 in Linux. I don't care whether it is good closed source (like Nvidia graphics)or open source support either, Just that it works well and is fairly low power usage (pegging a fast multi-core CPU does not count).

    Until Nvidia offers feature parity with Windows on Linux or enough is opened for the community to do it themselves they deserve a hard time.

    If someone knows a good solution for this let me know so I can stop waiting.
  • Cool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:06PM (#23006042) Homepage
    Hopefully they will officially GPL their wireless drivers too. They have source code for a nice, hackable, soft-MAC driver right now but no license.
  • Re:nVidia next? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mike Zilva ( 785109 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:11PM (#23006080)
    I've got an intel G35 (integrated graphics) based board from Asus (P5E-VM HDMI) and im'm prety happy with 3D at 1600x1200 on ubuntu 8.04beta. I usualy don't like integrated devices, but I choose this board just bacause intel released open source drivers/specs and they deserve this choice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:17PM (#23006144)
    The Via H/W random generator is used as a /dev/[u]random driver in current kernels, and the AES engine is available as an openssl 'engine', so I'm not sure what else you need.

    Via really stuffed up, however, when they made repeated half-baked attempts at 'semi-binary' drivers which worked only on ancient versions like Redhat 9 and wouldn't provide any support or information on the MPEG decoding chip (in the CLE266 and above) which was essential to getting working DVD and DVB playback on the low power boards like the Nemiah.

    I won't hold my breath...

  • by nbritton ( 823086 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:50PM (#23006432)
    What about the Envy24 audio chipsets? These chipsets are sweet but the documentation is locked up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:05PM (#23006582)
    Same here. I've moved on and I now avoid VIA chipsets if at all possible. I used to have the VIA 686B for my southbridge on a Gigabyte GA-7DX. The VIA drivers were fast but caused massive data corruption. This was mainly only detectable when rebooting the system to find that the registry was corrupted and windows would not boot. Anyone know if their windows drivers, or chipsets, are any better these days?

    As the the linux driver initiative, it's comforting to see them willing to cooperate with the open source community. But after my past experience with their products they'll have produce something truly amazing to regain my confidence.
  • Re:Cool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by incripshin ( 580256 ) <markpeloquin@g m a i l . com> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:06PM (#23006586) Homepage
    Hopefully they don't. I don't understand why the hell is so necessary about that five page document. If they used BSD or MIT license, then the BSDs could use it. Linux people have seen so much GPL software that they think it must be a good thing. I used to be one of them.
  • Re:nVidia next? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by garvon ( 32299 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:38PM (#23006866)
    I did the same thing last week. For the same reason.
    So I guess this is a "Me Too!".
    Nvidia has gotten the last of my money. If they can't release the specs for their I will no longer give them my money. Vote with my wallet.
  • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:11PM (#23007546)
    You are right. The rise of the low cost computer is the beginning of the end for high profit margins on Windows. The only real way they have of combatting FOSS is to release Windows for next to nothing and hope to extract some sort of money with Office. But that is a losing tactic as well. As capable computers approach the cost of a VCR, consumers will have the choice of getting something that does the job, or something that does the job and costs twice as much.

    What other options do MS have? They can't kill/buy off Via or the other commodity PC manufacturers that will spring up as know-how increases. Import restrictions can't stop world trade, are not popular and take a long time to implement.

    Killer apps to increase future price of computers? The average human has only so many needs that can be filled by an increasing number of instructions per second, especially when those instructions must be executed in parallel. Computers are fast enough for our senses (HD video, sound) and communications needs (bottleneck is in the networking). Most of the killer apps are already here. Any extra functionality enabled by some sort of high powered Intel machine is a small percentage of total functionality provided by the current crop of computers.

    In this sort of environment, owning a computer that will do almost everything is an easy decision for $200, even if it means acquainting yourself with a different operating system. Ubuntu is easy to install, but even easier if it just comes pre-installed on your device with all drivers working. With understanding comes trust, acceptance and consideration for use in other spheres of life. If anything, the killer app is a small, very low power, solid state computer (hence silent while requiring zero maintenance) - for firewalls, NAS, HTPC, portables, general PC use and home gaming. There is no real margin in any of this (except games), and no ability to fund the survival mechanisms of an operating system and office suite monopolist. Only niche players will find the margins.

    With high profit margins comes the resources to lobby, to advertise, to muscle hardware vendors. Maintaining their monopoly has not been cheap, but while there was profit to be had it was a sound business proposition. Without the money coming in, the collapse will be reminiscent of the Soviet Union - without the resources to maintain the empire, the decay will accelerate rapidly and people will be surprised at how rapidly and pervasively it actually happens.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:53PM (#23007814) Homepage

    A 10 FPS difference is not worth drivers that seem to need reinstalling every reboot (thanks NVIDIA).
    Are you living on the bleeding edge of daily recompiled kernels or something? I checked the box in restricted-manager once, and I've never had to worry about it again. I suppose we'll see how it goes with the pending Hardy upgrade soon, but at least for close to six months now it's been a complete non-issue. I do wish the LCD TV I have on the second DVI port would work right though...

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn