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Graphics Open Source Linux Hardware

NVIDIA Responds To Linus Torvalds 497

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 Parker Lewis ( 999165 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:37AM (#40384267)
    Most common excuse for don't open the source for drivers is IP. But most part of times, the real reason is users will see there is no difference in hardware between standard and platinum cards.
  • Diplomatic response (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:43AM (#40384305)

    They should have blasted him for not having a consistent set of APIs and changing things, often for little benefit, which break binary compatibility and make supporting Linux in all it's variants a mighty task.

    Sure, Linus made Linux and uses it to push his agenda (i.e. that of FOSS), but when Commercial software houses struggle to keep up with the changes, I don't think he should be blaming them. Instead he should look more at what Linux can do to help non-FOSS software exist on the platform without needing a full time 10 man team just to keep up with the ports.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:44AM (#40384325)
    I don't need my graphics driver to necessarily be open-source. I need my graphics accelerator to function though, and it's been my experience that proper acceleration support has lagged. Simply bringing up a desktop in X is not the same as being able to navigate a 3d environment at-speed at the quality that the video card manufacturer touts. If they won't support 3d acceleration then I'm better off dusting off my old S3 Virge and buying a much more powerful microprocessor, letting the microprocessor do all of the work.

    If these cards don't do 3d acceleration in my computing environment, what good are they?

    And yes, I had this problem once before, with Matrox and the G450/G550 cards, back in the day. Aggravating as hell. Worse, if you were their corporate customer and asked for 3d accleration drivers they'd release them to you, but as a private consumer you had to justify the need. Apparently nothing that a noncommercial user did was considered justified. It was friggin' compiled! I wasn't even asking for source code!
  • by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:47AM (#40384379) Homepage Journal

    They're saying "providing a consistent GPU experience across multiple platforms for all of our customers continues to be one of our key goals".

    So, my interpretation of that is:

    "If we released the drivers as open source, then people might figure out how to optimize and tune the Linux drivers. This could result in a better GPU experience on Linux than under Windows. That would embarrass us. To ensure a consistent experience across platforms, we therefore must prevent others from tinkering with the drivers, which mandates closed source."

    Does anyone else read it that way?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:52AM (#40384461)

    This is why Linux will never be taken seriously.... The open source community as a whole lacks professionalism. The rant, which basically says that nVidia driver support was a pain and in the end result the drivers are not to par with Windows AND they are BLOBS. It is a childish rant coming from an old man in a professional environment.

    People only buy nVidia GPUs to play games on them and it just so happens that 99% of the PC games are run off Windows, hence nVidia would happily support that platform. As for Linux... gaming on it is still in its infancy. nVidia has to spend real money (because time = money) to develop those drivers, of course they are going to release them as BLOBs, which is the root of the rant is coming from.

    Hence the linux community lacks professionalism. Obviously nVidia and Linux developers can coordinate, but it's like having a down syndrom kid work with someone with aspergers - problems in communication will be abound.

  • by am 2k ( 217885 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:53AM (#40384467) Homepage

    Most common excuse for don't open the source for drivers is IP. But most part of times, the real reason is users will see there is no difference in hardware between standard and platinum cards.

    Well, there's one that's not visible in software: The RAM is tested to be less error-prone. If one pixel in a game isn't correct for 1/60 of a second, it doesn't matter. However, it does matter (potentially literally making the difference between life and death) when your CUDA calculation returns incorrect values.

  • by peppepz ( 1311345 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:53AM (#40384469)
    Basically they're confirming Linus' words, not denying them. Linus never said that they don't make good drivers. He said that they suck at doing open source, which is an objective truth. Their response is that they do that because they don't want to invest resources to specifically support Linux. Which is exactly what Linus was upset about.
  • by Latent Heat ( 558884 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:10AM (#40384679)
    The Commonwealth of Massuchesetts is going to have a ballot question on whether auto companies have to reveal all of their "codes" so that independent repair shops (and I guess do-it-yourself people) would have access to diagnostics on cars. Some assembly member is attempting legislation to preempt the referendum question, telling the auto companies, "We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way . . ."

    So, maybe we could get Bay State voters interested in open other things?

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:28AM (#40384915) Homepage

    Federal law trumps state law. The auto manufactures could encrypt the computers and any attempt to crack it would be grounds for violating the DMCA (anti-circumvention portion).

  • by cockroach2 ( 117475 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:36AM (#40385003)

    Huh? The radeon driver is pretty damn good these days.

  • by Lonewolf666 ( 259450 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @10:55AM (#40385285)

    Getting a bit off topic, but I don't see the conflict between Federal law and state law.

    By not providing the codes (including decryption codes for encrypted onboard electronics) the auto manufactures would be violating state law. Instead of trying to crack the encryption, auto mechanics could sue them. No DMCA violation necessary there.

  • by rraylion ( 1406761 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:04AM (#40385431)

    Everyone is upset NVIDIA doesn't give away all it's secrets. There hard earned property. that they built. Why not go the more open route and create one set of driver standards for video cards. VESA -- everyone knows the standard and its up to the manufacturer to optimize their side and on the consumer side you get what you asked for.

    This is actually a battle over special features -- my hardware can do some pretty sweet stuff, but I wanna control how you can access that stuff. the concept from above still applies, but there is no incentive for the hardware designer to devote resources (people and the salaries they have to pay those people) to help you bang out that new framework.

    I love open source, but it's built on peoples free time. Companies have to justify how something makes them money. Saying this will build product sales in a 10% market share is not enough. So come halfway and get the framework done and they will optimize their side. This is the best of both world I get a product and they stay behind their doors, but it's a blackbox I can use.

  • by bored ( 40072 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:06AM (#40385467)

    They all think there is secret sauce in their product with some genuine trade secret level information.

    In reality, having seen the secret sauce from a 3rd party perspective a few times, it turns out that often times the competitor is doing it basically the same way. So the only people being hurt by not publishing the hardware specifications (as was the normal state of things until the late 1990's) are the hackers and budding engineers trying to make the product better in some way.

    In the case of graphics companies, it seems they are somewhat justified for not releasing the source to the proprietary drivers, as that is such a huge part of their performance work (aka sometimes the games aren't faster because the hardware is faster, they are faster because the driver is using a better algorithm, or has more micro optimization). Not releasing the hardware specs is just silly, because at this point, a big portion of the graphics chips are understood well enough that releasing information on mode setting or shader setup is more like filling in the details, rather than giving away any secrets.

    The Optimus stuff is a prime example, its basically just going to be information on enabling/disabling parts of the chip or setting power envelops for certain functions. The real secret sauce is how to use that information. I have a similar issue with my little NAS box at home based on a guru plug. Marvell claims to be open source friendly, and gives away specifications that look good until you actually try to do something like power down an unused sata port. Then your SOL without the NDA, because knowing the register which controls the power gating is some kind of secret....

    Mostly, what is being hidden is the fact that the emperor has no cloths.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:57AM (#40386197)
    Most people don't compile the kernel. The system tells them their kernel has an update and they click the update button. Then it turns their desktop to crap because it won't even start because the graphics configuration is bolloxed and they end up spending half an hour screwing around reinstalling the graphics driver or hunting the NVidia site for a replacement. Some distributions might help reinstall the driver but it might not necessarily integrated into their package management system.
  • Both Sides are Wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Plekto ( 1018050 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:17PM (#40386507)

    First off, Nvidia are buttheads. They are. But they also have a right to make money. Apple, EA games, Sony, Intel, and on an on - they all operate this way, as does 99% of business. Where Nvidia is wrong is, well, where can I go out and pay $5 or $10 for a driver from them that works? You see, part of it is that the companies say that they offer a proprietary driver but I can't actually go out and BUY it from them or obtain it from them.

    But this brings up the other side of the dirty coin, as it were. That the Linux (in particular) community seems to have a major issue with paying for anything. I have zero issue with paying small fees. I do it all the time. I pay for my sandwich at lunch, my gas in my car, and well, pretty much everything in life. I just want a solution and to move on to the dozen other things that that I have to do during my day. So there's this great divide. They often don't even deal with issues or fix things at all, because it requires paying "the man" or using their code. ie - if it's not free and 100% open-source, we won't touch it at all.

    It's just as bad as Windows. They have effectively decided that you're SOL and stuck with their vision of 100% free or it's impossible to obtain view of their OS (which while open-source, is controlled on most Distros by a group of whingey, anal buttheads that might as well be CEOs at a typical software company, since they control the project with an iron fist) And this filters down to the forums and "help" groups that are as useful as a wet rag most of the time. Yes, the people mean well, but it's always "just install this". Without any explanation or documentation. Instead of mentioning the exact codecs you need to buy, they just will say "there is no package for that". No link - it's this attitude that if it's not 100% free, we don't even mention it or link to it.

    This idiocy is most apparent with "projects" like Wine. There has been a long-standing mouse driver issue that never gets discussed, fixed, or worked on. Because the code to make it work, is proprietary and there is no work-around (requires paying Microsoft a small fee, and their code is the only way to make it work properly). Cedega had a version of the driver that worked. Cedega went out of business, and as an end-user, stuff just stopped working a few months ago. The mouse driver(among other things like sound drivers and so on) and is effectively locked away as it's Cedega's proprietary (and legally protected) code. Wine won't release it.(yes, these are the same people) The official response over at Wine is "there is no fix". There is an actual fix, but they refuse to release it or make it available for a small fee.

    They whine about everything having to be open-source to the point of acting like it's a holy war, and yet when there's money involved, the same people don't act any different than Nvidia.

    Me, I just want to pay my fee and get on with my life.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson