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'Razer Doesn't Care About Linux' (gnome.org) 377

An anonymous reader shares a blog post: Razer is a vendor that makes high-end gaming hardware, including laptops, keyboards and mice. I opened a ticket with Razor a few days ago asking them if they wanted to support the LVFS project by uploading firmware and sharing the firmware update protocol used. I offered to upstream any example code they could share under a free license, or to write the code from scratch given enough specifications to do so. This is something I've done for other vendors, and doesn't take long as most vendor firmware updaters all do the same kind of thing; there are only so many ways to send a few kb of data to USB devices. The fwupd project provides high-level code for accessing USB devices, so yet-another-update-protocol is no big deal. I explained all about the LVFS, and the benefits it provided to a userbase that is normally happy to vote using their wallet to get hardware that's supported on the OS of their choice. I just received this note on the ticket, which was escalated appropriately: "I have discussed your offer with the dedicated team and we are thankful for your enthusiasm and for your good idea. I am afraid I have also to let you know that at this moment in time our support for software is only focused on Windows and Mac." The post, written by Richard -- who has long been a maintainer of GNOME Software, PackageKit, GNOME Packagekit, points out that Razer executive Min-Liang Tan last year invited Linux enthusiasts to suggest ideas to help the company make the best notebook that supports Linux.
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'Razer Doesn't Care About Linux'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, 2018 @03:31AM (#56106699)

    I would like to learn to read music this year, and welcome suggestions on how to do so, but I'm a bit busy this month, and my focus is not on that task at the moment.

  • Well, sorta. They don't actually try to sabotage 3rd party efforts at least. Purportedly they've even donated some hardware to the guy who works on the Linux driver anyway. They don't recognize his support as official or anything like that. It's sad that this is as good as it gets.

    Other popular pointer device companies that hate Linux so much they spend more effort and man hours drafting an excuse than it would take to just forward the docs:

    Razer
    Saitek/Mad Catz/Cyborg
    Logitech

    • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @05:39AM (#56106941) Journal

      You assume the docs exist. You assume the docs are in distributable form. You assume the docs are written in a readable manner. You assume the docs don't contain important secret stuff.

      Just validating those assumptions takes up the time of skilled experienced staff that the companies have already committed to to delivering other work.

      So are you willing to pay $200k to cover the cost, opportunity cost and losses due to disruption that diverting this resource would require?

      Just that, you seem willing for the companies involved to incur those costs.

      • You assume the docs don't contain important secret stuff.

        I'm sure there are a lot of really important secrets in their firmware installation protocol </sarcasm>

        In general I'm sympathetic to your point, but in this case we're talking about something really trivial.

    • I have an old Saitek pad (something 880?) and it works fine on the ras pi retrogaming distro whose name escapes me right now.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@@@nerdflat...com> on Monday February 12, 2018 @03:39AM (#56106709) Journal
    I remember when it was first suggested that Unity3d be ported to Linux... the request garnered a large following on their requested features forum, and by all indications it seemed like it was never going to happen, but then about three years after the request had been proposed on their feature request website, it materialized. While it still hasn't evolved to the point of being an officially supported platform, it's still a welcome addition for doing unity development.
  • Razer what? why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, 2018 @03:51AM (#56106731)

    Is this the same Razer that requires you create an account on their site just to use a mouse? If so who cares? This company is total shit anyway.

    • Re: Razer what? why? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I enjoy their hardware, but your comment did touch on something I was going to mention: since Razer has decided that full features require account registration, what ever made submitter believe that they would ever support firmware updates in this manner?

      • Re: Razer what? why? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 12, 2018 @08:42AM (#56107345)

        It is worse than that. Their software is cloud based.

        So for example, to change the keyboard lights or mouse lights or mouse function buttons or use anything besides basic 2-button HID mouse:

        1) Set up an account on Razer
        2) Have client software running on windows.
        3) Have holes in firewall so that client can connect
        4) Your settings, for your local mouse/KB mouse, are stored in the cloud.
        5) If it loses connection to the cloud you can't change any of your settings.
        6) IIRC it requires cloud access on startup, otherwise it loads default profile.

        FOR. A. MOUSE.
        Never again.

    • by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @10:03AM (#56107633)
      I logged in to post this.

      I bought a Razer keyboard. Why do they need me to create an account and allow them to track analytics about my usage for a louse mouse.

      I had intended to buy a Razer Blade, but after my experience with the keyboard, that company scares me. I can't imagine why anyone would buy a Razer product where Linux support is necessary.
    • Its so much worse than that. You can earn virtual currency using their software, zSilver. (playing certain games, looking at ads etc) You can also buy their premium currency, zGold, for cash.. .
  • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @04:20AM (#56106761)

    If they're making expensive laptops to play games, are Linux users their intended market?

    Also referencing "Meltdown and Spectre" is a bit bogus. Intel CPUs have a firmware update facility but that's already supported.

    https://downloadcenter.intel.c... [intel.com]

    And the kernel already does KPTI.

    Sure they could assign someone to do LVFS contributions to do firmware updates for their USB devices, but I guess their priorities are elsewhere. It's not at all clear that significant numbers of people are not buying Razer USB devices because you can't update the firmware on Linux. I'm guessing some support engineer got the request, escalated it up to management and management said "No".

    It's worth pointing out that when the CEO made his comments, the response here was less than enthusiastic

    https://hardware.slashdot.org/... [slashdot.org]

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @05:04AM (#56106829)

      It's worth pointing out that when the CEO made his comments, the response here was less than enthusiastic

      This is a key downside for Linux for many reasons:

      1) The community has shown to be toxic with constant infighting.
      2) The community is highly aggressive to anything which doesn't 100% meet their core values. Create a gaming hardware, good. Open source 99% of the firmware, great. That 1% is a closed source binary blob, BURN DOWN THEIR HEADQUARTERS!
      3) The community is small so the cost benefit ratio sucks.
      4) The community is fussy and has high standards (see all of the above).
      5) The community generally isn't of the hardcore gaming type.

      Why would any gaming company chose to support Linux when gamers have shown to be more than happy* to run Windows / stuff around with Wine to play their games.

      *And by more than happy I mean they whine less about running Windows for games than the do about something in Linux not being 100% perfect.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Monday February 12, 2018 @05:22AM (#56106887)

        Why would any gaming company chose to support Linux when gamers have shown to be more than happy* to run Windows / stuff around with Wine to play their games.

        *And by more than happy I mean they whine less about running Windows for games than the do about something in Linux not being 100% perfect.

        Exactly. They exist to sell hardware to people willing to pay for overpriced stuff (i.e., gamers, the new audiophool). Practically all of them run Windows and knows nothing else, and they probably get their sales from people who see their boxes at Best Buy, go "ooh shiny" and whip out their credit card.

        Serving Linux might work if there's a sufficient business case for them to well, sell more hardware, but if the community does what it usually does and says just buy a Model M and be done with it for keyboards or buy a cheaper mouse rather than buying the overpriced stuff, well, that's something they'd rather do without.

        That's the problem - the article was about an engineer doing an engineering solution, but the company didn't get the part where it would benefit them. Yadda yadda yadda software does this, blah blah blah. Nowhere does it say "Your hardware is awesome, and there a huge untapped market if you would sell it to Linux users but we need Linux software".

        Most of it is pure business decisions - if you can make a cogent case that Linux would help them sell more of their stuff, enough to outweigh the risks and costs, then they'll do it.

        • Exactly. They exist to sell hardware to people willing to pay for overpriced stuff (i.e., gamers, the new audiophool). Practically all of them run Windows and knows nothing else, and they probably get their sales from people who see their boxes at Best Buy, go "ooh shiny" and whip out their credit card.

          The interesting thing is Windows is free if you're a gamer. Either you buy a laptop and it comes with a Windows licence. Or you build a machine and just live with the unactivated version - the only limit is that you can't change the theme/color scheme/wallpaper from the control panel. Though you can right click on an image and set it as wallpaper. And you have a 'Activate Windows' watermark in the bottom right of the desktop. None of which is too bad

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

          I guess MS are worried ab

          • I guess MS are worried about SteamOS - people building $500 PCs might use SteamOS if Windows were $99 but they probably won't if they can get away with the unactivated version for free.

            It's a trap. Enough people get used to using it, they'll take it away because they know those people are hooked on Windows programs and they'll pay to keep playing them.

            • by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @08:17AM (#56107293)

              I've always thought MS should do something like this

              1) Initially unactivated Windows runs normally
              2) After a while the screen develops a one pixel black border
              3) The border gradually grows
              4) When wide enough cockroach like bugs occasionally sneak in
              5) When enough roaches are on screen they grab the mouse pointer or move icons on the desktop
              6) However moving the mouse pointer will initially scare them off
              7) Later on they lose their fear of the mouse pointer and brazenly walk on the main screen, not just the border.
              8) At this stage you can still click on them and they will be destroyed with a squish animation. If you leave the machine locked when you unlock it you'll spend a minute battling bugs.
              9) Windows will offer you "Microsoft insecticide" the price of which will be a Windows license

              The reason I like it is because you'd go into shops in China and people would be frantically clicking to kill the bugs on their pirated Windows

        • and the benefits it provided to a userbase that is normally happy to vote using their wallet to get hardware that's supported on the OS of their choice

          Perhaps the wallets of Windows and Mac users are enough for Razer. I can't imagine there being much profit in the Linux arena to warrant any additional effort on their part. You are talking about a niche product line for a niche OS.

          Obviously describing Linux as a niche OS will get some people hot under the collar but it is when compared to Win and Mac. Feel free to disagree - this is slashdot after all.

        • I'm a hardcore gamer.

          For perspective, my home office has 6 computers in it - my gaming laptop, my gaming desktop (for dual boxing), my media center, my wife's gaming laptop, her gaming / movie watching desktop, and her work laptop (she works at home). I think we have 4 Razer Nagas in the room, along with a couple other brands of mice.

          Last week I decided it was time to upgrade the laptop I had before this laptop from Windows 7 and repurpose it as a gaming laptop that I could take on the go. My curr

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        The community is small, but it consists primarily of more tech savvy users...
        When non tech savvy users have problems, questions, or need advice on what to buy they go to these more technical users. If you alienate these users, they won't recommend your products and might even advocate against them.

        • If you alienate these users, they won't recommend your products and might even advocate against them.

          Yep. If someone asks me what kind of laptop to buy, I don't even hesitate. I always say ASUS. It doesn't matter what kind of laptop they are looking for, or how much they want to spend, ASUS not only has an answer but it probably won't suck. They have made some of the most durable PCs in history, notably the EEE701. I accidentally THREW mine into a corner once, I was carrying too many things, they started to slip, I made a grab and failed. The display bezel did pop apart, but it snapped right back together.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          Somehow I don't think Razer's sales are impacted much by "IT professionals" but more what 15yo "leet" gamers with LED Christmas trees for PCs think is cool. Or maybe what they're favorite twitch gamer uses to get that 0.002 second egde on the competition.

      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        Instead of targeting "the community", target the platform users instead, solved. Because the vast majority of platform users don't fit the criteria you have described.

        • target the platform users instead

          Linux has very few "platform users" that aren't part of the "community". That is what happens when you effectively become a tech savvy niche market. The platform users start talking to each other. More so the fact that the entire platform is built around the principles of a community.

          And [citation needed] that the majority don't fit the description. We've been doing nothing but fucking infighting for years now and I'm seeing a lot of forums become more and more elitist and hostile over the past 10 years.

      • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @05:39AM (#56106939) Homepage Journal

        6) Lennart Poettering

  • This is the Slashdot equivalent of clickbait.
  • High end? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @05:16AM (#56106861) Homepage Journal

    No. They make EXPENSIVE (but extremely breakable) peripherals and skimp on the QA.

    In the end, nothing of any value was lost.

  • by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @05:25AM (#56106897)

    Razer is not seen as "high-end" within the high-end keyboard community.
    Their mechanical keyboards would better be described as "entry-level" into the world of mechanical keyboards.

    The build materials are cheap. They have gimmicky features.
    Most of all, their marketing is atrocious, misleading and often borderline fraudulent.

  • by JonJ ( 907502 )

    I might've been understanding of their plight, if only it wasn't for the fact that GNOME developers are happy to exploit their sugar daddy advantage of RH to force their way in the FOSS landscape. Now they get to feel how it is like to be the little guy again, maybe they should take some time to enjoy their humble pie.

  • That's the sad truth these days. At best, and that's about as good as it gets, they don't actively sabotage anyone trying to write a driver for Linux for their hardware. To make matters worse, your chances are good that your 100-button-mouse doesn't even work properly as a two button mouse in Linux.

    In the end, you will notice that playing games in Linux means that you'll do without anything more sophisticated than a two-button mouse with a scroll wheel and a standard keyboard. No flightsticks, no steering w

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Playstation 3 gamepad. Linux was the first desktop OS to properly support it. It's basically just a Bluetooth device but there is some custom stuff in there that needs special support if you want more than just the basic buttons.

      • That's actually the other way around, it's OS supporting hardware, not hardware coming with drivers for the OS. Else Windows would be not supporting anything, not even MS very own XBox Controllers work without additional drivers.

  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @06:01AM (#56106987)
    If you go back far enough into gaming history [back to when Bill Gates was running Microsoft, before Ballmer took over], you would get to a heated competition between two graphics APIs. First, there was OpenGL, the "Open Graphics Library", which is somewhat self-declarative. The other was "DirectX", which was driven and maintained by Microsoft.

    IIRC, in the very earliest of days, Microsoft actually supported OpenGL, but then spun away from that and created their own API, DirectX [which they still support].

    Now the main reason that Microsoft switched from OpenGL to DirectX was because OpenGL was supported by other Operating Systems, not just Windows. Which meant that games would be available for those platforms, which meant, ultimately, that OpenGL became a lever to threaten Windows... So that's why MS eventually wrote their own. The problem that they created for themselves was that they had to suddenly convince games studios to support their new API. And, in it's early days, DirectX was not well understood, not well supported and, well, a bit clunky.

    To help bring what we'd now call Triple-A titles to DirectX/Windows, Microsoft actually had teams of developers who would literally go to game studios and offer to port their game code to DirectX, for free. . And that's how DirectX became the dominant API in the gaming space, eventually killing off OpenGL in all but name.

    Once MIcrosoft had the two main graphics card manufacturers on board with this [now nVidia and AMD] the natural evolution was to take this model - at least in part - and apply it to other peripherals. So around the time that Creative moved on to the X-Fi hardware platform from their earlier, non-PCI-based cards, so Microsoft began working with Creative on driver development. The particularly observant might have noticed or might remember that there was a marketing campaign at the time, "Runs on Windows". This was, in essence, a program in which Microsoft financially contributed to the marketing and advertising for peripheral makers... However - and here I need to stress that I've never seen the terms of any contract Microsoft produced [NDA and all that], there was a lot of scuttlebutt at the time to suggest that in the small print of these support deals was a clause that basically said, "Terms will be void if you develop or provide support for your hardware for any Microsoft competitor OS" [or equivalent].

    Now, that was a very different Microsoft, so we have no way of knowing why any well-respected hardware manufacturer would make life difficult for the Open Source community, but the inference was that this was just very simple, very basic market forces. Microsoft didn't want to invest their time, money and effort in a company not dedicated to supporting Windows, and had a cheque book big enough to help make sure that happened.

    Does this apply here? Not sure. Not even sure that this history is entirely accurate as I've represented it. If you really wanted the skinny on this sort of thing, the man to ask would be Greg Kroar-Hartman. If anyone in the OS community would know what's going on, he would. [Although his role moves around a bit, he was the guy who led the "Device Driver" program for Linux during key periods of this history.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      your understanding of the history of Direct X is full of ignorance. They didn't go to Direct X because of "other" OS support of Open GL, they went Direct X as they wanted a unified hardware access layer for devices, sound and graphics, Open GL was only graphics. Also Direct X won at the time because it actually produced faster and better rendering for games, that combined with the sound and input devices made it more cost effective, especially when most gamers ran windows only anyway.

      • by ( 4475953 )

        That's nonsense, it's quite obvious to anyone who knows something about PC and Microsoft history that they went in the DirectX direction because they wanted to maintain the application barrier. Microsoft being a software company, the application barrier has always been their main competitive advantage and they have done and are doing everything - incomplete standards, undocumented features, anti-reverse engineering techniques, embrace & extinguish, many many law suits, etc. - to maintain that applicatio

    • by Anonymous Coward
      what a weird twisted version of events you have. It isn't like the information about Direct X and Open GL is hidden. Open GL at the time of the first version of Direct#D, DirectSound, DirectInput etc etc was focused on CAD and high end equipment. Direct X was focused on gaming. Open GL later evolved for gaming and for a while was better, but that didn't last long. prior to MS Direct X initiative gaming was a nightmare with specific games requiring specific hardware and drivers to perform, the combined Direc
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      To be fair OpenGL lagged behind DirectX quite a bit, and even today hasn't reached parity without vendor specific extensions (like games consoles get). Especially in the early years when things were moving quite fast it usually took OpenGL a while to support the latest features that DirectX did.

      Microsoft are dicks but if it wasn't DirectX it would just have been some proprietary Nvidia or ATI thing. In fact a lot of games of that era did support manufacturer specific features on top of DirectX.

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      If you go back far enough into gaming history [back to when Bill Gates was running Microsoft, before Ballmer took over], you would get to a heated competition between two graphics APIs. First, there was OpenGL, the "Open Graphics Library", which is somewhat self-declarative. The other was "DirectX", which was driven and maintained by Microsoft

      Let me dust the cob webs off on your post. Your point is not really that important anymore. It was important 5-10 years ago though. The new game in town is DirectX 12 vs. Vulkan. Vulkan is cross-platform but yet we still don't see the games on Linux, why is that? There's no excuse right now based on Graphics API. Vulkan delivers an equivalent or better experience both in terms of fidelity and performance compared to DirectX.

      However, if you want to go back in the time machine. Where Microsoft pulled a

    • OpenGL wasn't appropriate for gaming, to a large extent still isn't, and DirectX was also about making the rest of the toolset for games available; sound, input, networking. And don't forget that even using OpenGL at all for games was a backlash against needing a custom version for 3dfx, RivaTNT, Matrox, S3, Rendition, Trident, etc etc.

      Lets not revise history too much, here.

  • by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Monday February 12, 2018 @07:06AM (#56107099)

    "We asked this company to help us out and they told us that they weren't interested so I guess now we're just going to publicly call them out as a bunch of shitbags so that next time I bet they'll bend over backwards to do what we ask."

    Ah, the old "aggressive asshole panhandler" routine. Works every time.

    • by iTrawl ( 4142459 )

      Same company would probably very quick to release a press released saying "Look, our stuff works on Linux!" if anybody reverse engineered their protocol with zero input from them.

    • by CRC'99 ( 96526 )

      "We asked this company to help us out and they told us that they weren't interested so I guess now we're just going to publicly call them out as a bunch of shitbags so that next time I bet they'll bend over backwards to do what we ask."

      Ah, the old "aggressive asshole panhandler" routine. Works every time.

      Even worse - right in the summary:
      "doesn't take long as most vendor firmware updaters all do the same kind of thing; there are only so many ways to send a few kb of data to USB devices."

      So nobody is able to capture the USB traffic of the same thing happening in Windows and reimplement? There's numerous tools that will save the bitstream and allow you to analyse it later. I've done similar for two way radio programming / query information - I can't see this being much different...

    • Dont defend Razer here, they are shitbags.
      • by c ( 8461 )

        Dont defend Razer here, they are shitbags.

        I'm not defending Razer; I don't give two shits about them.

        I'm criticizing "Richard" and/or the "anonymous reader" (which may or may not be the same person) who submitted this bit of bridge burning. The company said that they aren't interested in Linux; now they have a reason to care less.

  • I bought one of their mice for the office because left handed ones that I can use for hours without problems, are hard to find.
    When I got my new PC and needed to install drivers(because I don't do reverse buttons so I need to swap them in software for the mouse and not in windows), they now required me to logon to their "cloud" to install their drivers. Something I can't do at the office.

  • Most games don't natively run on Linux. It's just not taken seriously as a PC gaming platform. PS4 runs Orbis OS, a modified version of FreeBSD but games have to be written specifically for that platform. The problem here is cross-platform and for some reason, at least for PC's, it's preferable to write games for Windows and only in some cases make them compile cross platform to run on Linux. If I remember correctly, some of that has to do with inconsistent drivers and too many distros of Linux. Maybe
    • by ( 4475953 )

      It has nothing to do with drivers. Most games use DirectX which is proprietary to Microsoft. Porting to open platforms is almost like rewriting the game. The reason why some games are cross-platform is because they use a game engine that supports multiple backends, like e.g. Valve's source engine.

      It's not just about the rendering, by the way, but also controller input, app store integration, network stack, etc.

  • Here starts the rant: Razer is crap that installs capware like practically all of those "gaming" hardware companies. I don't understand why gaming hardware companies continue to believe that gamers want ugly design, additional background processes, and additional utterly useless system tray clutter. They don't. Oh, and if you need a mouse designed to be unusable in almost every respect, be sure to get a "Madcatz" gaming mouse. All these companies offer are blindingly bright LEDs, overall bad hardware, and b

  • by west ( 39918 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @09:43AM (#56107541)

    One point that should be obvious to anyone who has worked in a business is that getting someone's services like this "for free" is anything but.

    First, there's the straight up cost: Lawyers vetting contracts, employees gathering and then vetting information, etc.

    Then there's the small possibility that somehow, somewhere, this turns out to cost Razer big time - they accidentally expose a competitive secret, the person puts out malware in the Linux Razer driver, the person uses the information to build targeted malware for the Windows side, the service provider turns out to be a Russian spy and it's linked with Razer.... It doesn't matter how ridiculous the scenario, there is some chance of a very bad thing happening.

    And then think of the benefit. Zero. (Okay, maybe they sell another 2-3.)

    So, in which world can this be justified as a rational business decision?

    In most situations like this (unusual disclosures, not business as usual, no going forward as a line of business), a medium-sized company might want perhaps $50K up front, a larger company might demand 3-4 times that. Anything less than that is simply too little return for the risk.

    You are far more likely to get the kind of support you want from a small company for which the gain of supporting Linux has *real* marketing value to them and thus the company they're putting at (small) risk isn't *that* valuable compared to the benefit.

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