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Graphics Software Linux

AMD Promises Open Source Graphics Drivers 264

Posted by Zonk
from the feel-the-love-linux-gamers dept.
MoxFulder writes "Henri Richard, AMD's VP of sales, has promised to deliver open-source drivers for ATI graphics cards (recently acquired by AMD) at the recent Red Hat Summit. A series of good news for proponents of open-source device drivers. In the last year, Intel, the leading provider of integrated graphics cards, has opened their drivers as well. But ATI and NVidia, the only two players in the market for high-performance discrete graphics cards, have so far released only closed-source drivers for their cards. This has created numerous compatibility, stability, and ethical problems for users of Linux and other open source OSes, and prompted projects like Nouveau to try and reverse-engineer NVidia drivers. Hopefully AMD's decision will put pressure on NVidia to release open-source drivers as well!"
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AMD Promises Open Source Graphics Drivers

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  • by niceone (992278) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:45PM (#19105461) Journal
    I'm sorry, I could not read the summary. I have worked in R&D... I got as far as "VP of sales has promised" and had a panic attack.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xenocide2 (231786)
      Actually, thats one of the things that a VP could probably promise without severe problems for engineering. I guess you'd probably have to filter out the curse words in comments though...
  • Nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391)
    They're just trying to get them some press. Unfortunately Linux gamers are an edge case. People needing video card support on Linux above vanilla SVGA as a whole is an edge case.
    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:51PM (#19105497)
      No, some other users just want fully operational 2D graphics with dual head support. More especially for dual DVI cards where the external TMDS is not supported under X.
    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by someone1234 (830754) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:51PM (#19105499)
      Well, if there is a good video card support on linux, linux gaming will just strengthen. It isn't a godgiven that you can play games only on Vista.
    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dc29A (636871) * on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:01PM (#19105539)
      They're just trying to get them some press. Unfortunately Linux gamers are an edge case. People needing video card support on Linux above vanilla SVGA as a whole is an edge case.

      Having solid drivers isn't just "an edge case". Go install the default ATI or Nvidia driver on a recent linux distro then upgrade it to a non open source one from the company. It's like day and night. I noticed a huge difference between having a default driver vs company made one, silly things like dragging a console with transparent background is no longer a pain, it's smooth. The desktop feels fast and I don't even have any 3d desktop installed.

      Then you got things like multiple monitor support. My Feisty install without closed source drivers just wouldn't work. It kept resetting the screen resolution after reboots, wouldn't recognize my second monitor, I couldn't even force it, it was a black screen. Once I installed the closed source driver, shazam! All my video worries are gone. Now I am happily using a 2560 x 1024 dual monitor setup with hardware acceleration.

      Also you got 3d desktops like Beryl. With eye candy being a major selling point in some operating systems, 3d features will become important if desktop linux wants to get more popular. I hope all graphic card companies will develop good drivers for Linux.
      • by evilviper (135110)

        Go install the default ATI or Nvidia driver on a recent linux distro then upgrade it to a non open source one from the company.

        I do it all the time, and absolutely don't see any of the 2D performance differences you've listed.

        Xv (video playback) is slower with nv than nvidia, but not significantly so. And there's no way to compare the same between ati and fglrx, since the later doesn't even have Xv support at all.

        The open source drivers for ATI and NV of course don't have GL support, or at least, not very

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tack (4642)

          And there's no way to compare the same between ati and fglrx, since the later doesn't even have Xv support at all.

          Are we sure about this?

          [tack@caladan ~]$ /sbin/lsmod | grep fglrx
          fglrx 523792 9
          [tack@caladan ~]$ dmesg | grep fglrx | head -2
          [fglrx] Maximum main memory to use for locked dma buffers: 927 MBytes.
          [fglrx] module loaded - fglrx 8.32.5 [Dec 12 2006] on minor 0
          [tack@caladan ~]$ cat /etc/X11/xorg.conf | grep fglrx
          Driver "fglrx"
          [tack@caladan ~]$ xvinfo | grep Adaptor
          Adaptor #0: "ATI Rad

      • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MoxFulder (159829) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:18PM (#19106109) Homepage

        Having solid drivers isn't just "an edge case". Go install the default ATI or Nvidia driver on a recent linux distro then upgrade it to a non open source one from the company. It's like day and night. I noticed a huge difference between having a default driver vs company made one, silly things like dragging a console with transparent background is no longer a pain, it's smooth. The desktop feels fast and I don't even have any 3d desktop installed.

        Agreed... this is why I was excited about possibly having open-source drivers, and posted this article. My current box has onboard NVidia, and a low-end ATI discrete PCIe card... frankly, I can't wait for *one* of them to have open drivers. Although using the binary drivers improves 3D performance and a lot of strange display bugs, as you point out, it's a huge pain to keep them up-to-date with kernel upgrades since they can't be bundled with the main kernel. I don't like putting a big binary blob in my kernel, which by all reports is out-of-date with respect to a lot of other kernel subsystems, and may open up security holes.

        I don't do 3D anything (word processing, programming, web browsing mainly), but baseline unaccelerated SVGA is definitely *not* acceptable: 2D graphics acceleration is necessary for a smooth and productive desktop experience. The open-source 2D acceleration is actually pretty good at this point, but of course it simply DOES NOT WORK with a lot of the latest ATI cards in particular.

        The current pace of open-source driver development is positively glacial, largely because most of the people who have sufficient documentation to easily improve the drivers are under NDA. Read this incredibly frustrating blog entry [livejournal.com] from a developer who's under NDA with ATI... using only a few hundred lines of code, he has patched the open-source Radeon driver to support most of the newer ATI cards... but ATI has spun its wheels for months without allowing him to release the code.
    • Mainstream gaming (Score:4, Interesting)

      by CustomDesigned (250089) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:16PM (#19105651) Homepage Journal
      I agree that hard core Linux gamers are an edge case. However, most of us would like to be able to play Penguin Racer or Tux Kart occasionally. Useless eye candy like 3D window switching effects help relieve boredom as well. This doesn't require the latest hot graphics card with dedicated cooling towers. However, it would be nice to have stable drivers that track kernel evolution for entry level 3D cards - sufficient for simple games and effects. The present situation is that old low end Vanta Nvidia cards (suitable for Tux Kart) still require proprietary drivers - and Nvidia is losing the motivation to keep them updated (they did patch old drivers for the security hole mentioned on Slashdot a while back).

      IMO, using binary blobs that run in the card, not in the kernel (i.e. downloadable firmware), are a reasonable way for vendors to hide trade secrets while keeping the card updateable and the kernel driver open source. As long as shared memory between the graphics card and main system is restricted to a window, bugs in the firmware shouldn't cause security holes in the kernel. In fact, one benefit of micro-kernel architecture is that isolated drivers that run in their own process and address space, can run in an intelligent I/O card instead.

      The IBM Series/1 was built on the principle. All I/O was done by intelligent cards with a common API: submit Device Control Block with command, memory block, and parameters to start an operation. Receive vectored interrupt and find results in updated DCB and memory block. Interrupt included address of DCB, so interrupts were trivially "object oriented".

      • Re:Mainstream gaming (Score:5, Informative)

        by OrangeTide (124937) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:40PM (#19105847) Homepage Journal
        It sure is nice when GLX works and you can do CAD, modeling, simulations and 3D programming(OpenGL) on a Linux box. So there are practical uses beyond gaming for those fancy 3D cards.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        the current situation is pretty rediculous. the way i see it, a graphics card manufacturer makes a card where the capabilities of the chips on the board are unknown, the firmware on the board in a binary blob, the meaning of the various pins in the pci-express slot is unknown and a second binary blob installed in the kernel of the operating system is also unknowable. how did it ever get this ridiculous?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gsasha (550394)
      Wrong.

      3D should not be about gaming only. Right now there are 3D-based window managers, and it's not inconceivable to have more real 3D-based applications. The fact that some mainstream cards have problems with drivers does nothing to help these use cases.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mackyrae (999347)
      Linux gamers are an edge case because it's too hard to game when your graphics look like $*&#!
    • Re:Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lakeland (218447) <lakeland@acm.org> on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:34PM (#19105787) Homepage
      Not any more. Compiz and Beryl are becoming the standard way of drawing onscreen in much the same way as aero and quartz. That means unless you have decent 3D you will stuff up desktop performance. Gamers might have much higher demands, but the days of 2D chips being adequate for desktop use are over.
    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:38PM (#19105813) Homepage
      Nice to see you dont know squat about linux.

      3d acceleration and the Video acceleration is used daily by EVERY linux user (short of text based server installs.

      What you just said is as redicilous as saying "Vista users dont need anything but 2d Svga."

      I run Wxvga all the time WITH 3d and guess what I dont play games in linux at work.

      And I am not a "edge case" but a typical linux user.
    • Re:Nice (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:52PM (#19105917) Journal
      The high-end is still reserved for gamers, researchers, and people doing visualisation. A modern (cheap) GPU, however, does a lot more than a framebuffer. The most obvious thing it does is compositing. Pretty much every application does some form of alpha blending (see those icons on your toolbar?), even if it's with a 1-bit alpha channel, and there's no reason this couldn't be done in hardware. At the windowing system level it's even more important. Draw every window to a texture and let the GPU handle the shadows (not just a gimmick; on OS X is't a huge visual clue as to the active window) and overlaying.

      Pixel and vertex shaders are a whole new ball game. There's a lot of text on my screen. All of it drawn from truetype fonts. A truetype font is basically a series of bezier curves. Microsoft Research released a paper a few years back where each of these curves was approximated to a triangle [microsoft.com]. A vertex shader program then inspects each of the rendered triangles and corrects the error between the triangle and the bezier. This allows an entire font to be uploaded to the GPU and rendered at any resolution with very little CPU load or RAM usage (compare this with Apple's hack of just storing a table of glyphs in the video RAM, which doesn't scale very well).

      Pixel shaders can be used for a lot of things. With pixel shaders you can perform a lot of convolutions in hardware, giving some nice effects. You can use a pyramid algorithm to perform a number of things, like bi-cubic filtering, blurring, etc in a fraction of a second.

      Sure, you could do a lot of these on the CPU, but the GPU is going to do them a lot faster, and probably use less power (important for mobile users).

      Even without needing the 3D support, it's useful to have all of the features working correctly. Power management is a big one, since the kernel needs to be able to save the state of the GPU somewhere before turning it off, and Linux uses a lot of hacks to try to avoid needing to do this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      you're not only looking at linux gamers, you're looking at the thousands of linux-workstations used in the special-effects-industry. if they could come with really stable drivers as part of the kernel, that may help sway the balance of power away from the good nvidia cards currently used.
      there are a number of reasons why this would be in ati's interest:
      1. the cards cost up to 4000 euros a shot, so it's a lucrative market
      2. they could advertise with "we make the cards they used for harry potter 14"

      opening u

    • by nanosquid (1074949) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @05:17PM (#19106585)
      With Compiz, Beryl, and XGL, excellent 3D graphics support has become a mainstream issue. Furthermore, Linux is widely used in science and engineering, and those users use excellent 3D graphics as well.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Goodgerster (904325)
      Blender _does not run_ without the binary blobs on my system. Who gives a damn about games?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      People needing video card support on Linux above vanilla SVGA as a whole is an edge case.

      Hello, 2000 called and said they'd like their "Linux is just for hard core geeks who do everything in an xterm" cliche back.

  • by The One KEA (707661) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:49PM (#19105491) Journal
    $SUBJECT. If AMD really means it, it bodes well for the future - I always hoped that their openness with the Linux community over the x86-64 porting effort wasn't a one-off.

    The big question though is whether or not they will try for mainline inclusion, or if they will go with an out-of-tree effort.
  • by The Orange Mage (1057436) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:53PM (#19105505) Homepage

    This has created numerous [...] ethical problems for users of Linux and other open source OSes,...
    Damnit, Jim, I'm a computer user, not a philosopher! But honestly, I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues. Once again, it's just another thing that some of the Linux community puts above having things Just Work(tm). However, since some of these closed-source drivers aren't working for some, it's nice that AMD wants to open theirs so that eventually they can be modified until they work. A win for everybody, actually.
    • Ethics? Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pedestrian crossing (802349) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:16PM (#19105643) Homepage Journal

      I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues.

      True, right now they don't care. But that doesn't make it any less important to develop Free drivers.

      Richard Stallman had his realization that Free software is necessary based on his experience with a printer driver [wikipedia.org].

    • I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues. Once again, it's just another thing that some of the Linux community puts above having things Just Work(tm).

      Under Linux, most things Just Work(tm) because people with those ethical issues took the time to do something about it. You can't possibly claim that GNU or Linux exist in an amoral vacuum.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:00PM (#19105973) Journal
      Free Software has never been about ethics, it's always been about making stuff work. One of the pre-requisites to making stuff work, however, was the availability of the source code and the rights to fix or adapt it, and redistribute the changes (so not everyone needs to do the same fix themselves). BSD started with a bunch of guys trying to fix UNIX. GNU started with RMS trying to fix a printer driver. Linux started with a guy trying to fix Minix.

      The last one is the most interesting, since fixing Minix ended up meaning completely re-writing it because (at the time) the license didn't allow redistribution of modified versions (only patch sets, and those were growing unwieldy).

      To an outsider, it might seem that ethics or ideology were the motivating factors, but in reality it's just a desire for things to work. The problem with binary-only drivers is that they might kind-of work now, but at some point they might not and then there will be nothing we can do about it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by replicant108 (690832)
        Free Software has never been about ethics

        On the contrary, Free Software has always been about ethics.

        From the GNU Manifesto:

        "Why I Must Write GNU: I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. Software sellers want to divide the users and conquer them, making each user agree not to share with others. I refuse to break solidarity with other users in this way.I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program I must share it wit
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by 16K Ram Pack (690082)
          That's just one viewpoint.

          I worked for a long time on mainframes, and never heard of Richard Stallman or the GNU Manifesto during that time. Yet, I saw first hand how much easier it is to fix something if you've got the source code than not.

          Richard may have an ethical or political view on this, but most businesses that use Free Software, do so because it's the practical solution. Because they think that the savings will outweigh the proprietary alternative.

          That's why I like to use it (but I'm also nic

          • I worked for a long time on mainframes, and never heard of Richard Stallman or the GNU Manifesto during that time. Yet, I saw first hand how much easier it is to fix something if you've got the source code than not.

            "Free Software [1] is the term coined by Richard Stallman in the 80s to denote programs whose sources are available to whoever receives a copy of the software and come with the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software."

            http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2003dsa..confE.. [harvard.edu]
      • by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stine@NOSpaM.gmail.com> on Sunday May 13, 2007 @06:21PM (#19106945) Homepage
        No. Open Source is about making stuff work. Free Software is about ethics and freedom.
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Damnit, Jim, I'm a computer user, not a philosopher! But honestly, I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues.

      Ethical I doubt. But if you're moving to Linux, which is pretty much full of open source software and almost no commercial software, then you gotta have some belief that this model is working better and/or cheaper than the closed source model. And even if you're not the one doing the fixing, you have the belief that the availablity of
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      Gee people are dieing from lack of food, medical care, shelter, and clean water. I am glad that this "ethical" dilemma if now over.
      I am all for AMD/ATI open sourcing their drivers. If they do and they are stable I will even replace my Nvidia board with and ATI card. I need to one soon so I can run FSX. Yes I boot Windows and Linux on my PC.
      Ethical?
      Good freaking grief.
    • Non-free drivers and specifications will NEVER work. They will always fail users, because the developers cannot possibly predict how users in the future will use their products. Will the drivers with an 8 year old non-standard printer/modem/camera packaged for Windows 98 work on Vista? Probably not. Have the developers producted updated drivers? No, why should they? The line is discontinued. But the hardware is still in perfect condition. If the drivers were free, someone could easily update them, but a lac
    • by grcumb (781340)

      Damnit, Jim, I'm a computer user, not a philosopher! But honestly, I think most of the people COMING to Linux in the Desktop world could care less about these "ethical" issues. Once again, it's just another thing that some of the Linux community puts above having things Just Work(tm).

      Look, the majority of people visiting their doctor don't spend much time on the Hippocratic Oath, but if you don't think 'First, do no harm' doesn't have an impact on how medicine gets practiced, you've got another thing comi

  • can they? (Score:2, Interesting)

    The agp specification is proprietary and you need to pay (heavily) for the spec. Releasing their driver source would be like giving away the agp spec. It might not be legal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Excelcia (906188)
      I don't think their driver source has anything in it that discloses AGP specifications. They've been using Linux apgart code for a while, in a manner that may have already been violating the license.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't buy ATI until they have followed through with that promise. As far as I am concerned, they have until July, when their new low end card becomes available. If there are no Linux drivers for that card then, I will buy an NVidia based card.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AC-x (735297)
      Right, so instead of buying a card from the company that has just promised to release open source drivers you'll get one from a company that hasn't, yeah that makes perfect sense.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Aladrin (926209)
        I think the coward's point was that nVidia's drivers are better right now. If ATI hasn't made good on their commitment to open source (and thus foster an environment for better drivers) then he's just going to keep on as if nothing has changed.

        Why should he believe the promises of an PR person and let that influence his buying decision?

        I just ordered parts to build a new PC and the GPU is an onboard Intel X3000. Why? Open source drivers. If ATI has open source drivers the next time I buy parts, I'll pro
    • by MooUK (905450)
      At the moment I'd buy a decent Intel graphics chip. They may be generally inferior, but I'm used to being nowhere near cutting-edge with hardware, and out of all the options under linux they are the best.
    • by AaronW (33736)
      I have one of their cards now in a machine at work... the ATI drivers are quite buggy compared to nVidia. I would just go with nVidia until ATI has gotten their Linux act together.

      I curse at my ATI card constantly due to the frequent bugs I hit (often every few minutes or even seconds the text in my editor gets corrupted, and my mouse cursor is also corrupted).

      Plus, Google Earth doesn't seem to work with ATI.
    • by babyrat (314371) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @05:09PM (#19106521)
      Good thinking!

      Punish that damn ATI for not having an open source driver. Punish them by buying hardware from another company that doesn't have open source drivers!!!

  • This is great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by C_Kode (102755) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @02:58PM (#19105521) Journal
    I only buy Nvidia because it just runs better under Linux even though ATI is better on Windows. I happen to run both and I want the best of both worlds. My guess is this is partly because of the change of momentum towards Linux on the corporate desktop over the last year.

    Some people will be sure to downplay this, but I think this is really the beginning. It will take time, but I expect that Linux desktop graphics will closely compete with the Windows desktop soon.

    Nvidia, this is your wakeup call. Follow suit, or my next graphics card will ATI.
    • by WaZiX (766733)
      If they do it, whatever Nvidia does, my next _WILL_ be an AMD/Ati. To me, they deserve at least my next sale just for having started the movement.

      Great News (let's hope it will actually happen).
    • by cp.tar (871488)

      On the other hand, if DirectX 10 is as good as some people tell me, Open Source community will still have to play catch-up...

      Personally, I can't wait for really good open source drivers. Somehow it gives me a feeling somebody, somewhere is actually working on them.

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) * on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:00PM (#19105537) Journal
    Really it isn't hard. Identify the code you own, replace the code you don't, put on a GPL header and release.

    Promises are cheap.

    • GPL? All of the existing DRI drivers are MIT licensed, except for the small amount of kernel glue, which is the same license as the kernel (GPL on Linux, BSD on *BSD).
  • I'll bite, though. I've been a Matrox and Nvidia user ever since I gave a hoot about the card driving the pixels in my machines and stopped buying Trident and S3 cards (so.... maybe 10 years now). For some reason, I've never given ATI a second look, aside from the fact that they seem to be the chipset of all rack-mount servers I've ever used.

    I'm in limbo now, though. I'd love to upgrade my Geforce FX 5200/128M card, but I just won't until I can get dual-head and acclerated 3D under FreeBSD/amd64 with a

    • I'd love to upgrade my Geforce FX 5200/128M card,

      Id love it if mine worked. I had FreeBSD working on it for about 3 years, and last month I did a cvsup and portupgrade of xorg. Since then, I have been stuck in comamnd line mode!

      I will never buy anything from NVidia again unless they opensource their drivers, and I shall make damn sure that everyone who shares the data centre knows why.

      ATI Rage drivers for spark64 would be nice too, even if only in text mode!

      The fact is, this closed source stuff comp

  • by slashdot.org (321932) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:13PM (#19105629) Homepage Journal
    Last time I looked at the Intel driver source, there were a ton of calls into the video BIOS. Not something I would call an "Open Source" driver. This may have changed since then,- I really hope so.

    Why is it important to have more source you might ask. Well, for one thing it would be really nice if we can get rid of the video BIOS altogether. A full source driver which shows how to switch video modes is a very good start to accomplish this (although not necessarily enough).

    And then you might ask, why do we need to get rid of the video BIOS? Well, when evaluating graphics chips for an embedded systems, I found out that the video BIOS can spend an insanely long time initializing stuff and displaying stuff that we don't want/need (some like several seconds). In general, video BIOSs are over-engineered and do waaaay more than needed.

    If you are aiming to build a near-instant-on system, and/or something that doesn't look like a PC, you want this sort of flexibility. If AMD steps up to the plate, that would be awesome.
    • by Josh Triplett (874994) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:51PM (#19105915) Homepage

      Last time I looked at the Intel driver source, there were a ton of calls into the video BIOS. Not something I would call an "Open Source" driver. This may have changed since then,- I really hope so.

      Why is it important to have more source you might ask. Well, for one thing it would be really nice if we can get rid of the video BIOS altogether. A full source driver which shows how to switch video modes is a very good start to accomplish this (although not necessarily enough).


      Look into the new "modesetting" branch of the Intel driver, currently moving towards the default. It moves all the work of modesetting and other related hardware manipulation from the video BIOS into the driver, and avoids the video BIOS entirely. This does indeed give the benefits you describe in your post. Some of this modesetting code also moves toward sharing between drivers, to support modesetting for all Xorg video drivers. (Some of it consists of driver-independent code, such as dealing with funky monitors.)
  • Vague... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evilviper (135110) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @03:14PM (#19105631) Journal
    Anybody got any more details? They talk about the lack of a timeline, but "graphics drivers" is also vague, and could mean 2D, or just another small subset of features.

    I'm certainly not going to go out and start buying ATI cards until all the details are worked-out.
  • If there's licensed proprietary code in the drivers that ATI/nVidia doesn't own, it'd take a great deal of lawyers and possibly price hikes to make it possible. Just because something's closed source doesn't mean to say the only reason it's not open source is laziness or hatred of F/OSS...
  • This is turning out to be a good year for good news! It was only when I started thinking of things this is better than, that I realised we've also had the apparent collapse of DRM for music (it's not over yet, admittedly, but if you were around between 1987-1990 you may remember that from Glasnost to the collapse of the USSR was also a slow motion thing...), the apparent flop of Vista, the imminent failure of the whole Palladium/TCM foundation of Vista's treacherous computing, Dell shipping Ubuntu pre-insta
  • by Sits (117492) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @04:16PM (#19106085) Homepage Journal
    ATI Committed To Fixing Its OSS Problems [slashdot.org] was posted only a few days ago (that one came from Chris Blizzard's blog) and the cautious tone is backed up by other Red Hat summit reports [livejournal.com]. However, since we're here why don't we pick out the highlights (along with overlooked gems) from last time?

    Elsewhere on the web folks are wondering whether this means that the a new GPGPU will be accessible but the actual graphics driver itself will remain closed. AMD/ATI has also announced open source drivers before which translated into more stable and more frequently released Linux binary x86 drivers...
  • ATI has opened the driver because they realise it's now next to worthless anyway: The open source people have created something that just works better in every way (except maybe speed), and they did it just stabbing blindly at registers. Their in-house programmers have reams of documentation to work with, so they have no excuse whatsoever for being behind. They should be fired, after the suits that perpetuated the whole "we can't open the code" farce for a decade.

    nVidia doesn't get as much flak because they
  • NVidia can still come off okay too, if they start now. They don't have to risk their IP either. If they contribute money and/or access to older video cards, then they have fostered the development of Nouveau. If they give the team the resources to succeed without giving them access to the source code to the proprietary drivers, then they have fostered the reverse engineering without committing their own staff or risking lawsuit from revealing potentially infringing/stolen intellectual property.

    At the v

  • I always try to be fair and make exceptional recommendations and deals for the folks at work.

    A couple years ago I turned a CFO projected enterprise $8M deal into a $5.5M deal while getting hard-drives sizes doubled, RAM doubled, all CRTs swapped to same size LCDs ... upgrades, an additional 100 desktops (900 total), 35 HP Intel Servers, 20 SUN-Cisco nodes, and three Alcatel-Lucent Omnicore switches. Yep also the cable, patch-panels, wire-racks, transceivers, and all the other required hardware and software trinkets (let me think, was that Gates-Arrow, Ingram Micro, or CDW we made the deal with? Dang, I forget...). Total screw-ups were kept at less than 0.5% of cost which the vendor we went with resolved at no cost. Saved $2.5M ... had a ~$27K problem resolved for $0.

    Maybe next time I will look at the MB-graphic or cPCI cards and decide ATI is easier to support over the lifecycle requirement. It will have to prove a better business decision, but I will look, and if all is about equal well ATI will win my recommendation.

    I still have another year before I need to seriously start thinking again about big problems, but I won't forget to look at the ATI and NVidia lifecycle supportability issue. The recent distributed content management and storage network was set too a non-proprietary architecture for lifecycle compliance requirements ... scaleability and upgradeability as CFO/CIO infrastructure like to call it.

    I am seldom questioned ... when I make a recommendation %~$, most of the technophobes in management remain silent and just hope I screwup.
  • 1. Does ATi (and hence AMD) have the right to opensource all the code in their drivers? If they outsourced or otherwise bought code in - maybe not.
    2. What level of functionality will these drivers provide? I would point out that Matrox open sourced their drivers - but then squirreled away a number of the features in a binary HAL.
    3. Open source can mean a lot of things. If you're Microsoft, for instance, "open source" can mean "you can look but you can't touch".

    It's great AMD are saying this - and it's
  • by jabjoe (1042100) on Sunday May 13, 2007 @05:03PM (#19106465)
    I don't think everyone understands the argument here. There is a problem with closed source drivers. It's not just ideology. Closed source drivers means you can end up with no drivers for a device for your version of the kernel. Even if drivers for some different kernel version exists. A good example of this is old devices. If the manufacturer still exists, they probably don't care to do the work to update drivers for a device they no longer sell. Maybe there should be a device/kernel interface that stays the same for all time, but I think as a rule, people want the best interface possible, with open source drivers so devices can be kept up. You then of course get the advantage of open source so you can fix/work-round bugs (or improve it!).
  • I couldn't find anything that said which cards they were targeting here. Is it anything =Radeon 7500? =9200? All Radeons? How about FireGL's? Granted, I'll be happy if they release code for anything, but nothing's actually going to help me out unless it's code for newer cards since the computer I'm using has PCIe and not AGP.
  • Technically, even VESA drivers are also open source drivers for ATI cards. And that's provided that the announcement even means that they are going to be releasing open source drivers at all.

    So, the question is: what exatly are they going to be releasing?

    In general, I just wouldn't pay much attention to these announcements either way: it's open source once it's actually been released, no sooner.
  • by Nimey (114278)
    Assuming this happens...

    I wonder if Dell is a big driver behind this. Think about it: Dell's going to make Ubuntu an option in some of their computers. It will be cheaper for Dell to sell those models with only hardware that Linux supports well (lower support costs, fewer configurations to test), and it will also be cheaper to have the same hardware be on both Windows and Linux installs.

    Result: DAMIT cleans up their Linux drivers and they sell lots more hardware to Dell.

    Result: Win for us Linux weenies.

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