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Dell Asking ATI For Better Linux Drivers 291

Posted by kdawson
from the please-sir-can-i-have-a-little-more dept.
Open Source IT writes "According to a presentation at Ubuntu Live 2007, Dell is working on getting better ATI drivers for Linux for use in its Linux offerings. While it is not known whether the end product will end up as open source, with big businesses like Google and Dell now behind the push for better Linux graphics drivers, hopefully ATI will make the smart business decision and give customers what they want."
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Dell Asking ATI For Better Linux Drivers

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  • by andrewd18 (989408) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @11:58AM (#19997721)

    Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.
    Has there ever been anything to see in ATI's Linux drivers?
    • by shaitand (626655) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @11:59AM (#19997737) Journal
      'Has there ever been anything to see in ATI's Linux drivers?'

      Or more to the point, has there ever been anything you could see WITH ATI's Linux drivers?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Calyth (168525)
        Yeah, my hair, on the keyboard, freshly torn out of my scalp, whne I was trying to configure their bloody driver.

        I use to have a bit of respect when there was open source 3D accelerated drivers for some of the older Radeons, while nVidia had none, but right now, screw that. I just want the thing to work.
      • by deander2 (26173) *
        what's really ironic is back in the day (say mid 90s) ati was the ONLY option you had if you wanted X to work...
    • by AaronW (33736)
      The only thing I see is garbled text with xemacs, a garbled cursor when moving between screens with Xinerama, Google Earth failing to start without adding a hack, and general slowness with my screen saver running maybe one frame per second.

      Oh, I also see response emails from ATI that they don't support the Linux driver when I submit bugs using their bug submission package (which has all the support for selecting Linux).

      I curse the ATI graphics card where I work daily.
      • by ncc74656 (45571) *

        The only thing I see is garbled text with xemacs, a garbled cursor when moving between screens with Xinerama, Google Earth failing to start without adding a hack, and general slowness with my screen saver running maybe one frame per second.

        The only issues I've run across are sluggish compositing (ran into this when experimenting with a Mac OS X-lookalike [sourceforge.net] theme) and...hmm, I think that was it. While most of my computers are equipped with nVidia video, I have a workstation at work with a Radeon 9200 and a

    • As Henri Richard announced [slashdot.org] (some time ago...).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Disfnord (1077111)
        Uh, yeah, no. That blog is bullshit. He said they will work on better Linux support, and they've been saying that for years. He never said anything about open source drivers.
  • ATI Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:01PM (#19997779)
    I must be the only person on Earth who hasn't had much problems with ATI's Linux drivers. Them dropping support for anything older than the 9600 series sucks, but I have been Thrilled with with the Linux performance of my Mobility Radeon x1600. Easily bests my Geforce 6800.

    Beryl, XGL, Compiz, UT2003, Enemy Terrority, America's Army, all glass smooth and stable. I can run Beryl while playing high-def (1280p) x264 videos at the same time, too.

    Still, better is better, and ATI's drivers do have some problems entering/leaving the console.
    • Re:ATI Linux (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nimey (114278) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:10PM (#19997933) Homepage Journal
      How is parent a troll?

      I've gotten the ATI drivers to install on my old Athlon XP box (9600XT), and Beryl worked for a while, but then after an update it didn't anymore and it stopped accelerating 3D. Nvidia's drivers Just Work, and so did the Intel 3D accel on my old laptop with 830 chipset.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MrCoke (445461)
      Try the same thing on a dual-screen setup with Xinerama enabled.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Parent here.

        Can't say I ever tried Xinerama+beryl, but I have used multiple screen support. I don't use Dual Head often (use Dual Computer with Synergy instead), but when I do, I can drag playing video between the monitors in Linux without a problem.

        The real problem with ATI's Linux drivers is that they are rather picky about your xorg.conf. I use Kubuntu, and I had to manually rip my xorg.conf to pieces and back to get it to the state it is in now. I can pastebin it later if anyone wants it. IIRC, I had to
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``Them dropping support for anything older than the 9600 series sucks''

      Aren't thos supported by the open-source driver?
      • by Benanov (583592)
        Not really. The 9200's are supported, but that's it.

        Plus the 'open-source' 9200 driver is a rat's nest of firmware.

    • Re:ATI Linux (Score:4, Informative)

      by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stine@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:58PM (#19998793) Homepage
      I've got an X1600 that performs worse than the 9200 I used to have in here. Whenever I use ZSNES, MPlayer or any other programs that have a lot of motion for X to keep track of, the CPU usage for X goes off the charts. X barely keeps up when I'm watching a DVD! My system is getting old (Athlon XP 2400+, 1GB RAM), but this is ridiculous. I'm looking to buy a 9600XT and sell the piece of junk I have now. At least then I can use the free Xorg drivers rather than the crap ATI puts out.

      I've checked with several people who have no clue what the problem is. I'm running Debian testing with fglrx 8.38.6. Yes, DRI is enabled and running. glxgears gives me ~900FPS.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I had an X1900XTX in my pc, and just installing the drivers didn't even enable hardware opengl acceleration. Instead I had to manually edit xorg.conf to disable some other feature for it to enable. Movies decoded in the wrong colours. I had to manually switch gnome from aiglx to xgl to get beryl to run on it, and it then after a couple of minutes it frequently blacked out new windows (inc. menus) and frequently crashed.

      Dunno which ati drivers you were using. Fortunately I was only borrowing the card, and sw
    • Your experiences with ATI are rather atypical. I have a Radeon X1400 that's half the speed of a Geforce 6600 in 3D apps [dyndns.org], 114x times slower than a Geforce 6600 in 2D apps [cchtml.com] and 15x times slower than a Radeon 7500 with the open source drivers in 2D apps [cchtml.com].

  • GPL or nothing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Werrismys (764601) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:01PM (#19997787)
    Even if ATI released 100% working, fast drivers, they would be useless if they weren't OPEN and FREE.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by apathy maybe (922212)
      What if they were 2 clause BSD licensed? Would that be good enough for you?

      Though, I'm sure they would prefer to release it under something more like the GPL so that they can poach any changes back again (just like they are allowed too of course...).
    • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:08PM (#19997911)
      "Even if ATI released 100% working, fast drivers, they would be useless if they weren't OPEN and FREE"

      Totally. Unless, well... unless you want to some stuff that requires working, fast drivers. In that unlikely circumstance the drivers would be very useful.

      When it comes to closed systems like video cards and their drivers, I think only a fool would turn up his nose at a binary simply because it doesn't come with source code. They should, of course, provide it for any GPL'd libraries they use.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I think only a fool would turn up his nose at a binary simply because it doesn't come with source code.

        Nice attempt to dismiss arguments using invective. Perhaps you should read what Theo de Raadt has to say about the security implications of binary blobs.

        When it comes to Theo, you might think he's an asshole, but if that's the case, then he's an assole who knows his shit.
        • by Curien (267780)
          I'll remember not to install close-source 3D-acceleration drivers on my servers. Thanks for the hint.
        • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:49PM (#19998625)
          "Nice attempt to dismiss arguments using invective."

          Actually I didn't notice I had done so. My apologies.

          In my defense it slipped out because "fool" seemed like a description rather than an insult. People who need security above performance can use existing open drivers. Slow, but secure. People who require performance are more likely to be gamers or artists - but probably gamers. For them using a binary from a manufacturer is probably not verboten, or even a bad idea.

          And somewhere in the middle is the guy who wants performance, hates binaries, and has to choose between his technology-based morality and his desire to make use of his fancy new hardware.

          And dismissing a binary simply because it's a binary, without even considering where the best option lies, seems like a fool to me.
          • Good heavens! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Petersko (564140) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:52PM (#19998685)
            "And dismissing a binary simply because it's a binary, without even considering where the best option lies, seems like a fool to me."

            My english done gone busted itself all up inside.
          • by twilight30 (84644)
            Agreed.

            Sooner or later I just want the damn thing to work. The point the reply poster makes concerning security as per De Raadt is a valid one, but the other reply about being able to recompile and tune doesn't apply as easily with Nvidia drivers (hell, I recompiled them just last night with a 2.6.22.1 kernel).

            Now if I can get Nvidia and Hauppauge working together properly, I'll be a happy man...

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by richlv (778496)

            And somewhere in the middle is the guy who wants performance, hates binaries, and has to choose between his technology-based morality and his desire to make use of his fancy new hardware.

            hey. sounds like me ;)
            but to be more precise, i don't hate binaries, i hate problems that come with closed source software - which is mostly drivers these days.

            i am using nvidia driver on my box, but a complete opensource driver would be very nice. actually, i wouldn't have any problems moving to ati (that i dislike and avo

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by somersault (912633)
          Yeah, nobody should EVER use a binary that they haven't written from scratch themself - they should start off writing up an assembler in binary, then write a decent c compiler in assembly. Then, they should write all their own libraries, and they can start on writing their own OS (or at least thoroughly inspect every single line of source in the OS that they are choosing to compile). In fact, that's not acceptable.. they should really design their own computer first to avoid the security implications of usi
      • When it comes to closed systems like video cards and their drivers, I think only a fool would turn up his nose at a binary simply because it doesn't come with source code.

        Haven't learned our lesson regarding security or portability have we?

        Popular binary drivers had some unresolved, severe exploits and couldn't be bothered to address them for about two years [rapid7.com]. That's just an anecdote, but illustrates that the problem is real and not just theoretical. Anecdotes aside, there are inherent problems with binary-only drivers (or binary-only anything). For the obtuse, the interview with Theo de Raadt [kerneltrap.org] interview with Jonathan Gray and Damien Bergamini [kerneltrap.org] go into more details.

    • by i_love_unix (1123543) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:13PM (#19997977)
      If the drivers do what I want them to do (i.e. not suck), I will use them, GPL or no GPL.
    • Re:GPL or nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:15PM (#19998021)
      While I don't agree with the "GPL or nothing" position on the level of principles, I often wonder why hardware vendors keep their source closed. It's not like a driver is of any value without the hardware and quality open source drivers would boost hardware sales. Maybe just a little, but still.
      Just publish the source to whatever you have and see what the community makes of it. How could it possibly hurt?
      • Re:GPL or nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

        by RGRistroph (86936) <rgristroph@gmail.com> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:34PM (#19998363) Homepage
        Often, not as much is done in the hardware as is advertised. I have been told that examination of some modern graphics drivers reveals them to be very good implementions IN SOFTWARE of graphics libraries. If those companies were to release the source, their competitors drivers would gain in ability, and projects such as OpenGL might suddenly become a lot better.

        Essentially, it is partly the case that graphics cards are hardware dongles for graphics libraries (drivers).

        I would be nice if ATI released open source drivers, both for Linux and for Windows. However, none of the big graphics card manufacturers are likely to do that unless they believe that their own card can compete on a pure hardware basis alone. The fact that they don't do it, is evidence that these overpriced 3D watt-burning powerhogs aren't really all they are hyped up to be.
        • If this is true, that there is some secret sauce in the drivers that make the card run sweet, then they should remain closed.

          At least, according to ESR's point of view (as espoused in 'The Cathedral and the Bazaar'.

          He outlined several reason why a company _shouldn't_ open source its code. I can't recall them all in detail. But, if the value of those secret bits are sufficiently high, then ATI benefits more from closed source than open source.
          • by RGRistroph (86936)
            I don't believe it is ESR's position that you should write Free code except when you can make a lot more money by writing un-Free code. He's a bit more of a capitalist and right-winger, but he's the kind of right-winger to whom Freedom is important.

            ATI used to produce a full spec for their cards. We should encourage them to return to that practice, because then we will have better computers. It's that simple.

            If they instead want to produce hardware dongles for proprietary code, given what we know about h
        • by Rakishi (759894)

          The fact that they don't do it, is evidence that these overpriced 3D watt-burning powerhogs aren't really all they are hyped up to be.
          No it shows that some things can be done more cheaply in software than in hardware especially on something as complex as a modern video card. It's as a simple as that. It's like saying that the OS should be hard coded into the CPU as otherwise the CPU is worthless.
          • by RGRistroph (86936)
            I don't know if it is better done in software or not, but it is plausible to me that it might be.

            If which case, why are we paying so much for a video card ? Why don't we write a very good version of Mesa3D or something, so we can run $30 SiS cards and get the same performance as the $300 cards ?

            Either way, whether the value is in the card or in the software, hiding things is not in the benefit of the consumer or the computer industry in general. If the hardware cards really are that good, let's see a full
      • If the software violates a software patent, it is unknown until the source is seen. Given the amount of time it takes to search for software patents, it's extremely reasonable for commercial entities to hide their source code.
      • by DrXym (126579)
        That depends if the source code contains trade secrets, licenced 3rd party software, code shared with other platforms, patent pending code, or simply because NVidia / ATI don't feel like showing their source code off when they're in such cutthroat competition with each other.

        I think it's totally unrealistic for an open source proponents to expect / demand source code from a vendor who has their own reasons for keeping their code hidden.

        I think a far more realistic and pragmatic approach would be for dis

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mark-t (151149)

        The problem with giving away driver source code is that it inhibit a company from being able to recover its research and development costs effectively because of the likelihood of somebody else figuring out the hardware interface specs from the driver and reverse engineering a compatible product for a fraction of the cost (because figuring out a way to do something that somebody else has already done is a lot easier than inventing the idea in the first place), and it would price the first company's product

        • by schwaang (667808)
          You're saying that the Chinese (e.g.) couldn't disassemble a binary driver, and that's the only thing holding them back from developing a cheaper graphics card clone? I don't buy it at all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kjella (173770)
        Look, there are two types of hardware which I think could easily be released as open-source, for different reasons.
        1) Everything in hardware, "stupid" interface with a trivial driver. Basicly any card that does all the interesting bits in hardware. There's essentially nothing to do and could easily be maintained by the OSS community.
        2) Everything in software, "stupid" interface which relies almost entirely on the driver, release specs so others can try to emulate what the driver does, e.g. software RAID. Ba
      • by jimicus (737525)
        Well, I can only speculate, but hardware companies frequently are lousy at software. There's a strong chance that some of the driver was outsourced, and they don't have the rights to open source it.

        But that doesn't explain keeping the specifications closed. IME, that's a sign that the hardware is actually pretty sucky and it's only through minor miracles in the software that it works at all.
    • Even if ATI released 100% working, fast drivers, they would be useless if they weren't OPEN and FREE.

      You people are all crazy about GPL/Open Source. "VIVA OPEN SOURCE WE WANT SOURCE CODES!". Seriously, how many *nix users contribute to OSS projects? How many contribute code? I bet a good bunch of people contribute because I've seen projects that have died and have been picked up by other developers to keep some applications alive so I won't deny the existence of contributors.

      What I will say is that I would
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MrCoke (445461)
        A few possible advantages of GPL drivers:

        - more stability
        - AIX support
        - proper Xinerama support
        - hardware end-of-life cycle when the user decides it, not when ATI decides it

        I'm sure you can find a few on your own.
      • Sure, most linux users won't touch a line of source code. The benefit comes from being able to re-compile the binaries to work optimally with your own system.

        Would you buy a car that had it's hood locked shut so that only authorized dealerships could open it?
        • by e2d2 (115622)
          Would you buy a car that had it's hood locked shut so that only authorized dealerships could open it?

          If the alternative was walking? Yes I'd buy it.
          • I don't get your analogy. Are you suggesting there aren't any open-source alternatives?
            • by Rakishi (759894)
              Well if I had to choose between a closed hood car and a yugo (or moped or bike if you want to be nice) I'd choose the former. Open source drivers exist but their performance is apparently not that good.
            • by e2d2 (115622)
              I may be talking out my ass here but last time I checked I couldn't find any open source drivers for my ATI x1400 mobility. I ended up using the proprietary drivers for Linux. If anyone knows of an OSS alternative please post it.

              Now if you mean at a higher level regarding my overall approach to OSS - hell yes. I'll take open source over proprietary any day. I really meant in this specific case, with ATI drivers, there isn't an alternative beyond basic vesa support (AFAIK, again I could be talking out my ass
        • Well, most people are putting up with a car with a locked hood seeing how Windows remains the dominating OS for the desktops at home and the workplace so how is that worse than having the same people put up with a car that has an open hood (Linux distro) with a locked compartment (video drivers)? Sounds already better doesn't it?

          When the situation is that a game performs better on Linux than Windows using proprietary drivers from the same company and I'm talking about Nvidia, surely somewhere that company h
        • by edwdig (47888)
          Would you buy a car that had it's hood locked shut so that only authorized dealerships could open it?

          No I wouldn't, but I also wouldn't insist the dealer give me the specifications so that I could make my own identical engine from scratch.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Maxo-Texas (864189)
      Another faulty mod at slashdot...

      Your opinion is that only open free code is of value.

      However, in the real world, a lot of things won't get done unless someone is compensated in some way.

      Over 45 years, I've seen that most people who declare things should be free do not contribute a bit of their time to help things be free. They want to be compensated for their time but they want to get everything free.

      Given a choice between no driver and a closed driver that works and is installed as a binary object, I hav
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PalmKiller (174161)
      I would use them, as would most any other linux desktop user. Heck I have used the closed source nvidia drivers and it didn't make me ill or nothing (but lsmod did say my kernel was tainted as I recall...oooo I said, tha 'taint good at all...but at least I got good resolution on the desktop).
    • by e2d2 (115622)
      Speak for yourself mate, I run Ubuntu on a dell laptop with an ATI video card, I'd like some native driver support regardless of license. As my mother always said - beggars can't be choosers.

    • by twilight30 (84644)
      Like Nvidia?
    • by jZnat (793348) *
      I think they'd be useless until they were released under the X11 license like the rest of X.org is. It'd be nice if other platforms other than Linux can benefit from proper drivers for ATI cards as well.
    • by DrXym (126579)
      Even if ATI released 100% working, fast drivers, they would be useless if they weren't OPEN and FREE.

      And how do you come to that conclusion? Personally I really could not care less if my drivers were open or closed just as long as they exist. Open might be preferable, but closed is just fine by me.

      And I expect the same holds for a great many people who expect decent graphics performance out of Linux but don't want to wait the month of sunday's for either NVidia and/or ATI to consider their IP no longer

  • by Bullfish (858648) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:05PM (#19997841)
    If you consider that AMD owns ATI and that AMD needs (considering how they have been hemorrhaging money) Dell to buy their CPUs, Dell just may be able to get what the Linux community has been asking wanted for quite a while.

    While Dell doesn't have a lot of fans on Slashdot, they may also be able to get a lot more hardware supported as well.

    Strange bedfellows, but...
    • by jd (1658)
      AMD also needs the One Laptop project to buy chips - they're potentially a gigantic customer, far bigger than any domestic slice of the pie Dell might have - and OLPC is also Open Source. I don't know exactly what graphics OLPC uses in the current version for graphics, but you can bet your left sock that AMD is going to want to supply as large a fraction of the components as possible.

      Dell doesn't have fans on Slashdot, but I doubt they're doing that badly in Slashdot League Division 1, and they seem to be

      • by rbanffy (584143)
        From http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Hardware_specification [laptop.org]:

        Beta Test 3 Systems (BTest-3, or B3)

        This build, scheduled for May 2007, is the first to use an updated design for the laptop. Noticeable improvements over BTest-2 include:

        * A faster, lower power processor: the Geode LX-700
        o 64 KB I/64 KB D of L1 Cache, 128 KB of L2 Cache (vs. 32 KB of L1 cache)
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:23PM (#19998151) Homepage

      My immediate thought when I read the headline was, "And this is the answer to all those people who asked, 'Why should I care if Dell sells computers with Ubuntu?"

      I remember when that story broke, and loads of people were saying, "I use Linux, but I'm not going to buy a Dell," or "Well I don't use Ubuntu, I use [insert distro here], so this doesn't help me!"

      • by nahdude812 (88157) *
        Absolutely, this is a major player in this market, with a lot of buying power and therefore a lot of weight to throw around. It would just be incredibly costly now for AMD to not improve the quality of their Linux drivers!
      • by zCyl (14362)

        I remember when that story broke, and loads of people were saying, "I use Linux, but I'm not going to buy a Dell,"

        Personally, I swore off Dell laptops a long time ago. But their support of Linux is what has changed my mind. For my next laptop purchase I intend to seriously consider Dell. Having the hardware pre-tested and known to function is a nice advantage which can save a lot of time in the buying process (and potentially even more time during the installation process if I don't have to fuss with tri

  • Man, I hope this shows up. ATI Drivers for my x700 mobility in my laptop are one of the final problems I have with Linux. I use it at home a lot, but there just doesn't seem to be a reliable way of getting 3D graphics working with this chipset. So, I'm still dual-booting on my laptop. It's a pain, as honestly I'd rather go full linux.

    For those wondering, I'm using Ubuntu on a Acer Travelmate 4400, and yes, I've one through EVERY walkthrough for 3d Graphics. Everything else works. Graphics, wireless in
  • by Billosaur (927319) *

    Not much to the article. I mean it's a given that Dell would want better drivers -- no one's going to buy a PC that they can't hook up to their favorite monitor and use right out of the box.

  • by jshriverWVU (810740) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:06PM (#19997873)
    here [amd.com] just a couple days ago. Not sure how much better they are, but they are making some efforts.
    • Most of their recent releases will either fix/patch bugs, support newer cards, break previous features or increase/decrease performance -- including this one. For example, version 8.31.5 broke suspend [thinkwiki.org] and cpu usage for video has increased in recent versions [livejournal.com]. Support for AIGLX still hasn't been included.

      I really hope this pushes ATI to push feature development and improve their QA on the drivers so that performance and features are maintained between releases.
      • by stinerman (812158)
        Yeah, I still haven't figured that one out yet. I'm ready to just sell the damn thing and get something with an R3xx core.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        ATI has completely dropped support for the Radeon Mobility in my T40 Thinkpad. It sucks, I don't need to play the latest 3d games but I would like to use google earth and a few other OpenGL apps. And since the drivers only work with certain versions of X, I can't use an old driver unless I want to set my whole system back to RHEL3 or something like that.
        • by DF5JT (589002)
          > ATI has completely dropped support for the Radeon Mobility in my T40 Thinkpad.

          So what? The Radeon Mobility with an R250 core is perfectly supported by the original xorg-driver "Radeon", including 3D accelaration. My old R51 with an Radeon 9200 could do GoogleEarth and Quake3 without problems.

          However, my new laptop took me weeks to find, because I have sworn to NEVER again use any notebook with an ATI-card - and Thinkpads use these in most of their models. Finally found an SXGA+ T60 with Intel Chip.

          No m
  • by tji (74570) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:13PM (#19997987)
    Why does the never ending cycle of

        ATI Needs to produce better Linux drivers --> ATI announces they really like Linux --> ATI never produces drivers

    keep exciting everyone enough to cause this constant hand wringing?

    They are not going to ever really support Linux well. If that's not clear after 12 years of the above cycle, then you haven't been paying attention. Move on.. Get a board with an Intel integrated GPU if you want totally open. Get an Nvidia card if you don't care about open, but want working accelerated drivers.

    If ATI does somehow produce open specs or drivers, great.. think about buying one then. In the mean time, vote with your dollars, buy something else.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't ATI the graphics company that used to provide specs for their cards? Now that is the real way to get your cards supported (much better than providing drivers for a few platforms). While I can't comment on the current ATI driver situation (I've never had problems with ATI cards, but I currently have only Intel and nVidia), the picture of a company that has forever paid lip service to Linux without ever delivering doesn't seem fair to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GeckoX (259575)
      Because this time it's a big gorilla throwing their weight around, and thus it just might be enough to persuade ATI to actually produce for once. ATI has always seen Linux support as something that wouldn't make them any money...but DELL certainly DOES make them money.

      If anyone can get ATI to pony up working drivers for linux, it's DELL.

      However, I'm still waiting for the fat lady to sing on this one ;)
    • by TopSpin (753) * on Thursday July 26, 2007 @01:03PM (#19998885) Journal

      They are not going to ever really support Linux well.
      If you are AMD/ATI and the 800 lb gorilla of PeeCees sends you a memo, you read it and take steps or you answer to The Board because one wrong word from those people and your Ass is Grass. ATI is under new management and now Dell has a Linux agenda. Have a little faith. Things can change. Companies like HP (particularly on the server side,) Oracle and now Dell have been and will continue to end Linux indifference among hardware manufacturers.

      It's working. It's not fast and good karma isn't the motivation, but it IS working.

    • ATI does produce drivers. The problem is, they don't release the source code so we can fix them and make them work without exposing ourselves to certain draconian laws.

    • by GauteL (29207)
      "They are not going to ever really support Linux well. If that's not clear after 12 years of the above cycle, then you haven't been paying attention."

      Normally I would agree, but you might be interested to hear that ATI has new owners [amd.com] and it is possible that these new owners will enforce a change in policy.

      Now, even if such a change in policy is shouted from every rooftop I wouldn't recommend that any Linux user buys ATI/AMD graphics products until there is actual working drivers for them, but it isn't fair
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:20PM (#19998083)
    M$ DRM and DX is what is keeping good open drivers away from linux. Intel did open there but there hardware at the time was real bad next to ATI and NVIDIA and they had very little to lose as at the time 3D game play was very slow on Intel GMA video.
  • follow the leader (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ianare (1132971)
    I think we will eventually see open drivers from amd/ati, after all Intel has open-sourced theirs, so AMD will want to as well. Anything to get their hardware selling I would think. Especially for the server market, where AMD is doing (relatively) well, and the video hardware isn't bleeding edge (I know there are some open reversed-engineered drivers, but it would be nice to have some official ones).

    When it comes down to it, as the underdog, AMD has the most to gain, and the least to lose, by open-sourci
  • by Tihstae (86842) <Tihstae@gmail.com> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:33PM (#19998337) Homepage
    ATI is going to write better Linux drivers. How many times have we heard this? What you have to realize is ATI can't write drivers period. Their Windows drivers are the biggest piece of crap on the planet. Yes, they may be better than their Linux drivers but they are still not good. ATI needs people to write drivers for their hardware.
  • Perhaps part of the issue is that open source drivers could be written to do anything.
    Various legal restrictions currently require that hardware does less than it is capable of.
    With open drivers, the hardware could do everything- even if it broke the law.

    I have a music player-- it won't let me copy songs off it to the hard drive.
    OTH, if i take out the memory card and put it in a card reader, I can copy the songs off.

    So the restriction on the music player is really stupid. But they did it anyway. Probably
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ianare (1132971)
      For wi-fi, yes, there are legal restrictions set forth by the FCC which prevent a device from operating at a certain frequency. This is controlled by firmware/drivers, so that the same hardware can be used in different countries with different legal requirements. For music and video, they are not legal restrictions, only the greed of the entertainment industry forcing hardware vendors to lock down their devices to prohibit fair use (under the pretense of combating piracy).
  • Use nVidia. They make a better product, have better support and happier customers. This is especially true for linux users, but I find it true in general.
  • I really don't care if the drivers are closed-source as long as the company updates them and responds to bug reports. I hate to see politics creep into Ubuntu where I have to explicitly enable NVidia drivers, that makes it more trouble for me to use the drivers than it should.
  • by Odinson (4523) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @01:06PM (#19998923) Homepage Journal
    I bought a 1650 in early May. 3D has never funtioned in Linux. Just crashes the machine. Many distro, hardware combo's tried. Works fine in Windows. $50 + shipping takes it. $150 retail.

    Yea ATI's drivers are great....

    BTW I'll give it to any developer making a serious effort to write open source drivers. I'll even pay shipping.

  • A company the size of Dell finally made a request for improved Linux drivers.

    Should have seen it coming though when Dell started bundling Ubuntu with their systems. Since they have an outstanding contract with ATI/AMD, it's only good business sense to request improved drivers.

    Any takers that Dell will be making the request that ATI improve their technical support for at least Ubuntu?
  • The discussions regarding GPL and open-source drivers are irrelevant to the point Dell (and ATI+Linux users over the years) have been trying to make. There's more to making drivers work in linux than opening up the source code.

    The more a piece of software makes use of a certain OS's API and specific device control structure, the harder it is to make it portable. Everything to do with how the software interacts with the operating system, and optimizations made therein, have to be re-written, and linux has
  • and they have a hard time catching up. Maybe they will finally "get it" and release the specs. I think the Open Source Windows drivers will also be a favourite for their stability and lack of bugs. Game developers could also check much better what went wrong and will send in bug reports. Open Specs would help Ati in the Windows market as well.
  • Why has ATI struggled with driver development for as long as I can remember. I'm curious why they've never been able to hire better developers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JustNiz (692889)
      because ATI management are too stupid to think bigger than cutting quality to save costs.
      • by nelsonal (549144)
        That sure seems to be the case, I could understand if it was a first round of products, but it's been pretty obvious since 2001 or 2002 that their drivers have been enough of a detrement to performance (and sometimes operation) that customers are choosing competitors' products.
  • Good one! (Score:4, Funny)

    by PingXao (153057) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @05:24PM (#20002779)
    15 years ago some of us were asking ATI for OS/2 Warp drivers. *rim shot*

    It would be poetic justice if ATI put Dell on hold for an hour every time they called to check in on those drivers. Then transferred them to 3 different parties before cutting them off.

    In fact, if ATI promises to do that I will forgive them for the OS/2 lies and bogus promises they made.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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