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Microsoft Bug Operating Systems Software Windows

NVIDIA's Drivers Caused 28.8% Of Vista Crashes In 2007 344

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-wasn't-me-it-was-the-one-armed-driver dept.
PaisteUser tips us to an Ars Technica report discussing how 28.8% of Vista's crashes over a period in 2007 were due to faulty NVIDIA drivers. The information comes out of the 158 pages of Microsoft emails that were handed over at the request of a judge in the Vista-capable lawsuit. NVIDIA has already faced a class-action lawsuit over the drivers. From Ars Technica: "NVIDIA had significant problems when it came time to transition its shiny, new G80 architecture from Windows XP to Windows Vista. The company's first G80-compatible Vista driver ended up being delayed from December to the end of January, and even then was available only as a beta download. In this case, full compatibility and stability did not come quickly, and the Internet is scattered with reports detailing graphics driver issues when using G80 processors for the entirely of 2007. There was always a question, however, of whether or not the problems were really that bad, or if reporting bias was painting a more negative picture of the current situation than what was actually occurring."
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NVIDIA's Drivers Caused 28.8% Of Vista Crashes In 2007

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  • by Homer's Donuts (838704) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:18AM (#22892258)
    Just sayin
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheMadTopher (1020341)
      >Time to open up those drivers NVIDIA Is there a tag for wishful thinking?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ThirdPrize (938147)
      Yes, because we could do so much better than the NVIDIA engineers who designed the chips could.
      • by a_nonamiss (743253) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:11AM (#22893240)
        Let's see... 1,000,000 knowledgeable geeks vs a couple dozen at nVidia... Yeah, I'd say we could.

        They might have more direct knowledge of the hardware, but there is strength in numbers.
      • by pragma_x (644215) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:39AM (#22893506) Journal
        Well, consider the fact that without reliable drivers, it doesn't matter how good their chips are. Shipping a video card with bad drivers that are difficult to fix/upgrade/replace is as bad, if not worse, than shipping sub-standard hardware with good drivers.

        I prefer to look at it this way: The good folks at NVIDIA obviously aren't doing a perfect job, so why can't they enlist some (free) help? With the proper specifications in hand*, anything is possible. So I dare to say "yes", a thousand geeks with free time to burn can certainly do better.

        As for the OP's crack about opening the drivers themselves, NVIDIA needs a massive reality check: they're in the *hardware* business - the drivers just make their cards more marketable. And given that those drivers are known to be a major PITA on some environments (Linux and now Vista), it certainly isn't helping their position.

        (* Yea, they probably want to guard this with an iron-clad NDA and know all your PII before you sign it. I've always found this to be sparse logic at best since we're just talking about stuff that can be reverse engineered for one, and two, all a developer needs is what bits to set and when; it's not like that crap is necessarily a company's bread-and-butter. )

        </rant>
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by makomk (752139)
          Amusingly, the difficult bit apparently isn't the 3D acceleration; that was reverse engineered relatively easily early on. Instead, it's stuff like modesetting, and worse setting up the correct voltages and clock speeds for the memory and graphics chips - stuff that's not exactly bleeding-edge or worth keeping secret. (There is a sort-of open source 2D driver, nv, but it's written in an obfuscated way and relies on the BIOS for a lot of stuff.) Nouveau does modesetting on most hardware, but it leaves the vo
  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:18AM (#22892260) Homepage Journal
    I really hope there's some way I can use those same drivers under linux!

    Oh....wait.
  • Not surprised (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JamesRose (1062530)
    The linux drivers for nvidia suck too, nvidia clearly take a long time to get up to speed on new operating systems, it's one reason I no longer use them. Having said that, they're pretty damn solid, so its most likely becuase vistas so mucked up when it comes to drivers.
    • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:31AM (#22892366) Homepage Journal

      The linux drivers for nvidia suck too, nvidia clearly take a long time to get up to speed on new operating systems, it's one reason I no longer use them. Having said that, they're pretty damn solid, so its most likely becuase vistas so mucked up when it comes to drivers.
      Well, from my experience (not trolling), but they historically have sucked somewhat less than the ATI drivers, which have been known to cause freezes when switching to a console, etc., due to bugs in the driver, firmware, AMD processors (ironically enough), various chipsets and all sorts of things.

      The problem is that in the race to produce the biggest, baddest, fastest, video cards for gamers, ATI/AMD and NVIDIA have often overlooked stability for performance. I don't know about you, but I'd gladly trade off a couple of FPS for a card that was rock solid stable.
      • Re:Not surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:06AM (#22892620) Homepage
        Which is why on my Linux box, I prefer having an Intel video card. I don't do much (if any) gaming on it, so graphics don't really matter too much to me. So I would rather have something that was really stable over something that got me 400 FPS (when the refresh rate is only 60-100 Hz).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by geekoid (135745)
          Thats fine, then it's not about your use.

          Your comment regard FPS shows a little bit of ignorance on why have a high MAX FPS is important.

          When you have 60 people with effects going off all over the place, that 400FPS suddenly becomes 60FPS, which is what you want. 30FPS looks a little choppy, an effect from page flipping.

          For the record, I haven't had stability problems with nVidia for over 10 years.

          As for this report, lets not forget MS didn't give final specs to many companies until they were very close to
      • by dnoyeb (547705)
        Its more likely that the race for cheapness causes them to overload their software engineers because they don't hire enough.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Pyrophor (1255862)

        but they historically have sucked somewhat less than the ATI drivers
        LINUX + ATI + Dual Display = BAD! The 169 series NVIDIA drivers are junk for all operating systems. LINUX + NVIDIA (100.14.19 driver) + Dual display = YAY! // A round of applause everyone -- I used the Preview button!
        • I'm running the 169 series on Ubuntu Gutsy and I haven't had many problems. Sure, every once in a while (maybe every couple of weeks) X will crash (but not the whole OS). That's happened since I started using the nVidia drivers. Other than that, they've worked great for me. I mostly wanted 3D acceleration so I could use Google Earth and possibly experiment with compiz at some point (which I still haven't). Maybe if I was running compiz on my desktop I'd see more frequent problems.
          • by gallwapa (909389) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:54AM (#22893680) Homepage
            So let me get this straight: When X Crashes you lose your current session, right? Which means that OOo document you were working on just went "poof" - your media player shuts down, along with all your other apps that launch within the context of the X session.

            Now, your uber OS may have stayed "on" in that it could reload all that crap without having to spend 20 seconds rebooting, but for all intents and purposes from a user perspective, your whole OS just freaking crashed.
      • Re:Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrNemesis (587188) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:01AM (#22893144) Homepage Journal
        Someone has already pointed out that if you want a rock-solid stable video card under Linux, buy a board with an Intel G965 or G33/35 chipset, so I won't make that argument (although I will say the drivers aren't completely rock solid and lack many of the options I'm used to with the nVidia driver, like OGL vsync to stop "tearing" when I play full screen video).

        However, I will say that ATI's Linux drivers have come on leaps and bounds since AMD took the helm. They're still sucky, but they now only about twice as sucky as nVidia, as opposed to the binary equivalent of disemboweling yourself with a grapefruit spoon. The fact that, thanks to AMD publishing the specs for the silicon, a fully OSS, clean room, accelerated driver is now possible is also a colossal boon, and I suspect that within a few months the RadeonHD driver will be featureful and stable enough to be more than adequate for most people, once the distros start picking up on it.

        Then, of course, it'd be nice if someone could write a way of accelerating video so that all us Linux users without eleventy billion jiggahurtz processors could play back 1080p H.264...
    • The linux drivers for nvidia suck too

      Really? I haven't had the same experience. I was very impressed last week as I plugged my box into my HDTV. As X booted (which was configured for the wrong resolution of my normal monitor) the NVidia logo splashed on my screen, spun around for a second and then X loaded at the perfect 1920x1080 resolution.

      I've never seen any driver for Linux adjust the resolution on the fly, I've always had to change values around in Xorg.conf, but NVidia did it.

      • by CmdrGravy (645153)
        Same here, I built a little media centre thing last week with MythTV. I was expecting to have enormous trouble configuring X for the TV - to the extent where I had spent a while setting up dual screen, lugging a monitor down to near the TV to trouble shoot, scanning the web for mode line info about the TV etc. As it turned out I plugged in the HDMI cable, restarted X and it configured its self perfectly. Nvidia had detected it was a Panasonic LCD and got everything it needed to make it work.

        I was very impre
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Yeah, I remember getting Linux to work on my brother's analog TV under Linux. Editing modelines to get it to look correct. Lots of fun there. Linux certainly has come a long way.
          • by plague3106 (71849)
            Indeed, especially since I never had to edit mode lines with Windows. That was one of those things i could never figure out; what too X so long to get that fucking feature in there.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by mikael (484)
            I used to dread that double blue arrow icon on package-updater. It used to mean a good hour or two of searching, downloading, compiling Nvidia driver files (those NVIDIA*.run files) and editing /etc/X11/xorg.conf to get the driver working. Always having to change the module name "nv" to "nvidia", and making sure the screen resolutions were there.

            At least now there is a installable kernel module which eliminates the hassle now.

            Now upgrading from one release to another is just a matter of ensuring that every
        • I only wish it had worked that well for me. I did something very similar - MythTV machine (AMD64, dual-core) connected to LCD TV via HDMI. Huge pain in the ass to get working. I ended up having to dig deep into the nVidia documentation to find the various override switches to tell the card/driver that, yes, really, you can send a 1080p signal to this device, honest, I swear! Once I got it working it was a dream, but I spent at least two days dicking with it.
      • Agreed. It is now 2008 and the only way I've ever been able to easily have the resolution changed on the fly and easily add multiple monitors in linux was with nvidia drivers. It's ok though cause I have these really cool cubes that flip and rotate, wobbly windows, and all sorts of other useless crap that will keep me entertained so I forget about actual functionality. Weeee look at the cube spin...spin cube!!! spin!!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by boteeka (970303)

        I've never seen any driver for Linux adjust the resolution on the fly

        This is because it is not the driver who changes the resolution. It is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XRandR [wikipedia.org] who does the magic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by digitig (1056110)
      And the NVIDIA XP drivers -- 100% of the crashes of my system (one every couple of days) are down to the NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT drivers, even though I've cut the settings down to their most basic. Well, at least now I know for next time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dc29A (636871) *

      The linux drivers for nvidia suck too, nvidia clearly take a long time to get up to speed on new operating systems, it's one reason I no longer use them. Having said that, they're pretty damn solid, so its most likely becuase vistas so mucked up when it comes to drivers.
      I got a fanless NVidia 7600GS, installed the restricted drivers for it (maybe even updated it, don't rememer). No problems at all. Runs my dual monitor setup *WAY* better than my Win 2k3 machine.

      YMMW!
  • For a hardware manufacturer to build h/w for the Windows PC? Is there some SDK or some specified method by which the co. can write device drivers? Or is it done by guesswork and hacking, and paying Microsoft for the honour?

    I'm seriously puzzled why and how device drivers can cause such major issues in Windows but seldom in Linux (identical hardware, mind).
    • by vbraga (228124) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:26AM (#22892326) Journal
      You can download Windows DDK (Driver Development Kit) for free. It's pretty good but doesn't play nice with Visual Studio IDE.

      You must pay for testing and signing your drivers, I think.
      • by jkrise (535370)
        Presumably then, NVidia used the DDK to build its drivers... which begs the question again; are these crashes to be blamed on NVidia or Microsoft again for releasing crappy DDKs?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bert64 (520050)
      Drivers in the kernel tend to work really well... As do the default open source drivers present in Xorg...
      Nvidia drivers cause crashes occasionally, but ATI's drivers are really terrible and cause all kinds of problems.
      It seems primarily to be closed source components that cause problems on linux, i used to have big stability problems with netscape (consuming all my ram and lagging the rest of the machine) and issues with vmware (not so much crashes, more leaving the keyboard in an unusable state).
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by jjrockman (802957) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:20AM (#22892270) Homepage
    What about the other 62.2%? ATI. ;)
    • Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:24AM (#22892306)
      ATI was 9%
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Pranadevil2k (687232)
      You don't think it's more likely that the other 62% were just... caused by Vista?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gigne (990887) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:29AM (#22892348) Homepage Journal
      I know you say that in jest, but the article states that ATI have 9.3% of the problems. It stands to reason that it is representative of their market share.

      The part that seems to have been missed is the fact that Microsoft had 17.9% of the crashes related to their own drivers. IMO this is much more significant and interesting than Nvidia beta drivers crashing and should be the real news here.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Patoski (121455) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:56AM (#22892554) Homepage Journal

        I know you say that in jest, but the article states that ATI have 9.3% of the problems. It stands to reason that it is representative of their market share.
        This was a little surprising to me as well, but ATI had about 20% of the market during 2007.

        GPU Market Share
        =================
        Intel 37.6%
        Nvidia 32.6%
        AMD 19.5%

        Source: http://www.news.com/8301-13579_3-9752280-37.html [news.com]

        It would seem that AMD has managed to turn around their driver's stability and it is better than nVidia's, who apparently has a pretty poor record at the moment.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mdarksbane (587589)
          Now if only they could make their XP drivers suck less.

          They may be more stable to the user, but in terms of actually programming for them.. yikes. You look at them funny and you lose your whole opengl context or start running a 1 frame/hour. Nvidia's drivers are much more likely to either a) work or b) tell you why they didn't.
      • by jtshaw (398319)
        I couldn't agree more. It is somewhat understandable that a 3rd party would have trouble with drivers, it is well less to stomach when the Creator has those problems.

        That being said... in the graphics world there are effectively 3 main players, nVidia, ATI, and Intel. I think it would be a good idea in the future for Microsoft to ensure those companies have everything they need to get there cards working properly pre-launch of a new OS... particularly pre-launch of a new OS that includes heavy use of grap
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:37AM (#22892892) Journal
          In my (somewhat limited) experience, the best drivers are those written by a third party. The more complex the hardware, the bigger the hardware and driver teams get. When you have a really complex bit of hardware, like a GPU, you have a huge team of hardware designers (who don't really understand software) and a huge team of driver developers (who don't really understand software). If they are both in house then you generally have pretty poor documentation because both teams have access to the other's work, but not the expertise to understand it fully. The hardware guys all think that the software team can get most of what they need from the HDL, and just fill in the gaps with their documentation.

          When a third party is writing the drivers, you don't want them to have access to anything proprietary and so the interfaces need to be very thoroughly documented because the external team isn't allowed to have access to the implementation details at all. A lot of the early XFree86 accelerated drivers were developed in this way and, at the time, were a lot more stable than their Windows counterparts, as were the early Radeon drivers written by the open source community.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by spedrosa (44674)
        ATI drivers don't even install without serious acrobatics. Therefore, the OS cannot report them as crashing, they never worked to begin with!
  • O RLY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thealsir (927362) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:20AM (#22892276) Homepage
    Well, this wouldn't be the first time Nvidia drivers are responsible for instability.

    I remember when the first nForce3 drivers came out that had those IDE problems. And the continuing problem with the SW drivers. Man, I thought something was seriously wrong with my new rig. Nope, just the drivers....
    • Re:O RLY? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by red_dragon (1761) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:41AM (#22892434) Homepage

      Well, this wouldn't be the first time Nvidia drivers are responsible for instability.

      At 28.8%, nVidia still has a long way to go to reach the epitome of device driver excellence that is ATI's collection of video drivers. Those extrusions of fecal material have accounted for more cases of alopecia on users than most other kinds of software. I'm actually surprised that the submitter didn't take a swipe at ATI while writing about driver crashes; the urge to do that must've been immense. In fact, ATI driver problems where the single biggest contributor to Jerry Pournelle's best writing ever in Byte Magazine's Chaos Manor column.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by thealsir (927362)
        I agree, ATI has taken a dump on themselves repeatedly with video drivers in the past, and it was even one of the reasons Quadros with inferior architectures were beating FireGLs. They've cleaned up their act quite a bit though I don't like the whole catalyst control panel thing. Nah well. At least they're open
      • by NMerriam (15122)
        Though to be fair, only those of us over a certain age really remember first-hand the crimes against humanity that were ATI drivers in the 1990s. NVidia wasn't even around when ATI was at their lowest, they were facing off against the likes of Matrox (who made great 2d hardware and drivers at premium prices) and 3Dfx (who made great 3d hardware and glide drivers). ATI was practically the Intel onboard video of the era.

        Any time I installed an ATI card I half expected it to ask if I wanted to double down befo
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by pestie (141370)
          That's not how I remember it, actually. In the early/mid 90's I worked with a bunch of machines that had ATI Mach32/Mach64-based cards, and those things were great! They gave pretty much flawless, blazing-fast 2D performance. Of course, if you're talking about 1995 - 1997 or so, when 3D became a big deal (the era of 3Dfx Voodoo cards, etc.), that I'm not so sure about. For some reason I kept getting stuck with crappy machines that had atrocities like Trident video chipsets. Don't even get me started on how
          • by NMerriam (15122)
            No, you're right, the Mach cards were good, they built up ATI enough that I guess they thought they could slack off on stability for the latter half of the decade. And Trident was indeed the bargain basement graphics in terms of performance, though I recall the drivers being just fine.
          • Most of my company's servers and desktops from the 1995-2000 era (some 600+ machines total) had Trident video chipsets either onboard or on a discrete video card. They just worked for the most part, as I recall.

            Of course, there were many "inexplicable" crashes in our environment during the Win9x / NT4 era (blue screen or freeze without a corresponding crash dump file), so who knows. We assumed those were from faulty IDE/SCSI/RAID drivers or hardware, since no crash dump was written to disk. But that was rea
  • The ow starts now (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Goffee71 (628501) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:22AM (#22892290) Homepage
    This is descending below lawsuit territory, I'm starting to think that the whole PC hardware industry should be taken out back and shot. They supported MS in the release of an OS with crap under-powered hardware with smiles and big adverts, in full knowledge that these systems would never work or just were not ready for Vista.

    "The Wow Starts, oh around 2009 if you'll just let us fix this, upgrade that and force you to buy some new stuff" Should have been the tagline for Vista.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pdusen (1146399)
      Even if that is true, what the hell does that have to do with the topic?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Threni (635302)
      > They supported MS in the release of an OS with crap under-powered hardware with smiles and big adverts, in full knowledge that these
      > systems would never work or just were not ready for Vista.

      I can assure you, having worked in a place which designs cards and writes drivers for Windows, that the release of a new Microsoft OS is not met with whoops and `alrights` etc. It marks the start of another tedious cycle of testing, fixing and dealing with customer problems. People want to be able to plug in
  • First, given the popularity of some of their chip sets, this probably isn't bad. Quite a few systems out there with the 6100 and 6150 UMA chipsets. And what about the other 71.2 %

    Could be the UMA in Vista is unstable? I am using a 8500 GT and I haven't crashed once. No UMA in use though. I question those running UMA for Video on Vista, Vista needs a beefy video.

    I do have slow disks, slow network I/O and slow... but no video issues. And the best part is that it also works with Linux/Solaris. (8500GT).

    • by balthan (130165)
      Bullshit. When Vista was first released (retail, not betas), Nvidia's drivers were horrid. They were very buggy and lacking SLI and other functionality, even for their flagship card. They've been greatly improved since then, but I believe Nvidia's early driver releases are one of the biggest reasons Vista has such a negative reputation.
      • There was a time back in the Detonator days that Nvidia had the best drivers going. Each generation has gotten a bit buggier. My first Vista machine has a 7900GS, not even an nv80 series chip and it had horrible problems with rendering and stability. It never brought the whole OS down but the number of times the driver itself would crash and restart (a neat feature in Vista by the way) was beyond count for the first few months.

        They've gotten far better now at least, but they (Nvidia) really dropped the b
  • Nothing new here (Score:3, Informative)

    by spasticfantastic (1118431) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:34AM (#22892396)
    Nvidia have a shamefully lax attitude to the stability of their drivers even under XP. Try searching google for NV4Disp.dll and you'll see that there is an issue that still causes BSOD's years after it was first reported, ironically the latest drivers only make the issue worse. This latest news will only make sure that my next card will not be from Nvidia.
    • Yeah, I had problems with that a month or two back; was getting BSOD city (actually, reboots, since that's what XP defaults to now instead of giving you a BSOD) every time the card tried to do 3D or accelerated rendering. Can't really blame it on NVidia, though, because what caused it was being stupid enough to let Windows Update udpate my video driver. Reinstalled the latest NVidia driver from NVidia's website and everything worked again.
  • I'm relieved (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:43AM (#22892456) Journal
    28.8% of Vista's crashes over a period in 2007 were due to faulty NVIDIA drivers

    Well then it's a good thing their driver support is so crappy with Linux!

    Oh wait...

    More seriously, I rag on Nvidea for poor Linux support, and this is more of a chance to bash them, but their drivers work fine under XP. If Microsoft provided better documentation of their APIs, as the EU has been demanding, perhaps writing drivers wouldn't be such a pain in the ass?

    I also wonder why closed source vendors don't open their code. They don't have to release it under the GPL, they can reatain all their copyrights, just publish the source. How could it hurt them? They retain copyrights and presumably patents so it's not like anyone could copy them.

    Is closed source closed so that nobody will realise just how abysmally shitty their kludges are?

    If your OS crashes, your OS is crap. Microsoft, fix your OS and publish the code. Nvidea, fix your shitty drivers and open the code. Don't give up any rights, just open it.

    I'd like to see copyright law changed so that executables can't be copyrighted unless the source is also provided. How can IBM tell what parts of their code they stole from SCO? Of course the answer was "none". Time to reboot copyright law!

    -mcgrew
    • their drivers work fine under XP
      We haven't seen the numbers for XP.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        Ok, they work fine under XP on my box. But you got me thinking... I have it set up for dual-boot, and if my C: drive ("/windows" under Mandriva) is too full or defragmented it will boot over and over until Windows finally comes up. I've been blaming the hardware, but I guess there's a tiny chance it COULD be the video drivers.

        Especially since at one time it got so bad it wouldn't reach Windows at all (but Linux ran fine) and reinstalling Windows fixed the problem.

        Hmm....
    • In a lot of cases, the drivers contain proprietary information that they licensed. It doesn't belong to them, and they've signed contracts pledging that it will not be disclosed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by miknix (1047580)

      More seriously, I rag on Nvidea for poor Linux support, and this is more of a chance to bash them, but their drivers work fine under XP.

      Poor Linux support?

      With my nVidia Geforce 8400 in my Linux laptop:

      * Both GPU and CPU clocks are dynamic (Powermizer enabled) and I can see those clocks and temperature on my desktop using a applet.
      * I never had problems with openGL games.
      * I'm running compiz very smoothly.
      * I use nvidia-settings for easily changing twin-view (screen layout) settings on the fly.
      * I can use my laptop video hotkey for changing the screen layout automatically.
      * I can suspend (to memory) my laptop.
      * I never had a nvidia related

    • Re:I'm relieved (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kebes (861706) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:58AM (#22893112) Journal

      I also wonder why closed source vendors don't open their code. They don't have to release it under the GPL, they can reatain all their copyrights, just publish the source. How could it hurt them? They retain copyrights and presumably patents so it's not like anyone could copy them.
      Only the companies know for sure why they keep it closed-source, but explanations that have been suggested at various times include:
      1. The drivers contain code licensed from third-parties, such that opening the source would require extensive contracts, negotiations, and more licensing. Probably most of these third-party software vendors won't agree to have their code opened for the same reasons that all closed-source companies keep their source closed.
      2. Modern video cards (and other hardware too, probably) contain a surprising amount of their logic and "acceleration magic" in the driver. The card itself, though dedicated to a particular hardware task, is quite general and thus the code controlling the card contains many of the important 'tricks' to get good performance. (In fact I've been told that the difference between some cards and higher models is only in the driver.) In such cases, releasing the software code would be like releasing the hardware circuit diagram: it would reveal many of their trade secrets (some of which may be patent-protected, others not).
      3. Even if it would be illegal, some people would modify and redistribute the code. Hobbyist hackers would alter the code and recompile. This might allow end-users to bypass restrictions on the card, enable other features (effectively upgrade the card by bypassing lockouts), and so on. This makes lock-in harder, and might reduce the frequency that people upgrade their hardware.
      4. Their code, in all likelihood, violates a large number of competitor patents. As long as the violations are buried inside a binary, no one will notice. Opening the code would make it easy for a competitor to spot violations and sue. Probably all the companies violate each other's hardware and software patents, but they maintain an uneasy balance by all being secretive. If one company released too much information, the others would use it against them.
      5. The company may worry about other liabilities that they become exposed to when users and competitors can peruse the codebase.

      As I said, only the companies know for sure. But there are plenty of plausible reasons for why a hardware company wouldn't want to release driver source code. They are not great reasons (many of us would be more willing to buy the hardware if it had more documentation and/or open code), but they make business sense.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by spitzak (4019)
        I think #1 and #4 are the real reasons.

        #1 is a sort of recursive problem as the suppliers are not allowing the code to be released for the same reason. Most likely it circles right around into a loop so it is impossible for anybody to make a decision to allow code to be published. For others saying they should print the stuff they can, I think the amount of work needed to extract the code they own is very significant, also the result will not compile or work, which will probably defeat most advantages of ha
  • I tried Vista on two machines running ATI cards- a desktop and laptop. They crashed an average of 2-3 times a day (BSOD). In all cases- Microsoft blamed the ATI video drivers, which I kept updated from ATI and Microsoft's own updates. I got fed up with it after a month.

    I dropped Windows completely and went with Ubuntu Linux. It has issues with video cards too, but aside from not being able to enable some eye-candy- it almost never crashes. (Usually the only time it does is when I try to tweak video settings
  • Certified (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fozzmeister (160968) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:49AM (#22892494) Homepage
    Did MS certify they drivers? If so, it's still _their_ fault
    • Re:Certified (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shados (741919) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:19AM (#22892720)
      Indeed. And its why you had to see internal mails to know that MS were saying it was Nvidia's fault. Considering anytime Windows crash, MS gets the blamed (even if a significant amount of times its not Windows' fault directly...Creative, I'm looking at you), if they felt it REALLY wasn't their fault, they would have said it reeeeally quick.

      If they didn't, its partly because they took the blame, as they should.
  • by should_be_linear (779431) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:07AM (#22892632)
    Maybe MS could contribute some developers to Nouveau project and then insert hooks into it for their specific kernel?
  • .. but what percentage of Vista PC's have Nvidia cards (and what percentage of those pc's reported a crash?) You can't really compare it to the percentage of crashes reportedly caused by other drivers without knowing that.
  • NVidia has been really good in the past for me, for drivers, especially compared to ATI. Until recently. I run Vista Ultimate 64 with twin 750GB Seagate HDDs running in RAID 0 via an NVidia raid controller. I used to run with windows update on and set to automatically update at 3AM each day. Until NVidia released new RAID drivers a week or so ago.

    I would wake up each morning to find my computer constantly rebooting. It would blue screen and I couldn't even make out the error before it was off the scree
    • by alen (225700)
      anyone who's been using windows for more than 2 weeks knows not to ever, ever update drivers via windows update. you only use drivers from the manufacturer website.

      don't know why MS still insists on distributing broken drivers after years of complaints
  • I'll vouch for this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aldousd666 (640240) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:11AM (#22892668) Journal
    We're a dell hardware shop. We buy on a 4 year cycle, every machine gets replaced every 4 years with the latest latitude line shipping model of laptop. In this past few cycles they've been NVidia based. They all have 2 gigs of ram, sata hard drives, dual core higher end processors and of course, NVidia Mobile chipsets. So, all 800 people at my company with nvidia chipsets cannot deploy vista until a) the drivers are fixed. b) the hardware cycle comes up in 4 years. All the people getting new machines right now are perfectly happy because the hardware is supported, but just those purchased 6 months ago and before (D820's) are not capable of running vista with dual monitors without gambling on whether or not they will be alive after a weekend on screensaver.
  • by td04impostor (1200577) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:14AM (#22892688)
    This is why i use my computer without graphics card. Nor screen. I am guided purely by instinct.
    • Nor screen.

      Upgrade to Lear Siegler ADM3A on your serial port - at least you will have a half functional screen!

      Warning: Unix not included.

  • Nvidia drivers have been working perfectly on my Sony VIAO SZ460NC laptop with Vista right from the start. In fact, I even have an Nvidia driver that works on my FreeBSD partition.

    When I had Acer laptops with their crappy ATI graphics, OpenGL never worked. I had 3-d modeling programs that only worked in 2 dimensions. It didn't matter what ATI driver you had. You could only spin the objects in the x and y dimensions. Ubuntu's ATI drivers never worked either on the Acer laptops.

    Now with Nvidia, I get tr
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:32AM (#22892840) Homepage Journal
    What's comical for Microsoft is that they would go and change the driver models for everyone for their new OS, and then blamed the resultant bugfest from the imposed change over on all of its business partners. Way to go Microsoft! You guys are a bunch of class acts!
  • by scubamage (727538) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:43AM (#22892946)
    Since apparently you can have a class action lawsuit for drivers not working, lets open up the floodgates and punish the manufacturers for not having compatible software! And why stop at video drivers? Lets sue all the makers of legacy hardware. And wifi hardware. Have an OLD 5 1/4 floppy? Sue! Have one of those old HP video-now PCMCIA cards? Sue!
    Sue sue sue!!!
  • by scubamage (727538) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:51AM (#22893038)
    Most of these driver incompatibilities were actually caused because microsoft changed the driver structure at the last minute which basically shot a lot of the manufacturers in the foot at the starting line. If this class action lawsuit goes through... how likely do you think NVidia and ATI are going to be to jump on the bandwagon for Windows 7? I mean, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I can't imagine being the victim of a multimillion dollar class action lawsuit because of microsoft's incompetance is going to make them the best buddies.
    Then again, I wonder if nvidia and ati have the right to sue microsoft in response should this current class action lawsuit go through? They developed to the specs microsoft had given them, so if microsoft changed those specs at the last minute... seems kind of uncool to me.
    • by kylef (196302) on Friday March 28, 2008 @02:01PM (#22896930)

      Most of these driver incompatibilities were actually caused because microsoft changed the driver structure at the last minute which basically shot a lot of the manufacturers in the foot at the starting line.

      Actually Microsoft had been talking to the graphics IHVs about the new Longhorn "Advanced Driver Model" as early as spring 2005. Both ATI and nVidia had representatives (i.e., developers) working closely with Redmond during that time. The Longhorn/Vista display model became known as "WDDM" and was more or less locked down, from what I understand, by late 2005. By the time of WinHEC 2006 (April), they were already talking about WDDM 2.0, as you can see from this presentation [microsoft.com]. If you take a look at the slide deck, ATI's Tim Kelley actually delivered part of the presentation on WDDM 2.0.

      Frankly, I don't think nVidia invested enough energy in making high-quality Vista drivers in time for launch. They had approximately a full year of Betas, the same time that ATI and Intel had. The Vista Beta and RC programs had hundreds of thousands of users around the world, for which Microsoft collected crash dump data (which is the same type of data mentioned in this article, collected BEFORE launch). Yet even with this time, and the user crash dump reports, clearly by launch in January 2007 nVidia still wasn't ready with robust drivers.

      The evidence here really does point at nVidia, no matter how much you want it to point at Microsoft.

  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:37AM (#22893494) Homepage
    NVIDIA vs ATI drivers - I don't really care.
    "It worked for me" - I don't really care.
    Statistics on the cause of crashes - I don't really care.
    Anybody running unsigned drivers and experiencing crashes - I don't really care

    Hang on. Let me explain.

    The fact that you can STILL crash a Windows machine with a dodgy driver - that I care about. I thought everything was supposed to be userspace. I thought the error-handling was supposed to be better. I thought that Windows was supposed to be more stable and secure. I thought people who were using signed drivers were supposed to be "approved" and relatively crash-free.

    Unsigned drivers? You can't support that no matter who you are, unless you're confident they are PURE userspace - they could be doing anything (like the 3DFX drivers that used to open access to all sorts of things it shouldn't in order for a primitive user-space part to actual drive the hardware). That's why you have to click that "CONTINUE Anyway" button with the dire warning. That's the Windows equivalent of kernel tainting. Once you've done that, nobody cares. The fact that most XP drivers are still using uncertified drivers is a bit of a problem but I can understand the reasons why. But you can't blame MS for crashes in uncertified drivers under XP. I thought Vista was supposed to be different, though.

    If a certified driver is crashing that often, then you have an entirely different matter. The certification effectively becomes worthless. Nobody trusts it. Therefore every driver manufacturer ignores certification and just tells users to click "Continue". Then you will have nothing BUT uncertified drivers. Catch-22.

    Blue screens should not happen. They certainly shouldn't happen often enough that people have coined the term "blue-screen" or BSOD to mean a crash. When they DO happen, when the driver goes absolutely nuts and starts stomping memory, aren't things like DEP and the user-space driver model supposed to STOP that happening and recover in some half-decent fashion? Or shouldn't the machine at least what the cause was and provide the user with some hint of what went wrong (i.e. "You installed an uncertified driver. Tough.").

    Let's compare for a second - Linux kernels crash too. They crash much more often if third-party drivers are installed and nobody really cares about that except the third-party and their users. When they do crash, there's not much you can do but most of the time you'll get all sorts of debugging information and usually you can carry on. You might lose X, which may or may not load up again - I have a laptop that likes to crash X if I run more than one copy of Xine at a time but the worst that happens is X dies and restarts and then carries on working for hours/days/weeks as if nothing had happened (and yes, I need to update the kernel/X on that machine!) but things keep on working as best they can. You can do pretty much what you like in terms of software but the worst that'll happen if you're not actually loading a kernel module or patching a kernel or playing with kernel-level features is a software crash and be chucked back to the command-line. Sometimes you might even end up taking out X, like my example above.

    You can rip out the harddrive and *make* the kernel crash but most of the time things will carry on, just without the component you ripped out (i.e. the IDE layer may die, but it'll still keep running as best it can without it). Even when Linux comes to a complete halt and freezes, you have debugging information and logs with which to narrow down the cause yourself, without needing to consult Linus himself.

    When Windows crashes (even with certified drivers and clean installs), there's bugger all to go on. Half the time the event log doesn't show anything at all. The second you see a blue screen, the computer is down and there's little arguing. There's zero information to go on. You have no idea what caused the crash at all because usually all you get is a generic STOP error and a
  • by PPH (736903) on Friday March 28, 2008 @12:01PM (#22895258)
    ... were caused by Vista internals.

    These statistics were calculated using Excel.

  • by darkwhite (139802) on Friday March 28, 2008 @01:22PM (#22896418)
    I have used numerous nVidia cards with many games and have never seen an nVidia driver crash on me, in Windows or Linux.

    Maybe some of these crashes are caused by the flaky motherboards and memory that the drivers run on, or power supplies, and it's just that code in those drivers is what pushes the hardware to the max and makes it crash.
  • About a year ago, my college had an alumni breakfast in Silicon Valley. One of my fellow alumni proudly exclaimed that he worked for NVidea writing drivers.

    When asked about Vista, he told us how Microsoft was "sooo understanding" about letting them ship drivers before they were complete. I bit my tounge and decided to stay away from Vista.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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