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NVIDIA Driver Developer Discusses Linux Graphics 317

Posted by kdawson
from the give-us-a-single-page-option-already dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Andy Ritger, who leads the NVIDIA UNIX Graphics Team responsible for creating drivers on Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris, has answered many questions at Phoronix about the state of Linux graphics, gaming, and drivers. Ritger shares some interesting facts, such as: the Linux graphics driver download rate is 0.5% that of their Windows driver downloads at NVIDIA.com; how the Nouveau developers are doing an incredible job; creating an AMD-like open-source strategy at NVIDIA would be time intensive and unlikely; and development problems for the Linux platform. Also commented on are new features that may come to their Linux driver within the next twelve months." Like all stories at Phoronix, in common with most other hardware review sites, this one is arbitrarily and maddeningly spread across 8 pages.
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NVIDIA Driver Developer Discusses Linux Graphics

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  • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:19PM (#29815609)
    I download my Nvidia drivers from the Archlinux package repository. How many Linux users manually download them from Nvidia? The 0.5 percentage could be a big understatement...
    • by otravi (1289804) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:23PM (#29815655)

      This was mentioned in the article. They do find it troublesome to measure their Linux user-base due to this.

      • by nametaken (610866)

        You'd think it could be derived with greater accuracy by using units sold (or estimated marketshare) and estimated linux marketshare on the desktop.

        Then maybe subtract about .00000001 for the zealots that refuse to install the nvidia provided driver. Oooo, zing!

    • He admits that in the article.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054)

        Yet the summary sees fit only to mention the .5% issue....

        Why? Because if TFA mentioned that the vast majority of Linux users with Nvidia cards never need to go to Nvidia's site for anything at any time it wouldn't be a SlashDot article.

        I swear, it would be more honest if TFA authors just inserted the random "Balmer Boils Babies" or "Apple Abandons Angola" outbursts into the articles we could all chuckle and move on, without the need to explain that TFAuthor had to find a way to insert his bias into the sum

        • What I found more notable than the 0.5% number was the amount of new features that will not be appearing within the next twelve months.

    • by ustolemyname (1301665) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:25PM (#29815677)
      Quote from the article:

      Q: Overall, what percentage of NVIDIA's customers do you believe use Linux?

      I don't know many concrete percentages. Highend workstation visualization is roughly half Linux, and Digital Content Creation (DCC) is largely Linux. NVIDIA Linux graphics powers a respectable portion of the 3D workstations. Our CUDA user base also has a large Linux contingent.

      However, the number of Linux driver downloads from nvidia.com is only 0.5% the number of nvidia.com Windows driver downloads. Of course, many Linux users get our driver through distro packages and other means that wouldn't be measured in that download figure.

      Measuring the size of the NVIDIA Linux user base has always been a challenge for us.

      Italics mine.

      • Another factor to consider is how often Windows users download drivers repeatedly. It may not be a large percentage of the market, but gamers will download drivers every time a new one is released (and I don't mean the people playing Frozen-Bubble).

    • by oakbox (414095)

      Couldn't they approach the 3 or 4 largest linux distros/repositories and ask? I, also, got my NVIDIA driver from a repository, not the NVIDIA web site.

      - Oakbox

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Atriqus (826899)
        Probably not since the distros can't track the downloads either, considering getting stats from their many random mirrors could prove problematic.
        • How many people just don't go to the trouble cause the product is a red-headed step-child. Why not just assume that everyone who uses Linux with an NVIDIA card just wants their shit to work (tm).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by icebraining (1313345)

          Well, Debian has Popcon [debian.org], but it's completely voluntary and off by default, so it's probably hard to tell for sure.

          • I wish it was on by default so packages that I use (and therefore everyone else uses) would get more recognition.

            While I kid about everyone having my interests, I imagine most people that do probably do not go to the trouble of turning Popcorn on. Especially not if they use a pre-packaged distro like sidux.

            That said, when I do my installs on my machine, I always leave it on.

            I do understand the privacy concerns, though, and respect Debian for choosing the default as no even though this information would be

      • Couldn't they approach the 3 or 4 largest linux distros/repositories and ask?

        Nvidia: Hi, I'm from nvidia
        *click*

    • by Wowsers (1151731) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:31PM (#29815767) Journal

      I used to go off to the Nvidia site to download the Nvidia drivers for my card, then manually installing the driver.

      Then I read about DKMS packages in the repositories that I could install, so every time the Kernel got updated, the package for the graphics driver got automatically recompiled with that Kernel. I was unsure about trying it, but when I did I never looked back, it's been great. Never had to manually edit the xorg.conf file ever again (although I have a backup just in case it goes wrong).

      • This is the default method on the latest couple releases of Ubuntu.

        I haven't gone to nvidia.com to download a linux driver in well over a year. Can't say I miss it, either. :-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by spitzak (4019)

          I completely screwed my Ubuntu install by trying to install the downloaded Nvidia driver (mistakenly thinking that I needed to do so to get Nvidia graphics to work). As there was nothing on the machine I reinstalled and let Ubuntu do it's automatic thing, and it worked perfectly, I strongly recommend doing that from now on, and I'm sure the vast majority of Ubuntu installs with nvidia cards do exactly that.

    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:36PM (#29815841) Homepage

      I just checked the nvidia site for the first time for linux drivers.

      Operating System: Windows Server 2003 64-bit, Windows XP 64-bit
      File Size: 123 MB

      Operating System: Linux 64-bit
      File Size: 21.2 MB ...What?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        They're replacing the OpenGL libraries with their own proprietary binaries. Those are roughly 20 Megabytes: the kernel module is tiny.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Verunks (1000826)
        the windows drivers includes other things like physx, 3dvision and the hdaudio driver
        • by shentino (1139071)

          So why are those goodies disabled under Linux?

          Come on NVIDIA, just release the specs and let us write our own damned drivers eh?

          • by Miamicanes (730264) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:52PM (#29818005)

            > So why are those goodies disabled under Linux?
            > Come on NVIDIA, just release the specs and let us write our own damned drivers eh?

            It's not so much that they're "disabled", as a case of being "not implemented". The problem is that the line between what's a hardware capability and what's implemented mainly at the driver level through software is increasingly blurred. Just to give a familiar example, look at a PCI Winmodem. At the end of the day, a Winmodem is basically a PCI soundcard that's hardwired to a phone jack and optimized for PSTN-level voltages & impedance. Someone like Conexant could flawlessly document how to use the chips on one of their Winmodem cards to generate and sample audio, and it wouldn't do a thing to help anyone actually make the card act like a 56k modem under Linux. Someone has probably done it by now, but back when it would have actually still mattered (circa 1999-2000 or so), there was no such thing as an open-source Linmodem driver for that precise reason. Documenting the hardware was necessary, but even fully-documented, it would have only gotten you ~2% of the way towards the ultimate goal of *being* a software-defined modem.

            There's another problem with video drivers -- patents. As a practical matter, everyone in the industry violates at least one patent belonging to the other big players, and they're *all* sitting ducks for every patent troll who comes wandering along. If NVIDIA were 100% altruistic, fully implemented every Windows feature into their Linux drivers, and released the full documented source code to their proprietary Linux drivers, they'd essentially be painting a red target on their forehead and making the patent trolls' fishing expeditions that much easier. It's sad, but it's true.

      • by Mad Merlin (837387) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:00PM (#29816091) Homepage

        I just checked the nvidia site for the first time for linux drivers.

        Operating System: Windows Server 2003 64-bit, Windows XP 64-bit File Size: 123 MB

        Operating System: Linux 64-bit File Size: 21.2 MB ...What?

        Clearly Linux is 6x more efficient than Windows.

    • One of my first "adventures" with Linux as a newbie was thanks to a "stable" nVidia "driver" from their support page.

      Hand burnt, lesson learnt.

    • I download my Nvidia drivers from the Archlinux package repository. How many Linux users manually download them from Nvidia? The 0.5 percentage could be a big understatement...

      According to an earlier Phoronix survey [phoronix.com], only about 20% of users download the drivers directly from the vendor's website (across all vendors, not just Nvidia). All else being equal that'd suggest it's reasonable to say the overall Linux marketshare is ~2.5%, which seems low, but there's probably other factors at work (Windows users may download drivers more frequently, thus counting more hits, etc). The 20% number may also be higher or lower, especially if you consider that many people complain about the Nv

    • by kramulous (977841)

      I download mine from the site. However, the last time I downloaded one was about 9 months ago. Yes I have had to reinstall it, oh, only about a billion times since then (gotta stop tinkering), but I've always used the one I originally grabbed.

      If there is another thing Linux has taught me, it is to always keep a local copy of the really important things. That, and my ISP will always go 'down' at what I believe to be a critical time.

    • Absolutely correct. On the other hand, the video cards come with a CD of Windows drivers. I wonder how many Windows users just install the driver from disk rather than download the latest version. That might tip the balance back a bit in the other direction.

    • how many Windows users get their Nvidia drivers through their OEM and Windows Update?

      I'm going to bet that it evens out.
      • I downloaded them when I used windows and use apt with Debian.

        With linux you need to use the matching kernel headers and a few other packages to successfully install the driver from the nvidia site.

        If I use the debian package it does this for me.

        While that seems trivial to me now, it was not when I was just starting.

        In fact, (and I am not doubting you,) but I did not even know that you could get the nvidia driver through windows update and never would have thought to take that route.

    • by Odinlake (1057938)
      Indeed - how about if we all just start to download the linux drivers from Nvidia once a day for a while? Make a cron job.. coming to think of it, maybe I will right away, hehe.
    • by bcrowell (177657)

      I download my Nvidia drivers from the Archlinux package repository. How many Linux users manually download them from Nvidia? The 0.5 percentage could be a big understatement...

      In addition to reason #1 that you supplied...

      #2: I won't be counted in their percentage because when it was time to buy a video card for the linux box I built last week, I made sure to buy a card from ATI, which has a vigorous program of openly documenting their drivers and trying to make open-source drivers available.

      #3: And in g

  • by brxndxn (461473) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:21PM (#29815623)

    Who is going to be the first to just grab the .txt from the article with the pictures and supply it in a common format for all these sites?

    What was the topic again? I have ADD and got distracted somewhere.

    • by ZERO1ZERO (948669)
      LET'S PLAY BIKES!!!

      Important Stuff Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences P

    • by selven (1556643)

      here you go [pastebay.com]

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:26PM (#29815691) Homepage Journal

    Q: Are there any plans in place to provide new features within the xf86-video-nv driver or to better engage with the Nouveau developers for some open-source support?

    With the nv driver, we've always tried to provide something minimal that just works out of the box and requires the least maintenance. For that reason, feature set in the nv driver has stayed pretty slim.

    The guys working on nouveau have done a really incredible job so far. However, our policy remains the same: we won't try to hinder their efforts, but we have no plans to help them.

    Scumbags.

    Q: AMD was able to open source and/or document a lot by separating out the parts they couldn't legally disclose. Similar problems have been cited as preventing NVIDIA from open sourcing their driver (licensed 3rd parts code, etc) or documentation. Could nVidia use the same strategy?

    A similar strategy might be technically possible for NVIDIA, but for better or worse I think it is quite unlikely. There are several reasons for this:

    - For competitive reasons on other platforms, I don't think we would ever open source any of our cross-platform driver source code (which is 90%+ of the Linux driver... see my earlier description of code sharing). The Linux-specific pieces of the driver code base don't really stand on their own, and generally need to change in sync with the cross-platform code, so I don't believe it would be practical to just open source the Linux-specific pieces.

    - We have developed substantial IP in our graphics driver that we do not want to expose.

    - Unfortunately the vast majority of our documentation is created solely for internal distribution. While at some point it may be possible to release some of this information in pubic form it would be quite a monumental effort to go through the vast amounts of internal documents and repurpose them for external consumption.

    Yes, and there's a whole community that would like to help you do that. That second answer is the real point here. They don't want to open source it because they don't believe in open source. It's that simple. Hopefully this will kill the last of the NVIDIA apologists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333)

      You'll never hear me apologize for people whose beliefs are in opposition to my own!

    • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:39PM (#29815883) Journal

      While at some point it may be possible to release some of this information in pubic form it would be quite a monumental effort to go through the vast amounts of internal documents and repurpose them for external consumption.

      I wonder how far back that particular typo goes, although I'm too lazy to find out. Regardless, it's a funny mental image.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:40PM (#29815895)

      Yes, and there's a whole community that would like to help you do that. That second answer is the real point here. They don't want to open source it because they don't believe in open source. It's that simple. Hopefully this will kill the last of the NVIDIA apologists.

      No it won't. I have dual 9800s and it runs WoW like a champ (read: no spontaneous system resets or strange/spurious bugs.) I'm unlikely to change to a card with an open source driver anytime soon, because what I have right now works.

      I'm really mystified by this attitude - if a company produces a stable, reliable product with closed software and the market is willing to pay for it, what difference does it make? It's not like they are charging $$$$ for crappy product, like, say, Windows. And if you can't understand nVidia's position - e.g. maybe they really DO have some novel graphics processing pipeline in their software that provides them with a competitive speed advantage over the competition - then it's worth keeping it obscured. That's capitalism. (Speculation: some of their binary code dynamically optimizes an FPGA on board for better performance.) You can be damned sure that if I suddenly managed to come up with a novel algorithm for faster database transactions that I'd keep it secret, too, and then sell the hell out of it in competition with Oracle and DB2. Again, that's not bad, that's competition.

      Don't get me wrong, I doubt that 95% of the code that is closed is actually worth closing. It really might be that last 5% scattered everywhere that warrants keeping it closed.

      • by petrus4 (213815) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @07:06PM (#29816833) Homepage Journal

        I'm really mystified by this attitude - if a company produces a stable, reliable product with closed software and the market is willing to pay for it, what difference does it make?

        The reason why you can't understand this attitude, is because you're not a Stallmanite freetard.

        You're essentially correct; from any sane, neurotypical point of view, there's absolutely nothing wrong with nVidia's hardware or its' drivers being proprietary whatsoever.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        Actually, there's a pragmatic reason for open-source in preference to closed-source: it integrates much better with a Linux distro. I have an Nvidia card too, and setting it up isn't the easiest thing. As mentioned in the article, you can't just open the Nvidia graphical config program and reconfigure your display on-the-fly. I just installed a new monitor last night on Kubuntu and had to go through this. While the Nvidia graphical config program works, it can't save an xorg.conf file in /etc/X11 becaus

      • if a company produces a stable, reliable product with closed software and the market is willing to pay for it, what difference does it make?

        You just failed Adam Smith 101. The fact that the uninformed public is willing to buy NVIDIA hardware doesn't mean that using a binary driver is a good idea.

        First, you have no guarantees that the driver will continue being developed. If tomorrow some suit at NVIDIA decides that maintaining Linux drivers is not worth their while, you end up with a piece of hardware that cannot be used with recent kernels.

        Second, any problems you may have while running their drivers are essentially undebuggable. This re

    • The problem is you basically have to choose between NVidia and ATI.

      What we really need is someone to come up with the graphics equiv of OpenMoko and get it out there. A truly open graphics card.
      If you can point me to one, I'll buy it :)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:00PM (#29816105)

      As someone who's worked for NVIDIA driver development, I can tell you that NVIDIA has no "beliefs" regarding open source at all, and most of the developers have no problem with it. I've had plenty of chats with folks there who were trying out Ubuntu, etc. A guy down the hall had a poster on his door of the linux kernel 0.1 source (I think from a Red Hat conference of some kind). The real reason they don't want to open-source the driver is because the driver is /massive/, and setting up the documentation and outlets for it would take time and effort away from their primary goal, which is staying on top of the market and satisfying as many customers as they can while doing so. And trust me, I don't care how good a dev team you've put together, if they simply dumped the driver code out on the net I guarantee no one would be able to reverse engineer the damn thing.

      So yeah. If you can make a good case why it's in their interests to open source it, I bet they'd consider it more seriously. Don't make the mistake of anthropomorphizing a large company.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Yes, and there's a whole community that would like to help you do that. That second answer is the real point here. They don't want to open source it because they don't believe in open source. It's that simple. Hopefully this will kill the last of the NVIDIA apologists.

      My next purchase will be AMD/ATI as soon as the drivers give me performance that match NVIDIA. I'm hoping that time comes soon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pnewhook (788591)

        My next purchase will be AMD/ATI as soon as the drivers give me performance that match NVIDIA.

        OpenGL support in ATI is crap. never buying their stuff again.

    • They don't want to open source it because they don't believe in open source.

      Right. That's unfortunate for the various open source platforms. Perhaps I've not read the right sources, but I've seen little advice to help companies like NVidia come to grips with how open source policies help them. That second point, "We have developed substantial IP in our graphics driver that we do not want to expose." is very telling, and one for which Free/Libre/Open/etc. proponents seem to have no coherent response: what to do when a company doesn't understand a path to a successful business mod

    • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:16PM (#29816255) Homepage

      Scumbags. (...) They don't want to open source it because they don't believe in open source. It's that simple. Hopefully this will kill the last of the NVIDIA apologists.

      Oh, STFU and volunteer yourself to go write open source AMD drivers. They've been running an open source strategy now for 2+ years and they're still short on manpower even though there's plenty specs out there and AMD is actively leading the development on top of the hours they've spent getting the documentation through legal review. There's plenty evidence to suggest the open source drivers would drop dead if AMD wasn't carrying them every step of the way, you think nVidia is impressed? The alleged army of open source coders waiting for specs is more like a handful, that's not a claim it's a fact. By all means they're making great progress and all that but they're way, way behind the blobs still.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @07:08PM (#29816863)

        Is that you get people who've toyed with writing a driver for something simple, and get lulled in to thinking that means that all drivers are not a huge deal. Problem is that's not the case. Something like a basic SATA controller really doesn't have a whole lot in the way of functionality for you to implement to get a driver up and working. You can see this in terms of downloadable driver sizes too. Take a look at something like the MegaRAID cards from LSI. The actual driver is all of 25k.

        Well that's not the case with graphics cards. They are extremely complex beasts, and getting more complex all the time. You are working to implement a very complex API (OpenGL). As such the driver is going to be much more complex. You can again see this in terms of driver sizes. The core nVidia driver for my 7950 here at work is 16MB. That's just the main driver file, there are other support files it needs to work, and then more files on top of that to really give you all the functions you want (like the custom control panel and such).

        So it is a much harder job. It is also a continually moving target. As of this month, we now have a new generation of graphics hardware out that has major differences. The DirectX 11 gen hardware (Radeon 5000 series) is quite different from the previous gen in terms of what it can do. As such the drivers are going to be different. It isn't a case of "Just update the old drivers for the new hardware." It is writing drivers to support a whole new set of features.

        Thus I think you get people who have this "Oh it isn't so hard," idea because they've played with the simple stuff. Ya well, sorry guys this isn't simple. In fact, I'd wager graphics drivers are the most complex drivers on systems these days.

        As such I can see why nVidia isn't impressed. It isn't a case of "Just give us the docs and we'll knock out a dynamite driver in a week." They might like to pretend that is how it'll be but it's not.

      • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @07:41PM (#29817293)

        Sure the radeon/radeonhd drivers are in need of help, but most radeon developement is being done by two non-ATI guys.
        Sure the 3D rendering is behind the blobs, but not that far behind [1] [freedesktop.org]
        And the 2D drivers are faster [phoronix.com]
        And in my experience way more stable (outside of KMS issues i have had 0 crashes under radeon, the same could not be said for catalyst or nvidia drivers)

        The reality is that for everyday use*, ATI cards now work out of the box on linux with rock solid stability this is not the case for nvidia, and it's just a matter of time till the 3D support catches up with nvidia's and firmly place ATI cards as #1 choice for Linux users (if its not already)

        *call me old fashioned, but i don't consider compositing [botchco.com] part of that.

        • As a non-old fashioned user who wants to use a compositing window manager, I switched from my ATI card to Nvidia purely to be able to get to use the excellent Nvidia blob. Maybe it's better these days, but getting the ATI driver to work was an endless PITA.

    • by TheSunborn (68004)

      If there is such a large community why are they not working on the ati drivers? And if they are, why does the ati linux drivers still sucks?

      • They do? I've never had problems with the open-source radeon drivers that come installed on distros, but what would I know I've only been using them for a year and a half, I'll go back to using nvidias drivers that regularly crashed my desktop ASAP, thanks for the heads up!

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:37PM (#29815855) Journal

    I'd like the authors of some common troll s to note:

    a) The most high profile binary kernel module distributor considers the unstable kernel API to be very little trouble.

    b) One of the most high profile X driver cerators thinks that X is well designed.

    so there.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:06PM (#29816163)

      Wait - you're expecting mere FACTS to dissuade trolls? You must be n.... wait a minute.

    • by thue (121682) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @06:41PM (#29816501) Homepage

      Saying that NVIDIA think the unstable kernel API being "very little trouble" is a little understated. What they actually say in the article:

      1) The lack of a stable API in the Linux kernel. This is not a large obstacle for us, though: the kernel interface layer of the NVIDIA kernel module is distributed as source code, and compiled at install time for the version and configuration of the kernel in use. This requires occasional maintenance to update for new kernel interface changes, but generally is not too much work.

      That said, the kernel API churn sometimes seems unfortunate: in some cases, working interfaces are broken or replaced with broken ones for no seemingly good reason. In some other cases, APIs that were previously available to us are rendered unusable.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        He did say "generally is not too much work". That's not the same as "no work", but it's not as bad as "it's completely blocking us" or "it's such a pain we're thinking of giving up on this".

      • by Keyper7 (1160079)

        I constantly lurk at the nvnews forums and download the official nvidia installers. From previous experiences I can say the following:

        1) The installer not working with a new kernel version is a rare event. When it does happen, it's usually an indication that the kernel had major changes. It's not like changing two lines related to the audio stack will break the nvidia installers

        2) nVidia is usually very explicit and clear about which kernel versions the driver will work with.

        3) They are also usually very fa

  • The year of Linux on NVIDEA.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:43PM (#29815935)

    One powerful reason for the low Linux download rate is because the packaging for the NVidia Linux drivers is terrible. It doesn't upgrade properly, it replaces system provided OpenGL libraries with little warning, and it has lacked (the last time I looked) a way to detect if there is a more recent driver available. Instead, people install the freshrpms or atrpms or other repositories that report dependencies and available updates more reliably for RedHat based software,

    I shouldn't have to compile a kernel module in order to install a software package: it should be published, or at least publishable, along with the updated kernel itself. But NVidia refuses to use licensing that would permit this, so they're going to continue to have people not only using alternative installation sources, but becoming quite angry when they update their kernels and their graphics drivers from NVidia stop working until they can be recompiled and a new kernel module built.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      I haven't had any trouble with this since I switched to (K)ubuntu, as it seems to manage the Nvidia driver and updates just fine. But I wouldn't want to mess with getting the drivers directly from Nvidia for the reasons you stated. And that's why their download rate is so low; why would anyone, besides the developers at the distros, or someone who really wants to be on the cutting edge, ever download a driver directly from Nvidia when their distro will take care of all that crap?

  • by BandoMcHando (85123) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:44PM (#29815949)

    From page three:

    "Q: AMD was able to open source and/or document a lot by separating out the parts they couldn't legally disclose. Similar problems have been cited as preventing NVIDIA from open sourcing their driver (licensed 3rd parts code, etc) or documentation. Could nVidia use the same strategy?"

    "... While at some point it may be possible to release some of this information in pubic form ..."

    Ever the child... I must admit it made me snigger...

  • by mrsam (12205) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:48PM (#29815989) Homepage

    Both Intel and AMD own their own respective graphics chipset. Intel, AFAIK, developed their own integrated graphics chipset, mostly, and AMD purchased ATI.

    Both Intel and AMD support the free software community far better than Nvidia. Both Intel and AMD are racing to integrate video graphics into their respective CPUs. With the graphics chip integrated into the CPU, Nvidia gets locked out.

    Nvidia's only remaining market niche, as I see, is extremely high end graphics. Intel's and AMD's graphic offering, at the moment, lag Nvidia's, somewhat. Someone who needs all the rendering power they could get would not have Linux support as a major bullet point, as I see. They'll be quite content to using Nvidia's drivers on either Windows or Linux, depending on their software, with Nvidia's nature as a binary blob under Linux being of little concern. That's the only market niche I see remaining for Nvidia. Both AMD's and Intel's product lines, although not as powerful as Nvidia's, are perfectly fine for the average user and/or gamer. With out of the box support in current Linux distros for Intel's hardware (mostly already the case today), or AMD's hardware (eh, maybe tomorrow), Nvidia's outlook there is not too bright.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Zerimar (1124785)
      AMD's high end graphics (the 5870) far surpass the offerings from nVidia.
    • by chrb (1083577)

      The market niche I see is ARM based smartphones. Within the next couple of years I expect the smartphone market will unify around Android, Google will figure out how to do a secure(ish) app store with OpenGL native code games, and the hardware manufacturers will start competing based on 3D graphics power. At this point you'll have mobile phone manufacturers wanting ARM Linux drivers and embedded low power 3D video chipsets, but they will all be shipping slightly different versions of the kernel, so they'll

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      I've got to agree that NVidia is going to be squeezed out of the desktop graphics market, but I don't agree that their only niche will be high end graphics. I think they will definitely lose the high end graphics market. Their only niche will be the low-end market, where they will continue to do nicely selling all flavors of motherboard chipsets.
  • Linux Driver. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    0.5 percent well if thats the only matrix they go by,then every distro should make you download it from there each time you install.

    Dont include it any more.

  • From TFA. Q: Overall, what percentage of NVIDIA's customers do you believe use Linux?

    I don't know many concrete percentages. Highend workstation visualization is roughly half Linux, and Digital Content Creation (DCC) is largely Linux. NVIDIA Linux graphics powers a respectable portion of the 3D workstations. Our CUDA user base also has a large Linux contingent.

    . and earlier:

    Q: Is NVIDIA starting to see more interest in the driver from companies or publishers?

    There has been, and continues
  • I found the perspective from an NVIDIA coder on linux gaming to be fascinating:

    Anyway, without a compelling Linux gamer customer base, it is hard to imagine many commercial game developers supporting Linux ports of their games. Like John alluded to in his comment, more Linux users paying for existing Linux titles like Quake Live will make the statistics more favorable for future Linux ports.

    ...

    - Linux's recent success in netbook and handheld markets may lead to more Linux games developed for those plat

  • Holy War (Score:3, Funny)

    by arielCo (995647) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @07:12PM (#29816923)

    Q: Which text editors or IDEs do NVIDIA Linux developers use?

    Most of the engineers on the Linux driver team use emacs and/or vim for their day-to-day development work.

    What, no preference? Heretics!

    [/sarcasm]

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