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Creative Goes After Driver Modder 385

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the shame-on-you-creative dept.
FreedomFighter writes "Since the release of Windows Vista, Creative has promised their Sound Cards as being 'Vista Ready'. Unfortunately, as many unlucky customers did discover, this is not true. What the users actually found were buggy, feature crippled drivers. Creative insisted that features such as Decoding of Dolby® Digital and DTS(TM) signals and DVD-Audio which worked fine in WinXP, would not work on windows Vista. With Creative releasing less than one new driver a year, things seemed bleak. Fortunately, a talented user, Daniel_K, was recently able to 'fix' many of the drivers, enabling the incompatible features and also fixing many bugs. Just today Creative has decided to put a stop to this. They removed all links to his modified drivers, and banned several users who were posting links to the now banned drivers."
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Creative Goes After Driver Modder

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  • Not a big surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rastoboy29 (807168) * on Saturday March 29, 2008 @06:37AM (#22903844) Homepage
    Creative doing something dumb is a shock?  They haven't done anything intelligent in nearly decade.

    Used to be I would buy ONLY Creative sound hardware.  Now I've given up after even a USB sound box of theirs didn't work, but the $15 Taiwanese ugly grey box worked fabulously with no effort, and on Linux, too.

    Now they not only refuse to release decent drivers, but actively annoy those who do.  What, exactly, is the value proposition here for me as a customer?
    • Scruffy seconds. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Because Scruffy fails to believe in this company. *sob*

      Creative blows these days. I too used to be a Creative goon, buying nothing but their cards for any of my many boxxen. After one too many fried - after one too many asinine issues with their crap drivers, and even crappier software (it didn't used to be this way - what the hell happened?!)... Well, I'll take onboard sound over a dedicated Creative soundcard any day.

      Seriously, Creative went from awesome to shit. What happened? I still haven't figur
      • by Rod Beauvex (832040) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:05AM (#22903936)
        Creative turning to shit seems to correlate with the disappearence of it's competition.
        • Not really (Score:5, Informative)

          by anss123 (985305) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:33AM (#22904032)
          The original SoundBlaster was basically a copy of the Adlib (a soundcard by a small American company) with digital output tacked on. Problem was the implementation was so broken it was impossible to play back audio without crackles and pops.

          The Soundblaster pro was better, but that's not saying a lot. The fact that the follow up - the Sound Blaster 16 - was NOT Sound Blaster Pro compatible is a clear indication how murky the SB Pro's underpinnings actually were.

          Speaking about the SoundBlaster 16. Despite what you may believe the SB16 is NOT a 16-Bit soundcard. It can indeed play back 16-Bit samples, but the drivers simply down converts them to 12-bits.

          The AWE was better but it was basically what the SB16 should have been and the competition by this time made the AWE look silly - and that is not mentioning the rather dishonest 64 simultaneous channels claim their marketing department threw about.

          Creative's first attempt at a PCI soundcard turned out so murky that 1997 era mobos have something called a "SoundBlaster link" to make them happy. Finally giving up Creative bought another company that had made a PCI soundcard and slapped the SoundBlaster brand on it. (SoundBlaster 16 PCI .. or SoundBlaster 512, they had many names for it).

          The SoundBlaster Live! was not PCI 2.1 complainant. If you somehow didn't know that you had to turn off PCI delayed transactions in the BIOS you would get blue screens every now and then. It also caused disk corruption on Via chipsets. Fun fun fun.

          Since then the Live has been rebranded several times. They even spewed out a SoundBlaster Live 24-Bit that did the old SoundBlaster 16-Bit down sampling trick. How nice of them.

          The SoundBlaster X-Fi is much nicer than the Live and the Soundcard I'm currently listening to. But beware, Creative is up to their old tricks even here. They talk a lot about their 24-Bit Crysalizer - for instance - but it is actually a 24-Bit Compressor similar to the 16-Bit compressors used by CD mastering studios. Like any audiophile can tell you a compressor helps cheepo speakers by making the sound a little more vivid and louder, at the cost of less fidelity on high end equipment.

          Also note that the SoundBlaster X-Fi PCIe Xtreme Audio is not an X-Fi but a good 'ol SoundBlaster Live! in new clothes!
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by X0563511 (793323)
            I think I have one of their last good cards. An audigy 2 zs.

            Works great in Linux*, AC'97 had finally been replaced with I2C, and a few other improvements, but they didn't seem to screw things up yet. While I don't know if it down-samples 24-bit to 16-bit, I don't think I could hear the difference anyways - but the 48/96 sample rates do sound clearer (I do synthesizer stuff, so I can generate sound that actually uses those rates)

            * = Excepting the 50-thousand mixer channels and switches that I have no clue w
            • Re:Not really (Score:5, Informative)

              by anss123 (985305) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:27AM (#22904278)
              You're right. For Linux the audigy is better than the X-Fi, but whenever they get working drivers the X-Fi is the better card. One nice feature of the X-Fi is an option bitmaching similar to Via Envy cards. That bypasses the need for resampling altogether, though the resample engine in the X-Fi is very good.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by haruchai (17472)
            Thanks for the info. I didn't know all that about Creative cards but I did know that they
            had no working PCI solution until they snapped up Ensoniq and re-marketed the AudioPCI.
            I was an early adopter of the AudioPCI, which wasn't available here at the time in Toronto
            as Ensoniq just didn't have the market share.
            So after hearing about the card and it's purportedly solid SoundBlaster compatibility,
            I called up the company, got them to sell me a few cards and they also sen
          • by TobyWong (168498)
            Don't hate on the SB16. Regardless of whether or not it was true 16-bit it was the de facto standard for PC gaming for many years. In fact I remember wanting one quite badly when they first hit the market and I was stuck with my PoS Adlib card.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by triffid_98 (899609)
              Damn straight. If your computer was running DOS, and you didn't have SB16 support, you were boned. That was their big competitive advantage. Regardless of whether you had Turtle Beach, or some other semi-compatible with better features, it was a hassle and you never saw much benefit from it since the software didn't recognize anything but SB or Adlib. The SB16 just worked.

              Of course we haven't been running DOS for a while now, even on board sound is fairly reasonable these days. So they no longer matter,
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            if you are looking for truly good sound from your PC, you should look at the multitude of 24-bit/192kHz devices available for home recording.. even if you have no interest at all in strumming a few chords or banging out a synth line, you can still enjoy the plethora of i/o available and the audiophile quality. of course you'll have to ditch the computer speakers and get yourself a set of decent powered monitors, but if you think you can tell the difference between 44khz and 192khz, you'll definitely need
          • Re:Not really (Score:5, Informative)

            by Novus (182265) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @10:44AM (#22905112) Homepage
            While Creative's cards sucked in many ways, they weren't quite that bad.

            The original SoundBlaster was basically a copy of the Adlib (a soundcard by a small American company) with digital output tacked on. Problem was the implementation was so broken it was impossible to play back audio without crackles and pops.
            True. Clarification: the Sound Blaster 1.0 required a new DMA transfer to be started every 64 KB, causing an audible pop while the next transfer was set up. Playing only short sound effects avoided this, and the Sound Blaster 2.0 added support for automatic DMA restarting. Note also that the original Sound Blaster had major problems with DMA sampling rate precision (for example, 22050 Hz came out as 22222 Hz).

            The fact that the follow up - the Sound Blaster 16 - was NOT Sound Blaster Pro compatible is a clear indication how murky the SB Pro's underpinnings actually were.
            Not really true. Although there were the occasional problems, the SB16 was mostly SB Pro compatible in my experience (as in supporting stereo PCM and OPL3 FM synthesis).

            Despite what you may believe the SB16 is NOT a 16-Bit soundcard. It can indeed play back 16-Bit samples, but the drivers simply down converts them to 12-bits.
            Not really. None of the SB16 programming references I can find support this, nor any documentation. That said, with the signal-to-noise ratio on some earlier models, telling the difference could be hard.

            that is not mentioning the rather dishonest 64 simultaneous channels claim their marketing department threw about.
            True, for the AWE64 (an AWE32 with a 32-channel software synth to double the channels). Also, the FM synth was hooked up to two of those 32 channels, leaving you 30 to work with.

            The SoundBlaster Live! was not PCI 2.1 complainant. If you somehow didn't know that you had to turn off PCI delayed transactions in the BIOS you would get blue screens every now and then. It also caused disk corruption on Via chipsets. Fun fun fun.
            Also, the Windows drivers were horribly broken in many ways in my experience. The only way I ever got crackle-free recording in Windows was with the kX Project [narod.ru] drivers.
            • Re:Not really (Score:5, Informative)

              by anss123 (985305) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @11:08AM (#22905272)
              I guess back in the early nineties most people didn't play music on the PC, but you have to admit that 64KB is pretty darn short.

              I do actually have a reference for the 12-Bit thing. Let me dig it up. Ahh, here it is: http://www.crossfire-designs.de/index.php?lang=en&what=articles&name=showarticle.htm&article=soundcards&page=10 [crossfire-designs.de]
              It's a good article about early sound cards. Take particular note to "the ADC could dissolve only 12 bits! Many users could prove this doubt-freely in their attempts, however this has never been officially confirmed."
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Novus (182265)

                I guess back in the early nineties most people didn't play music on the PC, but you have to admit that 64KB is pretty darn short.

                "Music" usually meant FM back then, not PCM, at least on the Sound Blaster. 64 kB is a lot if you only have 640 kB of RAM, so this was only really a problem for Soundtracker-like (.MOD) music formats where the player generated a long PCM stream on the fly from a few brief samples.

                I do actually have a reference for the 12-Bit thing. Let me dig it up. Ahh, here it is: http://www.crossfire-designs.de/index.php?lang=en&what=articles&name=showarticle.htm&article=soundcards&page=10 [crossfire-designs.de]
                It's a good article about early sound cards. Take particular note to "the ADC could dissolve only 12 bits! Many users could prove this doubt-freely in their attempts, however this has never been officially confirmed."

                That's the ADC, not the DAC; they're talking about recording, not playback.

            • kX driver too? (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward
              The new version 5.10.0.3540 of kX Audio Driver [narod.ru], which includes Vista support, has apparently been removed [driverheaven.net] yesterday from the narod.ru server for "violation of rules". Any relation to this story?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Zeinfeld (263942)
          Creative turning to shit seems to correlate with the disappearence of it's competition.

          I would think it correlates more with the fact that most motherboards come with built in sound these days and plenty come with built in 5.1 sound.

          I have no idea what protocol that my desktop talks to the amplifier over the optical hookup. I am pretty sure that absolutely nothing good would result from using Dolby Digital, which is after all a compression algorithm over raw samples.

          I could have installed an upgraded

        • Re:Scruffy seconds. (Score:5, Informative)

          by electrosoccertux (874415) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @10:51AM (#22905164)
          Not necessarily. The Ipod clearly has the majority market, but that didn't stop them from making a crap alternative.

          I've wished since about week two of owning my Creative Zen Touch (40GB) that I had bought something else. Namely, the Ipod. Creative is a pain to deal with if you have support issues. So is their player. Disconnected three times after being on hold 17 minutes each time (HMMM....). If you just want something to listen to music with, their players will work. But don't expect any of the promised firmware updates to fix any issues with the player, so make sure you know all the current problems with it. The problems with mine? Scrolling accuracy to select songs is horrible. 10x worse than the Ipods (which is perfect). You move your finger down the strip to move the selector bar that selects songs, and the UI responds a quarter second later. On top of the that, it's inaccurate and unpredictable. Sometimes moving your finger 1mm will move the song selector one song, sometimes not at all, and sometimes it'll jump down three. You simply can't select songs safely when you're driving. In contrast, the Ipod's scroll wheel is predictable and goes where you want it. Every single time. Move thumb 1mm, it moves 1 song (or might be 2mm I don't know).

          Other issues:
          -after about 6 months of use the "forward/skip" [>>|] button halfway breaks. By that I mean sometimes you want to fast forward in the song (this is another frustrating thing I'll get to later) so you have to hold down the forward/skip button until the slider gets to the point in the song you want to listen to...so you let go of the fast forward, and then, strangely, the player skips to the next track. Apparently sometimes taking your finger off this button after having it held down tells the player to stop fast forwarding and skip to the end of the song.
          -As for fast forwarding, it's the most un-intuitive design ever. It isn't at all easy like on the Ipod, where you press the middle button and then move your thumb around the wheel. When you do this, the Ipod moves the slider that marks what part of the song is playing. You find the part you want, stop moving your thumb on the wheel, press the middle button again, and it plays. On Creative's players, you have to press forward and hold it down for about 5 seconds to skip 30 seconds. A total PITA. Like to listen to your songs gapless (IE you've ripped a CD as one whole MP3)? Be prepared to hold that button down and watch the UI for 20 seconds--(the slider movement speed increases exponentially, which means) when you finally hit the minute mark you want to listen to, and thanks to the laggy UI, you let go and find that it keeps moving ahead for the equivalent of two-ish minutes. Then it starts playing. So until you get used to letting go early, you'll be holding "[|]" down for another 5 seconds till you get back to wherever you originally wanted to be. On top of all that, the player doesn't anticipate "jee, you know, this guy is scrolling forward and this part of the song isn't in my memory, I better spin up the harddrive to be ready for it", it waits until you've stopped fast-forwarding, and then decides to spin up the harddrive, load that part of the song, and play it. And then if you overshoot where you were fastforwarding to, it does the exact same thing, it stops spinning and waits till you've stopped rewinding to spin up the harddrive and load that part of the song (which can't be good for the harddrive anyways, I'm sure this is what broke my first harddrive in the Zen Touch. Thankfully no problems with the warrant replacement). Like I said, don't expect to use this when you're driving.
          -If something about your player breaks, be prepared to pay the shipping costs [and insurance if you want to be safe] on your end as well as $35 (when mine broke this was how much it was, it has now changed to $25) as a "processing" fee.
          -good luck finding player covers if you want it protected. There's two that I know of, but they're both only available online. One is leather and costs something l
        • Re:Scruffy seconds. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @11:23AM (#22905364) Homepage
          There is still competition, but Creative is a big brand on the market today.

          Alternatives exists:

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by wik (10258)
        > Seriously, Creative went from awesome to shit. What happened? I still haven't figured that out.

        Why don't you ask Dr. Sbaitso [wikipedia.org]? He's here to help you!
    • by edgrale (216858) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @06:56AM (#22903906)
      I don't usually post but here goes:

      Posted by JohnZS [creative.com] 2) I firmly believe that Daniel K has caught the flack because of the Dolby Digital feature As far as I am aware Auzentech paid a lot of money for an exclusive licence with Dolby to have their cards support this.

      But but... didn't Creative have this feature on their cards? I could swear they did, at least in Windows XP.

      • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:43AM (#22904366)
        But but... didn't Creative have this feature on their cards? I could swear they did, at least in Windows XP.

        They do. From my reading of it, Daniel K's work basically re-enables all those features that Creative had disabled - and the reason for disabling was not technical, it was purely a legal/marketing decision.
      • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:51AM (#22904406) Journal
        The sound chip built into my DG33TL motherboard supports Dolby Digital so I do not think that is correct. I have also been told that Dolby doesn't license its technology on an exclusive basis.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Devistater (593822) *
        There's a diffearance between Dolby Digital, and Dolby Digital Live.
        DD is the 5.1 sound you get from movies.
        DDL is the ability to do real time encoding so you can hear say surround sound from games on a DD sound stream.

        If this technology isn't present, you have to use an ANALOG sound connection for a game to get surround, it can only do stereo (not surround) on digital for anything other than movies/tv shows.

        This is a 6 year old technology from SoundStorm on nvidia nforce 2 motherboards and creative hasn't
    • by Gregg M (2076)
      Please leave my font alone.
    • by Angstroem (692547) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:23AM (#22903992)

      Creative doing something dumb is a shock? They haven't done anything intelligent in nearly decade.

      Indeed. Instead, they bought two of the finest synthesizer and sampler vendors and sent them down the drain.

      This, Creative, I will never forget. And for this simple reason you won't sell anything to me. Never.

      Yes, even if you shipped it with Linux drivers...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:50AM (#22904094)
        Let's not forget what they did to Aureal, who made simply some of the finest sounding and most innovative sound cards around at the time. I have an au8830 kicking around somewhere actually...
    • by couchslug (175151)
      So, um, what was the brand name of the "scruffy, ugly" box? They deserve to sell if they work.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by billcopc (196330)
      Me three.

      I still roll my eyes whenever someone rolls by with an X-Fi. Creative Labs finally ceased to be relevant the day they bought Ensoniq. It's one thing to absorb competitors and their IP, it's another to buy a ghetto clone maker to acquire their SB emulation software in order to emulate your own hardware because the official product can't even do it right .

      Thankfully, on-board sound solutions have reached a point where they sound pretty darn good, and many now have digital coax and/or optical output
    • This is unbelievable (Score:5, Informative)

      by brad77 (562411) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @03:43PM (#22906926)

      I've been a long time Creative user, and they've lost me with this one. I have used Soundblaster cards since the 8-bit Soundblaster Pro. Since then I've owned the Soundblaster 16, AWE 32, and a couple cards in the Audigy series. For over 15 years, I've used Creative's cards almost exclusively (aside from a brief stint with the Pro Audio Spectrum 16).

      When Vista SP1 was released last week, I didn't see it in Windows Update because the latest driver available for my Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro was not compatible with the update (see this KB article [microsoft.com]). This driver hasn't been updated since March 2007, and didn't work all that well to boot. Analog 5.1 surround was sketchy, and the sub channel didn't even work.

      Daniel_K came to the rescue in my situation. I needed to uninstall my drivers to upgrade to SP1, then install his driver package get my card working again. The installation went very smoothly, and my card is working better than it ever has on Vista. There are some quirks, but all surround channels are working as they should, and sound quality seems to be improved over the previous drivers (although this could easily be attributed to the placebo effect).

      The last thing that Creative should be doing is going after Daniel_K. If anything, they should hire the guy to teach their driver team a thing or two.

      Sadly, this is not likely a technical issue, but a marketing one. Creative seems to have made a deliberate decision to leave Audigy users in the cold in an effort to get them to upgrade to their new X-Fi series. Problem is, it doesn't seem to be working. Peruse Creative's support forums [creative.com] and you'll see post after post lamenting their substandard driver support with promises to avoid their cards in the future.

      Creative's strategy may work with casual customers with a sub-$50 card, but not for others who have invested over $200 for a high-end Audigy card with a breakout box. Those people are still looking for return on their investment, and will be the first to walk away from Creative when they get snubbed.

      Hopefully this is a misunderstanding, and Creative will work out a deal with Daniel_K. If this doesn't happen, they stand to lose some of their most loyal customers. Given their track record so far, the outlook doesn't look good.

  • *golf clap* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2008 @06:39AM (#22903852)
    Well done Creative. You've universally upset users, upset developers and made yourself look like petulant asshats. Did you get your panties in a bunch because a lone hacker with a binary patcher could produce better drivers than your clearly mediocre driver developers?

    Well your drivers always sucked and your hardware business is being steadily eaten by rapidly improving onboard audio and much better high end audio cards. You are not long for this world.
    • by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:02AM (#22904142)
      After reading the thread on the Creative forum, I guess that "Daniel_K" re-enabled features for Vista rather than developing them from the ground up. Which leads us to the question why the Vista drivers were shipped in that crippled state. Between the lines of Phil O'Shaughnessy's message I read that it was a "business decision" rather than developer incompetence.

      It is not the first strange decision by Creative either:
      While I'm happy with the hardware of the Soundblaster Live! 5.1 I bought a few years ago, even then Creative offered only driver updates for download, where others were more customer-friendly and offered complete drivers. Which is quite helpful if you have mislaid your driver CD-ROM ;-)

      So I agree that their management is a bunch of asshats. I also agree that onboard audio is getting better. My reason for buying that Soundblaster Live! was abysmal onboard sound on the Abit IC-7 mainboard of the computer. The new rig I built last year has quite acceptable onboard sound, and unless I see a really attractive sound card offer this one will just stick to the onboard sound chip.
      • by Martin Blank (154261) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:48AM (#22904384) Journal
        I had an original Audigy, purchased for a pre-XP operating system. When they finally did come up with drivers for XP, they required users to download an ISO from Compaq of all places, extract the files, then modify a couple of files so that it wouldn't look for the Compaq identifiers (whatever they were -- I don't recall). In these days, dial-up was still prevalent (I was on a cablemodem at the time), and the image was more than 300MB, and engendered often angry -- and mysteriously deleted -- postings on their forum.
  • by 00_NOP (559413) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @06:45AM (#22903860) Homepage
    Modifying your own driver for compatibility reasons is perfectly legal in most jurisdictions, though distributing the modified driver may not be.

    And surely a diff is not a derived work in itself - is it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonaskoelker (922170)

      And surely a diff is not a derived work in itself - is it?

      IANAL, TINLA; one might argue that a unified/context diff is a derivative work since it contains parts of the original, whereas a diff on the form (delete [byte range]|insert [bytes] at [position])* isn't, as it doesn't contain parts of the original. I think this argument appeals very much to technical people, but not quite as much to the lawyers.

      But, as Jennifer Granick said at defcon 15 (TINLA either): the answer in many cases of technology vs. law is either "we don't know" or "it depends".

    • by Zeinfeld (263942)
      The only problem with distributing the modded drivers here is that Creative appears to claim that they use copyright code from their drivers.

      If there is no copyright violation then the correct legal response to Creative is 'sit on it and spin'. The users bought hardware. Third parties have the right to extend the use of that hardware in any way they choose so long as they are not distributing copyright or patent infringing code.

      Copyright is not intended to give hardware manufacturers a monopoly on acces

      • by Pig Hogger (10379) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Saturday March 29, 2008 @10:12AM (#22904932) Journal
        This leads me to think of something.

        Suppose company X distributes b0rk3d drivers, and won't patch them.

        Now, Joe Blow manages to get them working by patching them here and there. Of course, if he distributes the patched drivers, he infringes on X's copyright, no doubt about it.

        Now, if he distributes a patching application that applies the modifications straight into the binary, since his mods are his own, he's not infringing X's copyright at all.

        Okay, now, suppose John Doe starts with a legit copy of, say "Bambi". Everyone has the legit copy of "Bambi".

        Now, John Dow takes "Snow White" and XORs it with "Bambi" and distributes it. By itself, the result (let's call it "Snowi") is neither "Snow White" nor "Bambi".

        But by XORing "Snowi" with "Bambi", you happen to get "Snow White". So, John Dow effectively encrypts "Snow White" in a one-time pad with "Bambi" being the key.

        Is Joe Blow infinging on "Snow White"'s copyright???

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Martin Blank (154261)
      It appears that Creative is realizing what they've gotten themselves into. Originally, they'd removed everything that daniel_k had done, but they're relenting on the Audigy Support Pack [creative.com], which I gather is a separate item. I wonder if they will relent on the other one, as well.
  • by beacher (82033) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @06:55AM (#22903890) Homepage
    Shamelessly stolen from bash.org [bash.org]

    <booradley> I'd like to perform a one act play I call, "Creative screwed me like a bitch"
    <booradley> <audigy> Buy me! I'm ever so sexy
    <booradley> <boo> ok. come home with me and we'll play among the stars
    <booradley> <audigy> tee hee! I love you, boo!
    <booradley> <boo> I love you too, audigy
    <booradley> :: later ::
    <booradley> <boo> there, you're all installed. how do you feel?
    <neshura> down in front!
    <booradley> <audigy> LET JESUS FUCK YOU! VRAAAGH!
    * audience gasps.
    <booradley> * audigy is putting noise across your PCI channels
    <booradley> <hard drive> Mein leben!
    <booradley> * hard drive has died
    <booradley> <audigy> Blaaah! blaaaugh! your mother sucks cocks in hell! graaagh!
    <booradley> <modem> aaieee
    <booradley> *modem has died
    <booradley> and the new modem I got connects at 32k tops
    <Shendal> By far, that's the best one-act IRC play I've read this season. Do I smell a Tony award?
    • by Pecisk (688001)
      This Bash entry reminds me about the times when you actually couldn't be sure about what will happen when you will put that ISA/PCI card in your computer. It could eat your data easily, or toast your precious and expensive motherboard.

      Laugh everytime I see this.
  • Third-party problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @06:55AM (#22903896)
    From how I read the post, Creative licensed code from third parties only for XP, not Vista. Since this code is needed to use certain functionality, this functionality is disabled on Vista. In other words, Creative's bad negotiating comes to bite their customers in the ass. How could they be this stupid -- "oh, we only licensed this stuff for Windows XP? Too bad, let the customers suck it up"
  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:00AM (#22903918)
    hmm.

    that really does seem a little petulant and/or puerile.

    a more enlightented company might of examined what he did to see why it worked.

    a more customer focused company might of actually listened to their customer complaints in the first place.

    and a company with a serious long term investments in this technology might of actually installed some QA systems and ensured the drivers were fit for purpose in the first place.

    there seems to be no effort, willing or investment from Creative at this point.

    and, wheras there is some truth to Creative protecting their IP, and beign disgruntled about anybody else possibly releasing unsupported patched, I believe Daniel_K summed it up quite eloquently on his response. "The funny thing is that you are faster "protecting" your technologies and intellectual properties than providing improved drivers and softwares for your customers."
  • by atari2600 (545988) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:01AM (#22903920)
    From the useless forum thread, it looks like one cowboy decided to make things easy for users suffering from Creative's ineptitude. As noble as his motives are, his methods weren't exactly legal. Looks like he was redistributing altered binary packages and asking for donations for his effort and time. I understand he was trying to help users but again his methods (and not his motives) are suspect. If Creative had any brains, they would probably hire the guy (daniel_k) as a contractor, get his contributions in, pay him a few Euro (or Yen or anything but the US$) and check that stuff into their CVS and call it their own.

    This is what happens when non-technical management + legal team + marketing get together to make decisions (and it's not just Creative...). I've been using a Creative Soundblaster 5.1 Live for the last 7 years - the card cost me 25$ and I've spent over 2000$ in AGP / PCI-Express cards in the same time. I am not much of an audiophile and the card just plain bloody works. Creative makes great hardware - the whining on that forum was driver support for Microsoft Vista but that's another nightmare story...
    • Mod parent up... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by HiVizDiver (640486)
      This was essentially the first thing I thought of when I read the article (I know, I know...) You had me up until the part where he was asking for donations for the drivers he was releasing. That seems more the crux of the issue, rather than he is releasing the drivers at all. The wording does indicate that they are upset that he is releasing the drivers, but they also mention the fact that he is requesting donations for them. I wonder if they would have gone after him as hard if he had just quietly release
    • by Fweeky (41046) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:10AM (#22904194) Homepage

      Creative makes great hardware
      They make popular, passable hardware which everyone QA's with because, oh, they're popular. This probably insulates you when they violate the PCI spec and fit things together with spit and duct tape.
  • by papabob (1211684) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:03AM (#22903930)
    We, at Creative, are unable to mass produce chips that differentiates themselves by its design as we used to do. A few years ago we throw all of our money making a single chip design and our bussines since then has been to ship it with a simple eeprom saying what version of our card had you bought, and enable/disable features only at driver level. So please please please stop hacking our drivers to allow the advanced functionalities work in the low level cards, because in that way nobody will buy our multihundred bucks cards.

    Sincerely yours.
  • SSDD (Score:4, Informative)

    by GastonTheTruck (1048316) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:07AM (#22903940)
    Same thing happened with Win2K/Windows XP on the Live! cards. Creative never bothered to issue working drivers for the cards or the LiveDrive that allowed use of all the features, and the KX Project happened. It's pretty simple, don't bother with their hardware, the most compatible thing they ever produced was the SoundBlaster 16 and everything from there has been a support nightmare.
  • When I saw "goes after" in the headline, I assumed it meant they hired the guy after realising he was better than their in-house programmers. How naive and foolish of me.
  • by Yer Mum (570034) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:11AM (#22903960)
    ... as an idiot-proof installer and let users download the drivers themselves, like the patcher which generates the ATI Mobility Radeon drivers from the normal ATI Radeon drivers (see here) [driverheaven.net]. This would probably be legal in most country with the inevitable exception of the US, but even then their complaint would be weaker as he's not distributing their IP.
  • by kaos07 (1113443) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:12AM (#22903962)

    The forum thread is interesting because it's full of irate users lambasting Creative for their drivers and their attitude towards "Daniel_K". However, how many of them are that upset that they will stop purchasing Creative products? We can bitch and moan all we like but if we/they/people continue to buy Creative's products regardless of how rubbish they are, regardless of buggy, feature crippled drivers and regardless of their attitudes towards their customers, they're going to think they have the prerogative to continue in this fashion.

    I, for one, bought an X-Fi sound card. Buggy drivers and constant issues regarding gaming made me put it away. Reading that this was a common issue across the board made me decide not to buy Creative again. There ARE alternatives out there. Cheaper, better quality alternatives. Just for example, I replaced my X-Fi with an HT Omega Claro. http://www.htomega.com/index.html [htomega.com]

    • Don't forget M-Audio and their very nice "consumer" level Revolution [m-audio.com] cards. Not super cheap, but it sure sounds nice.
    • Number Nine did this to me many years ago. The box stated one thing and the software card did another. Then if you wait 6months you could down load the "new" driver off of their BBS. I turned them into California's AG and store took back my card and removed Number Nine's other cards off the shelf.

      I have stopped buying Soundblaster years ago, when a working card would not work in a new OS and there was no driver for that card FOR ANY OS on their site.
  • Creative Sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manip (656104) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:18AM (#22903978)
    I'm never buying Creative again after how poor their drivers on Vista have been. The Creative 5.1 drivers have a huge memory overflow in them which causes the Windows Audio Service to need to be restarted every few hours or you'll suffer though huge amounts of audio distortion...

    So I upgraded to their latest card in the hopes that their latest drivers might fix things. I picked out a X-Fi Audio Extreme, and this is only recently mind you...

    And although the memory leak seems to have gone this card has the highly entertaining bug of turning down the master volume by 75% each time any input is received on the microphone, in use or others. A wonderful feature you can't turn off. So if I type too loud on the keyboard my music turns down by 75%...

    Long story short... I gently unscrewed my Creative X-Fi and throw it against a wall. Then I plugged in to my Gigabyte motherboard's built in audio, enabled it in the bios, and haven't had any audio issues at all for coming up to two months now.

    I'm not using Creative again. I'm done. Seven years a happy customer, now gone.
  • Watch that stock price (CREAF.PK)... I wouldn't be surprised if the VP or other executives had sold some stock earlier in the week. If only the 5 day graphs were available. Already down 3.25% for Friday.
    • (CREAF.PK) (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:57AM (#22904116)
      The PK means the stock is traded off the pink sheets. Companies wind up there, and not on a legitimate exchange like the NASDAQ, because no CPA will sign off on their financial statement.

      Must be a real open company.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Martin Blank (154261)
      Their highest since the stock bubble was $15.75 in Dec 2004, and their highest on record is $37 on 04 Mar 1994. They have outlasted the competition in the consumer market by either buying them or leveraging agreements to outsell them, while still producing hardware ranging from passable to very good. I've purchased three cards with their logo: SoundBlaster AWE64, Audigy 1, and X-Fi. Hardware-wise, they've been good enough, but with the exception of the first, I've had to fight with drivers on numerous oc
  • by James Youngman (3732) <jay&gnu,org> on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:40AM (#22904050) Homepage
    I've owned Creative sound cards for years. The only non-Creative sound card I bought was an Aztech sound Galaxy, some years ago; annoyingly it kept losing its config settings over a reboot. It's reasonably easy to verify that the Creative card you're going to buy works on Linux (I've never used Creative's drivers since every PC I've ever owned has run Linux). At the moment I'm using a Creative Labs SB Audigy. However, the machine it's in needs an upgrade (it only has 1GB of RAM, and I want to run virtualised instances of *BSD and other Unixes to make porting software easier).

    What sound hardware should I buy for the new machine? My needs are fairly pedestrian apart from the fact that I would like to do high-quality LP transcription occasionally. I will probably also buy a very quiet machine as the upgrade in order to use it as a media PC (and hence need 7.1 support). Since audiophile audio quality and 7.1 are probably more or less incompatible I'm happy to buy two sound cards for the two different purposes, but which to buy?

    I've been considering the M-Audio FastTrack Pro [m-audio.com] (the idea being that I use the device itself for the LP transcription and export SPDIF to an AV amp for the surround stuff). I've heard good things about M-Audio kit. However, it appears not to work with ALSA (yet, at least) [sourceforge.net]. What are my other choices?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by John_Sauter (595980)

      I've heard good things about M-Audio kit. However, it appears not to work with ALSA (yet, at least). What are my other choices?

      I use the M-Audio Delta 66 [m-audio.com]. It worked well under Microsoft Windows XP when I bought it, and it works well under the Ubuntu distribution of GNU/Linux now. I have no idea whether or not it works under Microsoft Windows Vista.

    • by gmack (197796)
      Your best bet is not to do your LP conversions using your sound card. You can get Turntables with USB ports [sellcom.com] that will most likely do a better job.
    • by Yosho (135835)
      You might take a look at Turtle Beach [turtlebeach.com]'s sound cards. I'm not up-to-date on how well their current offerings work with Linux, but many years ago I got a card from them that beat the pants off of the equivalently-priced SB Live! Value.
    • by EQ (28372)
      If someone reading this thread simply wants a high quality card for playback and gaming, look at the ASUS D2X (PCIe). Digit-life has a fairly detailed audiophile review of the D2 [digit-life.com], complete with sampling shots, etc. It looks like a good replacement for Creative, and it cost about 2/3 of the equivalent. I do not know about Linux compatibility - I only have it installed on my windows overclocked SLI gaming rig.
  • Just remember (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DigitalisAkujin (846133) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @07:57AM (#22904120) Homepage
    Just remember Creative, the geeks control the network.

    We are the ones that fix computers for friends and relatives. Slashdot readers alone probably account for a good sizable chunk of all your sales ever so what do you think will happen when we stop recommending your brand to the people who don't know any better. Or better yet, say it sucks?

    Your company won't be the first to die in the flames of a hoard of angry geeks and you certainly won't be the last.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      Slashdot readers alone probably account for a good sizable chunk of all your sales ever. Your company won't be the first to die in the flames of a hoard of angry geeks and you certainly won't be the last.

      The geek with an ego the size of the planet.

      Top Operating System Share Trend for April, 2007 to February, 2008 [hitslink.com]

  • not ineptitude? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:03AM (#22904148)
    after re-reading the entire thread for my amusement, I think this is not a simple case of ineptitude from Creative.

    after all they have the original source code and we have to assume some partway competant SW engineers.

    it seems that some of what Daniel K did was reactivate some features that had been intentionally crippled from older cards.

    this seems more to be nefarious decisions on backwards compatibilty and forward roadmap taken on profit grounds not technical grounds. after all, we of the /. community are more aware then others that there is no compelling reason at all why HW from XP should not work on Vista - but there might be commerical reasons why.

    follow the logic here. a brand new and shiny OS hits the market and you need to release drivers for it. would it not be tempting to cripple some of the older cards and hence try and tease people to upgrade to the latest HW? even better you could hold back some of the features of the later versions and try to gain additional income for them in the form of top range drivers. its an insane tactic but one that is used in the field quite alot.

    the bad thing is that somebody then dissassemles that code for the driver realises what has happened and then patches the removed functionality back in.

    this tactic is very prevalent in the industry - by attempting to artificially shorten the product life cycle you try to force repeat purchace and then profit. when there are no more additional features you can dream up then you attempt to deprecate the original in order to force purchase of the new. Creatice make no money at all from people using old sound blaster tech on vista so they will do everything they can to halt it.

    maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I see this sort of thing all the time and it make a more logical explanation to me then "large multinational cannot write new drivers even when they have the source code".

    comments?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dupersuper (664190)
      fact is that microsoft killed creative's soundcard business with vista. Vista no longer gave dedicated soundcard any advantage over free built-in ones. Now they have to resort to selling drivers, mp3 players and speakers to stay alive. They just sold their HQ building in Singapore. That's how bad creative has fallen.
  • Hardly unique (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mike1024 (184871) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:07AM (#22904178)

    Just today Creative has decided to put a stop to this. They removed all links to his modified drivers, and banned several users who were posting links to the now banned drivers.
    It's worth noting that Creative is hardly the only company that deletes posts they don't like in their corporate forums [google.co.uk].
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:08AM (#22904182) Journal
    The stupidity of some corporate lawyers never ceases to astound me. Surely someone must have told them that for whatever good they hope to get out of such an action, the harm could be far far worse. And as with all corporate actions of mondo ignoramo, the news will be spread far and wide. It's on /. and if it isn't already, it'll be on the front page of digg. Then ars and gizmodo and a thousand other sites.

    Now what exactly did Creative have to gain by doing this? Maybe somewhere an unhappy customer who installed these drivers, and for whatever reason, they didn't work or broke something, and that ignorant but well meaning customer blames Creative. Instead what they get is legions of geeks pledging to never knowingly purchase any Creative product ever again. They get a soiled reputation. And finally, they loose the happy customers who were happy only because this guy rewrote the drivers.

    If they had half a brain, they would have quietly hired him for a very handsome sum of money. If they didn't try then they deserve whatever backlash they get.

    -S
  • Where is nvidia's sound storm 2 sound card / chip? Sound storm 1 was a good sound chip and there was talk a few years ago about them working on a new sound chip.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:12AM (#22904210)
    Now that was a kick-ass sound card. Good ol' GUS. Sad now that the on-boards are good enough, all the current stuff sounds great but still doesn't seem as cool as firing up the GUS for the first time.
    • by maxrate (886773)
      Absolutely beautiful card. I recall playing DOOM using the wavetable sampling for the MIDI channels opposed to the aweful MIDI FM synthesis so many cards had at the time. The card seemed to perform 'smoother'. I also remember multiple sounds playing at the same time worked really well. The real-time channel mixing (in doom) gave you a bit of a 3d feel. I also used to connect my piano to the GUS and did a lot of neat MIDI stuff. What an awesome card. I don't have much from my DOS/Win3.11 days of compu
  • A long time ago, I bought an isa SB16 and CDROM reader to upgrade my (then) 486. Much later, I was building it back up, and couldn't get hold of my drivers, so I borrowed a set of floppies from a friend, to make a copy. Believe it or else, the disks were copy protected. Some stupid drivers, copy protected ! Like you could use them without the associated hardware !

    It's a pitty they swallowed ensoniq and not the other way round. Ensoniq was doing a pretty good job at making good budget sound cards.

  • At the risk of sounding stupid, I'm wondering why people still buy soundcards. The vast majority of motherboards have some version of AC97 audio on them nowadays. Is there some inherent advantage to SoundBlaster cards over the AC97 audio bundled with most motherboards nowadays?

    Is there something I'm missing?
    • Is there some inherent advantage to SoundBlaster cards over the AC97 audio bundled with most motherboards nowadays?

      As far as I know, ac'97 has only one wired sample rate, around 48 kHz. Every other rate must be achieved by a software downsampling, so it steals cpu cycles. SBs have at least the good idea to have wired the usual rates corresponding to CD quality (44.1 kHz) and some divisions of it (22 kHz, 11 kHz maybe some others). All in all, it makes for a slightly better quality playback in games, radio streaming and such.

  • I have an audigy 2 ZS right now and the drivers under Vista BITE HARD. EAX and other stuff get disabled if you have more then 3GB or so of ram. I couldn't even install SP1 because creative has not updated the drivers in over a year. The card has mostly been trouble free under linux but I have run into a few issues with it every now and then. It is only because of the drivers that daniel put out that I could update to SP1 which did fix some issues.

    The newest alsa version added support for the CMI8788 cards w
  • by ardor (673957) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:50AM (#22904394)
    Poor to mediocre hardware, buggy drivers, patent-trolling, not only giving shit about customers, but punishing them for trying to improve the situation. Their real sin was to destroy Ensoniq and Aureal, which were lightyears ahead both in technology and customer care. Creative's death is inevitable, since AC97 onboard chips are killing their marketshare. Unfortunately, this means they will mutate into yet another patent troll that produces absolutely nothing. They have killed progress in PC audio, will continue to kill it.

    Please, Creative, just vanish.
  • Why don't all the Creative owners with defective drivers just launch a class action lawsuit? From what I've read it seems that their product doesn't function as they advertised it would - and they knew it wouldn't. In fact I'd think there would be a few Attorneys General interested too?
  • I've been following this issue since Creative first removed the links, and two things stood out to me as very good reasons Creative would have to remove links to his stuff.

    1) He was taking donations for his work. This gets sketchy because he wasn't hosting anything, all of the money went straight in to his pocket
    2) One of the packages he was distributing was a version of Alchemy (Creative's DS3D->OpenAL wrapper) called Universal Alchemy. Alchemy is a product that Creative sells (free w/X-Fi's however),

    • And like a fool, I open my mouth about 5 seconds too early. I had quickly skipped over the post in TFA since I thought it was something I had already read before. It turns out that Creative has asked him to stop, but at the same time they basically confirm what my points were anyhow, which brings us back to the point that some of the stuff he was doing was shady.
  • by kars (100858)
    Ok, that does it. I'd love to ditch Creative, but what alternatives are there? Are there any cards out there that run well under both XP and Linux? And, dare I ask, Vista?
  • I understand the desire to sell more hardware to allow users to 'upgrade' but this just reaks. I hope this story gets a lot of media attention.

    I think the problem for Creative is that AC'97 and it's successor all but destroyed their business.

    They can no longer count on new PC sales as an avenue of revenue because built in motherboard solutions are "good enough" for most people. So better to burn the bridges of existing owners and hope they are forced to repurchase something they didn't need. More power to
  • I seem to remember the story about one Richard Stallman setting up the Free Software Foundation as a result of frustration with not being able to modify a printer driver because the source code was not available.

    How things have not changed since then :-(

  • by AusIV (950840)
    Step 1: Do the bare minimum to get XP drivers to run on Windows.
    Step 2: Have some third party get the rest of the features working for free.
    Step 3: Ban the third party's work.
    Step 4: ???
    Step 5: Profit!
  • by FellowConspirator (882908) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @09:39PM (#22909022)
    It is important. If Daniel_K lives in the USA, his reverse-engineering and modification of the drivers is protected and allowed. It is not a violation of their copyrights (and no, Creative, he's not stealing, just ask your crack legal team). While he probably doesn't have the right to distribute their drivers, he would be within his right to distribute a patch for them (binary deltas, plus a utility to apply them to a driver). And, yes, he can ask for donations for it -- he can even charge money for it. If Daniel_K hired a good copyright attorney, he'd know that (I'm sure Creative probably does).

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