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Intel Graphics Software Hardware

The "Bloody Mess" That Is Intel's Poulsbo Driver 231

Posted by kdawson
from the how-not-to dept.
AdamWill writes "Phoronix writes about the mess that is the Linux support situation for Intel's new graphics chipset, the GMA 500 — aka Poulsbo. Near the end they refer to my own post on the topic ('Okay, so after a whole day spent bashing around at this crap, I can very confidently and conclusively say, it's utterly broken'). Intel has a reputation as one of the most clued-up open source-friendly hardware companies, but if they can't sort out the mess surrounding the driver for this chipset — which is already used on the Dell Mini 12 and Sony Vaio P, and will be used on many future Intel-based systems — that reputation will take a serious hit."
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The "Bloody Mess" That Is Intel's Poulsbo Driver

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  • Bloody Mess (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:44PM (#26679615)

    It must be that time of the month for intel....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by awrz (1009247)
      Oh wait. Read that wrong. I thought that gave them +5% damage and gory dismemberment when an enemy is killed in VATS.

      My bad.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dotancohen (1015143)

      It must be that time of the month for intel....

      Crap like this is what will drive companies _away_ from open source. Look at all the flak that Sun gets regarding it's handling of Open Office. Or countless other examples. The community should be grateful that these companies support FOSS at all, instead, it looks like any company that comes to the FOSS table will be eaten when it doesn't do this right, or doesn't do things 'in the spirit' or takes their time with something.

      • But with enough goading their code will come up to FOSS standards, and if they can pull their heads out into the sunshine it would even help their proprietary work.

      • Re:Bloody Mess (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @10:32PM (#26681801)

        Crap like this is what will drive companies _away_ from open source. Look at all the flak that Sun gets regarding it's handling of Open Office. Or countless other examples. The community should be grateful that these companies support FOSS at all

        No, this is not OpenOffice, because drivers are only useful to customers who pay for hardware. When I shop for a laptop, I buy something with good driver support by my chosen OS, which is Linux. So if Intel wants me to consider buying something with their chips, they'd better fix the driver problem. The idea of being "grateful" to somebody making something I might want to buy is neither here nor there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FireFury03 (653718)

        Crap like this is what will drive companies _away_ from open source.

        Why? If I buy some hardware I expect it to work properly no matter what operating system I'm running (so long as that OS has drivers). It doesn't matter whether you're supporting Windows, Linux, OS X, or whatever - if you release drivers for your hardware and they don't work then you're (quite rightly) going to get flak - people have paid for some hardware which doesn't work as expected.

        Or are you saying that companies will also be driven away from supporting Windows because people complain their crappy s

    • ...don't want to start bleeding all over the seats.
  • Reputation? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:49PM (#26679637) Journal
    I thought the intel video chipset reputation was already something like "it sucks, ATI or nvidia are much better choices".
    • Re:Reputation? (Score:5, Informative)

      by lbbros (900904) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:55PM (#26679677) Homepage
      Actually they are fine (I can even run a composited desktop on my EeePC, and that's a GMA 900), but in this case the technology isn't theirs, it was acquired from some third-party.
      • Re:Reputation? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:22PM (#26679863)

        Really though, you'd think Intel would negotiate an IP license which would allow them to release good drivers. It seems IMG should be getting ready to release some sort of Linux drivers around this time though ... perhaps this will address the GMA500 situation too?

        http://groups.google.com/group/beagleboard/browse_thread/thread/ec1427fdb8f9ef8d/14af5abb79383525?lnk=gst&q=POWERVR#14af5abb79383525 [google.com]

      • Compositing = Easy (Score:3, Informative)

        by CarpetShark (865376)

        Compositing doesn't take a lot of power, despite how Linux has struggled with it. I mean, come on, at worst it's two triangles per window, with textures and alpha-blending. Maybe an extra four tris with colour and an alpha map for shadow. My 2001 ibook could do it in OS X, and that was running a Rage Mobility M3. I think it's 16MB.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ogdenk (712300)

          On your 2001 iBook it was a mobile Rage 128-based GPU and it wasn't capable of using Quartz Extreme for 3D-accelerated compositing. They went from the Rage 128-based chip to a Radeon 7000 I believe in the G3 iBooks.

          It was done in software with Quartz and some 2D acceleration. Still worked f**king great though. Impressively snappy even on an old 350mhz G3 tower. Much more usable than the XRender-based compositing offered as an alternative to XComposite in KDE4.

      • by ogdenk (712300)

        I don't know about "fine". Mediocre or "barely adequate" might be better choices. :-)

        They suck for gaming or any serious 3D chores but for daily computing tasks, old games and GL screen savers, the GMA950 works great.

      • Re:Reputation? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jorophose (1062218) on Sunday February 01, 2009 @12:49AM (#26682283)

        Not necessarily. i810 is woefully broken. You get artifacts left and right, wrong resolution that can't be changed, no openGL working whatsoever (I was doing transparencies with Xfwm but that was it). From what I understand I need one of the latest kernels with GEM to make it stop.

        Yeah, thanks intel.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Chops (168851)

          It seemed to me that i810 was fine up until Intel got involved with it. I have an unusual chipset (855GM on a desktop with no LVDS output), and new versions of Intel drivers keep totally failing to work on it in various exciting ways. Before Intel engineers started showing up on xorg bugzilla (i.e. when the module was called 'i810' instead of 'intel'), this happened once in a blue moon and I got responsive, polite fixes reasonably quickly. Now, it happens constantly, and I have to beat the engineers over

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:56PM (#26679683)

      Intel graphics chips are not for games. However, if you don't play games and you want a solid graphics card with enough 3D performance to run compiz or Quake with fully open source drivers, then Intel is what you want.

      Or, it used to be. I don't know what the deal is with this new chipset.

    • Re:Reputation? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AdamWill (604569) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:44PM (#26679995) Homepage

      That's the reputation of the power of the hardware. Yes, as far as playing your 3D games goes, you're not going to get very far with Intel.

      However, up till now Intel has had a very good reputation for open source friendliness with regards to supporting the hardware, disregarding the actual power of the hardware. Intel are actively involved in maintaining the (100% open source) driver for all other Intel graphics chipsets, and they also contribute to general X.org development and the development of new technologies within X. Intel graphics hardware is generally the least powerful of the big three, but until this mess, it's been by far the best (and most openly) supported hardware in Linux.

    • when i broke my old laptop i 'upgraded' to one with an ATI chipset, how i year for the days of intel. now i have to choose between full-screen flash and composting (thanks to iplayer i went with flash)

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:49PM (#26679639) Homepage

    Microsoft threatening Intel unless they knock off the Linux integration [boycottnovell.com]. Now, all of a sudden, Intel is having all kinds of problems with their Linux drivers.

    Coincidence or anti-competitive behavior in action?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. (Wiki quote [wikipedia.org])
      • by Cally (10873) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:58PM (#26680085) Homepage
        No malice needed; it'd be stupidity for Intel to cave to Microsoft at this point. When the 25 stone gorilla's choking on a fishbone, d'you break out the Heimlich maneuver?
      • by Tumbleweed (3706)

        Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. (Wiki quote)

        A clever-sounding quote is not necessarily the same as wisdom or good advice. That's a great quote that people can pull out when they're being malicious and they want people to think they're not. It also keeps people from asking questions, which is generally not a good thing.

        I'm also reminded of Godwin's Law about mentioning Hitler. It's generally used incorrectly (e.g. "If you compare someone to Hitler, you automatic

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jalefkowit (101585)

          All this really seems to say to me is that people online get into heated arguments, and that the inevitable result of heated arguments online is that someone will call someone the worst name they could think of - Hitler. So basically, if you invoke Godwin's Law thinking that anyone automatically comparing someone to Hitler (like, say, someone with Fascist tendencies), you're the idiot because you don't know what Godwin's Law says.

          The reason why you "lose" when Godwin's Law is invoked is because it indicat

          • by Tumbleweed (3706)

            No, you don't "lose" when Godwin's Law is invoked simply because it's invoked. It's quite often invoked at the first mention of Hitler, even when it's used as a relevant example (see also: Fascism). I can invoke the law of gravity when talking about friction, but that doesn't make it a valid invocation. It's similar to people invoking Moore's Law when they're talking about processor speed, which it isn't about, but has a relation to. Use it right or don't use it, I say.

        • We've all seen the legal action against major tech companies about anti-competitive behaviour, price-fixing, and what-not, the emails from within Microsoft, etc. I'd think that at this point, anyone blindly assuming incompetence instead of malice on the part of a BigCo is kinda stupid.

          You say that like malice and incompetence are mutually exclusive; I imagine execs at that level have wide spectrum of competencies and incompetencies to enough ego to render the later invisible to the introspective eye.

      • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @05:47PM (#26680389)

        Having spent a lot of time in various beurocracies, I can attest that malice and stupidity work very well together. While one does not guarantee the other, they are often interlinked.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dattaway (3088) *

      Coincidence or anti-competitive behavior in action?

      I've noticed lots of Microsoft news articles recently too.

    • by Pecisk (688001) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:28PM (#26679907)

      I think it is more about the lines of "omg, there is new sublaptop market here, quick, we need solution. Damn, our video chip uses too much power. Ok, there is some niche chip which could suit us. But there is lot of NDA and proprietary stuff. Heck, let's ride with it and see if it sticks. If not, we will abandon a driver."

      It is clearly a totally different video card with different chip (which have closed parts not developed by Intel). So it ends there where usually such drivers goes - to trash can.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tycho (11893)

        It seems to me, that when Intel hypes a new forthcoming CPU that it often fails to mention the poor performance of the chipset to be paired with that CPU. The CPU ends up using the newest and greatest process, but saddles the CPU with a process at least two process nodes back. Not surprisingly, when the CPU and processor are matched together, the performance is often atrocious, due to the low performance chipset. Intel also has bad habit of attempting to save silicon die area by just dropping portions fr

    • by AdamWill (604569)

      Coincidence, given that the documents discussed in that post are about 8 years old.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      I think you need to look more carefully at the timing. This comes under the heading of "illusion of coincidence". The information from Boycott-Novell comes from a court case, and the source of the evidence is memos from around 2001. (I should check again, but that's how I remember it.) So there's probably 5 or more years in between. (Allowing for various slips in production.)

      IOW, I don't think this is a causal connection. Possibly you could dig up something that was, but it probably isn't from this ba

    • by pestilence669 (823950) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @07:41PM (#26681023)
      I argue for coincidence. First of all, even Microsoft relies on Linux for their infrastructure. As much as they try, it's just not possible to do many "things" on Windows. I wish I was allowed to go into more detail. Intel does realize the importance of solid Linux support. They are a leader in this area in ways they simply don't have to be. To snub Linux could compromise their foothold on the embedded market, which is significant. It's just not possible that this is intentional. Mistakes happen. I blame the outsourcing, which was probably some middle-manager's perceived ticket to promotion and praise. Companies this big can't always put their best resources on EVERY project. Since Slashdot has made this problem known, I can't imagine it'll exist for more than 30 days. The Slashdot effect is a great motivator in shifting corporate priorities. Seriously. I hate Intel. I do. In this case, however, I don't see that they've done much wrong. They will most likely issue a massive fix and add this component to their maintenance queue. Priorities.
    • I'll give you a 10 for zealotry.

      Unfortunately you get a 1 for reading comprehension. You do know the dates for that crap are, like, turn of the century?

      Unless... maybe you think "all of a sudden" means 7-8 years.

  • !gonvidia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paroneayea (642895) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @03:58PM (#26679693) Homepage

    I'm noticing the tag 'gonvidia', and it's true... as in terms of hardware, Nvidia does seem to be the best. But as in terms of the linux community, they pretty much create problems for everyone. And yes, I know, to the end user that's not always apparent. But the linux desktop really would be a lot farther along if it weren't for nvidia's refusal to open up to the free software community.

    If Intel's new open source graphic drivers suck, then obviously yes, that's shitty. But between them and nvidia, if you're going to praise one or the other in the Linux community, it shouldn't be nvidia. Intel's graphic cards still don't support GLSL and the like, but at least you can run an open source driver and it works.

    • Speaking as somebody using an Nvidia Quadro NVS140M on a Thinkpad with the 177 drivers in Linux,

      all I have to say is,

      my next computer will pack an ATI Radeon. I've never seen drivers that sucked as bad, both in performance and in rendering things correctly, as Nvidia.
      When compiz is enabled, and especially in QT4 apps, it doesn't handle repainting damaged screen areas correctly. That is not acceptable. The newer drivers, while marginally better at handling this, break suspend to ram functionality.

      If anyone i

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AaronW (33736)
        The performance issue should be fixed now in the latest driver version. It was a known bug and nVidia fixed it. I have no problems with the 180.25 driver.
    • Re:!gonvidia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @05:05PM (#26680131) Homepage

      But the linux desktop really would be a lot farther along if it weren't for nvidia's refusal to open up to the free software community.

      nVidias stance is pretty simple: No open source support, period. No specifications, no features of really any kind in the open nv drivers, no help to those who ask, no nothing.

      What they have delivers is addition to hardware is a great closed source driver which have simply been the best in terms of perforamnce, features and quality for anything better than integrated graphics. Catalyst (AMD/ATIs driver) has been a mess and despite improving greatly since AMD took over, they're not there yet. While AMD has opened their specifications, the open source Radeon drivers are far, far off from the closed source drivers still. AMD has still said their primary commitment is Catalyst, so who knows when if it'll ever get as good as that, which I said isn't as good as nVidia's.

      nVidia has constantly been the ones pushing the boundries for what the Linux desktop can do. Just recently before Christmas they delivered the first working hardware accelerated h.264/vc-1 HD playback /VDPAU) and it's available on pretty much all mainstream nVidia cards. ATI is thinking of maybe adding UVD support to their closed source driver and any open source support is unlikely and certainly not coming soon. Poulsbo is the first I've heard from Intel that actually supports VA API and it sure isn't mainstream motherboards.

      You talk as if nVidia has been keeping open source back and maybe the open source infrastructure would have been better if nVidia worked with them instead of doing their own thing. But the Linux desktop? I doubt it. It's been over a year since AMDs first release of specifications, go check out the current state of the open source drivers. When you come back, you might realize that for a long time, the best way to show a Linux desktop has been a nVidia machine with proprietary drivers, not ideologically pure but it works well. But sure, blame the guy up front plowing the road for not towing the open source community too. If the open source community could pull it off, they have the chance now as AMDs specs are in the open, that excuse is gone. Put up or STFU.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by LingNoi (1066278)

        If I had mod points you'd be getting them. Everything you said was spot on.

      • by Zebedeu (739988)

        What they have delivers is addition to hardware is a great closed source driver which have simply been the best in terms of perforamnce, features and quality for anything better than integrated graphics

        Really? I my laptop I keep getting little drawing errors here and there (window borders are weird, etc), and sometimes the whole screen becomes corrupted to hell. I have to close the laptop screen and reopen it.

        I've been having problems with nVidia drivers since I got this laptop 2 years ago, and thorugh all the versions of drivers, kernels and compiz, there was always something which was breaking.

        Comparatively, this computer with the open source driver, or my other computers with Intel drivers work perfect

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ion.simon.c (1183967)

          Here's the problem, boss.
          The PP lives in a video-game-playing world. You and I live in a desktop-effects and xrender-acceleration world. Our world gets the short end of the stick 'cause it's not very sexy.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Three things I didn't say:
          1. The nVidia driver is best on integrated graphics. I was talking about the field where Intel isn't playing.
          2. The nVidia driver is bug free. Hell no, it got issues like everything else.
          3. It's the best at keeping track of kernel and xorg changes. They're not, sometimes support for new interfaces and whatnot comes slowly. nVidia hooks into X lots of places to do what they do, and it can mess up things. If all you want is a simple driver that can show you a pretty picture, there ar

          • by Zebedeu (739988)

            3. It's the best at keeping track of kernel and xorg changes. They're not, sometimes support for new interfaces and whatnot comes slowly. nVidia hooks into X lots of places to do what they do, and it can mess up things. If all you want is a simple driver that can show you a pretty picture, there are better options. Their strength is when there's something serious to do in the driver that you're not getting from the rest.

            I don't know. Intel seems to have been doing well in keeping their open source driver up to date (except in the case of this story). Maybe their hardware sucks harder than nVidia's, but at least the driver doesn't have a history of bugs and slow adaptation like it's closed-source counterparts.

            But keep your blindfolds on, man. They look comfortable on you.

      • Re:!gonvidia (Score:5, Insightful)

        by darkmeridian (119044) <william...chuang@@@gmail...com> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @06:26PM (#26680619) Homepage

        Linux open source purists want special treatment from manufacturers, and it makes no sense. ATI opens specs but their Linux drivers suck. nVidia has great Linux desktop support that advances the state of the art for Linux, as you admit, but they didn't release an open-source driver so you knock them for that.

        But nVidia does not release the source code for Windows, either. They are treating all the operating systems exactly the same. Why would a non-zealot go with ATI when nVidia's closed source driver is far superior?

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Advancing the state of art and going open source isn't mutually exclusive so if you'd like them to do both that's rational. As for the rest, I think everyone is on a line between the purely factual "this is what Linux is, ideology means nothing" to RMS "ideology is everything". I'm nowhere near a purist though I run Linux, I use the blob and I run Windows in a virtualbox and will gladly fire up the closed source games I can make work in WINE. That said I cleary prefer open source because I have a belief tha

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You mean you're not using open source chips?
  • If the Linux community wants open driver development, then, it should write them. Intel made an open source driver, and now the author is condemning the code? Geez, how about fixing it! If you want something to be community owned, well that community has to step up. It's not Intel's responsibility.

    • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:21PM (#26679859) Homepage

      Even if the driver is open source, the chipset documentation might not be. As others have mentioned, it's hard to know how to write a good driver working with nothing more than a bad driver. You need good documentation.

    • by Ritchie70 (860516) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:21PM (#26679861) Journal

      Based on reading the various linked things, it appears that one primary complaint is that it isn't, in fact, sensibly released. There are bits and pieces of it scattered about but AdamWill can't actually find a whole release that actually works.

    • by Pecisk (688001) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:31PM (#26679925)

      It is undocumented and it has binary blob. Though scenario, even for very smart Xorg driver fellas.

    • by AdamWill (604569) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:50PM (#26680033) Homepage

      Intel *didn't* make an open source driver. If you read my post, you'll note that there's three different closed-source components to the driver, without which significant features break.

      Aside from that, what's needed for meaningful open source development is not "here's some code, have fun". There needs to be a proper development process hosted in an accessible fashion, and proper documentation. The 'intel' driver for previous Intel chipsets satisfies all of these goals. It's 100% open-source, it's developed within X.org and so easily accessible to external contributions in a widely-understood fashion, and the hardware is properly documented.

      This 'psb' driver satisfies none of the goals. It was previously hosted within Moblin (which doesn't really have much of an external development community), and even that version of the code is now not being used. It now only shows up in obscure Ubuntu Netbook Remix repositories, with no independent source that anyone can find. So there's no sane development process to which external people can sensibly contribute. It contains large closed-source chunks. And there's no public hardware documentation, which makes it very hard for anyone else to work on it in the first place.

      This is what I (and anyone else stuck with one of these chips) am complaining about.

  • Intel has a reputation as one of the most clued-up open source-friendly hardware companies, ...

    That's interesting, because I've noticed that many of the FOSS folks I know (the ones that seem especially zealous) have a particular disdain for Intel or anything they've touched. Could anyone clue me in regarding why? Usually when one of my FOSS friends goes on a rant about this, he's too worked up to be comprehensible.

    • Re:Bit of a tangent (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:18PM (#26679831)
      Possibly because your friend is an idiot who has no idea what he's talking about? Intel release huge amounts of documentation, freely, they were one of the first companies to write and push their own drivers into the Linux kernel tree and almost all of their hardware is well supported with OSS drivers.
      • Re:Bit of a tangent (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:32PM (#26679929)

        I'd agree. I had a rather nasty return on a DV6990 HP laptop. It was trash, but that's aside the point.

        I went and bought a T61, all intel down to the graphics card. Better wattage drain and complete open source drivers. Ubuntu detects everything on here, with exception to the HD APS system, which I can do without (it drains batt 2w extra).

        And then, I find out that Intel releases everything about their 3d system.. And because of that, Linux devs are working on a Graphical Memory Manager, called GEM. Come to find out, it only works for Intel because they're soo open. They know they sell hardware, not their drivers.

        Hopefully, AMD/ATI will follow and do the same. Wonder where that leaves nVidia...

        • Re:Bit of a tangent (Score:5, Informative)

          by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @05:37PM (#26680333) Homepage

          You got modded up, so I get to correct you.

          GEM (Graphics Execution Manager) is only working for Intel because they have more people working on it. There's only around four or five people working on Radeon stuff, and of those, only two of us are dedicated to ATI work, and we're both students.

          If you grab development snapshots, you can see Radeons working with DRI2, GEM, KMS, and all that fancy stuff.

          • All the better to be corrected by someone who _knows_ :)
            (i read your sig)

            Much appreciated.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Ant P. (974313)

            Just to be an asshole, I'm going to correct you too with a car analogy!

            GEM is working on Intel because they're the ones who initially wrote it. It's a bit like showing up at a road race with an antigravity mach-1 craft invented in secret, then handing out schematics to it to the other drivers and speeding off over the horizon.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          And then, I find out that Intel releases everything about their 3d system.. And because of that, Linux devs are working on a Graphical Memory Manager, called GEM. Come to find out, it only works for Intel because they're soo open.

          Wow, way to be off the mark. Before GEM, every driver did their own memory management. With GEM it is being done by a common memory manager in the kernel. Pretty much all the open drivers (intel, radeon, nouveau) are in the process of moving to GEM, which was a very recent addition to the kernel (2.6.28). AMD and nVidias blobs will probably continue to use their own memory manager. In short, everyone has a variation of what GEM does already and redoing the memory management (well, not all of it but enough)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by makomk (752139)
          Funny story really... originally, everyone was working on something called TTM, which did much the same thing as GEM does now, and was designed to be suitable for all graphics cards. Progress was slow (mostly volunteer developers) but steady. Then the Intel driver's developers decided they wanted to go their own way, and ripped it out in favour of their own simpler solution, GEM - which only worked for Intel graphics hardware. Since Intel was the only open hardware at the time, they got their way. So the re
        • I have a T61 with the intel 965 chipset too, and while I appreciate that it works better out of the box than I imagine an nvidia or ati video card does, I *do* occasionally have issues with it.

          Now, I love the T61 in general - though not everything worked perfectly when I first got it a year ago, development has really come along well and just about everything works great (save for the HD APS as you mentioned, and fingerprint scanner support is still not really usable.)

          Of course, I did get mine with SUSE pre

    • by HeronBlademaster (1079477) <heron@xnapid.com> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @04:28PM (#26679899) Homepage

      Intel's wireless 3945ABG Linux drivers are pretty good. The firmward microcode is released under a closed-source license, but the drivers themselves are open source (and in fact are part of the Linux kernel). That may be offensive to some OSS purists, but I'd rather have good, open-source drivers with closed firmware than non-functional open-source drivers.

      It's the same with my opinion about nvidia's drivers. Sure, they're closed-source. But I'd rather nVidia give us working 3d drivers than be stuck with the crappy open-source 2d-only nv driver. It'd be nice if they were open-source, but I'm not going to refuse to use them out of some misguided idealism.

      Put another way, if I'm dying of thirst, and a known thief offers me stolen water, I'm going to drink it - it's not like the water is tainted. Maybe that makes me an accessory to a crime (or, in software terms, maybe it encourages closed drivers) but it's better than dying of thirst (or, better than having no 3d drivers at all). nVidia has no real motivation to give us open-source 3d drivers in the first place, so refusing to use their closed driver won't make them change their minds.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nick Ives (317)

        The firmward microcode is released under a closed-source license

        That'd be because it contains the code to physically setup the device and any variation to it would cause it to break its FCC certification.

        There's a fuzzy line between device level firmware which nobody ever wants to change (because it could cause your machine to literally blow up) and the driver code which, of course, we want to be free. Apparently it's because hardware manufacturers have shifted away from having firmware on a ROM and instead started distributing the microcode with the driver instead. It

        • I wasn't saying I disagreed with the decision, I was only clarifying which parts were open source and which parts weren't.

          I have noticed, however, that the Windows driver allows a larger range of settings than the Linux driver (unless I'm woefully uneducated about how to change the settings in Linux). For example, I can boost the transmit power in the Windows driver getting me better signal strength on some networks, but I can't do the same (or, I'm unaware of how to do so) for the Linux driver, meaning I

          • by pipatron (966506)

            $ man iwconfig

            ...

            txpower

            For cards supporting multiple transmit powers, sets the transmit power in dBm. If W is the power in Watt, the power in dBm is P = 30 + 10.log(W).

            If the value is postfixed by mW, it will be automatically converted to dBm.

            In addition, on and off enable and disable the radio, and auto and fixed enable and disable power control (if those features are available).

            Examples :

            • iwconfig eth0 txpower 15
            • iwconfig eth0 txpower 30mW
            • iwconfig eth0 tx
    • by WeblionX (675030)

      It's probably because he's zealous. Zealotry tends to fry one's brain.

    • Intel eepro10/100 cards are really good, as is their wireless stuff. Your friend is talking shit- except Intel pretended that AMD didn't do 64 bits first.

    • That's interesting, because I've noticed that many of the FOSS folks I know (the ones that seem especially zealous) have a particular disdain for Intel or anything they've touched. Could anyone clue me in regarding why?

      I'm guessing that, rather than supporting FOSS because of the ethics of free software, they're just people who support the underdogs, which happens to include FOSS in the software world, and exclude Intel in the CPU world.

  • by HRbnjR (12398) <chris@hubick.com> on Saturday January 31, 2009 @08:08PM (#26681141) Homepage

    I fell in love with the Poulsbo based Panasonic CF-U1 ruggedized MID. Once I saw Intel did the graphics hardware and that they had a Linux driver, I bought the thing. Knowing Intel has been doing such a great job maintaining their desktop Linux stuff (i810 driver, etc) I just trusted them, and as you can see by this article, what a mistake that turned out to be.

  • by drolli (522659) on Saturday January 31, 2009 @11:03PM (#26681925) Journal

    Honestly, i am sure this is how many "we have to hit the shelfes before 8am yesterday , because this chipset is now the cheapest one"-drivers for windows are developed. Copy and paste everything into your driver instead of defining the dependencies correctly. After all in the end it is a single dll which may be several megabyte of size, nobody looks into that anyway. Nobidy cares in five year. until that time, recommend to everybody using the recovery CD. If things break by an windows update, it's clearly MS fault, isn't it? BTW. MS never certified the driver, so MS clearly says its the manufacturers fault. Just turn of the acceleration - good luck.

    In this game there a now three compnaies involved, all of which want to earn money. And the customers of none of the three companies care right now about this driver issue.

    -Dell: Customer is happy with Ubuntu, turned it on, worked. When ubuntu upgrades the kernel, dell will pay the driver developer
    -Driver developer: copying and pasting saved some time, specification most likely said: should run on ubuntu. Dell is obviously happy
    -Intel: Dell as a customer is happy to buy cheap parts.

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