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Graphics Open Source Hardware Linux

Nvidia Drops Support For Its Open Source Driver 412

Posted by timothy
from the let-them-eat-text dept.
An anonymous reader writes "While Nvidia is not open-source friendly (despite public outcries over the years), they have traditionally supported the xf86-video-nv driver to provide basic mode setting support and other basic functionality. However, with the 'Fermi' and future products, even that open source support will cease to exist. Nvidia has announced they are dropping this open source support for future GPUs and really ending it altogether. Nvidia's recommendation is to just use the generic X.Org VESA driver to navigate their way to nvidia.com so that they can install the proprietary driver. Fortunately there is the Nouveau project that provides a 2D and 3D video driver for Nvidia's hardware, but Nvidia fails to acknowledge it nor support their efforts in any form." David Gerard points out that Nouveau is going into Linux 2.6.33.
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Nvidia Drops Support For Its Open Source Driver

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  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:53PM (#31633752)

    How is this a surprise?
    This is about as newsworthy as mono being a patent minefield and a bad idea.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:59PM (#31633796) Homepage Journal
    I've made it a habit to avoid nVidia chips in the laptops (especially - because you can't change cards in a laptop) and other computers that I purchase. This only confirms that decision. I'm not a gamer, but obviously lots of software uses 3D hardware these days.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:01PM (#31633838)

    Television Advertisement: "So use your computer to go to [PRODUCT WEBSITE] today!"
    msauve: "What does this mean? Is my "computer" now a web browser?"

    PROTIP: Substituting idiocy for pedantry doesn't make you look cool. Not even on slashdot.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:03PM (#31633862)
    NVidia is also voting with their wallet. They seem to feel that they're not getting enough in additional sales to cover the cost of supporting the open source driver.
  • Re:Bad move.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:08PM (#31633926)

    To be fair ATI makes crap drivers for all platforms, not just linux.

  • Slow news day? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:11PM (#31633952)

    As nouveau reaches maturity, nvidia is simply putting the 'nv' driver out of its misery.

    Were nvidia to discontinue its binary driver, now that would be news but it isn't.

  • by GenP (686381) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:11PM (#31633954)

    buy intel video cards

    Oh? Where can I buy offboard Intel video cards?

  • No surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrsam (12205) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:16PM (#31633994) Homepage
    If someone was actually surprised by this, they haven't been paying attention. Although Nvidia has been providing a non-free binary blob driver for Linux, I've always gotten the impression that it was mostly an afterthought. It took them forever to produce a 64 bit version of their binary blob, long after Linux on x86_64 became commonplace. And, of course, they never, AFAIK, built anything for non-x86 Linux platforms. This is just Nvidia's death spiral. Their future looks rather bleak. Both Intel and AMD have their own GPUs, now. Pretty much every motherboard now has onboard video which, for nearly everyone is perfectly adequate. The market for add-on video cards has no future. Intel offers excellent free drivers, which are already bundled in most distros. I no longer buy new hardware as often as I used to, but when I do, for desktop use I always look for Intel chipsets. I know that accelerated 3D video will work out of the box, on my distro. AMD -- eh, not that much, but they're working on it, from where I'm sitting. So, Nvidia is odd man's out. They always had a 'tude towards Linux. I won't miss them.
  • by ross.w (87751) <rwonderley.gmail@com> on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:17PM (#31634004) Journal

    Try playing Quake 4 on an Intel Video card. Let us know how you get on.

  • by hduff (570443) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ffudtyoh}> on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:20PM (#31634044) Homepage Journal

    Do your homework.

    When you find a really good video card that does 3D well in Linux without proprietary drivers, please let us know.

    Only we won't be holding our breath.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:27PM (#31634108)

    Then you might as well use the closed source driver. This does not change their position on that.

  • by PixelSlut (620954) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:28PM (#31634114)
    Try playing Quake 4 on nvidia Fermi using VESA and let me know how you get on. Seriously, for many people out there Quake 4 is just not a reasonable measure of a video chip. I don't play Quake 4 on my Linux machine. If I want to play video games I go fire up the PS3 or plug a monitor into my Windows box and turn it on. I do basically everything else in Linux now. I don't need insane graphics to do it. I need something good enough to run mutter or compiz, and ideally I'd love to have something with KMS support. That's really about it.
  • Re:Bad move.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:51PM (#31634332)

    It works fine for most people, including hibernation, and works fine for building software. What exactly are you on about?

  • Re:Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:54PM (#31634358) Homepage Journal
    Discontinuing 'nv' wouldn't be an issue if NVIDIA were giving even the slightest help to the Nouveau project, but they're not.
  • by tbf (462972) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:05PM (#31634454) Homepage

    Well, Linux users might be multiplicators: Many of them are technology affine and therefore their family and friends might ask them for hardware recommendations. So if the Linux user only uses Intel or ATI (s)he'll hardly recommend nVidia cards to their family and friends, not? So probably nVidia managment needs to go back to business school and learn the maths.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:06PM (#31634460) Homepage Journal

    Just as I don't open up my TV to 'fix' things

    Saying that on Slashdot is sort of like walking into the wrong party. :-) I do open my TV to fix it, and I would suppose a lot of folks here do.

    Yes, if you figure you can always do what the boxes you buy wish to do for their real owners, you'll be fine, you'll just pay more and you'll be a slave of your tools.

  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:12PM (#31634526)

    Are you considering graphics cards as gaming accessories or graphics cards as parallel math coprocessors for the medium-end number crunching on a budget market? If you consider the latter then drivers for graphics card, which bring support for OpenCL, will make linux a worthwhile market segment. Where do you find people crunching numbers? Windows? OSX? No. All the cool kids crunch numbers with linux. [top500.org]

  • by DrYak (748999) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:13PM (#31634534) Homepage

    The big deal is in how it's handled.

    ATI way:
    They collaborate actively with the 3rd party open-source driver guys (RadeonHD project, etc.)
    They publish specs to help them, and take efforts to make subsequent hardware more opensource friendly.

    On the day they drop support for some old hardware from their official driver, they point to the opensource project which is mature enough by now for the old hardware.

    Nvidia way:
    Actively ignore that a 3rd party open-source driver effort exist (Nouveau).
    Don't make the slightest effort to help them and don't release anything (well, on the other hand, they don't send Cease and Desist letters at least).

    On the day they drop support for the own official opensource driver, they point to some other limited functionality driver (VESA BIOS based) so users have a GUI to download their official closed source driver.
    They pretend Nouveau doesn't exist at all, despite the fact that it's gaining widespread usage: Specially since inclusion in Kernel, virtually all distributions are starting to use it, either in the current or the next iteration.

    I mean that Nouveau is very probably what the 2.6.34 / 2.6.35 kernel-based distros are going to offer to Fermi owner (although very probably 2D only support).
    They could at least acknowledge its existence, even if only with the proper "Not supported by Nvidia" warnings.

  • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ardor (673957) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:17PM (#31634558)

    If you want hardware-accelerated OpenGL without lots of headache in Linux, you want Nvidia.
    If you want hardware-accelerated OpenGL that supports more than OpenGL 1.4 (which is an ancient version), you want Nvidia.

    ATI/AMD: driver headaches to no end. *Correct* OpenGL code causes kernel freezes, graphics glitches and so on.
    Intel: the older GMAs have terrible OpenGL support and are performance-wise in the 90s. The newest GMAs are OK for low-end stuff, but only because they are actually PowerVR SGX chips, and not made by Intel.

  • by Arker (91948) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:18PM (#31634576) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly it. The Nouveau driver team would happily write and support a proper free driver for the Nvidia cards if Nvidia would simply provide the specs rather than obfuscating and obstructing their work. But since they obstinantly refuse to quit being obstructionists and hinder these good folks, the upshot is that I get better performance with a simple Intel on-board graphics system than with a much more expensive Nvidia card. So I have no motivation to buy Nvidia - why would I pay more to get less?
  • by tftp (111690) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:27PM (#31634658) Homepage

    Why is it cheaper to support a proprietary driver where you have to do all the development yourself, then to help developing an open-source driver?

    You can't pick and choose developers in an open source project. And it will be very expensive to support people who may be not qualified for the job. You can't expect everyone to be familiar with hardware, or with driver coding, or with industry-standard methods. If you do the programming in-house you, as a manager, simply give the job to people who know how to do it right, and it gets done right.

    There is also that cathedral vs. bazaar problem. You, as a manager or as an experienced programmer, may know how certain things need to be done. Perhaps this is not your first project of this type. In the cathedral you simply issue directives how to do it, and it gets done exactly to your requirements (if not, they fix it until you like it.) In the bazaar you only can voice your opinion, and everyone else is free to ignore it. As result, if bazaar members are not as competent with this particular problem as you are, you may watch them making the same mistakes that you did 10 years ago. Meanwhile the software suffers, and your company's hardware is unfairly blamed for that. If the company supports the open-source model then it will be also said that "Company N is unable to make the feature X work, even though they allocated their best engineers to help the developers." Bad news. If you want something done right, do it yourself.

  • by Eskarel (565631) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:05PM (#31634994)

    The issue with that statement is that you're not looking for Linux users as the multiplier, you're looking for open source zealots.

    The nVidia drivers on linux are miles ahead of anything else on the platform in terms of quality vs features supported. For the most part, and excluding the brief periods after the kernel devs get frisky and change the driver APIs again, they just work, as well or better than any other Linux video driver and they provide a greater depth of features than any competing card or driver. This has been the case for more than 10 years now.

    ATI has equally good cards, but god awful proprietary drivers and no 3d support in the open source onces. Intel has full support in their drivers, but their cards are a joke. The only way in which either of these companies beats nVidia's performance on Linux is that nVidia's drivers are not open source.

    So your "Linux Users" has to be culled to "Linux Users who care more about ideology than functionality", not an insignificant group, but not as large as the first. Then you take into account that most normal people largely ignore the opinions of wide eyed zealots no matter their stripe, and the effect is limited again.

  • by smash (1351) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:14PM (#31635118) Homepage Journal
    ? seriously, most open source software on a linux box is not supported by any huge corporation to any great level of detail. the driver will still be there, it will still work in VESA mode. to get the best performance you have always had to install the binary driver. the binary driver, that nvidia have compiled most of will be far easier for them to provide proper support for, as they won't have to deal with idiots compiling it on their overclocked gentoo box with -o9 and then blaming nvidia support/hardware when it crashes and or won't compile.

    if there is a market for a competitive open source friendly (hell, open source hardware) 3d video card, someone will make it. currently, it does not appear to economically viable to be both open source and competitive, in the 3d hardware world.

    Until then, the binary driver will still exist.

  • by smash (1351) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:25PM (#31635232) Homepage Journal
    hello? nvidia is a publicly traded company who is in this to make money. they're not a person. I'll bet dollars to donuts that supporting this open source driver costs more money than it generates. Most of the linux users who truly care about open source 3d drivers should be on intel already anyway.
  • by smash (1351) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:53PM (#31635516) Homepage Journal
    Compiz will run on intel. You're not in the 3d card market.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @10:04PM (#31635646)
    The people affected by this are those who prefer a feature limited open source driver over a proprietary one. I highly doubt a closed source game is high on their list of priorities. That said, it gets 17 fps [notebookcheck.net].

    Personally, I had a pain of a time finding a laptop with h264 hardware acceleration, a screen that would actually benefit from 1080p, and open-source friendly hardware. But I did that so stuff like this wouldn't affect me, and accepted that I'd have a time lag [xkcd.com] with games.
  • Re:Bad move.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Friday March 26, 2010 @10:07PM (#31635674)

    Yes, because one should reinstall their OS every time they put in a new graphics card.

  • Re:Bad move.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Friday March 26, 2010 @11:05PM (#31636164) Homepage

    AMD has been providing documentation and sponsoring the free radeonhd drivers. Of course, they can't simply open fglrx - it probably has plenty of third-party code. But it's a nice move.

    Why should a company be obliged to open source its drivers so people can use hardware on hardware platforms they have not tested on and therefore do not support? Currently a Solaris hardware platform using products like the XVR series which I have worked on can cost 100's of dollars for a low end 2D card, and yeah that sucks; however, why wouldn't ATI reserve its rights on such platforms to release a workstation-class video card that costs maybe 3/4 the amount of the Sun offering but still costs 5-6x what a desktop version of the same GPU would cost? The only way they can do that is by keeping their drivers proprietary, and if I were them I would do the same thing as a publicly traded company.

    And why would we be obliged to buy cards from companies who don't provide open source drivers? Personally, I reserve my right to only buy cards with OSS driver support.

  • Re:Bad move.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nitehorse (58425) <clee@c133.org> on Friday March 26, 2010 @11:19PM (#31636276)

    Realistically speaking? Nobody cares about SPARC, least of all NVIDIA. They've got enough shit to worry about, with Intel squeezing them out of the northbridge chipset market (No, you can't have a DMI license!) and ATI/AMD kicking their ass in the general enthusiast market (have you seen the Radeon 5xxx series?).

    It's a damn good thing for them they had the foresight to get involved in the ARM business, because that may be the thing that keeps them alive for the next few years.

    The only thing that I found surprising about this announcement is how long it took for them to finally decide to kill it. The 'nv' driver wasn't doing them any good in the first place.

  • Technically, you can.

    The performance will make even the worst integrated graphics that you can buy nowadays look significantly better, but you can get Intel graphics on a Core i7. Or anything with a PCI slot, really.

    It's called the i740.

    I believe it'll work with the drivers for Intel integrated graphics, as the i740 is the direct predecessor of Intel's integrated graphics line, and IIRC, the i740 is actually the same as the i810's graphics hardware.

  • by RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @01:56AM (#31637252)
    Oh, you mean the same 3Dfx that tried to corner the market with their shitty "glide" API, meaning that only some games would work with the non-3Dfx card I purchased? To hell with them.

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