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Displays GNU is Not Unix Graphics

DisplayLink Releases LGPL USB Graphics Code 61

iso writes "USB graphics should be coming to Linux soon: DisplayLink has released an LGPL library that talks to one of its graphics chips over a USB connection. DisplayLink aren't one of the big guys in graphics, but it's always nice to see a hardware manufacturer go the open source route. Now, when can I get one of these touchscreen MIMOs on my Linux HTPC?"
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DisplayLink Releases LGPL USB Graphics Code

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  • "coming" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:37PM (#27980583)

    Are you forgetting about sisusb x.org driver ? How is this anything other than a slashvertisement?

    • Re:"coming" (Score:5, Funny)

      by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:47PM (#27980631) Journal

      Well it worked... I've already used up all my actual graphics outputs and now I'm trying to think of an excuse (other than "it's cool") to get an expensive USB touchscreen.

      Damn companies trying to trick me with that whole "making stuff I want to buy" scam.

      • Damn companies trying to trick me with that whole "making stuff I want to buy" scam.


        I'm not too fond of gadgets, but admittedly, that MIMO (or at least the functionality it provides) really caught my eye. I'd imagine something like it could one day be in everyone's living room.

        Then again, most of the gadgets being sold today can be a real bitch for someone other than a Windows or Mac user. Even the simplest device, if advertised as standards compliant and requiring no special drivers, usually means "

        • I don't have firsthand experience; but FTDI says that [ftdichip.com] there are drivers for its USB/serial products for FreeBSD. FTDI based usb/serial converters are reasonably common. Both Sparkfun and Adafruit industries use them a lot with their arduino related products.

          Reports also suggest [ipnom.com] that the PL-2303 is supported in FreeBSD. You can get an adapter based on it from Sparkfun [sparkfun.com].

          It's a nuisance not to be able to just grab anything; but it looks like you do have options.
      • It really worked. The link on TFA shows that the Mimo Monitor is sold out.

        Well it worked... I've already used up all my actual graphics outputs and now I'm trying to think of an excuse (other than "it's cool") to get an expensive USB touchscreen.

        Damn companies trying to trick me with that whole "making stuff I want to buy" scam.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        Well how about a Home media and automation controller?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Molochi ( 555357 )

      The Displaylink driver accomidates a lot of USB display adapters and notebook docking stations made by a variety of manufacturers. HP, Samsung, EVGA, etc... have USB display devices that can use this driver. There's not much to bitch about here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kuciwalker ( 891651 )
      Have you ever read the code for that? It's impenetrable! (I've tried to port it to other OS's.)
    • For whatever reason(I don't know if the chips are cheaper, work better, are marketed better, or what) SIS usb based stuff seems to be on its way to obscurity and death, while displaylink based stuff is becoming more common.

      Your point is valid, in that displaylink wasn't the first, by several years, to do USB graphics or the first to do USB graphics that work on Linux; but, because of the current marketshare, a displaylink driver is now bigger news than sisusb for most applications.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 )

      This is big, because the eVGA UV Plus USB videocards are powered by this company's chips, and those cards can sometimes be found for as little as $20.

      They are now (in theory) Windows, OSX, and Linux compatible.

      This could potentially be a very cheap way to add more monitors to a setup, regardless of OS, for use in mostly static tasks like programming, spreadsheets, browsing websites, etc.

  • by binaryspiral ( 784263 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:44PM (#27980617)

    It's always good to see more hardware developers opening their drivers to Linux development. I think more and more companies are realizing that linux desktops are not going to be the defacto standard, but that Linux will be in a lot of gear that could use their devices. Getting their drivers and devices cozy with linux only works in everybody's favor.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Maybe they're starting to understand that most Linux users are just the type of people who like buying gadgets.

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      Maybe they think this could be useful for servers and embedded as wel, where there is a lot of stuff running Linux.

  • Is it any more then a small display gimmick ?

    I mean, feeding my monitor/tv through USB would be nice, but there must be some technical glitch like lack of bandwidth for higher resolutions and frame rates.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tawnos ( 1030370 )

      One of the guys here was trying DisplayLink over wireless USB - driving a high res picture at close to real time. It actually does a pretty good job, though the drivers are still a mess and really hack around the display stack.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Briareos ( 21163 ) *

      Is it any more then a small display gimmick ?

      I mean, feeding my monitor/tv through USB would be nice, but there must be some technical glitch like lack of bandwidth for higher resolutions and frame rates.

      Of course it's not enough bandwidth for streaming video, but it's more than adequate for browsing the web (sans YouTube) or (gasp) working on an extra (up to 1600x1200) monitor...

      More info can be found here [displaylink.com].

      np: Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Streets Of Philedelphia (Advance Base Battery Life)

      • by Zerth ( 26112 )

        Agreed, given the bandwidth of USB, it can't do a good frame rate at any decent resolution without sacrificing color depth, but it is plenty for office work.

        After upgrading the last office holdouts to LCDs, I saw a Tritton widget on clearance. It did 1600x1200 @ 60hz, could go larger with a drop in frame rate or color depth, but I was only replacing 17" CRTs. It was an easy way to get some more screens on my desk:)

        These look to be a bit better. Hopefully run cooler, mine gets rather toasty.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )

        I don't know what level this works in, but a decade ago we were running six X terminals with around a 1024x768[1] displays over a single, shared, 10Mb/s network. USB 1.0 gives this much bandwidth and USB 2 gives over an order of magnitude more. If you are streaming commands like 'draw line' and 'composite texture' then USB 2 provides far more than enough bandwidth. It's also enough to stream decent quality compressed video, so if the CPU can encode the video streams and the USB device can decode them you

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by N4EA ( 970928 )
      I use one of their units to drive a second 22" display from my Macbook Pro. It works wonderfully for everything EXCEPT watching videos. Terminal sessions, Eclipse coding environments, email etc are seamless on it. As another poster said though, it doesn't have the bandwidth to deal with video very well, but I knew that going in and that wasn't my reason for buying it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Is it any more then a small display gimmick ?

      Maybe, but now that these screens seem to get linux support you can also do some pretty cool stuff with them. Get a really small ARM board like a Gumstix Overo or Beagleboard and you can make a pretty cool computer out of it that acts as a digital picture frame, clock, micro webserver, RSS reader, whatever you can think of.

      I've actually been looking for a small USB screen that works with Linux for ages, so this is pretty cool news. Maybe now I can put my ARM board to use as a wireless DPF annex information

      • Why not get a Chumby [chumby.com]?
        • I've looked at the chumby, but I don't like the design and form factor. Also you'd more or less need to 'hack' it to have it do more than it's supposed to do, which is showing chumby applets in Flash. But they're nice devices though, only not what I'm looking for.

      • If you're using a BeagleBoard, you'd be better off using its built-in DVI-D output for video than a USB adaptor. That leaves the USB adaptor free for connecting a USB network device.
        • External small displays with dvi-d are hard to find and ridiculously expensive, I've not found a single one for less then $300. The Samsung U70 7" screen I can get for less than $80. The USB connection is not really an issue, as with my revision of the Beagleboard you need to attach a powered HUB anyway, to power the board and to get the port in USB host mode (it's an USB on-the-go port that acts as a slave otherwise).

        • Speaking of the BeagleBoard, there's no way to pass audio through that HDMI connector, is there? Possibly splice HDMI and a 3.5mm connector together?

          That's probably the single most dissapointing part about the beagleboard, the lack of audio over HDMI. I know it's licensing issues, but it would have made the beagleboard the best HTPC for sub-1080p setups.

          • No, the BeagleBoard doesn't really have HDMI. It just has DVI, but they use an HDMI connector because it's smaller.
    • Is it any more then a small display gimmick ?

      Obviously it doesn't have the bandwidth to be high performance, but nowadays you even get "docking stations" (I use the scare quotes because I was horrified when I realized this) that use a single USB connection (i.e monitor, network, keboard, mouse - the whole shebang over a single USB connection).

      If you've just doing business graphics I guess it's OK. Not really meant for viewing video or playing games, etc.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I have a Samsung USB monitor which is 800x480 with 32 bit colour.

      You can play video on it without problems. It doesn't even tax your CPU that much.

      Of more use though is having a second screen to keep things like an IM client, system stats, RSS feeds and info like keyboard shortcuts on. I have a 24" main monitor which allows me to have code on one side and a datasheet/web browser/more code on the other side which is something I can't recommend enough, but even so it's nice to have "non-work" related things a

  • Does that mean that USB docking stations are now supported?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It means that video through usb for devices (like notebook docking stations) that use Displaylink are supported.

  • I'm actually ecstatic that this has come along. I have a small computer in my car and I've been working ever so slowly using an arduino kit to interface into my old analog dials (86 Fiero), and I can at the moment, display RPM, Speed, and I'm working on temperature/oil pressure.

    The thing that's sucked about all this is I have the computer underneath a seat, with a regular ol' LCD panel bolted into the middle of the car, running off of a 12v/110v inverter. (the dash has been torn out so it's using the me

    • by snaz555 ( 903274 )
      Me too! This is totally, positively, awesome. I looked through the code and it should port super easy to any system that can provide a libusb-like host interface to the USB bus. Which isn't exactly tough. First I'm going to use it to drive a display using an Olimex LPC-E2468 [olimex.com] running plain uCLinux just to check it out; then I plan to port it to my own (MIT license) networking RTOS. This is exactly what I have been looking for!
  • by mikeselectricstuff ( 556110 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @04:47PM (#27981463) Homepage
    From a quick reading of the pdf, it looks like this is just an API to draw simple shapes on the remote display, NOT do all the clever automatic smart compression stuff that their Windows driver does to provide additional monitors. Potentially useful, but nowhere near equivalent functionality to the Windows/Mac versions.
  • Nearly useless.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dr.matrix ( 36588 ) <dr@matrix.gmx@net> on Saturday May 16, 2009 @05:54PM (#27981919) Homepage

    ..for several reasons:
    - they left out the compression
    - they have deliberately obfuscated the init sequences (haha, big deal, see below)
    - and they didn't put in anything beyond the stuff which we already
        reverse-engineered in January (see http://floe.butterbrot.org/displaylink/ [butterbrot.org] ).


  • Anyone have an Idea about what are system requirements?

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