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NVIDIA Developer Talks Openly About Linux Support

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  • NVIDIA Developer Talks Openly About Linux Support

    Phoronix: NVIDIA Developer Talks Openly About Linux Support

    In late August we started asking our readers for any questions they had for NVIDIA about Linux and this graphics company's support of open-source operating systems. Twelve pages worth of questions were accumulated and we finally have the answers to a majority of them. NVIDIA's Andy Ritger, who leads the user-space side of the NVIDIA UNIX Graphics Driver team for workstation, desktop, and notebook GPUs, answered these questions. With that said, there are some great, in-depth technical answers and not the usual marketing speak found in many interviews. While Linux is our focus, Andy's team and his answers for the most part apply equally to NVIDIA drivers on Solaris and FreeBSD platforms too. There are many questions that range from the status of new features in their proprietary graphics driver to why it is unlikely there will be any official open-source support from NVIDIA to download percentages of their Linux driver.

  • #2
    Nice article !!

    vim FTW ! :E


    • #3
      Yeah good interview. It did just have the effect of making me more sure that I'll stick with AMD though


      • #4
        Nothing new...

        Nothing new:
        - NO KMS
        - NO Gallium3D
        - NO EXA
        - NO SLI, NO All-Good-NVIDIA-Windowzer-Stuuf
        - NO everything to a Linux NVIDIA Customer

        I'm really thinking in changing to ATI, since I don't use this #$#@ they call Windows.

        Thanks NVIDIA for supporting us, Linux users


        • #5

          - Linux is a bit of a pain to ship binary modules for, but it's manageable

          - they can't open-source their existing proprietary driver for various legal and business reasons

          - most of the proprietary 3D code is shared between Linux and Windows

          - Gallium3D is cool but won't replace the proprietary drivers, and it's impractical to port the proprietary drivers to it

          - Linux support is primarily driven by OEMs selling to deep-pocketed customers with specialized needs, but they try to enhance the experience for the little guy when they can

          Why does this all seem so familiar?

          ATI does go the extra mile in providing docs and actively supporting open-source driver development (which is more important to some people than others), but on the whole I don't think we're seeing two radically different views.


          • #6
            I'm really thinking in changing to ATI, since I don't use this #$#@ they call Windows.

            Thanks NVIDIA for supporting us, Linux users
            Reply With Quote
            As i use both ATI HD4580 and Nvidia 9400 IGP on two computers, it is much better experience with Nvidia.
            As for the drivers/features, they made significant improvement in the recent years.
            Since Nvidia is about making money, they do pay attention to things according to demand. I don't really care about drivers being binary or open source. They do have the right to keep their little secrets to be able to success on the market.
            And of course Linux environment have to be improved to be more friendly for game developers.
            Games will bring masses. It is the most common reason for Linux denial that i heard from people under age of 30.
            Most people do not want to reboot their computers to play games.
            they will use system that does most of their needs.


            • #7
              the one exception being that we don't have plans to backport recent X server support to the 71.86.xx driver branch
              I have a PC that is used for office work with tnt2 ... (the geforce 4200 in it DIED so I replaced it for old but working card)

              Probably not too many people will cry about not supporting new Xorg but I will ...

              Oh well I'm not planning on buying nvidia cards anymore anyway so for this one case I will have to try nouveau once I'll have to upgrade that box.


              • #8
                Thank you for this article.

                I think that such a high % of code sharing between windows and Unix drivers will prevent nVidia from implementing many new trendy and innovative features that are peculiar to Linux. And it'll prevent them from releasing any tech docs too.

                I think that nowadays users have a far better experience with nVidia drivers rather than with AMD ones. But IMHO AMD's way could be winning in a long term horizon.
                And kudos to them for releasing so many documents and manuals for the DIY FOSS developers...

                Having a confirmation that drivers are developed mainly on the needs of OEM and professional workstation users make me sad, because that sounds like they'll put general desktop users on a low consideration. Let alone gamers

                GO nouveau team , go!

                *me, radeon HD3650 and nv9400M user
                Last edited by TeoLinuX; 10-20-2009, 12:49 PM.
                Netrunner Linux - Rolling Release ; Nexus 5 ROM Chroma 5.1 ; NAS 6TB on FreeNAS


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Raine View Post
                  - NO KMS
                  Read again.

                  - NO Gallium3D
                  What for? NVidia's driver already has excellent acceleration w/ NVidia's own framework.

                  - NO EXA
                  Again, why? NVidia already provides fast 2D acceleration and did so before EXA saw the light of the day.

                  - NO SLI, NO All-Good-NVIDIA-Windowzer-Stuuf
                  I'm not sure what you mean. SLI works fine.

                  That being said, I think it's a bit sad that NVidia won't be able to help the Nouveau guys. At least some hardware documentation under NDA would be pretty nice, if nothing else seems to be possible.
                  Last edited by greg; 10-20-2009, 12:55 PM.


                  • #10
                    - We have developed substantial IP in our graphics driver that we do not want to expose.
                    Come on. Look at the Linux kernel, 10+ million line of code. id Software's Quake series have earned 1+ billion Dollars to id, Google Chrome and V8, Mozilla's Firefox, Sun's Open Office, GIMP, the list goes on.

                    "developed substantial IP" is not a winning argument.

                    If it is in nVidia's interest to keep that code secret, you should release documentation, so hackers won't find your precious code in their reverse engineering process, and release it as GPL.

                    They won't know when they hit your precious IP's, so they'll just release it when they find it.

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