Mark Shuttleworth, the self-made millionaire and leader of the Ubuntu project, has been very vocal about the adoption of free software and that "the free software approach is a better device driver development model." But what does Mark think about AMD's announcements this week with the 8.41 display driver and the just-announced program where AMD will be handing out specifications under NDA and helping out the open-source community? Mark Shuttleworth has provided Phoronix some of his initial thoughts on ATI/AMD's new Linux push.
When we interviewed Mark Shuttleworth earlier this year, he had shared some of his thoughts on open-source drivers and the use of restricted drivers within Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn, but ultimately he had stated that he would like to see everything down to the firmware being free software. Well, does AMD's move help him in his mission? Mark Shuttleworth had told us today, "ATI's moves will greatly improve the experience of ATI graphics hardware users with Linux. In the longer term, I think ATI will also prove to be a leader, establishing a roadmap for other companies that provide consumer hardware for the desktop market and who want to address the Linux market. Intel has already been very successful in the laptop market, so ATI's desktop moves suggest that the consumer PC segment is becoming much more aware of Linux."
There were initially some thoughts that the ATI fglrx 8.41 driver would end up making its way into the Ubuntu 7.10 default package set, however, that will not be the case. Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" is already in a feature freeze for its October release and this schedule does not allow the fglrx 8.41 driver to be included. The fglrx 8.41 also lacks FireGL workstation support and AIGLX support will not arrive until October in the fglrx 8.42 driver. However, Canonical will be looking at ways to make this fglrx driver available as an update once the driver has been released and tested. Alternatively, users of Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn and Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon can just build the Ubuntu packages from ATI's official Linux installer.
As would be expected, the new ATI driver will be included in the Ubuntu 8.04 LTS release known as "Hardy Heron". Mark had shared: "And we do expect our next release, in April 2008, to have fully integrated ATI's new work. That will be an LTS release, with Long Term Support, so ATI's timing is excellent for enterprise customers considering Ubuntu desktop deployments in call centres or engineering labs."
Mark Shuttleworth had ended his email message this morning with, "I'm really pleased to see this announcement from ATI. Intel is to be congratulated on setting the pace, and ATI for showing that this approach can make sense in the consumer desktop space." At Phoronix we would like to thank Mark Shuttleworth for taking the time to provide his feedback on this announcement and be sure to check out Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon this October. Find out more in the Phoronix Forums.