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NVIDIA Developer Talks Openly About Linux Support

Michael Larabel

Published on 20 October 2009
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 4 of 8 - 131 Comments

Q: Do you see the Linux gaming landscape changing drastically in the future?

For commercial game publishing on Linux: that is a tough question. John Carmack's post a while ago about the lack of incentives to a Rage Linux port [4] touched on some of the major challenges: lack of quality drivers, and lack of compelling market size. I was pleased to see TTimo's recent blog entry [5], indicating that he would try to do a Linux port on the side.

I can see some parallels between the NVIDIA Linux Graphics Driver Team and TTimo's situation: PC and console gaming pays the bills for Id, but Timo cares about Linux gaming and does what he can for Linux in his spare time. Similarly for NVIDIA Linux graphics: workstation graphics is where the Linux driver has the largest financial impact for NVIDIA. But as a team of Linux enthusiasts we are also passionate about consumer Linux graphics, and try to address more consumer-focused issues when we can.

Anyway, without a compelling Linux gamer customer base, it is hard to imagine many commercial game developers supporting Linux ports of their games. Like John alluded to in his comment, more Linux users paying for existing Linux titles like Quake Live will make the statistics more favorable for future Linux ports.

I should also add that there is more to be done on desktop Linux to make it a more attractive development or porting platform for Linux games: better graphics debugging tools, a convincing sound API story, and quality input handling (hopefully addressed by XI2).

I think other interesting avenues for Linux gaming include:

- Linux's recent success in netbook and handheld markets may lead to more Linux games developed for those platforms. Perhaps some of those will be interesting for Linux desktop use.

- Wine and TransGaming provide a way to run Direct3D games within Linux. Work is ongoing to continue to improve this path. Recently, several new OpenGL extensions were defined to make OpenGL semantics more closely match Direct3D semantics (thanks to TransGaming, Mark Kilgard from NVIDIA, and others at Codeweavers, Blizzard, Destineer, and Asypr). These extensions make it easier for applications like Cedega from TransGaming to map Direct3D on top of OpenGL, or for applications to interchange Direct3D/OpenGL graphics abstraction layers.

These GL extensions include:

GL_ARB_provoking_vertex [6]
GL_ARB_fragment_coord_conventions [7]
GL_ARB_vertex_array_bgra [8]
GL_EXT_direct_state_access [9]

I should note that the ARB extensions above were folded into OpenGL 3.2, which is supported by the latest NVIDIA 190.36 Linux drivers. Mark Kilgard's GPU Technology Conference slides "OpenGL 3.2 and More" [10] have a section on Direct3Disms in OpenGL.

- Hopefully open source Linux games (e.g., nexuiz [11]) will continue to evolve and mature. FWIW, I still love playing xpilot[12] :)

- As more applications move to the web browser via plugins for technologies like Flash and Silverlight, the underlying operating system may matter less.

Q: Are there any intentions to port future NVIDIA technology demos to Linux?

I definitely hope so, but I'm not really involved in our tech demos.

Q: Is NVIDIA encouraging its AIB/OEM/ODM partners to advertise Linux support on their products or to display the Tux logo?

I'm pretty removed from that, so I can't really say.

Q: Are any AIB/OEM/ODM partners distributing NVIDIA Linux driver(s) on their driver CDs?

Yes, several major OEMs distribute the NVIDIA Linux driver as part of their workstations.

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