Creative Joining The Open Bandwagon
It's official, Creative Labs is joining the open specification/code bandwagon for the X-Fi series. Earlier this week we shared that through the Open Sound System there is now open-source support for the Sound Blaster X-Fi. The OSS sbxfi driver had contained three files that were copyrighted by Creative Labs and were labeled confidential. Inside of these files were code for the X-Fi PCI registers as well as functions for initializing these sound cards and other hardware-related tasks. We now know that 4Front Technologies hadn't acquired this X-Fi code illegally or through some back-room maneuvering, but that Creative Labs is interacting with both the OSS and ALSA projects.
Creative Labs had supplied the information to 4Front Technologies and at least one ALSA developer is in talks with Creative. James Courtier-Dutton, an ALSA developer, has stated on the alsa-devel list that within the next week or so he expects to obtain data-sheets from Creative for the X-Fi APUs. Furthermore, Phoronix contributor, Hakan Bayindir had previously learned from Creative that as they don't have a dedicated Linux development team, at least one of Creative's personnel has been pushing for an X-Fi document release but internally had been facing some stiff opposition. This move though isn't coming quick seeing as these high-end sound cards have been around for a few years now and 4Front has been waiting for Creative documents for at least two years (link). It's been known that Microsoft Vista made Creative dupe Linux.
This open-source X-Fi support is now also mentioned from the Creative Open-Source site. While the ALSA 1.0.16 release cycle was quick, hopefully X-Fi support is on their road-map now for ALSA 1.0.17 later this year. What is not known at this time is whether Creative's binary X-Fi driver will be outright abandoned. The driver right now only supports 64-bit Linux and has a host of other problems. There's only been one beta release of this binary driver thus far and that was last September.
Two other companies on this recent open bandwagon have been ATI/AMD and Intel with releasing graphics specifications NDA-free to the open-source community.
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