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VIA Releases New X.Org Driver

VIA

Published on 30 August 2008 07:40 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in VIA
9 Comments

Back in April at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, VIA had announced an open-source initiative. However, not all open-source developers have been pleased with these actions by VIA seeing as they have let down the community in the past. It's even admitted VIA has been trying to copy some aspects of AMD's open-source strategy and have stopped open-source drivers in the past. To date though VIA has released a kernel frame-buffer driver and three programming guides (but one of them wasn't exactly new). Back in July though, VIA Technologies had appointed Harald Welte as its open-source liaison after they were evaluating their open-source role. Now VIA has released its first open-source X.Org driver.

This driver, which has been named xf86-video-via, isn't complete though. This open-source driver supports the VIA CLE266, PM800, CN400, CN300, P4M800CE, P4M800Pro, CN700, VN800, CX700, VX700, K8M890, P4M890, CN896, P4M900, and VX800 IGPs. It has full mode-setting support for CRT, LCD, and DVI devices along with 2D acceleration, cursor acceleration, and even X-Video but it goes without 3D acceleration. When it comes to the 2D acceleration, it also lacks support for EXA acceleration. The driver also goes without TV support.

The xf86-video-via driver package amounts to about 113,800 lines, but it isn't all new code. The code is copyrighted by VIA and S3 Graphics and dates back to 1998. Some portions of the code looks like it may be derived from its closed-source X.Org driver for VIA hardware.

What isn't clear though at this time is whether they intend to develop this driver openly or what features they intend to provide with this driver. Will they be adding EXA and 3D support? Right now this driver can only be downloaded from VIA's Linux website (direct download). This xf86-video-via driver is not being housed currently in the X.Org git repository where all of the other xf86-video-* drivers are nor has this driver even been announced on the X.Org mailing list.

While at first the xf86-video-radeonhd that was created by AMD's open-source initiative in conjunction with Novell had only mode-setting support with no acceleration or other features, at least they had shared their plans. With VIA right now we have no idea where they intend to stop. The RadeonHD developers are also active in IRC and on mailing lists.

What is also a bit disheartening with this code drop is that they apparently haven't worked with the community-spawned Unichrome or OpenChrome projects. These projects came about as efforts by the community to have open-source drivers for VIA hardware when VIA Technologies didn't step up to the plate. Now that VIA is trying to step up to the plate, it looks like they are just ignoring the work done by these development groups for the past few years. The OpenChrome driver is open-source and even has 3D support.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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