VIA's Open Linux Graphics Driver Has Been Defenestrated
For those that were hoping that VIA Technologies would pull through in providing their open-source graphics driver support like they had promised with kernel mode-setting, a Gallium3D driver, and being Linux friendly, kiss those thoughts goodbye as they've been basically thrown out the window. Sadly, it's not happening. I had a very productive conversation with VIA's Stewart Haston, who is their international marketing specialist, and their Linux outlook is extremely dark.
Stewart was showing off the new dual-core VIA Nano X2 CPU (under Windows), but he saw my badge and was extremely upfront about VIA's Linux matters. In fact, he can't really object to the recent Phoronix VIA articles. VIA Technologies as a company has shrunk and they simply don't have the resources or need to follow through with their once hopeful Linux support. About the only official Linux support that we may see out of VIA going forward is if any of their embedded customers specifically need support for Linux in a given configuration. Some of their motherboard chipsets and CPUs may work fine with Linux, fortunately, but in terms of graphics enablement, there won't be much to see.
Stewart did mention that Bruce Chang is still with the company (he's the one that's basically been the face of VIA's Linux strategy since it was announced in 2008) but he said that he's basically "thrown in the towel" and it's not really clear that there is any strategy left.
This though shouldn't come as a huge surprise since we've said that the Linux support is basically dead and what's left of the VIA Linux community is fragmented. There has though been some interesting community work in recent days in particular with kernel mode-setting and GEM/TTM support being written by a student developer, but without VIA's support for either code or documentation on new hardware and for features currently undocumented on existing ASICs, this support won't exactly be able to grow going forward.
If there is some good news out of the situation, VIA has promised that he will get VIA Taiwan to answer some questions. So if any of you have any questions left about VIA's remaining thoughts on Linux, pleas for them to open-source their S3 Graphics driver, ideas for how they can provide better Linux support without allocating any additional resources, or anything else to say, use the comment link below so we can get this Q&A going.
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