1. Computers
  2. Display Drivers
  3. Graphics Cards
  4. Memory
  5. Motherboards
  6. Processors
  7. Software
  8. Storage
  9. Operating Systems


Facebook RSS Twitter Twitter Google Plus


Phoronix Test Suite

OpenBenchmarking.org

The Fallacy Behind Open-Source GPU Drivers, Documentation

Free Software

Published on 06 January 2011 09:27 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software
118 Comments

One of the points that Linux users commonly say in lobbying hardware vendors to provide open-source drivers and/or documentation -- particularly for GPU drivers -- is that the open-source community will take the released code or documents and from there develop it into a reliable, working open-source Linux driver. However, that isn't exactly true.

In response to this afternoon's article about VIA's Linux graphics / open-source strategy being dead, there's responses like: "What is the reason behind not releasing source code for the S3 graphics driver? If any source is being released it will most likely be hammered in shape by the community." and "Why not ask him to open source their Windows driver? Third parties could then write a Linux driver based on it." and "Release the specs. You do not need to have the manpower or the Linux knowledge. Release the specs (completely) to the community. There ARE devs out there that will take care of it. But do not frustrate them by NDAs, incomplete specs and other nastyness." And there's many other comments like that any time insert any hardware vendor name that doesn't have open-source drivers gets mentioned.

While this strategy works for some vendors and hardware drivers, it doesn't always work -- especially for graphics processors. Even for the open-source NVIDIA and ATI/AMD open-source drivers, they are lacking development manpower for implementing all available features and ensuring a robust driver that can compete with their proprietary counterparts. None of the open-source drivers even have full OpenGL 3/4 support yet. Since AMD's open-source strategy came into existence, there's been few new developers to X.Org / Mesa and the work is largely written by the same slim set of developers.

If there were hordes of open-source developers idling by that are capable of writing GPU drivers, they would already be reverse-engineering the binary blobs and working out features like multi-card support, OpenGL 3/4, impeccable power management, and other interesting features. There would also not be dormant open-source drivers like the XGI X.Org driver, which has basically been laid to rest ever since Ian Romanick joined Intel. There's a shortage of Linux graphics / X.Org developers, not a surplus.

We offer best quality pass4sure 70-680 study materials for 642-832 exam including up-to-dated 642-691 dumps for practice.

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 .
Latest Linux Hardware Reviews
  1. NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Offers Great Linux Performance
  2. CompuLab Intense-PC2: An Excellent, Fanless, Mini PC Powered By Intel's i7 Haswell
  3. From The Atom 330 To Haswell ULT: Intel Linux Performance Benchmarks
  4. AMD Radeon R9 285 Tonga Performance On Linux
Latest Linux Articles
  1. Btrfs RAID HDD Testing On Ubuntu Linux 14.10
  2. Ubuntu 14.10 Linux 32-bit vs. 64-bit Performance
  3. AMD Moves Forward With Unified Linux Driver Strategy, New Kernel Driver
  4. MSI: Update Your BIOS From The Linux Desktop
Latest Linux News
  1. Cairo-Dock 3.4 Shows A Lot Of Progress, Works Toward EGL/Wayland Support
  2. Mesa 10.4 Tentatively Planned For Early December
  3. SteamOS Update 145 Brings Compositor, Update Fixes
  4. GStreamer 2014 Conference Videos Posted: Wayland, HTML5, 3D
  5. Nouveau Now Supports DRI3 Without GLAMOR
  6. Features Of The Linux 3.18 Kernel
  7. Debian Now Defaults To Xfce On Non-x86 Desktops
  8. Phoenix Is Trying To Be An Open Version Of Apple's Swift
  9. Linux 3.19 To Have Skylake Graphics, PPGTT Enablement
  10. Ubuntu 16.04 Might Be The Distribution's Last 32-Bit Release
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
  2. Ubuntu 16.04 Might Be The Distribution's Last 32-Bit Release
  3. AMD Releases UVD Video Decode Support For R600 GPUs
  4. HOPE: The Ease Of Python With The Speed Of C++
  5. Proof that strlcpy is un-needed
  6. xbox one tv tuner
  7. Bye bye BSD, Hello Linux: A Sys Admin's Story
  8. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers