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

S3TC For Mesa Is Talked About Some More

Mesa

Published on 19 March 2011 07:58 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa
23 Comments

Discussions surrounding S3TC Texture Compression support for mainline Mesa (right now it's an external library) is becoming an increasingly common occurrence. Newer games and OpenGL applications depend upon S3TC support and open-source developers are unable to provide "out of the box" support due to patent concerns.

There was a hopeful discussion about S3TC and floating point support for Mesa a little more than a week ago, but that discussion died before anything materialized in Mesa Git. The push there was for mainlining the S3TC and OpenGL floating point support but to not build it by default if not using the hidden --enable-patented option.

The latest talk of S3TC comes from Zack Rusin. He saw the Icculus interview we mentioned yesterday where he criticizes open-source graphics drivers for Linux and being sub-standard. Zack took particular issue with one of Ryan's comments concerning the lack of S3TC support shipping in these drivers. "I find it completely ridiculous that we're shipping open source OpenGL drivers without S3TC support because of patent concerns. Today, that's like shipping a web browser without .jpg support!"

In a blog post entitled Directing Lemmings, Zack writes more about S3TC and Mesa. "Legally there's nothing stopping anyone from licensing s3tc or floating point patents, forking Mesa3D and shipping closed source version of it with code handling both. It's simply that you can't reconcile Free Software with patents. You just can't add what amounts to arbitrary restrictions to your software and claim freedom. There's absolutely nothing we can do here. There were teams of lawyers looking at this stuff and the conclusion every single time was "you just can't get away with this". Jose and Brian spent a lot of time looking at ways of getting around it as well."

There's also another developer that's proposed his solution to the S3TC mess in Mesa. An employee at SCS Software, the studio behind a number of hunting and driving games like "Hunting Unlimited", "Rocky Mountain Trophy Hunter 3", and "18 Wheels of Steel: Pedal to the Metal", has proposed naked DXTn support via ARB_texture_compression in this email.

The gist of Petr Sebor's proposal is to provide DXtn (S3TC) support in Mesa, but only to the extent that the ARB_texture_compression extension is being used to transfer pre-compressed texture data to an S3TC-capable GPU (most modern GPUs). In cases where OpenGL software has already compressed S3TC texture data using a library like nvdxt, Mesa doesn't need to deal with the patented algorithms, but rather just submit the binary data to the graphics processor. This though would be of limited benefit and only be useful for cases of where the textures are already compressed before reaching Mesa, but that's at least an improvement from where the GL_EXT_texture_compression_s3tc support is right now. Petr further describes his line of thought in this second message, but as of right now none of the core Mesa developers have responded.

Evidently SCS Software is looking to get some of their games running on Mesa / Gallium3D. This is interesting after checking out a number of their titles, they only seem to be supported on Windows. Perhaps this game studio is expanding to Linux, thereby allowing you to play games like TruckSaver, Deer Drive, and Bus Driver under Linux.

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. CompuLab Intense-PC2: An Excellent, Fanless, Mini PC Powered By Intel's i7 Haswell
  2. From The Atom 330 To Haswell ULT: Intel Linux Performance Benchmarks
  3. AMD Radeon R9 285 Tonga Performance On Linux
  4. Apotop Wi-Copy
Latest Linux Articles
  1. AMD Moves Forward With Unified Linux Driver Strategy, New Kernel Driver
  2. MSI: Update Your BIOS From The Linux Desktop
  3. NVIDIA vs. AMD 2D Linux Drivers: Catalyst Is Getting Quite Good At 2D
  4. 15-Way GPU Comparison With Mesa 10.3 + Linux 3.17
Latest Linux News
  1. Phoronix Test Suite 5.4 M3 Is Another Hearty Update
  2. GParted 0.20 Improves Btrfs Support
  3. EXT4 In Linux 3.18 Has Clean-ups, Bug Fixes
  4. Emacs 24.4 Has Built-In Web Browser, Improved Multi-Monitor Support
  5. NVIDIA's NVPTX Support For GCC Is Close To Being Merged
  6. KDE's KWin On Wayland Begins Using Libinput
  7. Khronos Releases OpenVX 1.0 Specification
  8. Linux Kernel Working Towards GNU11/C11 Compatibility
  9. Ubuntu 15.04 Is Codenamed After A Monkey: Vivid Vervet
  10. Following GCC, Clang Looks To Default To C11
Latest Forum Discussions
  1. Updated and Optimized Ubuntu Free Graphics Drivers
  2. Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
  3. HOPE: The Ease Of Python With The Speed Of C++
  4. Bye bye BSD, Hello Linux: A Sys Admin's Story
  5. NVIDIA Presents Its Driver Plans To Support Mir/Wayland & KMS On Linux
  6. AMD Is Restructuring Again, Losing 7% Of Employees
  7. Open-Source AMD Fusion E-350 Support Takes A Dive
  8. Upgrade to Kaveri, very slow VDPAU performance