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Are Linux Drivers Rubbish & Is Linux Ready For Steam?

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  • #21
    Geez, why do I get the feeling a majority of Phoronix users spend time at 4chan...


    • #22
      Hmm lets see, "linux" is not ready for games so don't make any games. Because no one makes any games, there is no need to address what a game needs...

      Thats not how things move. Linux officially is ALSA, and that must be your main concern. Few people will bother with OSS nowdays. Also, SDL can abstract you from that, and ease pulseaudio/etc in the process.

      So what you need is OpenGL, SDL (and OpenAL) and be done. Don't bother with low latency at this point, or support jackd if you are that picky.

      Drivers? We all know ATI drivers suck, and until AMD gets their act together, they will still lose linux customers. Of course, since "no one" play games in linux, that shouldn't be a concern would it?

      They won't move until they see a growing community, and its possible right now with nvidia, using just opengl and sdl. Such a community will become apparent when things like source/steam in linux become a reality.

      So what if steam/source becomes Nvidia only on linux? If thats what it takes to make the likes of AMD to act, so be it. There is no reason why AMD can't provide decent drivers the way Nvidia does, and its their sole fault since they won't release specs.


      • #23
        Games under linux are possible right now, using both nvidia and AMD binaries (just look at unigine), perhaps even the open source AMD drivers to some extent (depending upon the game).
        There's no technical reasons for games not to be developed under linux - id, unigine, and a host of others have already proven this.


        • #24
          Originally posted by Artemis3 View Post
          There is no reason why AMD can't provide decent drivers the way Nvidia does, and its their sole fault since they won't release specs.
          I was under the impression that AMD/ATI have provided a considerable amount of documentation for their hardware (not sure about the most recent hardware) where Nvidia has provided none; so releasing documentation is not at all related to their AMD/ATIs ability to produce quality proprietary drivers.


          • #25
            First you all keep hacking into the steam client trying to see how far along it is. Then you keep rumoring that it's going to be released any minute. Let's get real. Steam should stay away from linux till at least the end of the year releases and next spring releases would probably go better.
            Can we just let sleeping dogs lie.


            • #26
              There is no reason why AMD can't provide decent drivers the way Nvidia does, and its their sole fault since they won't release specs.
              You got it backwards.

              AMD releases specs, nVidia doesn't. AMD also funds open source graphics development, including the kernel, Gallium3D and Mesa, which is why there are working OpenGL 2 open source drivers for AMD/ATi cards, and why the nouveau guys are left to reverse engineer nVidia's hardware the hard way.

              Actually, the goodwill that AMD has shown has resulted in MORE linux customers, not fewer.


              • #27
                My attempt to address some of the claims and subjects:

                Answer to the claim:
                "Linux drivers are rubbish"
                It depends on wich driver you use. The proprietary nVidia drivers are good, they offer great performance, stability, many features (a few lacking though), video acceleration and much more. Compared to the Windows drivers these work great and is no problem for Steam. The Catalyst drivers are usable, not quite good due to performance and missing features such as lack of video acceleration. These drivers are slowly improving, so in a year they might be good. But still, not rubbish and not a problem for running Steam or Games in GNU/Linux.

                The open drivers for AMD/ATI and nVidia are however not usable for gaming if we are honest. They might be fine for you on your server or workstation, but for normal people running games these are rubbish due to the huge lack of performance, features and power usage (for those who care about that). The difference in performance between the proprietary and the open drivers is roughly 5-8x for ATI and almost 10x for nVidia in favor of the proprietary drivers, and keep in mind that Catalyst(as of 10.2) drivers perform worse in OpenGL than Catalyst in Windows and even worse than Direct3D, so the open ATI drivers look better than they really are. That is really significant, an means a GTX 470 or HD 5850 would perform like something in the range HD 4550 or GT 220 with the proprietary drivers(and just imagine the performance with mid-range or low-end GPUs!), and it might still be more power hungry than the proprietary drivers. It's really a waste of money, and can be compared to having a Porsche with the worst possible transmission. The open drivers still lack support for OpenGL specifications later than 2.1 (2006), and last time I checked they were nowhere near implementing the shader features of 3.0. And of course there is video acceleration. The open source drivers is lagging years in both features and performance, they might be able to close the gap a little bit, but these drivers will continue to lag behind the proprietary ones until AMD/ATI or nVidia open sources their drivers(wich I don't see coming in the next years) or something like that. Remember nVidia and AMD/ATI start adding support in their drivers for new generations of GPUs long before they got the actual chips, so at launch date they actually got a decent working driver. But the open source drivers will then start adding the new features, well Novell usually gets ATI's specifications a month earlier or so than the rest of the world, but it's still long after the proprietary drivers. And then it's of course the mesa and gallium3d, mesa wich should really be called mess, and I hope mesa will be buried deep right after we have torched and burned X to the ground. I know quite a few fellow developers wich share this experience, and myself as a developer and supporter on a daily basis I have to recommend using the proprietary drivers for AMD/ATI and nVidia GPUs. But be honest people, there is no real alternative for gaming today. Don't get me wrong, I love open source software, I primary use Ubuntu,, Firefox, Pidgin etc. because they are better, not mainly because they are open source, I choose the best solution for me and if it's open source or not is taken into consideration but not the deal breaker. A lot of enthusiast GNU/Linux users actually scares new users away by telling proprietary is evil, and some developers actually hesitates releases for GNU/Linux because of the way many people hates proprietary software. This has to stop if we want more users and more software (including games) for GNU/Linux. In these discussions regarding Steam there has been a lot of people saying they don't want Steam unless it's open source. But get real people, if we want more games we have to accpet proprietary games and other software, and we have to buy it so that companies realize they can make money on this market share. And then maybe Valve or others realize if GNU/Linux users buys their software (and not use piracy), they can reduce the amount of DRM usage, and one day in the distant future they might open source parts of their software. That's the right way to go people.

                The fact that AMD/ATI provide their specifications does not attract many customers from nVidia (well a few of course), because nVidia offers much better drivers with very good performance and more features, wich brings the balance in favor of nVidia.

                For audio OpenAL is the best API for games today, it can be used across all platforms. The issuse that exist does not make GNU/Linux unready for Steam og gaming. But I really wish applications some day would use one API audio. The different APIs is more an issue for desktop applications, especially when running different applications at the same time.

                The problem with SDL is there has been very little development since the 2006. In order to get newer OpenGL features working the developers has to workaround SDL context creating and adding the missing headers. This will be solved when SDL 1.3 finally arrives, but the 1.3 version also introduces a major inconvenience; embedded development, Iphone development and similar is limited to a commercial license, this is bad, really bad, it will scare developers away, and such APIs should be free because others build applications on top of this features. So limiting a subset of features to a free license is bad, it seems like they got the two different meanings of the word "free" confused, or they just want to make money. You would have to pay for technical support anyway, so they could just make everything available on a license with less restrictions than LGPL and charge for the technical support, and the limitations of LGPL is used as the excuse. This is bad. But unfortunately there is no real alternative if you want a complete multimedia API like DirectX. SDL is otherwise well featured and simple to use. GLUT is not a real alternative as most of you should know. BTW: I'm writing my own replacement of GLUT (not SDL) for use in my own projects, a replacement not a reimplementation (we already got two of those with the same drawbacks as GLUT), allowing both static and dynamic linking, but it's not production ready as of today, it will be released under a free license(no linking issues) when it's ready enough. It currently runs on both GNU/Linux and Windows, will be ported to Mac, phones etc. It's ideally for demos and games, and will not require updates for new OpenGL specifications like SDL do. But anyway, we have to consider the APIs available as of today. SDL 1.2 is usable with a little tweaking, and it's not hard to find tutorials doing it.

                Packaging is a larger problem than SD 1.2. I really hope the major distros would soon decide a common package format supported by all distros, and then they could add all their special features as an addition. This would help a lot for companies trying to release proprietary commercial software for GNU/Linux, but I don't see any promising initiative to solve this.

                To sum up, GNU/Linux with proprietary graphics drivers are ready enough for releasing commercial games. There are issues, but most can be avoided. Don't pretend releasing software for Windows is easy.


                • #28
                  This has to stop if we want more users and more software (including games) for GNU/Linux.
                  I don't want more users or more software. I'll be happy if they come, but this is not important to me.

                  What I DO want is a truly open platform which people can use to do their computer-related task without being held hostage by their software.

                  A truly open and functional Linux system used by 10 people is much better than a semi-closed proprietary hybrid used by millions.

                  This might sound extremist or psycho to people who migrated over to Linux for reasons other than freedom (and I'm not judging them, welcome aboard!), but showing proprietary and closed technologies into the kernel just so World of Warcraft can get ported is a TERRIBLE idea.

                  Viable open source drivers are important, because if they do not exist, then nVidia and ATi can effectively kill the whole Linux ecosystem overnight. The Linux ecosystem has survived so far because there were always (more or less viable) alternatives to closed solutions.

                  I do agree that the open drivers have ways to go still, although they are generally usable for lots of stuff. And it is very important to continue supporting and developing them. It is not acceptable to have to download a binary blob from a website just to render a triangle on your "Free" system. This is not zealotry, it's a matter of the survival of GNU/Linux and all other Free operating systems.


                  • #29
                    While I prefer open software, I've nothing against proprietary software running on GNU/Linux. Note the distinction here is running on, not becoming a part of. The openness of GNU/Linux is what has made it such a useful system - people can do what they want or need on it, not be dictated to by some company and told what they may or may not use it for.
                    This is something I don't like about Steam - Valve dictate how you may play your games, and can disable your account, or even remove games from your system - who knows what kind of hooks it would try to put into your system if Steam ever comes to Linux.
                    The whole point is that if you're ok with others having that kind of control of your system, then what's the point of running Linux? Why not just use Windows?
                    And sadly I'm a bit of a hypocrite as I require OpenGL 3.x, so I'm stuck with proprietary drivers. The good thing here is that with AMD, there will be a viable alternative for me down the track.


                    • #30
                      funkybeat keeps spreading all this crap instead of giving the true story. Well, the way I perceive it, ATI/AMD does want to offer/provide significant Linux support but it's not extensive. There's no desire to. Or more accurately, the resources are not given to. It's like building a house and leaving off tons of bricks or not putting on the roof. They don't have enough money so they just leave it that way.

                      Nvidia just doesn't want to reveal any code, period. Their philosophy is worse but they provide enough support so that the card can do most of what's able to do. They're just utilizing the Windoze driver (as I understand it) and reverse engineer it themself or since they have all the code at their disposal, they do whatever to the X (re-write bits) to get it to work. Yeah, this sucks but for the most part, you get your 2D and 3D. There's even stuff like VDPAU. Like other posters have said, pick your POISON.

                      But, what irks me is that all these ATI apologists come on here and praise ATI but no one seems to believe that ATI stops short of extensive support. Why not ask them to increase their resources or investment to get the support working better and covering more area? I have read of ATI card owners say that the open source driver isn't optimal yet and the fglrx driver is awful and this is with the older generation HD 4xxx cards. Evergreen cards don't have open source driver support yet and they've been out since Nov '09? The support is there and it's good to provide an open source option but it's OBVIOUS, their priority heavily leans towards Microsoft/Windows just as Nvidia does.