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Linux Pledge drive: Help create open nvidia drivers

Discussion in 'Software' started by ciaran.mooney, 15 Nov 2006.

  1. ciaran.mooney

    ciaran.mooney New Member

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    Morning all,

    Did you know that the nVidia drivers on Linux were closed source? This means that no members of the community can scrutinize the code of the drivers, and bring all the benefits, like stability, features and security, that go along with being open source.

    There was a post on www.ubuntuforums.org, with a organisation that are attempting to write open source drivers for nVidia cards, but they need help and have set up a pledge drive.

    Please think about donating, as it would be a great thing to have open-source video drivers.

    Thanks,
     
  2. BjD

    BjD New Member

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    Why though? Nvidia do a great job with their drivers and I have no problem with using them. Sure it'd be great if they were open source'd but thats not going to happen. Any open-source reverse-engineered driver is always going to be one step behind (look at the OS ATI drivers)
    Their time would be better spent reverse engineering drivers for hardware that doesn't have any driver support, eg that thread on here about the lack of Creative XFi support.
     
  3. Zidane

    Zidane New Member

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    now, i dont mean to sound cynical and i am sure everyone knows i am a linux fanboy, but i really dont think i'll be filling out my details. if someone is trying to raise a boatload of money, it might help to ensure your facts are correct and you actually read your front page, rather than just spellchecking it and publishing.

    for starters, of all the gfx companies out there, nvidia are the best at providing support for linux. it is well known within the community that the nvidia drivers have a very high degree of performance and compatibility, more often than not, they 'just work'. nvidia has supported the linux community as a whole, as well as the DRI project. there are allready open source nvidia drivers within the DRI project, and they are of a remarkably high standard.

    in short, nvidia is well known to be a 'freind of linux' and i wholeheartedly support them in this (i buy nvidia cause i use linux). ATI on the other hand have a long repeated history of either ignoring linux or producing drivers that dont work, fail to install and are several generations behind the windows drivers (and yes, i know, linux is a minority, ATI have no reason to support us, but it sure would be nice if they at least gave as much support as nvidia).

    and yes, i know, if you search the forums you will find a dozen people who cant make nvidia cards work. but by the very same token, if you search a windows forum you will find a dozen people who cant make nvidia cards work. the problem is not the fact that nvidia dont support linux, its more the fact that they dont support their *bleeding edge* on linux, it can be quite a few months before we get drivers. reverse engineering drivers wont solve this problem, only add to it.

    in summary, i would rather have the level of support from nvidia that we have right now than pour money into a project that not only exists elsewhere, but also will be superseeded by the available support from nvidia. we have nvidia, we have DRI, why exactly do we need *another* group begging for money to replace existing projects?


    oh, and in reference to the first post, you have not provided a link to the ubuntu forums post that you copied your post from. when asking for people to give you money, this makes things look suspicious, especially considering the amatuerish quality of the pledge site.

    </rant>

    and yes, i know, i got out of the bed on the wrong side this morning, but things like this annoy me.
     
  4. Glider

    Glider /dev/null

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    QFT (even the last part ;))
     
  5. Zidane

    Zidane New Member

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    <off topic>
    btw, hey glider, ltns :) good to get back and see some of the good guys are still around ;)
    </off topic>
     
  6. ciaran.mooney

    ciaran.mooney New Member

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    I assume that you installed a graphics card to enable your machine to work more efficiently when dealing with 3D graphics or processing. Then your reason for supporting this pledge has more to do with why you chose to install linux.

    If it was an ethical - Free Software, based decision, than using closed-source drivers as part of your system would be entirely unaccpetable.

    If you chose it for security and stability, then you also would not like having to use a closed source module in your system. Any security flaws and bugs found in the driver would not be open to correction by the community, and you would be at the mercy of when nvidia would up-date their drivers.

    If you chose it because it cost you nothing, then maybe not being able to view the source code of what is controlling your graphics card is not so much of a problem.

    Reverse engineering is much more difficult than getting the original creators to provide the source code, but to many its the only option to get the code they are happy using and distributing to others.

    As far as I know nVidia only release code for 2D processing, so higher end 3D processing, which is now becoming needed with XGL/AIGLX set ups, means have to use nVidia's closed drivers.

    For reference, http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=299516 is the original post. I forgot to include it before. But to be honest it proves nothing, anyone can write anything on the internet, its a matter of trust that the $10 you pledge goes to where you hope.

    I have pledged myself, and encourage those who want open-source drivers, that provide the features the community want to pledge too.
     
  7. Zidane

    Zidane New Member

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    i installed the graphics card because i need something to plug my monitor into, its a £20 nvidia FX5200. if you can suggest an alternate AGP card that is neither nvidia or ATI, has open source drivers available for linux and costs the same or less and delivers the same performance, i would love to hear it.

    not entirely true. i make an ethical decision to use open source software because i beleive in the couse, i do not, however, force my ethics onto other people. i am not expecting nvidia to cough up their driver source code, its how the company makes their money, their 'secret sauce' as it were. whilst i beleive in the open source movement, i dont expect coke-a-cola to give me their recipie for coke, just because i want to be open source. do not forget there are open source drivers available for my card, i simply choose not to use them, not to mention the fact that nvidia have repeatedly helped the open source driver community produce better drivers.

    i dont mind having closed source modules, as i said, there *are* open source drivers available to the community, i simply choose not to use them. the nvidia drivers have proven to be both secure and stable, and as such, i prefer them.

    and? as i have said, open source drivers *are* available, anyone can use them, you are not forced into using the proprietary nvidia drivers.

    actually, you are mistaken. reverse engineering is easier than getting source access. if it was easier to get the source code, dont you think thats what the driver creators would have done? rather than spending years devolping open source alternatives?

    although reverse engineering is possible, it will always be a catch-up scenario. nvidia may take 3 months to release drivers for linux, it can take years to reverse engineer those drivers to produce open-source alternatives. considering someone has allready done this, why are you so intent on replicating the work when you can simply build on the existing technology? it sounds like you want us all to take one giant leap backwards and start everything again from scratch.

    actually, no, you dont. there are various rendering libraries available (mesa opengl direct rendering library is the default used on most linux distros). you do not *need* to use nvidia's closed source drivers.

    however, you raise an interesting point here. considering that nvidia's proprietary drivers will always produce better performance than any open source variety, and existing drivers (i.e. the DRI project) will outperform any drivers created for the forseeable future, why should we pay money for something we can get for free, with faster performance, from both the open source community and from the card manufacturer itself?


    it proves it exists. i dont know who you are aside from someone trying to sneak $10 of my hard-earned cash out of my wallet. i'm sure that as a fellow member of bit-tech.net you are a reliable and trustworthy person, but in this day and age, you never can tell. always quote sources, it adds credibility.

    ooor, you could just look here http://www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html and here http://www.nvidia.com/object/linux_nforce_1.11.html and save yourself $10

    oh, and did i forget to mention the open source nvidia drivers that are included with the linux kernel? y'know, those ones actually built right into your kernel? perhaps i did. still, better luck next time.
     
  8. Callum

    Callum New Member

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    Hear hear! :D

    Although Creative has said that there will be driver support for this in 2007. So perhaps another example. :p
     
  9. ciaran.mooney

    ciaran.mooney New Member

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    I honestly can't suggest an alternative besides using Intel Integrated graphics, you will get open source drivers, but not the performance you may want. I would say why can't we get a graphics card with the performance we want *and* open source drivers. Why do we have to accept that high performance and open source cannot go together?

    I understand that the drivers that are made entirely by the community by reverse engineering may not get the performance we want for a long time, but atleast someone is trying.

    I am not forcing anyone to do anything, but I like to think I'm presenting them with an option to help the open source community. Eventually it benefits everyone.

    I don't know how graphics card manufacturers distinguish between themselves and competitors, but I can't believe its wholly down to their drivers. AMD and Intel have been in competition for years, and everyone can use their hardware (I hope that this is because instructions to use their hardware is open). AMD and Intel have remained competative because of how they designed and built their chips, not the software that they shipped with them.

    The open source drivers that are available, many including myself, believe are pretty sub-standard. We know the hardware we have bought it capable of much more. Nvidia helping the open source community while it is a good thing, they seem to keep too much hidden away.

    As you said you don't know of one card where there are good open source drivers, and relatively high performance. Not even one. How much have nvidia really contributed if that is the case? They are the ones that have the option to really improve the situation in one sweeping motion.

    I wouldn't mind having two sets of drivers either, if they were both equal. Most of the brilliance of open source and free software is that you get choice. KDE and Gnome, AIGLX and XGL, no matter how much people argue, these very important projects are very much equal. The state of nvidia graphics drivers is not.

    How can they be proved to be stable and secure when you can't see the source code? You assume they are stable and secure because no-one yet has found any major flaws. To me that is not much of a comfort.

    Your right they are not forced, but spending money on graphics hardware only to find sub-standard drivers that you are willing to use isn't really a good situation.

    You have confused me here. nVidia have all the documentation about their hardware and the source code of drivers they have written for it. If they released this information or atleast the code, that would be more difficult than the community spending buying and testing graphics cards?

    I agree with that it will take much longer for the community to reverse engineer drivers than it takes nvidia to write them, because nvidia have all the information the community is bumbling around in the dark essentially. But a start must be made somewhere if we ever want open-source drivers, which people like me do.

    I hope that project nouveau will use the work of other projects, because that is the beauty of open-source you can use other peoples work to make yours better. But that is for more technical people than me to decide.

    I posted this pledge because unfortunatly a project like nouveau needs money to purchase hardware to test. They are asking for money so they can make improvements to the open source drivers that many see as inadequate. They will be contributing to the community and hopefully using the already existing code.

    This will hopefully make the manufactuers cards more profitable as eventually there will be a few cards that have performance that is much more acceptable.


    This project has no association to me, other than I think it is a good idea, and have pledged $10 to help them.

    They are open drivers for nForce chipsets on motherboards, not graphics. Though its good to see they exist, probably the reason I chose a nForce based motherboard. The open-source drivers available for that chipset swayed my decision to use it, the same would go for graphics hardwards. If they open-source their drivers they would instantly become the hardware of choice. Unfortunately thats not the case, so we have to do it ourselves.

    Still not graphics drivers, I don't think there are any non-free modules in the stock linux kernel due to the GPL violations this would cause. Infact I remember a problem a while back with a XGL demo live CD that caused a lot of trouble with a GPL and nVidia closed-source driver clash.

    This is the beauty of linux and open-source as soon as its available you can incorporate it into the kernel. You can't when its closed source.
     
  10. Glider

    Glider /dev/null

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    Sorry, haven't read your entire post, to be honest, I got bored of your, in my eyes flawed, look on OSS quite quickly.

    What I find frustrating it that you whine about nvidia, which offers best Linux support in the whole "better" GFX manufacturers field.
     
  11. ciaran.mooney

    ciaran.mooney New Member

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    Because just providing drivers is not really good enough in the open source world.

    Its essentially what the computing industry has been doing for years but on a much smaller scale.

    People got fed up with companies like microsoft holding back code for windows, so came up with the kernel, that has led to the Operating System we use tody. But people seem to accept the nVidia situation. Its not just a "we got it working" problem, its a ethical/moral issue to do with having access to the code that controls your equipment. And not just having the tid-bits that nVidia allows but the best we can get.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2006
  12. TheFallen

    TheFallen New Member

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    So the whole point of this pledge, is to help people make the closed source nVidia Linux Drivers open, though reverse engineering, purely because of an ethical decision on not using closed source drivers?

    I'm with the majority here, far better to have drivers for items that have NO drivers than to try and reverse engineer an OS driver for a CS driver, which works fine. xFi, WPC54G WiFi cards, the Zune, whatever.

    You made an ethical decision not you use Windows because it was closed source, continue that ethical decision and don't use nVidia because they don't have open source drivers. And why stop there?
     
  13. ZenX

    ZenX How are you gentlemen?

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    Anyone ever heard of vesa-drivers? They're free AFAIK, and work fine on my Ubuntu server-install.
     
  14. ciaran.mooney

    ciaran.mooney New Member

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    Thats pretty much it. A lot of people are not happy using closed-source components to their software, when they made a big choice to use free software.

    There is absolutely nothing stopping you and those who think like you getting together and trying to create drivers for the hardware that you want. It would be brilliant if you did! And you would hopefully get support from community, when you need to buy the equipment to actually reverse engineer. Writing software is relatively easy, its costs programmers there time. Writing drivers is hard because you need to purchase hardware, and it costs money as well as peoples time.

    This pledge drive is trying to support development of nVidia drivers because it is seen as quite a major "problem" for people who want open-source drivers, even if others think there is more important pieces of hardware that need some support.

    A lot of people do think like that, and always endeavor to have a free/open source box to use. Unfortunately this is the real world and it is very difficult. But the beauty is if it doesn't exist, together it can be created. If this project gets traction and develops decent drivers, I can purchase nVidia cards safe in the knowledge I can use the hardware as its intending, with the drivers that I want.

    Notice the "if's", nothing is certain and pledge's like this one can help. If you want to help you can always donate your time, even better if you own a nVidia card to actually help reverse engineer.
     
  15. Glider

    Glider /dev/null

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    I have a suggestion for you, talk with nVidia... They have proven themselves open to OSS... What your "pledge" will cause, is that nVidia will cease support for the open source community.

    nVidia offers all the options for the previous gen cards in their drivers, which is more then sufficient for 99% of the OSS community... Note, DirectX games hardly run on Linux systems... And nowadays most of the games are DirectX. If you want to do "the good thing for the OSS gamers", better invest your time into redirecting game developers' DirectX based coding to OpenGL coding...
     
  16. ciaran.mooney

    ciaran.mooney New Member

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    Right,

    I'm going for a thread revival here.

    This pledge is almost completed, currently it only needs 200 more signers to be done.

    Hopefully this will spur a few more people to sign it, and better yet if you do agree with the pledge and what they are trying to help get done, talk about it. If you know of another software, computer, open source forum that hasn't had a mention of the pledge then forward it on.

    Its agonisingly close to completion, it'd be a pity to see it fail.

    I also found a blog entry from the pledge creator, explaining his reasons. He is much better at getting his ideas across than I am.

    http://lovesunix.net/blog/?p=153
     
    Last edited: 9 Jan 2007
  17. Zidane

    Zidane New Member

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    so, remind me again...... why are you re-inventing the wheel and why, exactly, are the fully open source and free "nv" drivers for nvidia cards that are included with the kernel and X by default not acceptable?

    just curious.
     
  18. ciaran.mooney

    ciaran.mooney New Member

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    Because the nVidia driver don't support PPC hardware.

    Because it is incompatible with the GPL.

    Because bugs cannot be fixed as quickly.

    Because security flaws cannot be found and resolved quickly.

    Because it causes trouble with distributions such as Ubuntu, when its being decided whether to include the nVidia driver or not.

    Because the "nv" driver doesn't do 3D rendering.

    Because people want an open driver that they themselves can tinker with and improve.
     
  19. Ramble

    Ramble Ginger Nut

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    That ain't an issue for me, I don't have any PPC hardware, and I'm not bothered what licence it's under.
    Works fine under Gentoo.
     
  20. ciaran.mooney

    ciaran.mooney New Member

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    I'm hope other people will be a little more benevolent, and see that there are a lot of users out there who would benefit from open nVidia drivers.

    Thinking about it wouldn't you rather have 3D nVidia drivers built directly into the kernel? No more pissing around downloading them, because different distributions choose not to include them as default?
     
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