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Old 10-25-05, 02:19 AM   #17
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Default Re: NVidia should STOP supporting Linux

Sorry to beat on a dead horse, but I thought I'd bring up a few points. But before I do, I just want to reveal my bias in favor of nVidia since I've been using their proprietary drivers with great success since even the first public release over four years ago. I was using a TNT2 Ultra at the time.

Originally Posted by treed
But my Linux computer uses a kernel with Xen compiled in, a virtualization technology that lets my one computer run a number of different instances of Linux (and soon, Windows once the next generation of Intel and AMD chips with Pacifica virtualization technology are available) which allows me to consolidate a bunch of different servers into one box and make much better use of the hardware.
Virtualization technology will soon become extremely important to nVidia, rest assured. However, you should be aware that not all hypervisors are alike. Xen is a type 1 hypervisor, VMWare is a type 2 hypervisor. I think Microsoft's hypervisor will also be type 2, but I'm not entirely certain on that. I do know that it will be quite a bit different from Xen. They are pretty drastically different architectures--They handle I/O and interrupts much differently. Ideally, the hypervisor should abstract the differences and we should see them only in the performance of the apps that run on top of them, not in the coding. However, this is rarely the case and I'm not optimistic that nVidia will go out of their way to support Xen right off the bat (Although I'd be very happy if they did).

Originally Posted by treed
And the nvidia binary drivers won't work under a Xen kernel.
Nope, just as the nVidia binary drivers probably won't work for a kernel configured for Alpha or ARM or some other architecture. Xen requires an extremely invasive kernel patch. While it's due to be merged into the main Linux repository, it's met a fair amount of resistence because of this.

There are a number of important kernel patches out there that haven't made it into the kernel. Everything from schedulers for the embedded folks to experimental filesystems to lesser-known architectures to distributed processing for clusters. Binary drivers will probably not work with the vast majority of these, and there's no reason nVidia should invest the time necessary to fix it for all possible combinations of weirdo systems, especially at the cost of performance (Performance is everything in graphics). Believe me, I recognize the importance Xen has for Linux. Heck, you can see my name in a small part of the source code. However, I don't think it's in nVidia's interest at this time to support something that hasn't even made it into the kernel yet.

Originally Posted by treed
If these drivers were distributed with the rest of the kernel like everything else this would have been a piece of cake.
And you're basing this on what assumption? It's been known that the nVidia module does some nasty things in kernel space, which is why a lot of kernel hackers don't like it. For most people, it works.

Originally Posted by treed
I should have known better than to think binary kernel modules would work out.
And you know of a better option? No graphics company is particularly friendly to open source developers. Don't believe me? Think ATi is the solution? Check this thread. There is no love affair going on between anyone in the OSS crowd and ATi. While it may be limited, at least nVidia's binary driver works for most people. And for now, that beats the pants off the competition.

Originally Posted by treed
I wish nvidia would either just GPL the drivers (it's the hardware that makes them money anyway isn't it?) or stop supporting Linux altogether so people would stop wasting time trying to get this stuff working because unless you have anything other than the simplest of systems it's going to drive you nuts.
Stop being selfish--Not everyone runs a weird architecture on their desktops. Some of us actually like to have a stable system running useful applications, even if they are simple little things like Xorg with nice effects or games like Quake 4.

Living in the GNU/Linux world is a double-edged sword right now. On the one hand, you can audit nearly all components of your system freely and thoroughly. On the other hand, if you exercise freedoms such as applying experimental code (Xen) to your kernel, then you can get burned on support. Heck, even the transition from x86 to x86-64 took a while for all the kinks to get worked out.

And yes, nVidia is a hardware company. However, drivers can be very closely tied in with hardware design and, as others have already pointed out, can contain trade secrets. Believe it or not, there are companies out there who create products that work with Linux but don't necessarily share the GNU philosophy of sharing every bit of knowledge, especially when that can give the competition a leg up. Furthermore, most graphics cards have utilize third party add-ons such as media encoders/decoders which complicates any attempt to open source the driver. Also, it could just be that company X (ATi?) has a patent on something that nVidia developed independently which could make nVidia vulnerable to lawsuits (Think of what happened with Ford's hybrid technology and Toyota's hybrid technology). I'm sure there are more reasons, and I'm sure that none of them would go smoothly with RMS's vision of the world.

Originally Posted by treed
I know I'll never give nvidia another try until the driver problem is properly fixed.
Understandable. Fortunately, it's not like anyone is cramming this driver down your throat and telling you that you have to change how you run your system.
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