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Old 02-27-03, 10:21 PM   #21
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: NC, US
Posts: 55

Originally posted by DustSmoke
I personally do not enjoy people that don't have a clue as to how this stuff works, fail to look it up or even read about it, then commit to a definitive bashing attitude because this is the way it works in windows.
I'm not sure wether this was a dig at me or a gneralization. I've done what digging I'm interested in. I can assure you that I have done a number of web searches, and have failed to find evidence that nVidia has released one iota of development information for the nForce 1/2 AGP implementation. If you have seen such evidence, please post it.

While, I realize that a lack of proof for something does not prove its negation, it does give a basis for suspicions. However, in abscence of hard information one way or the other, I carefully dealt with the question of the possibility that nVidia is withholding information on a strictly hypothetical basis. I do not care to count the number of times I wrote the equivalent of "if nVidia is withholding this information" in my prior post. Furthermore, even in dealing with a hypothetical situation, my post did not "bash" nVidia.

There is no way you can sit there and tell me that it was not feasible or foreseeable on 'your' part that this issue would exist had you done your homework before buying for Linux.
This seems to be a dig directed at me, so I will correct you.

I DID do research on my purchase. My primary concern about the nForce board was whether sufficient Linux support was available for the integrated hardware. In particular, I studied the sound and network support, and found it to be available. I even ran a test compile of teh drivers on my machine at the time before buying. However, I took the extra steps of retaining my prior network and sound devices so that I could fall back to them if necessary. As a matter of fact, I have opted to use the old sound card over the nForce as my primary source of sound in Linux and to run the microphone in Windows.

Through this, I did take AGP support somewhat for granted. I basically assumed that nVidia would make a point of supporting its video hardware on its own chipset. This was an assumption that I should have checked, but it seemed reasonable at the time. However, I was perfectly willing to fall back to doing my gaming strictly under Windows (particularly since a number of gaems won't run under Linux anyway), and had to do just this for a time while I tried to get AGP working.

Furthermore, I might add that I bought this motherboard and video card combination with well-formed replacement plans in mind. Specifically, I will replace the motherboard and video card SIMULTANEOUSLY roughly 18 months after their purchase date (end of this year/beginning of next).

In short, my own purchases were carefully considered. I may not have known everything (and no one ever does), but I took great care to ensure the best result possible. I also carefully evaluated the risks to ensure that I was willing to live by the consequences of my decision, and have done so in a couple of cases.

The whole AGP issue is pretty much academic for me at this point. My current combination of video card and motherboard does the job, and I will do all I reasonably can to make sure that the same holds true for my next motherboard and video card. To that end, given my increased knowledge of the level of AGP support for the nForce boards, I am likely to consider a non-nVidia chipset. However, provided that nVidia's Linux drivers are still superior to those of the competition, I will probably still pair it with an nVidia video card.

NVIDIA does not 'officially' retain any warranty or liability when it comes to their drivers. (Just like most companies but they don't even make the cards so they are not liable in any way whatsoever) In the legality of it all, the only support that 'is' there is the support from that piece of software on your hard drive and everything else is at the discretion of the NVIDIA entity and/or the hardware manufacturer. But your not paying for the software so what do you expect?
I understand the legal claims nVidia makes and the ultimate responsibility of the OEM's and the user.

But the picture is not that simple, and nVidia knows it. People in general, including myself, are not going to buy hardware that does not have reasonable software support. While nVidia is not liable for providing continued software support to end users, it does so to keep its sales up. While realizing that nVidia cannot be held liable if it drops support, they take a calculated risk and choose nVidia anyway. They do this on the assumption that nVidia will carry on with its practices to keep sales high. Once can realize that this assumption may not hold true, but still decide to proceed with a purchase. I might add this is a risk one takes WHENEVER buying hardware.

If you don't think I'm wrong, you might consider the fact that nVidia releases reference drivers to the public at all. It could just release them to OEM's and save on bandwidth. In addition, they do tend to trump up new releases with review sites and the like. Put simply, while nVidia gives itself legal leeway to leave the end users hanging, it does "advertise" its software support to end users. In short, nVidia invites the end users to take the calculated gamble I noted above, and while end users would not have any recourse if things soured, they don't have to be happy or have to take the risk again, either.

In short, there is a give-and-take business relationship between nVidia and the end user. If the end user is not happy with the relationship, he is unlikely to renew it.

I don't know what your talking about when you state they 'have' to support this, or 'have' to support that
I can't speak for others, but I've never said that nVidia HAS to do anything. They can start trying to sell TNT's again--I can't stop them. However, there is positive behavior and negative behavior. Crippled Linux support is negative behavior.

Also, being evasive on the nature of their AGP support is negative behavior. Look to cedric's inital post. He asks three distinct questions:

How about nforce415d driver ??
do you do that to force to me to buy a nvidia's graphics board ?
when will you make a agp driver or a patch for agpgart ?
While cedric's mail was somewhat confrontational, nVidia conveniently ignored two of those three questions. While the state of nForce 1/2 AGP support can be learned from sources other than nVidia, nVidia's evasion does not make the search for information any easier. Furthermore, the lack of an official announcement means one must get information second or third hand; first hand information is generally preferable. (To be fair, I am using second hand information in citing cedric's mail...but that's my point.)

Also, consider nVidia's press release on improved support for alternate OS's. It did nothing to limit the claims to nVidia's video products, though the nForce support has signficant weakenesses. The network support is OK, but the sound support is the open-source i810 driver, which many people are unsatisfied with. In addition, there is not currently generic support for the AGP implementation of the nForce 1/2.

All in all, nVidia seems to have a habit of talking up its Linux support without really providing any details of the limitations. While this is common behavior in PR, commonality doesn't make something moral or desirable.

If nVidia wants to support specific nForce features but not others, fine. However, they should make their plans clear are so that potential buyers can make informed decisions based on first hand information.

I'm sick of the 'ATI is a saint' argument too.
I never said that ATI was a saint, and I went as far as describing the effort nVidia has put into its video drivers as "exemplary", and describing ATI's efforts as merely passing (though that could be overly generous--I haven't tried ATI's drivers, as I went with nVidia based on the reported superior support.)

My primary point about ATI is that the fact that they have not done something similarly "exemplary" with their video drivers does not at all change the fact that nVidia's AGP support on the nForce is lacking. ATI might be able to work around this, but the very term "work around" implies a deficiency some where. That deficiency is on the part of the AGP support for the nForce.

I can imagine the screaming from the larger portion of the community if they did start taking control over the AGPGART aspect of it.
You've said several times that supporting drivers on Linux is somehow different than supporting drivers on Windows. To some extent, this is true. However, important elements ARE similar.

In particular, you object that nVidia can't control the AGPGART interface. This is true. However, nVidia also can't control the OGL, DirectX, or windows AGP interface. However, they write drivers that work with these interfaces they can't control. There is no reason they can't do the same for AGPGART, open source or not.

I might add that I have not once said that nVidia should automaticaly provide an open source driver. If they are concerned about revealing confidential IP, they can go the closed source route--like they have with Windows, the Linux graphics driver, and the Linux network driver.

Of course, this assumes that the licensing agreements that nVidia has signed for important driver components permit the development of closed-source drivers for Linux. However, while admitting an assumption on my part, I will also point out one of yours: you assert several times that nVidia would reveal an uncomfortable amount of IP in an open-source AGP driver for the nForce 1/2. This is a possibility, but not the only one, and I, for one, have not seen ANY evidence that this is the case. Unless you have evidence suggesting that this is the reason for withholding information, you are making a potentially big assumption.

I just think you should stop smacking the gift horse in the mouth like it's your god earned right.
I have not in any way been unreasonable with nVidia. I am careful with what I buy, but I don't take it back unless I have evidence of a serious defect. That said, the level of Linux support is an element in my purchase decision, and I am well within reason and my rights to note that I may make a different decision in the future based on the level of support I've seen.

I am also not particularly presumptuous in arguing that nVidia should be a bit more forthcoming on what it does and does not support with Linux. Inadequately addressing questions such as this does not entice potential end users--a group that includes current end users.

In the end, while I have not seen nVidia resort to outright dishonesty, they do bob and weave about issues in which Linux-using customers have a legitamate interest. As I've said, nVidia hasn't outright lied, but sufficient evasion can produce the same effect. While I would be content just to deal with a lack of Linux support, apparent attempts to mislead me rankle.
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