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Old 03-22-04, 03:10 PM   #13
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

It is not that simple about nvidia opening their kernel module. In fact all Linux code is already open. The closed part of the kernel module is their crossplatform architecture. The same core is used on Windows and other OSes the few opensource files are really the Linux specific part. If Nvidia opened this stuff, they would open huge parts of drivers for other OSes too. What would it help if Nvidia opened this part? Just a kernel module is useless, you can't do much with it, further it changes all the time.
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Old 03-22-04, 03:17 PM   #14
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

Quote:
Originally Posted by carpy
For instance, could NVidia place all the proprietary "protected" stuff in a library [...]
I think this might be difficult due to the monolithic architecture of Unix and its derivatives . For direct access to hardware you basically need to be in kernel mode, and the only concept resembling a "library" on that level is the "kernel module". Normal libraries live in user space. Sure, you can try and implement a software interface to put as many functions as possible into user space, but I dare say the performance would suffer, as would code re-use between platforms.

On second thoughts, it might be possible to split the kernel module into two and open source one of them...

But it seems, Nvidia have made up their mind not to do that. Which is fair enough, only they have to endure customers like me reporting bugs to them.
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Old 03-22-04, 03:32 PM   #15
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

I find that people who moan about nvidia opensourcing there driver seem to have problems or cannot do a simple install of it. Ati and nvidia drivers are not without there issues in Windows never mine Linux.
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Old 03-22-04, 05:30 PM   #16
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

Whether ppl can or can not do a simple install of the driver is not of concern in this thread.

Well, maybe we should leave the driver opensource/closed-source discussion then.

What about releasing their card-specs, allowing ppl to write there own driver.
Nvidia will probably not do this either as is would result in new better/worse opensource drivers.
But wouldn't it be a good thing to let certain ppl contribute to their driver? (100 keyboards are better than 10)
The closed card-specs problem could then be solved using some sort of NDA or equal agreement.
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Old 03-22-04, 05:45 PM   #17
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

Quote:
Originally Posted by forester
What about releasing their card-specs, allowing ppl to write there own driver.
Oh that would be absolutely brilliant!

Oh wait, there's a little thing called trade secrets. Perhaps you've heard of them?
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Old 03-22-04, 05:52 PM   #18
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

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Originally Posted by saturnotaku
Oh that would be absolutely brilliant!

Oh wait, there's a little thing called trade secrets. Perhaps you've heard of them?
Yes I agree, nvidia are a business and i'm surprised people have not got that through there thick skulls yet. I'm sure ati and Intel would love that.
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Old 03-22-04, 11:46 PM   #19
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

Since you ppl can not argue with real arguments this seems pointless...

Btw, do you even know what a NDA is?
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Old 03-23-04, 09:52 PM   #20
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnotaku
Oh that would be absolutely brilliant!

Oh wait, there's a little thing called trade secrets. Perhaps you've heard of them?
Okay, I can easily see that there's something that they really don't want to disclose in the newer models, but then what's preventing them from publishing the specs for, say, Riva 128/TNT? Btw, Riva 128ZX would have lasted me for almost until now if there would have been proper drivers for it...(great, it seems there's one answer Any others?
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Old 03-24-04, 01:50 AM   #21
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

carpy's point is the open-sourcing of the kernel AGP module, which is not needed or even used by default as of 31.23? (somewhere near there NvAGP default was changed). The AGPGART kernel AGP module can on many systems suffice in its place, making the kernel module unnecessary. In light of this I have two thoughts:

1. nVIDIA could open-source the kernel module code, but almost certainly will not. For most systems it seems their kernel module performs better than the AGPGART module does--this suggests their code exploits card capabilities or hardware specifics they know better (and don't expect that to be divulged). Perhaps it has other meanings instead.. we won't know until the code can be compared.

2. It would be beneficial to provide capability to compile and install the kernel module without installing the glx or X components, in an easy to understand and use format (with the purpose being automation when startup failure to insert the nVIDIA kernel agp module occurs). The installer, and some creative scripts can already do this.. so perhaps its best done per distro, and probably provided/maintained by the distro's community. Nevertheless some slight modifications to the installer would make it alot smoother by providing this install target (for instance a --kernel-agpmodule option). This nVIDIA could certainly do (hint: Andy Mecham did say they'd love to have feature patches).

ok, 3. carpy could use AGPGART and avoid kernel related failure to load X, unless it doesn't play nicely with the hardware.

Shameless plug: You could use Fedora Core and update intelligently using RPM repos that supply precisely this.. the kernel module separated from other components and installs separately (all built from the nVIDIA released installer). Of course emerge provides similar for Gentoo so the issue becomes "are you using linux effectively with what nVIDIA provides you"?
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Old 03-24-04, 02:12 AM   #22
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

I am sorry to inturrupt this wonderful thread. Couple things I think need clarification.

1: Nvidia could release their specs tomorrow. Most of the technology in their chips is patented, which means that the only trade secerets would be in their drivers. Since there would be a new driver implementation, this is kind of a moot point.

2: The entire code issue is really split between three groups. Proprietary, open source, and free software. Nvidia is currently proprietary, which only makes people who use XFREE happy. OSS fans just want to see the code and get a license. Free software advocates believe it is a fundamental right that they have access to the source, and the ability to distribute it under a free software license, without being encumbered.

Since XFREE 4.4 is no longer free software, a lot of distros are dropping it for other X implementations. This means......

A: Nvidia will have to release seperate drivers for XFREE, Freedesktop.org, and every other X-clone out there that distros migrate to. This would be bad for Nvidia as it would require a huge amount of resources.

B: NVidia will have to release their "specs" as you call them, much like Intel/IBM/SUN release their APIs. This way, each X-clone can use a driver that comes from a common GPL'd core.

With Linux gaining popularity, and the majority of X-servers being released under Gnu/GPL compatable licenses, it seems inevitable that NV will end up releasing information to teams. I am also hoping that technologies like S3TC become unencumbered, so that we can create a useful, distributable driver. Not necessarily better, but usable (compare the DRI vs ATI prop implementations).

Personally, I fall in to the "free software" camp, but I do play Morrowind using the Nvidia driver and Wines. Strange times are ahead.

Thank you for your time,
Frank Russo
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Old 03-24-04, 09:07 AM   #23
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

Fedora Core is moving to X.org's Xserver which is basically XFree86, so there will be no problems with the nvidia driver (me crosses fingers). The other Xservers are basically experimental stuff, not ready for prime-time. However I agree that nvidia could open up more of the kernel module code, I'm sure that there is a lot of interesting stuff in there which isn't a trade secret. That stuff could be factored out of the binary blob that is distributed.

What makes me even more convinced that this could be done is the size of the nvidia kernel module, it's huge... I doubt that there is so much "trade secret" code in there.

Linux drivers have currently a much longer release cycle than the Windows ones. With more code in the open the community could help fix some problems like the current 4kstacks thing faster (of course there is always the option of nvidia releasing drivers more often, but the increased openness would benefit them as well).
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Old 03-24-04, 03:33 PM   #24
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Default Re: Alternative approach to Linux Driver?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrLf
Fedora Core is moving to X.org's Xserver which is basically XFree86, so there will be no problems with the nvidia driver (me crosses fingers). The other Xservers are basically experimental stuff, not ready for prime-time.
The current nVIDIA driver (53.36) works stably with the X.org implementation currently in Rawhide (Fedora devel at Red Hat)--there have been no significant problems other than the 4K-stack kernel configuration, but that's a different issue.
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