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Old 03-17-05, 10:57 AM   #1
joffe
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Default Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

I just felt that I had to write this down and share my thoughts with the community. Bear with me - it got quite long, and if any of what I write is mistargeted I apologize. Also feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

What i have been thinking about a lot lately is this:
  • How are the responsible persons at nVIDIA organizing its driver development for Linux?
  • Who at nVIDIA is actually reading this forum and what is done with the information posted here? I still haven't found any statement about the moderators (MUYA, Andy Mecham, Thunderbird and zander) other than a couple of web links leading back to nVIDIA. What i would like to know is if and how they are affiliated with nVIDIA. Since the link to http://www.nvnews.net is posted at the nVIDIA website, and https://support.nvidia.com lacks possibility to register on I would find this kind of information useful.
    The way I see it, this is the official forum after all.
  • Why is it that their unified driver works over a broad range of cards (the entire spectra) in windows but not Linux?
  • Are all these recent driver issues a matter of not enough committed leadership or is it just plain lack of programmers/resources or a combination thereof? Or is it a even a Linux issue?


No offense, but this whole thing is getting more and more like my school programming project where I change bits of code here and there, breaking things on my way, and then have to turn it in after deadline.


Now, I am assured that those Linux programmers that nvidia have are quite potent at what they do so I hardly think it's their fault. I am also aware of the differences between Linux distributions when it comes to configuration files etc., but what they all have in common is the kernel and X/XFree86 server. Their APIs can of course vary from version to version but the code is as far as I know open source, though I don't know how well it is documented (if at all). On a Windows platform I suppose you'd get a lot of help from Microsoft's side API/performance wise, but on the Linux side maybe the programmers are completely on their own (?).


Since we don't have any insight in how the way driver development works at nVIDIA it is impossible to give any feedback regarding what works or not other than "X hangs while mouse moves bug". How do I, as a user, know if the bug that I file will be assigned to any developer? How do I know if nVIDIA at all intending to implement a feature?
With this statement I'm not saying that open source is superior to closed source, but instead pointing at the difficulties that arise when the two wings have to work together seemlessly.


Of course, it is nice of nVIDIA to have given us the possiblity to send feedback, but as I stated above it feels a bit unclear what their connection to http://www.nvnews.com is. What I feel is that the driver development approach is not on par with the pace Linux development is keeping. With more and more effort going into the Linux community, I have a hard time visualizing this situation to be bearable a year or so down the road.


Bottom line: I like nVIDIA's products, will keep buying them but I would really like to see the communication between the company and its Linux user base to improve.

/Johan

Last edited by joffe; 03-17-05 at 07:56 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-17-05, 12:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Both Andy Mecham and Christian Zander are nvidia employees and part of the *nix development team.
Thunderbird is the Lead Developer of nvclock.

As far as I see it. Alot of people are jumping on cutting edge kernels for no reason and then expecting nvidia to give support. IMHO that is obsurd, there is no reason to use experimental kernel unless it has a particular feature you absolutely must have. Or a bug fix or exploit you absolutely must have fixed.
With all this said Zander has been supporting some of these cutting edge kernels by providing the neccessary patches.
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Old 03-17-05, 12:32 PM   #3
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

"As far as I see it. Alot of people are jumping on cutting edge kernels for no reason and then expecting nvidia to give support."

Even if that were the case, "cutting edge kernels" are open-sourced and well-documented. We know exactly how they work, and NVIDIA knows exactly how they work.

I remember quite clearly when the 5xxx series broke everything for me and the way I operate Linux on my computer, as it did for many users in a situation similar to mine. The problems of instability and incompatibility appeared early and haven't been fixed in almost a year, regardless of kernel. Most don't seem to care because they got their 2% boost in Doom3 performance, but despite appearances, among the Linux community these users are in the minority.

The rest of us have serious work to do with our computers (and expensive NVIDIA GPUs which we paid dearly for) and NVIDIA's driver support is looking like less and less of an option.

That is reality.

But back on topic, I think the parent poster illustrates a very good point. Why no "official" support forum hosted on an NVIDIA website, but instead here at nvnews.net?
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Old 03-17-05, 02:17 PM   #4
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Quote:
But back on topic, I think the parent poster illustrates a very good point. Why no "official" support forum hosted on an NVIDIA website, but instead here at nvnews.net?
End Quote

Uh, i don't know of any graphic card or motherboard chipset manufacturer that has an "official support forum" hosted on their website....

Now hp and dell do, yes, but they do not manufacture graphic cards

That said, having an "official" forum is a liability issue in that they become responsible for the information on the forum.
Honestly, the fact that you have someone like zander posting here as much as he does is far beyond the competition. Examine ATI (the main competition for Nvidia). Notice they have 1 employee that posts on their forum, and not even remotely as often as Mr. Zander does here.

Quote2:
Even if that were the case, "cutting edge kernels" are open-sourced and well-documented. We know exactly how they work, and NVIDIA knows exactly how they work.
End Quote2

True, but you have to understand that companies just don't release drivers every day. They have to package, document, and test (now how much they do of each will obviously vary of course). That said, if everytime a bleeding edge kernel was released, Nvidia would have to RE-document, RE-package, and RE-test their driver (which would be at a completely unbelievable release-rate, totally not reasonable expectations to have).

Quote3:
The rest of us have serious work to do with our computers (and expensive NVIDIA GPUs which we paid dearly for) and NVIDIA's driver support is looking like less and less of an option.
End Quote3

As a former ATI linux user (still am stuck on my notebook but i'll live), I switched to Nvidia for my desktop because compared to Ati, they are _FAR_ more advanced on the linux front. Check out ati drivers for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Quote4:
Why is it that their unified driver works over a broad range of cards (the entire spectra) in windows but not Linux?
End Quote4

I'm pulling this out of the air, but i was under the impression the Linux driver did support pretty much all the Nvidia cards ? Which cards aren't supported?
I know this has come up with Ati before, but haven't heard of anything with nvidia since their latest driver release....

Quote5:
Both Andy Mecham and Christian Zander are nvidia employees and part of the *nix development team.
Thunderbird is the Lead Developer of nvclock.
End Quote5

With the exception of Andy as of recent (i seem to recall him posting a lot more before Zander seemed to take over on posting etc...) I am -very- happy with the numerous posts made by them!
---
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Old 03-17-05, 06:41 PM   #5
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by rinthos
Quote4:
Why is it that their unified driver works over a broad range of cards (the entire spectra) in windows but not Linux?
End Quote4

I'm pulling this out of the air, but i was under the impression the Linux driver did support pretty much all the Nvidia cards ? Which cards aren't supported?
I know this has come up with Ati before, but haven't heard of anything with nvidia since their latest driver release....
What I meant was that the driver supposedly works for all cards. But, when I see postings like these:

I begin to wonder. Of course there might be other issues at hand, like sketchy motherboards or kernels modified by the distrubution maintainers themselves. There is a plethora of hardware configurations out there, but I figure that this is most likely also the situation developers face when devicing a driver for Windows. Still, I think that they are doing a good job, but the question came to mind...

This is one of the reasons that I wrote the original post. There might be a certain card that doesn't work under certain conditions (motherboard, kernel, you name it) and that it's possible to find out either the hard way or by searching the postings here. This is also the custom in the Linux community (I'm glad I haven't seen any RTFM's here yet though).

My point is that nVIDIA has everything to win by acknowledging any problems that arise, letting people know that they know, in a two-way communication fashion. Zander & co are already doing this but the presumed post might be #14 out of 105. One suggestion would be to have a second post after the first one (the driver release note) or a link to another page. Here they could list erroneous configurations, and statements like: severity of the problem, working on a patch, scheduled for next release, and so on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rinthos
Quote:
But back on topic, I think the parent poster illustrates a very good point. Why no "official" support forum hosted on an NVIDIA website, but instead here at nvnews.net?
End Quote

Uh, i don't know of any graphic card or motherboard chipset manufacturer that has an "official support forum" hosted on their website....
So what's stopping them? Why be different from everybody else? Because that's how you gain market share. As a company with competition you always have to improve your product or the perceived value its customers get for their money. I'm not saying that I need an official support site, but there sure is room for improvement in this field. They are already good but they can be better. Hopefully someone at nVIDIA sees this post and makes the best of it. Maybe, maybe not.

Another lenghty post...

Last edited by joffe; 03-18-05 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 03-17-05, 07:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by rinthos
True, but you have to understand that companies just don't release drivers every day. They have to package, document, and test (now how much they do of each will obviously vary of course). That said, if everytime a bleeding edge kernel was released, Nvidia would have to RE-document, RE-package, and RE-test their driver (which would be at a completely unbelievable release-rate, totally not reasonable expectations to have).
My point is that there are problems with these drivers which have nothing to do with the recency of the kernel du jour. If someone can't make nvidia-kernel work with 2.6.12.not-released-yet.mm.ridiculous, that's obviously their problem. But if I can't rely on nvidia-kernel to be stable with last-year's kernels, is the problem mine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rinthos
As a former ATI linux user (still am stuck on my notebook but i'll live), I switched to Nvidia for my desktop because compared to Ati, they are _FAR_ more advanced on the linux front. Check out ati drivers for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
This is not a sound argument. I am not asking that NVIDIA's support should be as good as the competition. The relative state of the industry as a whole, in other words, the status quo, should never be used as a standard of acceptance. It's not excellent, it's not good, it's not even acceptable. It's not what I'm asking for, and it's definitely not what I paid for. Why do I hear this so much from other users? You have the same right to quality support that I do.
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Old 03-17-05, 08:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by joffe

What I meant was that the driver supposedly works for all cards. But, when I see postings like these:

I begin to wonder. Of course there might be other issues at hand, like sketchy motherboards or kernels modified by the distrubution maintainers themselves. There is a plethora of hardware configurations out there, but I figure that this is most likely also the situation developers face when devicing a driver for Windows. Still, I think that they are doing a good job, but the question came to mind...
I really think you are looking a gift-horse in the mouth. nVidia has had many cases where they did interviews on linux websites, and provided/ratified many questions. Particularly interviews like this

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/t253027.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linux Questions interview with nVidia engineers
LQ) At times, NVIDIA has taken a bit of flak for the Linux drivers not being Open Source. Can you tell us a little bit about why they aren't? Do you have any plans for a full open source driver, or is the long term plan to stick with one Open Source driver (nv) and one closed source driver (nvidia).
NV) We have lots of IP in our supported closed source Linux driver some of which is licensed and cannot be open sourced. While we did our best to ensure that there was open source driver (nv) for our chips available, we got lots of feedback from our professional partners as well as end users that wanted a driver that had the same quality and performance characteristics of our supported drivers for platforms such as Windows and Apple. By taking on the commitment to providing great Linux drivers for our GPUs, networking adapters/storage/audio devices we have given our end users the same Compatibility, Reliability & Stability that NVIDIA Software has become known for. We will maintain the strategy of providing both. Due to the UDA architecture, there is too much IP in the driver source to make open sourcing the driver a practicality.
They really do not "ignore" or "lack communication" with the Linux community, it's rather they pool resources just like any other business. Quite frankly your statement is tantamount to "complaining" about a lack of mx 4000 support, and I think this is moot. The MX4000 is NOT intended or targeted towards Linux users in ANY way, and is not INTENDED for the kinds of uses someone who wants to do something substantive in a Linux environment for.

Quote:
This is one of the reasons that I wrote the original post. There might be a certain card that doesn't work under certain conditions (motherboard, kernel, you name it) and that it's possible to find out either the hard way or by searching the postings here. This is also the custom in the Linux community (I'm glad I haven't seen any RTFM's here yet though).
Maybe there needs to be more RTFM's here, because that's part of what FOSS is all about in the first place. If you are having an issue, and want it fixed, fix it yourself, or send an email to nVidia. If there are enough users with the issue to make it worth it, nVidia will fix it. (Historically, we have had GOOD LUCK with nVidia fixing issues and supporting new standards faster than almost any other hardware company out there...PERIOD...END OF DISCUSSION). If you want to go somewhere where the grass is greener, I'm sure you will be amused by the ATI camp, the Matrox camp, or heh, the S3 camp (no support at all).

If you run into a kernel issue, and a developer isn't interested in fixing it, fix it yourself and a send a patch in. Complaining just degenerates the work that people have put towards it to give us what we have. I hate the notion that you feel there needs to be "more communication". I've found nVidia to be greased lightning in fixing issues, and working with the FOSS community.

Quote:
My point is that nVIDIA has everything to win by acknowledging any problems that arise, letting people know that they know, in a two-way communication fashion. Zander & co are already doing this but the presumed post might be #14 out of 105. One suggestion would be to have a second post after the first one (the driver release note) or a link to another page. Here they could list erroneous configurations, and statements like: severity of the problem, working on a patch, scheduled for next release, and so on.
Why? Look at the release notes, are you inferring that they don't fix problems? Last I checked they were the first (only) graphics company to support composite in x.org, and were quick to abandon xfree when it died (and YES, it IS DEAD, if you are an nVidia user with anything above a TNT2 card, DUMP XFREE and GO X.ORG!!!). I don't see how they've been lazy, and I'm quite frankly impressed with the manpower they put into fixing things. Perhaps this is why their OGL driver is the gold standard for everything from development to professional rendering? Again, this just leads back to your hardware, why are you using an MX4000 in Linux anyways? You weren't expecting any kind of real performance in anything were you? Why degenerate nVidia for this? They made no bones about this thing breathing fire for serious application, I think you're trying to give them a raw deal and that takes quite a bit of audacity.

Quote:
So what's stopping them? Why be different from everybody else? Because that's how you gain market share. As a company with competition you always have to improve your product or the perceived value its customers get for their money. I'm not saying that I need an official support site, but there sure is room for improvement in this field. They are already good but they can be better. Hopefully someone at nVIDIA sees this post and makes the best of it. Maybe, maybe not.

Another lenghty post...
Ummm, last I checked, nVidia is the undisputable leader in Linux support for their products. I challenge you to show me a hardware vendor other than like Cisco that has embraced Linux for it's core business than nVidia has. nVidia uses Linux, and devotes more effort into working with the FOSS community and supporting standards than any other company out there. They did this in an incredibly efficient way too with their unified driver architecture. I think you're just fussing.

Oh, and if you want to go marketshare for Linux, nVidia has everyone else beaten by lightyears. If you want 3D on Linux, and you do your homework, anyone but nVidia is just not an option, for any kind of work.
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Old 03-17-05, 08:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Great post - I was an ATI user but because of their poor support for Linux I purchased an Nvidia card - stupid of me

For you people going on about kernel versions - Tell me which 2.4 or 2.6 kernel will accomodate my MX 4000 working at all with any recent driver beyond 2611.

I just tried 7167 and its even better than the previous release, the entire system crashes when gnome tries to start

I was waiting a long time for this driver only to be betrayed again. Nvidia is no better than ATI. I won't be buying their products ever again.

I could care less where the forum is hosted. A revised driver that doesn't address a WIDESPREAD problem with cards that are currently being sold is trash for anyone unlucky enough to purchase one of those cards and expect it to work. All the excuses and other nonsense does not matter at all.
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Old 03-17-05, 08:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldsk00l

They really do not "ignore" or "lack communication" with the Linux community, it's rather they pool resources just like any other business. Quite frankly your statement is tantamount to "complaining" about a lack of mx 4000 support, and I think this is moot. The MX4000 is NOT intended or targeted towards Linux users in ANY way, and is not INTENDED for the kinds of uses someone who wants to do something substantive in a Linux environment for.

LMAO Oh really ? Funny it doesn't say that on their website. Or in the driver documentation for that card. Substantive? Like use gnome? But 6 year old video cards are supported well? OK sure.
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Old 03-17-05, 08:33 PM   #10
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by magneto
LMAO Oh really ? Funny it doesn't say that on their website. Or in the driver documentation for that card. Substantive? Like use gnome? But 6 year old video cards are supported well? OK sure.
lol

And where in the world did you get the impression that the MX4000 is going to be capable?

Last I heard, you don't use those for Linux anyway. And if you're so happy with ATI, please, by all means get a better card, put that lowly 4000 to rest, and don't let the door hit you in the rear. I'm sure you'd LOVE to see how a Radeon 9800 Pro performs in comparison to a GeForce FX 5600.
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Old 03-17-05, 08:34 PM   #11
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Tonight I experienced my closest contact with nVIDIA ever. I went to download a Windows driver and lo, on the bottom of the page I noticed a message saying:

Would you like to take a short survey? Your answers will help us create even better products.

I thought: Great, i feel the need to vent my thoughts, how could they know this is what I wanted? So I exitedly downloaded the survey program hoping to get a chance to have my say. And what do I get? Two questions:

What does "NVIDIA SLI" mean?

NVIDIA® TurboCache...


And that's it. No open questions, no nothing. As a thank you from nVIDIA I was redirected to http://www.nzone.com/page/home.html.

Should I laugh or cry? How on earth is this going to help NVIDIA create even better products? Where are they going to get user input from if they are posing two leading questions with multiple choice answers? This is exactly what I've been saying, only this was almost too much for me on one day. The marketing department really needs to get their act together.
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Old 03-17-05, 08:52 PM   #12
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Default Re: Open letter to nVnews and nVIDIA

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldsk00l
lol

And where in the world did you get the impression that the MX4000 is going to be capable?
hmmm I don't know maybe the company putting out a driver that is supposed to work in LINUX for the MX 4000 would tell me directly that it is capable. Or do you mean to say that Nvidia is lying or are fools by releasing a linux driver which is supposed to support the MX 4000?
Is there a hidden Nvidia website where all these hidden truths you speak of can be found? Please post it if so.


In other news I can get Openbox to work with the latest greatest 7167 and lightning fast 698fps in glxgears! (i know its not a benchmark)
But gnome launching crashes the entire system.
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