Opinion: NVIDIA drivers are a BAD Thing [tm]

Robin Laing Robin.Laing at drdc-rddc.gc.ca
Wed May 19 14:38:06 UTC 2004

Gene Heskett wrote:
> On Tuesday 18 May 2004 17:18, Sean Estabrooks wrote:
>>On Tue, 18 May 2004 16:21:10 -0400 (EDT)
>>"Luc Bouchard" <luc at luker.on.ca> wrote:
>>>Sean Estabrooks said:
>>>>So, to the question of how to promote more open source adoption.
>>>>It seems to be well accepted that the market place _rules_ and
>>>>every dollar spent is a vote.   Being simplistic then, the more
>>>>"votes" that companies get because they support open source
>>>>(intel seems to be a pretty good actor these days for example) 
>>>>the better.    The fewer "votes" that companies who don't
>>>>support open source get (NVIDIA in this case) the better.
>>>You are forgetting one thing here Sean, economies of scale.  Let's
>>>assume that NVIDIA
>>Not forgotten.  You're right of course, but that doesn't mean it
>>wouldn't help if everyone who benefits from open source made an
>>effort to support open source companies.   It would be enough to
>>allow some company to carve out a niche market for itself and
>>survive.    IBM or Intel might be more motivated to make a real
>>contribution in this regard if people seemed a little more willing
>>to stand up for open source principles.
>>>But I will keep using everything I can to have a workable machine
>>>at home as a linux desktop.
>>My point is just that your attitude is very prevelent and therefore
>>there's no hope of making much of a real market even for a niche
>>player.   ATI for example has really backed off of open source and
>>it may be because Nvidia got just as much Linux business without
>>doing the same (this is a complete guess)
> IMO ATI has shot themselves in the foot regardless of any "intentions" 
> to support open source with their initiative to build a GPL driver 
> for their top of the line cards a couple of years ago.
> What happened to me probably happened to many others, who were looking 
> for a decent card, read a review on a linux site that said mid-range 
> priced card so-and-so was a pretty good card.  So, we run right out 
> and buy this ATI card so-and-so, which on the face of it, and from 
> looking at the box, is identical to the pictures the reviewer has on 
> his web site.
> But is the card in the box identical?
> Donbesilly.  Its the next generation off the production line, and has 
> a whole new chipset on it that is absolutely incompatible with any 
> and every driver except the windows driver on the cd in the box.  I 
> call ATI, and basicly get told to fsck off.  So I took it back (for 
> the second time BTW, both boxes said it had the chipset I wanted, but 
> that *wasn't* what was on the cards) and got an nvidia based card.  
> Using the nv driver, it Just Works(tm) for everything but the GLX 
> extensions.
> ATI will sell me another video card if and when it comes with fully 
> capable linux drivers that are not married to a certain specific 
> kernel available only from a certain distro.  And says so on the 
> friggin box.
>>Just wish fewer people felt so compelled to support closed source
>>companies. While understandable, it's really a shame.
> So, who in the video card business supports linux/opensource?  Go 
> ahead and post a list, I'll wait.  I think I might have 10 more years 
> if I'm lucky.

I fell into this trap in December.  While ordering a new computer I 
specified an ATI card after seeing that there was a Linux Driver on 
the ATI WWW site.  After fighting for almost a month, I purchased an 
nVidia card and was up and running with full GLX support in less than 
30 minutes.

I also thought that nVidia was working on getting all their cards to 
use the same base driver software which would make support easier than 
in the past.

One problem with Open Source is dropping support for older cards as 
the manpower isn't in place.   I have had this happen with XFree86 
drivers in the past.

My feelings are if the Closed source drivers are supplied free of 
charge I can deal with that.  I would also prefer that the drivers 
were included with the distribution as it is pretty hard to download 
the required drives if you don't have a working Internet connection 
because of lack of drivers.

The biggest problem is in how the laws in the US have opened the 
floodgates to fill lawyers bank accounts with DMCA cases.  I hope that 
the government changes the law enough to stop many of these cases.

I am very happy with my nVidia hardware as it works.
Robin Laing

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