Opinion: NVIDIA drivers are a Good Thing [tm]

Rodolfo J. Paiz rpaiz at simpaticus.com
Mon May 17 16:23:23 UTC 2004


I've read a great deal of pro/con on this list about NVIDIA issuing 
closed-source binary drivers and had not formed my own opinion yet. But 
last week, I got a sweet bargain on a new system, and it had an NVIDIA 
GeForce MX 400 card (64MB) in it. Since the driver (nv, I think...) which X 
installed had noise on the screen at anything above 800x600 which got worse 
at higher resolutions, I went to get their closed drivers.

Despite the fact that I love RPM and was nervous about using something 
else, their installer was extremely well done, and worked beautifully. I 
had to install the kernel-source RPM package so it could compile its kernel 
module, and I was easily able to follow the instructions to modify my 
/etc/X11/XF86Config file. Inside of 10 minutes, I went from 800x600 with 
noise to 1600x1200 and gorgeous.

I was delighted to see that they support many varieties of Linux, that they 
provide a single driver file to fit nearly all their cards, that the 
"nvidia-installer" can update itself to a newer version, and that even 
though I can't manage it with RPM it makes things very easy for me. I've 
always used the graphics card maker's own drivers on Windows too (Matrox, 
ATI, others) so this is no different.

Their two primary arguments are that this installer is the only way they 
can support lots and lots of Linux distros, kernel versions, etc., and that 
the extremely competitive nature of their business makes it unhealthy for 
them to open-source their code. I am willing to buy those arguments as 
being reasonable; so while I would *prefer* open-source and RPM, I can 
*accept* closed-source and custom installer.

After all, the end result is more hardware that can be used optimally under 
Linux, easier adoption of Linux by more people, and an easier computing 
experience for me. Conclusion? Two thumbs up!


Rodolfo J. Paiz
rpaiz at simpaticus.com

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