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24 February 2005 @ 01:35 am
Desktop still looks like crap.
Laptop still compiling Gentoo.
Desktop may be next.
New laptop nice. Doc like.
Current Mood: Prehistoric
XCorvisxcorvis on February 24th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC)
Urg ug ug.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 24th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC)
Ati Radeon drivers for 7K still no good. Ug want non-proprietary solution for closed-source specification.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 25th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC)
So, what the fuck was that?
Josiah Carlsonchouyu_31 on February 25th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
If you had the driver layer for windows, then you wouldn't be bitching about drivers for linux.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 25th, 2005 06:21 pm (UTC)
If ATI was willing to open specs or write good drivers for old cards, this wouldn't even be an issue.
Josiah Carlsonchouyu_31 on February 25th, 2005 07:15 pm (UTC)
Also both good points. Though to be fair, the Windows drivers for the Radeon 7000 suck too.

In general, I wonder what it would take to write a compatibility layer for windows drivers. To write drivers for Windows, they must have an API, and if they have an API, it can be reimplemented. Probably more trouble than it is worth, but food for thought anyways.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 25th, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC)
The GATOS project was the first attempt at that (I think), and it sucked quite a bit. Mplayer does high-performance video playback on Linux by using Windows drivers and codecs - it's also fragile as all hell.

These are all things I'd like to look at someday, but what really chafes me is that the situation with ATI isn't nearly as frustrating as the situation with nVidia.
Josiah Carlsonchouyu_31 on February 26th, 2005 12:16 am (UTC)
The fact that nVidia has closed-source drivers on Linux via a kernel messaging mechanism bothers you? Or is it something else?
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 26th, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)
Their community involvement (or total lack of it) bothers me.
Josiah Carlsonchouyu_31 on February 26th, 2005 01:24 am (UTC)
It's all about business, of course.

Financially, fewer than 10% of computer users use Linux or the Mac. Over 90% use Windows. Pick the low hanging fruit first...

Now, what about the last 10%? If they were to open source their drivers, it would possibly offer various trade secrets about their product, secrets that they would sue others for releasing. So they don't, they can't. What if nVidia were to open up all of its patents, all of its trade secrets, all of its drivers. Would the company survive? No. How many people would be out of the job then? At what benefit? So that a bunch of geeks can write drivers to use their favorite operating system on a $100-300 video card? I won't blame them for not opening up, and I imagine neither do you.

As for other parts of the community, what could they offer? Advice on how not to make drivers? Advice on how Linux could become more proprietary-hardware friendly? I can't imagine they could offer anything substantial on either of those fronts.

Money is a big thing. I know it conflicts with a desire to free the source, I sometimes have a desire to free the source too (the 20k lines that I've developed for my current employer), but I realize that in doing so, not only would I violate the terms and conditions of my contract, subjecting myself to legal liability, but it would also mean that the financial future of the company would be put in question; those that have paid for the roof over my head for months, those who have taken me into their homes, introduced me to their children, eaten meals at their tables with me, offered me amazing insights into the subject in which I am studying, etc., and I would be destroying our future.

Ultimately it is for profit, but profit that benefits people. They do their best, as long as it won't cut off their own heads.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 26th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)
That would all be well and good if nVidia wasn't trying to project the idea that they are Linux-friendly and helpful to people who really want the use of their hardware. For graphics cards that cost as much as a car, their drivers are fantastic. For ordinary commercial cards, not so much.

The idea of exposing not wanting to expose their patented ideas to the outside world is ridiculous, since patents are, by definition, protected expressions of technical thought which other companies can not copy without licensing. If I want to look up every patent that any company has *ever* filed, I can do it - anybody can do it.

You're also missing the point about these being older video cards - by this point in time, I'm sure nVidia has reverse-engineered everything they want to know about the Radeon 7K, and I'm sure ATI knows everything there is to know about the TNT2 Ultra.

This is not about profit, this is about corporate responsibility.
Josiah Carlsonchouyu_31 on February 27th, 2005 02:04 am (UTC)
Patents are publically filed so that people can find out what they are not supposed to do without a license. Whether or not someone actually checks it before they start their work is neither here nor there. They are filed for protection.

Yes, corporate responsibility. On the one hand, corporations should be responsible and support their products in a way that benefits the people who purchase them. You'll have no argument from me. On the other hand, sometimes corporate responsibility runs counter to the due dilligence that is required to keep both the shareholders happy, as well as the US government. Specifically to keep their "trade secrets" secret, so that if someone were to steal their technology, they can tell the US government, "we did our best to keep it secret, they broke the law, help us."

IBM has allowed for a set of their patents to be used in open source software for free. However, by definition, nothing in a patent is a trade secret. It's the stuff they don't document publically (like the Coca-Cola recipe), and ATI or nVidia allowing use of their patents wouldn't offer would-be driver writers anything. What would? Source code. If they were to release their source, or enough tools to become truely "Linux-friendly", it is more than likely that trade secrets would be offered, which would fuck them in the legal arena for anything related to what could have been contained in the source.

I could offer up various good ideas about what the hardware industry should have done (per device-type HW api, kind of like USB memory sticks nowadays), but it is not going to help you now. I wish you had your hands on the driver already, but I'll settle for offering you an explanation as to why you don't already have a good driver.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 28th, 2005 05:25 pm (UTC)
Patents are filed to store the knowledge of mankind and protect the discoverers of that information so they can make a living. Research universities and enterprises make use of patented information every day, they just don't sell what they make.

An API/ABI can not be patented (from the Microsoft antitrust trial). The hardware interface, in this instance, is an ABI - treat the card like a black box, and we don't need to know anything about how it works. That the graphics card companies treat their ABI's as trade secrets is what bothers me.

ATI and nVidia might make some big noise about trade secrets, but trade secrets are only protected by companies, not the US government. Once a trade secret is public knowledge, it is public domain - it can not be affected by patent law, since it was never filed for protection under patent law.

We could probably go on about this for weeks, so I think we're both agreed that this is stupid.
Josiah Carlsonchouyu_31 on February 28th, 2005 08:23 pm (UTC)
Right, but users being able to know the patents still wouldn't help them in writing drivers.

I think this conversation just now naturally came to the end. I agree with everything you have just said, and while it does bother me, I understand where they are coming from. Primarily it seems as if you want good drivers, with a truely open process being icing on the cake.
Hoc Est Qui Sumusdiscoflamingo on February 28th, 2005 09:41 pm (UTC)
Well, developers having access to the ABI's would fix that. I don't know how the companies file their patents, but I doubt ABI's is their main mechanism.

And your second paragraph sounds right. The card companies bother me, but management likely has no idea how to make it right.