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Nvidia Issues Diplomatic Response to Linus Torvalds' F-Bomb

By - Source: Phoronix | B 76 comments

Nvidia's approach to support or not support driver development for Linux has been questioned for some time. So, Linus Torvalds' recent attack on Nvidia was not exactly surprising. Nvidia's answer is not surprising either.

Nvidia's public relations department has issued a response of rather diplomatic nature and surely does not indicate that the graphics company is changing direction. The lengthy answer is an explanation of what Nvidia is attempting to achieve with its Linux driver support (or lack thereof) along with a friendly, corporate version of Torvalds' choice of words to express his dissatisfaction with the company.

"At the end of the day, providing a consistent GPU experience across multiple platforms for all of our customers continues to be one of our key goals," the answer states in its last sentence and pretty much sums up Nvidia's intent, while the company says it understands that "there are people who are as passionate about Linux as an open source platform." In more detail:

"While we understand that some people would prefer us to provide detailed documentation on all of our GPU internals, or be more active in Linux kernel community development discussions, we have made a decision to support Linux on our GPUs by leveraging NVIDIA common code, rather than the Linux common infrastructure. While this may not please everyone, it does allow us to provide the most consistent GPU experience to our customers, regardless of platform or operating system."

Additionally, Nvidia stated that it is heavily involved in the Linux community in various ways, including the ARM Linux kernel team. The note also stressed that Nvidia "ranks second in terms of total lines changed and fourth in terms of number of changesets for all employers or organizations" for the latest 3.4 ARM kernel.

Below is the full response:

Supporting Linux is important to NVIDIA, and we understand that there are people who are as passionate about Linux as an open source platform as we are passionate about delivering an awesome GPU experience.

Recently, there have been some questions raised about our lack of support for our Optimus notebook technology. When we launched our Optimus notebook technology, it was with support for Windows 7 only. The open source community rallied to work around this with support from the Bumblebee Open Source Project http://bumblebee-project.org/. And as a result, we've recently made Installer and readme changes in our R295 drivers that were designed to make interaction with Bumblebee easier.


While we understand that some people would prefer us to provide detailed documentation on all of our GPU internals, or be more active in Linux kernel community development discussions, we have made a decision to support Linux on our GPUs by leveraging NVIDIA common code, rather than the Linux common infrastructure. While this may not please everyone, it does allow us to provide the most consistent GPU experience to our customers, regardless of platform or operating system.


As a result:


1) Linux end users benefit from same-day support for new GPUs , OpenGL version and extension parity between NVIDIA Windows and NVIDIA Linux support, and OpenGL performance parity between NVIDIA Windows and NVIDIA Linux.


2) We support a wide variety of GPUs on Linux, including our latest GeForce, Quadro, and Tesla-class GPUs, for both desktop and notebook platforms. Our drivers for these platforms are updated regularly, with seven updates released so far this year for Linux alone. The latest Linux drivers can be downloaded from www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html.


3) We are a very active participant in the ARM Linux kernel. For the latest 3.4 ARM kernel – the next-gen kernel to be used on future Linux, Android, and Chrome distributions – NVIDIA ranks second in terms of total lines changed and fourth in terms of number of changesets for all employers or organizations.


At the end of the day, providing a consistent GPU experience across multiple platforms for all of our customers continues to be one of our key goals.

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  • 30 Hide
    vmem , June 20, 2012 2:45 PM
    well... it looks like we're back to where we started... somehow Nvidia's PR response seems to imply they're not going to change anything from what they've been doing in the past
  • 19 Hide
    Yuka , June 20, 2012 3:22 PM
    This is not only about support, but how the company "opens up" to the Linux community. That's one huge difference.

    I actually think nVidia is doing a some-what good job with Linux, but for all the things they should be doing, is not enough if they're going to keep things closed to the rest. In that particular note, AMD is way better than nVidia (AFAIK) since they provide detailed spec sheets of their GPUs and, more often than not, use open technologies.

    Cheers!
  • 15 Hide
    vmem , June 20, 2012 3:28 PM
    whooleoI'm pretty sure nVIDIA has had much better driver support than other companies *COUGH* AMD*COUGH* so Linus needs to stop b****ing because nVIDIA drivers work pretty good under linux open source or not. This guy is just a clown I tells ya!

    seriously? on a PC, sure I agree with you. but for Linux? Nvidia's the equivalent of apple, keeping everything behind closed doors and secret curtains. sure they pump out drivers, but without full spec sheets of their GPU dies, it doesn't do much for the software engineers behind all the Linux systems...

    also, Linus may have gone a bit overboard just to make headlines, but he's still a legend in his own right... just a clown? I'm sure if you did a simple poll of you vs Linus 99% will vote you're the clown
Other Comments
  • 30 Hide
    vmem , June 20, 2012 2:45 PM
    well... it looks like we're back to where we started... somehow Nvidia's PR response seems to imply they're not going to change anything from what they've been doing in the past
  • 1 Hide
    xenol , June 20, 2012 3:00 PM
    How much better is the alternative?
  • 0 Hide
    bluekoala , June 20, 2012 3:09 PM
    My guess is if either AMD or nVidia had grade A support for Linux, a lot of new rogue gaming and media consoles would appear on the market. Much like what we're seeing with android and how it's fueling innovation. Everyone wants a slice of the market so they are motivated to introduce new unique features; bigger/smaller, better and cheaper.

    Whereas on the windows platform, due to it closedness, it would be hard to conceive that new typed of Windows devices could emerge from a garage.

    Speaking of which, I'm going to see if there's any news on that "Steam console" I've been hearing rumors about.
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , June 20, 2012 3:21 PM
    bluekoalaMy guess is if either AMD or nVidia had grade A support for Linux, a lot of new rogue gaming and media consoles would appear on the market. Much like what we're seeing with android and how it's fueling innovation. Everyone wants a slice of the market so they are motivated to introduce new unique features; bigger/smaller, better and cheaper.Whereas on the windows platform, due to it closedness, it would be hard to conceive that new typed of Windows devices could emerge from a garage. Speaking of which, I'm going to see if there's any news on that "Steam console" I've been hearing rumors about.


    most people get windows with their pc, and microsoft doesnt charge to make a windows game.

    the only difference dev side is that linus makes up about 1% and even than, they are not gamers to begin with, and they want to move as far away as possible from pc if they can help it... so intensive isnt there.
  • 19 Hide
    Yuka , June 20, 2012 3:22 PM
    This is not only about support, but how the company "opens up" to the Linux community. That's one huge difference.

    I actually think nVidia is doing a some-what good job with Linux, but for all the things they should be doing, is not enough if they're going to keep things closed to the rest. In that particular note, AMD is way better than nVidia (AFAIK) since they provide detailed spec sheets of their GPUs and, more often than not, use open technologies.

    Cheers!
  • 4 Hide
    Filiprino , June 20, 2012 3:23 PM
    I don't know why so much has been made of the Linus' statement.

    NVIDIA may not be very friendly to free software development, but at least they provide a good closed driver.

    Also, we've to remind that Linus didn't use GPL license because it granted freedom, but because it helped him to make his kernel widespread. As such, he doesn't want to switch to GPLv3, because companies prefer GPLv2 due to it having a flaw that allows them to use the source code, redistribute it but users are unable to use a modified versions of that source code because the device needs the binary to be signed or whatever other protection you can imagine.

    On other topic, I'll take a look again to bumblebee. It can work, but it's not a native solution and it sucks a bit.
  • 15 Hide
    vmem , June 20, 2012 3:28 PM
    whooleoI'm pretty sure nVIDIA has had much better driver support than other companies *COUGH* AMD*COUGH* so Linus needs to stop b****ing because nVIDIA drivers work pretty good under linux open source or not. This guy is just a clown I tells ya!

    seriously? on a PC, sure I agree with you. but for Linux? Nvidia's the equivalent of apple, keeping everything behind closed doors and secret curtains. sure they pump out drivers, but without full spec sheets of their GPU dies, it doesn't do much for the software engineers behind all the Linux systems...

    also, Linus may have gone a bit overboard just to make headlines, but he's still a legend in his own right... just a clown? I'm sure if you did a simple poll of you vs Linus 99% will vote you're the clown
  • 2 Hide
    bluekoala , June 20, 2012 3:37 PM
    YukaThis is not only about support, but how the company "opens up" to the Linux community. That's one huge difference.I actually think nVidia is doing a some-what good job with Linux, but for all the things they should be doing, is not enough if they're going to keep things closed to the rest. In that particular note, AMD is way better than nVidia (AFAIK) since they provide detailed spec sheets of their GPUs and, more often than not, use open technologies.Cheers!


    This is somewhat true. AMD has FGLRX driver wich is proprietary and they also release documentation and provided resources to work on an open driver. The problem with the open source driver is that it does not have the same performance. The problem with proprietary driver is that it cannot be adapted very well to different environments by anyone else than the manufacturer. Since the manufacturer doesn't have or want to spend the resources necessary to make all the changes for every possible request then this driver is useless is many scenarios. And on the other hand, a lot of users are not willing to use the open driver because this means they will not be able to exploit the potential of their hardware. In Nvidia's case, there really isn't much of an option for an open driver so if their driver isn't doing what you want it to do you are screwed. For the average user who would install ubuntu to read e-mails and check facebook and maybe play the occasional OpenGL game or even gaming through WINE, this isn't an issue.

    That's how I see it anyway.
  • 4 Hide
    bluekoala , June 20, 2012 3:53 PM
    alidanmost people get windows with their pc, and microsoft doesnt charge to make a windows game.the only difference dev side is that linus makes up about 1% and even than, they are not gamers to begin with, and they want to move as far away as possible from pc if they can help it... so intensive isnt there.


    Whether MS charges, if Windows comes on a PC is not the point.
    The point is that the graphics ecosystem is broken on Linux. Like anything else in this world, a working ecosystem is required for success. Since video games rely a lot on visuals/graphics, hence "Video" games, the PC market for gaming is dominated by windows primarily because windows has a superior superior VGA ecosystem.

    Bill Gates realized the importance of gaming on his platform and that is a fact. If you want to know more about then read about the inception of DirectX. I doubt Mr. Torvalds feels differently.
  • 9 Hide
    kingtoke , June 20, 2012 3:54 PM
    email i received from tridef after trying to get their software to work with my nvidia card. the hack that fooled the nvidia drivers into beleiving my monitor was certified was extremely unstable and games crashed after around 10 minutes..
    i switched to an ATI card and the 3d effect is both stable, and much, much superior to what i was getting on my nvidia card.


    TriDef Support tridefsupport@ddd.com
    10 May

    to me

    Hi blahblah,

    Frame sequential is not supported by TriDef 3D on Nvidia based systems.
    Nvidia won't open up their API to third parties which is the reason why we cannot support it, unfortunately. To output in frame sequential mode please refer to Nvidia's 3D Vision software.

    Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.


    Best regards
    TriDef Support



    it shows nVidia are consistant in being a nightmare for third parties.
  • -9 Hide
    lp231 , June 20, 2012 3:54 PM
    Zingam_DuoI am happy I haven't bought any NVIDIA product for over 13 years (finger)


    The motherboard you bought most like have a SLI bridge. To say you have not bought a Nvidia product for over 13 years, makes absolutely no sense.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , June 20, 2012 4:27 PM
    Once again, Linux needs to standardize it's API's and the general framework of the OS. Linux software needs to stop being deployed as "source" so thinkers can compile it, and start being deployed as pre-compiled programs that are certified to work on a variety of hardware.

    The whole problem with OS's like Linux and Unix is that everyone and their mother that uses it wants to "compile" things their way and not follow standards. Of course there is going to be issues and bugs, NOTHING is standardized, Linux is pure chaos plain and simple. AND, until the Linux OS grows up and matures into an OS like Windows, or Mac OS 9 / OS-X (polished BSD clone), it will never get past this stereotype. Sorry, the truth hurts Mr. Linus

    This isn't Nvidia's fault in the slightest.

    Linux:

    Too buggy
    Too complicated
    No standards.
  • 2 Hide
    alyoshka , June 20, 2012 4:53 PM
    I kinda like the pic. That says it all as to how diplomatic the reply actually is.
  • 0 Hide
    metathias , June 20, 2012 5:41 PM
    Nvidia seemed to enable 30 bit color in linux in a recent linux release. I found that an impressive contribution, we windows people dont get that without workstation cards.
  • -4 Hide
    eddieroolz , June 20, 2012 6:12 PM
    I frankly do not see anything of issue here. NVidia decided that it's better to provide a consistent user experience at the expense of being "open source", whatever that really means (because it depends on who you ask.) NVidia also decided that Linux has its share of problems to work out and Torvalds' emotional outburst is unfounded in some ways, at least (citing the contribution to ARM kernel).

    In the end, NVidia is a business, and businesses are in the business of, well, making money for its stakeholders. The Linux community has a powerful tool called boycott to show their displeasure if they want to do so, but from my past recollections so far, NVidia offers better support for Linux distros than its competitor so...a boycott may be like choking yourself.
  • -2 Hide
    MarioJP , June 20, 2012 6:13 PM
    The fact that IJustWantToPost9 has been grayed has a very valid point and why Linux will never get off the launching pad. Standardization is good. Apple And even Google are doing it. Reason why i am not including MS on this because..Well Standardization is the game for MS lol. Enough with the Linux can do this do that for free because its not what you can do on the desktop. Its what people actually WANT that Linux can't do. Heck even Steam is on Mac OSX before Linux.
  • 5 Hide
    Houndsteeth , June 20, 2012 6:22 PM
    NVidia - generally good for consumers, but if you have ever dealt with them as an outside developer trying to get their drivers to work for your code, you will be frustrated in the extreme. I won't go into it any further, but when I saw the feed from the Aalto University seminar, I nearly jumped out of my seat cheering when Linus had the BALLS to drop the F-bomb and fly the bird for NVidia.

    IJustWantToPost9, while i agree with your statement with regards to Linux APIs and general framework, but you will get this when you have an FOSS operating system and every distro seems to develop to its own standard for anything outside the kernel. What Linus was upset about was NVidia's recalcitrance to do anything about allowing the development community to fix longstanding support issues with regards to some NVidia kit, most notably the Optimus chipset.

    Yes, Linux has bugs. Yes, it can get somplicated at times, especially when some other developer has dropped his spaghetti right in the middle of where you need to work. But there are standards, just not the ones that are rigid and set in stone like Mac OS X, or wishy-washy like Windows. They are more like recommendations, since telling FOSS developers what to do is like herding cats.

    FWIW, I have had better luck submitting bugs and change requests to ANY FOSS project than I have EVER had when submitting bugs to NVidia.
  • 0 Hide
    MarioJP , June 20, 2012 6:36 PM
    What really boils down to like most have stated. Nvidia is a business that is actually making money. They got products to sell. Head over to their elite enthusiast department and people are actually dropping 1k for a video card. Who's really is at fault here. Not the consumers. Chances are if you have that kind of money to burn those people are either serious graphic design professionals or gamers. The fact that developers follows Apple's guidelines shows that as long as what they are building makes them money and Apple happy don't care what they are told to do and how they want it to be done thus feeding the cycle of making them rich. Sad but true that sometimes money does make the world go around indeed.

    The more i read about these sort of articles and watch what people post about the article is starting to make me understand that Linux is a boycott OS. I haven't really heard about this guy other than his name just shows that sometimes the creator needs to step in and jump started instead of standing on the sidelines mumbling the issues at hand.
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