New NVIDIA Detonator 3 Drivers For Linux

Windows 2000

Windows 2000 is the successor of Microsoft's Windows NT and thus the latest professional operating system from the software giant. Different to Windows 95/98/ME it is entirely based on 32-bit code, just as GNU/Linux is as well. This is making a very important difference, although many of you might not realize what that means.

Basically, Windows 95/98/ME are still using a rather scary amount of old 16-bit software that goes back to the times of DOS. Professional users are certainly aware of the typical problem. Win9x/ME can easily crash within a few hours once you have a few browser windows, a couple of Word documents, an Excel-workbook with charts, a Photoshop-session and maybe Adobe's Acrobat Reader open at the same time. Regardless how much memory should be in your actual system, you will very soon see the funkiest effects. Suddenly the icons in your task bar turn black, ICQ-messages are suddenly missing the 'reply' button and finally your system is freezing. This is all a typical sign that the '16-bit Resources' are running out. The only way out then is a system-reset and you are facing the loss of your Excel-data and maybe more. Sometimes you might still be able to save your work, but due to the fact that those '16-bit Resources' can hardly be freed up anymore, you still need to reboot your system to get it back to working order. If you think that this typical behavior of Win9x/ME is due to your system, I can assure you that your hardware couldn't be more innocent. Microsoft's Windows 95/98/ME operating systems simply crash at an average of every 42 hours by design. Period!

Luckily there's the much more expensive, but at least much more reliable Windows 2000. Whoever does serious work with his PC has to be using this successor of Windows NT instead of Windows 9x/ME. Serious networking is also impossible with Win9x/ME, so only WindowsNT/Windows 2000 or even more UNIX operating systems, like the free Linux or FreeBSD have to be chosen for reliable and secure networks.

To be fairer than in the last review, I will compare the Linux 3D-performance to the 3D-power of Windows 2000 this time. Still there is a serious difference between the two. GNU/Linux is free or you only need to pay a small amount of money for a full-blown compilation that includes a huge amount of software. The pricing of Microsoft's Windows 2000 is rather scary. The 'Advanced Server'-version of Win2k costs several thousand dollars without offering any significant advantage over a 'Deluxe' Linux compilation. The one big advantage of Windows 2000 over operating systems such as Linux or FreeBSD is the ease of use though.

NVIDIA's Drivers Only Partly Open Source

The Linux community has one big complaint about NVIDIA's driver. Shocking - it's not completely open-source! Many Linux-cracks see this as a clear sacrilege as it is the deep philosophy of GNU that all software has to be available in source code. I spoke to Dan Vivoli (NVIDIA's VP Marketing) about this touchy issue and it was obvious from the beginning that it wasn't one of his favorite topics to talk about.

The story is supposed to be pretty simple. The 'closed' part of NVIDIA's driver is the results of a strong cooperation between NVIDIA and SGI. It contains intellectual property of SGI, which is not to be disclosed. Additionally it also contains routines that NVIDIA doesn't want to have out in the open, because it might give competitors the chance to 'steal' their technology.

I personally can understand this attitude, even though many of you Linux-people are shouting 'murder'. Look at lovely Rambus Inc., which is basing its whole business on 'IP'=intellectual property'. As the success of GNU/Linux continues, we will probably see more 'closed source', which is a requirement for many developers to remain in business. Accept it or despise it. I understand either point of view. Open source is required to give the excellent developers (a.k.a. hackers) in the Linux-community the chance to assure continued improvement of Linux-software. In the past Linux could not have existed or evolved without this philosophy. Today however, companies want to make money with GNU/Linux, as paradox as that may sound to some. A company like NVIDIA doesn't give other developers the chance to improve their drivers, but at the same time it takes the responsibility to provide good drivers by itself. One would think that a manufacturer like NVIDIA with its excellent team of driver developers is suited best to carry this responsibility, since it's obviously in its own interest to ensure good performance.