OSS Drivers Changing Your Next Purchase?
Intel's open-source drivers now support the 965G Express and it looks like they are working on improving their open-source drivers quite a bit. AMD/ATI has yet to publicly define what they may be opening up with their fglrx drivers once the merger is complete.
However, will this shake-up in drivers cause you to rethink your next upgrade/purchase due to the open-source status?
No, because NVIDIA has me locked up in a cage. While I wish NVIDIA had OSS drivers, I enjoy the reliability and performance too much to go elsewhere.
Until the performance on ATI/Linux can match NV/Linux I probably wouldn't switch, regardless of if it's open source. Although if ATI does open up part of their drivers will NVIDIA follow suit? Besides gaming though, Intel's open-source drivers are great for people that buy pre-built computers from large vendors.
The theoretical performance of ATI versus NVidia is actually VERY close to each other. ATI's being broken upon the wheel against NVidia by the differences in the drivers- this could be just software architechture problems (You can go about doing things needed in a 3D card in several different ways, but only a couple of them are ideal under a given architechture- ATI's answers for Windows may not mesh as nicely as NVidia's under Linux...) or a hardware architechture issue where the interface doesn't allow for a "nice" hook into the OS in question.
I suspect software problems, myself. Having seen all too many hardware vendors trying to take a 12# sledgehammer to the Square Peg of a Windows driver solution to the much smaller round hole of the Linux driver problem, some of it to avoid giving out details, some of it because they don't want "to duplicate work with different code paths", thinking that it'll save them time to just re-use the Windows answer no matter what- that I doubt it is anything other than that. Open Sourcing the drivers will allow someone to FIX that problem and bring the performance to where it should be. There is no good reason for the why my Express 200M laptop is roughly half the speed of Windows' drivers other than trying to wedge a Windows solution to a Linux problem in the drivers.
Now, as to my commentary on whether this will impact my purchasing decisions- YES. As it stands, I plan on getting an i965G based motherboard, something I would not normally do since I'm more of a fan of AMD based solutions. Part of it is for testing reasons- I'm dead sure there'll be a lot of these machines on the market shortly; if the performance is in the same general ballpark as the mid-end ATI and NVidia integrated offerings currently are, the machine will be able to play many if not most of the modern games at least in a mediocre fashion. With it being largely open source, I'm also pretty sure that unless it's a total stinker, a lot of Linux users and developers will buy it just for that reason.
That, folks, is my current customer base for the stuff I've been doing off and on for the past 3+ years now. ATI's drivers don't do this for me except at the top-end and the performance is positively lackluster right at the moment. NVidia's got my attention only because they work as well as their Windows counterparts do on the driver front. If I had a compelling (within 5-10% performance difference either way of NVidia's) vendor step up to the plate with Open Sourced drivers, they'd have my attention just like Intel has right at the moment.
I'm waiting for a day when both the Nvidia and ATI are open source and comply with GPL, meaning they'll be included with your favourite distro rather than having to download it post install to get your games running right (and overclocking if that takes your fancy).
I bought a Intel-based motherboard and Intel-based CPU for the first time _ever_. Before it was always AMD and Via..
Originally Posted by Svartalf
But now all you find is Nvidia or ATI motherboards. New Nvidia motherboards suck because hardware support is crap and what you do have is in the form of these horrific binary drivers. WTF would I want a binary-only driver for ethernet or sound? There are about a billion other devices with great open source support. I went on the Internet and saw people in forums all over struggling to get Linux working well on these things.
And ATI is worse.
Via seems to have fallen behind and I couldn't realy find a motherboard they used that I liked. They weren't realy offering any thing I realy liked.
So I bought a Intel motherboard with onboard gigabit ethernet, sound, and video and installed Debian testing on it. Sound worked out of the box. Ethernet worked out of the box. 2D acceleration worked out of the box. 3d acceleration worked out of the box (and with tweaking it worked well).
Although I would much prefer AMD and think that Intel isn't realy all that great I won't be going back unless that ATI/AMD merger produces devices with good open source driver support.
Good luck with that one. Knowing ATI's crappy driver support, I wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole.
Well, opensource drivers don't normally influence me of my next purchase. Competent drivers do influence my decisions. So if the Intel 965G can outpace my X800 Pro 256... then I'd gladly buy one mobo from Intel.
Just a note... has anyone actually tried to Opensource drivers for ATi cards pre-9200? 3D hardware acceleration is working out of the box, I believe.
For pre-9200 hardware, I believe David (of Phoronix) uses some Radeon 7500's and/or 8500's with the open-source drivers. Personally I haven't touched any pre-9200 stuff in a long while.
Originally Posted by niniendowarrior