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Why Linux Loses Out On Hardware Acceleration In Firefox 456

Posted by timothy
from the ugly-bridesmaid dept.
devtty writes with some bad news for Linux users, from OSNews: "The release notes for Firefox 4.0 beta 9 noted that it comes with hardware acceleration for Windows 7 and Vista via a combination of Direct2D, DirectX 9 and DirectX 10. Windows XP users will also enjoy hardware acceleration for many operations 'using our new Layers infrastructure along with DX9.' Furthermore, Mac OS X has excellent OpenGL support, they claim, so they've got that covered as well. No mention of Linux, and there's a reason for that. 'We tried enabling OpenGL on Linux, and discovered that most Linux drivers are so disastrously buggy (think "crash the X server at the drop of a hat, and paint incorrectly the rest of the time" buggy) that we had to disable it for now,' explains Zbarsky, 'Heck, we're even disabling WebGL for most Linux drivers, last I checked...'" An update to the story softens this news slightly, saying that "hardware acceleration (OpenGL only) on Linux has been implemented, but due to bugs and issues, only one driver so far has been whitelisted (the proprietary NVIDIA driver)."
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Why Linux Loses Out On Hardware Acceleration In Firefox

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  • by Burnhard (1031106) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:39AM (#34896340)
    Until graphics card manufacturers take Linux seriously, these problems are always going to occur. That's why it's stupid to use the argument that OpenGL is better than D3D because it's cross-platform. It's only cross-platform insofar as there is actually an implementation on Linux. After that, I'm wondering if it's better to use D3D and Wine instead of native GL!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crafoo (591629)
      How can you lay this at the feet of the graphics card manufacturers? The closed source binary drivers (NVidia) work just fine. The open source ATI stuff is mostly junk. It's a bit unfair to say OpenGL is bad just because the open source guys can't implement it correctly in the Linux drivers.
      • by Burnhard (1031106)
        As far as I know, it needs the card manufacturers to commit. I don't believe they "open source" all of their low level specs.
        • by Ash Vince (602485) * on Sunday January 16, 2011 @02:09PM (#34898024) Journal

          As far as I know, it needs the card manufacturers to commit. I don't believe they "open source" all of their low level specs.

          That would be true, if the drivers they release were the ones causing the problem. The last time I checked ATI had open sourced all their specs and it is their driver that sucks. The other major graphics card manufacturer is Nvidia and the get a mention for producing a working OpenGL driver.

          I know that their are lots of security issues with the Nvidia proprietary driver supposedly, but I have a sneaky feeling this is because more of the open source community look for a stick to beat nvidia with to try and encourage them to open source their driver. I also think that purely theoretical security issues that only give root to a normal user are not such an issue on single user desktops that are the most likely machines to need graphics acceleration (Personally I disable X on servers).

          I used to love ATI cards until I started using Linux. Then I found the Nvidia driver was far more stable than the ATI drivers by bitter experience. This was back in the days when both were closed source but until I start reading things about Nvidia having more issues on Linux than ATI I will stick with what works best. I have never had a single issue with the NVidia closed source driver in the past 7 years.

          Open source or closed does not matter to me if only one works correctly. I think many end users of computers are of a similar mindset.

          • by TheRealGrogan (1660825) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @03:17PM (#34898436)

            I too like the Linux Nvidia driver (ignoring the ideology) and they sure do a good job supporting different kernel versions and X. Nobody does a proprietary driver better than Nvidia. Get a new -rc kernel? If the current version doesn't build and link in, and there's no beta that covers it, there's probably someone already in the forums who has a patch or code snippet that will make you happy again.

            However, the proprietary ATI driver is no longer the length of turd that it used to be. They haven't quite got it together like Nvidia does in terms of supporting diverse Linux systems, but I haven't suffered too much at their hands in the year or so that I've had a Radeon HD 5870.

            On my current rig I opted for an ATI card, because I hated my last Nvidia card: 9800 GX2 which was buggy in a lot of my Windows games and died 17 months after purchase. (It was an "OCX" model from BFG though, factory overclocked. It ran very, very hot, even with the fan at 100% during gaming and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to suspect that it got damaged. I burned for the lifetime BFG warranty too because they went out of business. That was a $600 video card. Even that is partly my fault for procrastinating though.)

            I wasn't sorry, I have been very happy with the ATI 5870 in Windows 7, and I've managed to do OK with the proprietary ATI driver. It always needs patching though... three ATI driver versions have gone by and it STILL doesn't build for Linux 2.6.36.x or 2.6.37. (I use --buildpkg Slackware/All to make slackware packages) Fortunately the kernel parts haven't changed that much and the patches can be easily adjusted. That's still pretty piss poor maintenance on their part, but at least it's not an untenable situation for me.

            The end result has been great though. In fact, for what I do with 3D acceleration in Linux, older games like UT2004, Quake 4, Doom 3 and friends as well as things like Sauerbraten, it's as good as or better than Nvidia (e.g. No glitches in UT2004). I think that 2D acceleration has been better than Nvidia as well.

            For a browser, 2D is more important anyway at this time. I know that since I switched to Firefox 4 in Linux (I'm using sources I got using Mercurial a few days ago, it says 4.0b10pre) that long Slashdot threads load up a lot faster, and no longer make the browser unresponsive while they are rendering. They also scroll effortlessly.

            So I'm assuming that I have better 2D acceleration with Firefox 4 than Firefox 3.6.

          • I also think that purely theoretical security issues that only give root to a normal user are not such an issue on single user desktops that are the most likely machines to need graphics acceleration...

            WebGL makes this relevant.

            And it's not just security. I've had a fair number of stability issues which seem to be related to the nVidia driver. But it's hard to tell. The kernel is one giant monolithic address space, and any part of it could be responsible for doing anything to any other part. The nVidia drivers are in the kernel, and as such, they're a giant proprietary blob which can do anything to your system, without restriction.

            In other words, if your system crashes, and you're running the nVidia drive

          • by hackstraw (262471)

            What distribution of Linux are you talking about? All this talk about drivers and stuff makes me think you are talking about Windows or something. The Linux I use has flawless support for OpenGL, Bluetooth, wifi, etc right out of the box. No HOWTOs or any of that needed. Same goes with all of my Apple products. I don't even know what or where drivers are for these things. Why should I?

          • The problem is that if you run an Nvidia binary, it usually constrains you to running certain kernel versions. If that kernel version has a security problem, and you need to upgrade it to overcome the security problem, your Nvidia binary may now not work. So what do you do? Do you continue to have video and run a kernel with a known security vulnerability, or do you run a fixed kernel and have no video. You'll be stuck in that position for as long as it takes for Nvidia to upgrade their driver. That might o
            • by Ash Vince (602485) *

              The problem is that if you run an Nvidia binary, it usually constrains you to running certain kernel versions.

              I did spend several years running Gentoo and doing regular kernel updates. I always built each kernel from source whenever a new, even minor version was released. I do not remember ever having a problem.

              Maybe the Gentoo devs were doing the hardwork by only releasing kernels into portage as stable that the proprietary driver worked with though, but if they can do it with their bleeding edge philosophy then it should not be hard for other distributions.

              Nowadays I have move to Ubuntu and that does not give me

      • by Cyberax (705495) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:02AM (#34896444)

        OpenSource guys know how to implement graphics drivers, but they're horribly understaffed.

        There are probably 50 times more closed source driver developers than OpenSource developers. The fact that they are able to do even what they do is amazing in its own right.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by BasilBrush (643681)

          OpenSource guys know how to implement graphics drivers, but they're horribly understaffed.

          Yes. That's because most programmers need to be paid money for their work so they can eat and put a roof over their head. This is the fundamental problem with Stallman's free software religion.

          • by Cyberax (705495) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:27AM (#34896580)

            There are independent OpenSource graphics developers who do an amazing job (thanks for r300, Corbin Simpson!). But there are too few of them, mostly because the whole area of graphics driver development is fairly specialized and complicated.

            PS: I'm a long-time lurker in Mesa IRC and mailing lists, and I'm planning to join Mesa development once I've more free time.

          • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:53AM (#34896762) Journal
            And there are a few of us who get paid for coding open source software.
            But you are right, we do not exist, we should never be brought up in any conversation...
            • by trparky (846769)
              Yes but the majority of the people involved in Open Source software do it for the love of programming for Open Source software. But love of programming doesn't put food on the table, a roof over your head, or pay for replacement hardware when your power supply in your desktop decides to take a crap.
              • Do you have any actual surveys or studies to back that up? Linux is developed by about 70% paid employees. OpenOffice.org is over 95% paid people (around 80% Sun / Oracle, 10% Novell, 5% Red Hat last time I checked). Same with most other big projects.

                The numbers are different for a lot of smaller projects, but even GNUstep, which is hardly known for massive commercial backing, gets around half of its contributions from people who are paid to work on it.

                • by Bengie (1121981)

                  Linux projects with commercial backing is because there is some sort of benefit to the companies supplying the money. I fail to see how OpenGL development will help almost any companies. Kernel development can help many, Open Office development can help many, making your video games that don't exist run better doesn't seem to help most companies.

                  Hopefully the only recently released opensource ATI/AMD graphics drivers will take off.

              • by marsu_k (701360)
                While that may be true for a vast majority of open source projects (since there is a metric fuckload of them, most of them abandoned or in perpetual alpha if SourceForge is any indication), some of the major projects are certainly done mostly by paid developers (see here [apcmag.com] for example, and that article is a year old). One would assume as such that at least some of the major distributions would dedicate some resources to have functional graphics, but this doesn't seem to be the case. And sadly the current situ
              • by am 2k (217885)

                At least for the Linux kernel (where a graphics driver would go), that's a common misconception [slashdot.org]. I guess the real issue is that most companies who invest in open source don't have anything to do with fancy graphics like games. See also xkcd [xkcd.com].

            • by BasilBrush (643681) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @11:56AM (#34897148)

              With the emphasis on "few".

          • This is the fundamental problem with Stallman's free software religion.

            And yet it still works, but it might just take more time to get there. After all, the problem we are having here is running an open source browser on an open source operating system using open source video drivers. With all that open sourceness going around, this "free software religion" must be getting something right.

            • by smash (1351)
              by the time linux has functional 3d open source drivers, the rest of the world will be on holographic displays. i say that as someone who has been waiting for 3d linux since 1998.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Teun (17872)
            There are fields where your argument carries weight but certainly not in the field of hardware drivers.

            Hardware drivers are paid for by the manufacturer of the hardware and their customers, it's already clear Linux users are almost exclusively spec their boxes with nVidia cards just because nVidia drivers suck less than the stuff from the competition.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I don't see how "You aren't allowed to know how your graphics hardware works" has anything to do with "Programmers need to eat too". The horrid state of GPU acceleration on Linux is not because of a lack of funds, it's because GPU hardware is widely unstandardized. FOSS developers - and all developers in general - work their best when coding to some kind of standard (even something like the Windows API is a published standard).

            GPU hardware interfaces are not standards by any stretch of the imagination. Ever

            • by smash (1351)

              that "bloody horrible interface" gets shit done. more efficiently than any other available hardware interface. given that linux accounts for perhaps 3% of the desktop market, and most of that is low end boxes with a very small market for 3d software, the linux/free software community is lucky we get ANY effort from nvidia/ati/amd/intel at all.

              the revenue returned vs effort/$ expended must be pretty damn close to zero.

            • by jmorris42 (1458) *

              > Apple had to make a completely new networked printing system which
              > is only supported by a handful of HP printers.

              That is just ignorant. Apple didn't create CUPS they adopted it then later bought the primary developer/custodian. And unless they have changed policy, all HP printing products are supported on Linux. Since Apple and most Linux distros use CUPS to print nowadays, connect the dots.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Hell, it's not like the proprietary video driver developers are making a killing selling their software.

            RMS's view is that you should get paid for your labor but not get paid for taking away someone elses freedom. Sometimes the model works effortlessly, sometimes it runs into complications.

          • You seem to be confused. Driver writers who contribute their time to write drivers for platforms such as linux only need to contribute their work if the proprietary drivers are either non-existent or broken. In other words, the FLOSS people only need to write alternative drivers if the hardware companies do an appallingly miserable job providing their own drivers. This problem, which consists of the failure on the behalf of hardware companies to support their products, affects all platforms and is not a

      • by jadrian (1150317) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @11:19AM (#34896910)

        Just fine? KDE 4.5 and 4.6 (upcoming) crash on log in with nvidias drivers ver 260.xx.xx [kde.org] (on openSUSE 11.3 32bit [novell.com]?). Many other applications and applets also crash, particularly on 4.6 where krunner, amarok and search and launch activity are amongst the affected ones. This is one of the currently most reported bugs at the moment with a current dup count of 58 [kde.org]! As if all this wasn't enough in 4.6 the window manager also almost immediately freezes until desktop effects are automatically disabled.

        So basically when you try KDE 4.6 on openSUSE 11.3 with updated nvidia drivers what happens is. You can't login due to desktop crash. If you fix that by removing the offending applets from the config files. On login Krunner crashes and keeps re-spawning and crashing. If you manage to kill it then desktop freezes and if all goes well effects are disabled. And if you get past then you can use it... without krunner, effects, and some of its best applications.

        • by fandingo (1541045)

          I'm using Fedora 14 with testing repos. I'm currently running KDE SC 4.5.96 (KDE SC 4.6 RC2) with Nvidia 260.19.29 (card is a GeForce 210), and I haven't had any problems. I use compositing with Kwin too, and don't have any slowness or crashing.

          I don't doubt that other people have had problems, but it's certainly not universal.

          Graphics drivers on Linux are a complete mess, unless you use the Nvidia proprietary drivers. I'm not sure why anyone would choose anything else if they care about performance or feat

      • The open source ATI stuff is mostly junk.

        Well, and that is ATI's fault. ATI fails to supply a working open source driver.

        nVidia also fails to supply a working open source driver, but at least they provide a working binary driver.

        Incidentally, ATI's Windows driver on my Windows 7 machine crashes with regularity as well, so maybe the problem is just bad ATI hardware.

        It's a bit unfair to say OpenGL is bad just because the open source guys can't implement it correctly in the Linux drivers.

        It isn't the responsi

    • by u17 (1730558) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:57AM (#34896422)

      After that, I'm wondering if it's better to use D3D and Wine instead of native GL!

      Then I guess it will surprise you to know that Wine implements D3D on top of native OpenGL. If Firefox worked better on Wine, it would only mean that the Firefox developers can't write decent OpenGL code, but Wine developers can.

      • It may be the case that OpenGL is not an easy API to write for ; or that the available OpenGL implementations are easy to break, or that the OpenGL spec is loose enough that it is easy to implement badly.

        The Wine developers almost certainly have more experience than Firefox devs of working around OpenGL quirks because they've been coding their version of DirectX for so long.

        It speaks volumes about the relative ease of coding and general robustness of design of DirectX versus OpenGL if the Firefox team, who

      • The Wine D3D implementation only works well on the nVidia binaries too (and has for long enough to prove this isn't going to be a short term issue).
    • by beelsebob (529313) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:05AM (#34896454)

      After that, I'm wondering if it's better to use D3D and Wine instead of native GL!

      Wine, which implements D3D by translating it to OpenGL?

      Re your argument that it's not cross platform...
      D3D is available on at most 3 platforms – Windows, WiMo 7 and XBox
      OpenGL is available on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, Playstation, Wii, Solaris, various BSDs, .........

      Just the fact that it runs on both windows and mac is enough, and the fact that one of the implementations is poor does not defeat this argument.

      • by tepples (727027)

        D3D is available on at most 3 platforms – Windows, WiMo 7 and XBox

        You forgot Xbox 360, which is the only set-top console open to home-based developers. For them, it's either Xbox Live Indie Games or have your game confined to a desk.

        OpenGL is available on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, Playstation, Wii, Solaris, various BSDs, .........

        I've read that very few games for PLAYSTATION 3 use OpenGL ES. It's not particularly efficient and is basically there so that developers can get simple little <=$10 games ported without having to figure out the RSX GPU's actual API. As for Wii, I've read that its GX API isn't any closer to OpenGL than the API on the DS either.

    • card manufacturers take Linux seriously, these problems are always going to occur. That's why it's stupid to use the argument that OpenGL is better than D3D because it's cross-platform. It's only cross-platform insofar as there is actually an implementation on Linux

      Yes, there are only two platforms in the world. OS X supports OpenGL and has much more market share than desktop Linux. All modern handhelds support OpenGL ES. But don't let that get in the way of a good ramble.

      • by Burnhard (1031106)

        All modern handhelds support OpenGL ES

        We're talking desktop here, not hand-held. The point is that card manufacturers put a huge amount of resource into D3D, and far less into OpenGL.

        • No, we're talking about cross-platform APIs. Using Direct3D limits you to desktop Windows and the XBox. Using OpenGL lets you use the same code on handhelds and consoles as well. Even if you only count desktops, Mac OS X uses OpenGL (and, according to TFS, FireFox works nicely with OpenGL there), and has a larger market share than desktop Linux.
          • by Burnhard (1031106)
            It does, to an extent. If I was writing cross-platform (actually I am doing this right now), I would be working from an abstract interface in any case, so it's not such a critical decision to initially make (i.e. develop with D3D, because it's less buggy and works and then write a GL pathway).
            But then the issue is whether or not it's worth investing and supporting the GL pathway. This is a decision each individual company will make based on potential sales. I'm not so sure it's worth investing in Linux i
            • by scdeimos (632778)

              This is a decision each individual company will make based on potential sales. I'm not so sure it's worth investing in Linux in this respect and the Mac ships with NVIDIA card, doesn't it (I don't own one), which may explain why their support for GL is much better than ATI's.

              I take it that you've not seen the results of the Humble Bundle sales [humblebundle.com]? For the 232,854 purchases made the average purchase was $7.84. Windows users paid $6.68 (85%), OSX $9.27 (118%) and Linux $13.78 (175%). Linux users, the supposed "sponging" FOSS OS users, paid the most per sale.

              If you don't want to make a buck out of Linux users, sure, ignore them. But given the lack of competition for Great Games on Linux and their apparent willingness to pay good money for them, it sounds like a foolish move to me.

          • by tepples (727027)

            Using Direct3D limits you to desktop Windows and the XBox.

            And Xbox 360.

            Using OpenGL lets you use the same code on handhelds and consoles as well.

            Which console uses (an efficient, conforming implementation of) OpenGL? Which console allows the deployment of free software? Both Nintendo and Sony actively fight free software.

            Mac OS X uses OpenGL [...] and has a larger market share than desktop Linux.

            Mac OS X also has far less gaming market share than Xbox 360.

        • by smash (1351)
          And OS X still has a larger share than linux is likely to get in the next 5 years.
    • by diegocg (1680514) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:21AM (#34896538)

      Graphic cards manufacturers do take Linux seriously. At least Intel and AMD/ATI do, they contribute with open source drivers, engineers and even specs.

      And after years of supporting opensource drivers, they still suck. The problem is that a good quality graphic driver is really hard. It takes years and several engineers to write one, so often the drivers are late or incomplete. As if that wasn't bad enought, Linux has needed to rewrite big chunks of the graphic stack: KMS, and now Gallium3D, which force a kernel/mesa driver rewrite. And then there are other problems, like the fact that X sucks and graphic drivers have not been able to make Xrender really fast (some times toolkits seem to be faster using software than using Xrender; also Xrender doesn't reports which parts of its interface are hardware accelerated and which ones are using a software fallback which makes hard to trust it)

      • by Narishma (822073) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:28AM (#34896596)

        Isn't it funny then that the vendor who, according to you, doesn't take Linux seriously, is the only one with working drivers?

        • by smash (1351) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:41AM (#34896682) Homepage Journal
          Delicious irony. I've been using nvidia cards for 10+ years mostly due to the driver support. Not just linux, ATI's drivers have sucked every time i've dealt with them on windows, too.
          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @11:30AM (#34896998)

            Can't speak on Linux as I haven't used it on the desktop but for Windows, their drivers are fine. I still wouldn't rank them as highly as nVidia's, but it is mostly advanced features. Stability wise they are great, and they support all the current technologies (DX11, DirectCompute, OpenGL 4.1, etc).

            I've had a 5870 for about a year now and it has worked real well, I don't find myself saying "Man I wish I'd stuck with nVidia." Now I still like nVidia better, and I'll be getting an nVidia card next round if they have a competitive offering (they didn't when I bought the 5870, they currently do) but it is for little things. For example nVidia handles per application settings much more gracefully than ATi. I have no reservations at all about using and recommending ATi, if they are the better value.

            That was certainly not always true. There was a time when I wouldn't touch ATi with a 10-foot pole. However these days, for Windows at least, they are fine to use. Graphics are fast and the system doesn't crash, which is really what matters.

          • by moreati (119629)

            There are multiple measures of an X driver. Nvidia's proprietary driver provides good 3D support on recent hardware, but they lack support for older hardware and RANDR. Doing multi monitor support their own way means it doesn't integrate well. Nouveau supports older hardware better but lacks 3D and power management in comparison. If Nvidia were to support the open source efforts with documentation rather than just the closed source driver, then perhaps Nouveau would progress quicker. Nvidia's support is bet

        • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @11:24AM (#34896946) Homepage Journal

          Heh. NVidia obviously does take Linux serious, because they continue to put out good, working drivers with each subsequent release, and are obviously the only cards to get for Linux users that needs working, stable 3D, such as those doing 3D CAD.

          I've been using NVidia cards for more than 10 years and I've never had a single X server crash related to NVidia's drivers. The two times I tried AMD/ATI cards, I threw my hands up after numerous X server crashes.

          • by TheLink (130905)
            The Linux developers themselves don't take "Desktop Linux" seriously.

            After so many years they still can't get the graphics and audio foundations right. They can say all they want about OSS purity and it's the fault of the hardware people for not doing drivers right, and so on. But guess who makes it so hard for the driver makers? Make it harder than it has to be and the hardware people don't really care- the number of sales they lose is not really significant - even OS X has a bigger share than Desktop Linu
      • by pfanne (1550883)
        I think we will soon be at a level, where the open source drivers are may not be the fastest drivers but they will deliver a solid opengl implementation, for pretty much every ati and intel gpu. just release firefox with the option to enable gpu acceleration and the developers will fix bugs in the drivers within weeks.
    • by smash (1351)
      OpenGL is cross platform because it works on both Windows and Mac, which has a larger share of the market than Linux is likely to in the next 5 years. Also, it works on playstation, iphone, android, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dicobalt (1536225)
      Until Linux kernel developers take hardware manufacturers seriously these problems are always going to occur. See what I did there? The lack of good drivers is mostly attributed to the open driver developers not having access to the information they need in order to make a proper driver. That's obviously because NVidia/ATI do not want to give out their secrets. Can you really blame them? Linux needs a HAL that allows binary drivers to be plugged in with no recompiling, same as Windows has always done.
    • Perhaps the X/Linux developers should take hardware manufacturers more seriously. Linux still refuses to make a stable driver ABI that hardware vendors can count on. Ive heard the arguments before against that they are they dont make sense. It would allow the user to decide which driver to use, it does not preclude open source drivers, in fact, it would increase deployment of Linux since there would be more users as the Linux hardware support improved. Putting up with a system that has binary drivers that a

  • by Endimiao (471532) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @09:41AM (#34896352)

    There are plenty of games that would be a bother to play via wine were it not for the Nvidia drivers. Thats why for more than 8 years I've installed nothing but Geforce video boards on most desktops, sad as it may be.

  • GLSL vs KWin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaikB (1877004) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:24AM (#34896562)

    This conclusion matches the observation of the kwin developers who are brave enough to use GLSL for desktop effects
    http://blog.martin-graesslin.com/blog/2010/09/driver-dilemma-in-kde-workspaces-4-5/ [martin-graesslin.com]

    Without citations to back it up, the response of some open source devs was, IIRC: The KWin guys don't understand open source. They are meant to get in touch with the driver developers and help getting the bugs resolved, preferable send patches. The clutter developers i.e. sent patches to solve driver problems.

    IIRC, the mentioned contribution from clutter devs to the graphics drivers were made by Red Hat employees, which heavily backs the gnome development. Red Hat has lots of money and eve more important expertise in house to tackle such problems. The KWin guys don't have these resources.

    Open source gives the means to find, analyze and fix bugs, but its not mandatory. Saying so would mean that one has to know the code bases of every open source library used by his or her application. Thats ridiculous.

    The firefox devs sure don't plan to get into linux graphics driver development and thats fine.

    The real problem is that the driver teams don't have enough resources (money and developers) to get the job done. I'd be happy to vote with my feet and only buy graphics hardware with good open source drivers to encourage to hardware vendors to hire linux kernel developers. But right now I have to stick with nvidia since their drivers, though not open source and certainly have their own bugs, are the only sufficient choice for OpenGL (and OpenCL) on linux.

  • Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, 2011 @10:26AM (#34896578)

    If you need to hardware accelerate web browsers these days, I think that more indicates a problem with modern website design.

    • Re:Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4&gmail,com> on Sunday January 16, 2011 @11:24AM (#34896944)

      THANK YOU.

      Of late, of all programs that I run on my machine, it's the web browser that takes up the most CPU. More than Gimp, OpenOffice (I'm more of a Latex person meself, but still), PDF readers, or any other utility that you run in for core productivity, it's the fucking bloated webpages that are the most taxing on my CPU. It's the Flash plugins, and the javascript - I have to block /. in noscript or the scrolling becomes all laggy (and as you'd expect /. have more competent developers than other sites, it's better than most).

      I have to upgrade my computers so i can browse the internets. Lame.

      • Re:Wait a minute (Score:4, Interesting)

        by visualight (468005) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @12:33PM (#34897368) Homepage

        The thing that grinds on my nerves most of all is the rampant use of scripts from external domains. I mean jquery and the like. There are too many websites that require my browser to download scripts from several sites in order to render at all. Too many sites where I have to spend 5 minutes tweaking noscript to view a page...maybe that's the intent, to get me to stop using noscript. I'm certain that some sites deliberately make it hard to load a page without temporarily disabling noscript.

        • It's not deliberate...it's simply the fact that some things in a page you cannot do without scripting, and using a cdn on a separate domain is typical. Blocking flash and using adblock, are fine... but breaking something that is expected in every stock browser since 1996 is on you.

          When people design a page/site that delivers a >1MB total payload on every page without proper cache controls is a separate issue. People loading jQuery from the ms or goog cdn is a good thing... it increases the likelihood
      • by westlake (615356)
        Of late, of all programs that I run on my machine, it's the web browser that takes up the most CPU. I have to upgrade my computers so i can browse the internets. Lame.

        This from the geek who lives within the cloud. That grand and glorious HTML5 future in which everything - games, video, animation - will be done from within the GPU accelerated browser.

  • by Olivier Galibert (774) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @12:42PM (#34897426)

    Graphics drivers are all over the place. For instance, the intel stack, to be complete, requires:
    - the xserver tree
    - the protocols tree
    - the libdrm tree
    - the intel 2d video driver (includes separated DDX driver and XvMC driver)
    - the kernel (drm tree)
    - mesa with its integrated drivers
    - libva (for vaapi)

    That's 5 hardware-accessing drivers (internal kernel, DDX, XvMC, internal Mesa, libva) in 4 trees linked together with libraries and applications coming from 3 more trees. And they call each other through layers and layers of function arrays with no real documentation at any level. It's always fun when trying to understand a function to see it calling another one through a function pointer which after two more indirections finally ends up in another function a paragraph after the original one. And you have to trace everything, because the just as innocuous call after that one is in fact going to send a message through a drm connection and the X server to the DDX driver. And will be as documented as the previous one. Add to that a (failed, but present) tentative in the code to support almost any combination of versions in this dreadful house of cards, and you end up with an astounding amount of added complexity that does not make debugging easy.

    And fixing that is probably not going to ever happen until X/Mesa is dead under its own weight. The bitching when the n protocol trees became the one protocols tree was incredible, I don't see the poor soul who managed that one doing it ever again.

        OG.

  • by jabjoe (1042100) on Sunday January 16, 2011 @04:28PM (#34898956)
    I think there is a a lot of negativity going on here, but I don't think there needs to be. Gallium3D/KMS/DRM is moving along nicely, as are the drivers that use it. It's all new, but it is moving well, and at the end, the drivers will be easier to maintain with much more code sharing between them. This process also removes the drivers from X. This will make X development easier too, hopefully reinvigorating X development. It also makes X alterantives realistic possible, which is why all the excitement about Wayland. It's all a lot of big changes, and it's not finished. It's not surprising it's not perfect yet. Personally I can't wait for Nouveau to be able to take over from NVidia's closed drivers. People here are raving about them, but they crash about once a month for me, which is worse then any other driver on the system (non of which crash). You also get left behind with all the X development as NVidia don't take part. As the drivers start getting feature complete, optimization will be increasingly the new goal (stablity will always be a goal). This is happening! Nouveau has replaced nv, the open ATI and getting better all the time, and I expect Nouveau 3D to start becoming enabled as standard quite soon.
    • I think that there is a lot of negativity going because, as most old-time Linux users can attest, the state of "it's all new, but it's moving along nicely and will fix everything in the end" is essentially permanent in Linux land. We've heard the same about sound for years and years, and it's still a mess. I don't hold my breath regarding it being any different for graphics.

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