Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 20th Sep 2010 20:41 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Who says the open source and Free software world only copy but never innovate? Over at Canonical's design blog - you know, the company which does nothing for the Linux world *cough* - someone named Christian Giordano has shared some ideas about how Ubuntu - and therefore, the rest of the Linux world - could make use of hardware sensors to better serve its users. Pretty interesting stuff.
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RE: Use the Force
by Fettarme H-Milch on Tue 21st Sep 2010 00:40 UTC in reply to "Use the Force"
Fettarme H-Milch
Member since:
2010-02-16

Now that's what will bring Linux to the masses.

Oh, I thought getting a Linux distribution to actually properly run in the first place is the prerequisite for mass-adoption.

While all mainstream Linux distributions have great out-of-the-box support for many hardware combinations, GPU support is not the shining example for that.
It almost seems as if the three big GPU companies (Intel, AMD, and NVidia) sabotage Linux on purpose. While Intel on one hand is a big Linux contributor through MeeGo, Intel also makes it next to impossible to properly support Intel's Poulsbo graphics out-of-the-box by Linux distributions. Before Mandriva fired almost all its personnel, the company at least maintained an easy installable package for Poulsbo with the binary blob extracted from some Dell OEM installation or so.
And even Intel's FOSS drivers can cause problems as seen with the recent problems with KWin.

AMD needlessly fragments its own driver space by developing a closed source driver and a FOSS driver at the same time. Problem is, with its closed driver AMD is kinda slow supporting newer Xorg releases and it also can't ship pre-installed on Linux distributions legally.
AMD's FOSS driver OTOH supports the latest Xorg releases but then does not support the latest hardware. If Phoronix articles were correct, it takes AMD way longer than one year to add support for its GPU models (eg. support for the 2009 'Evergreen' GPUs just starts to appear as experimental feature).

NVidia only develops a closed source driver. That again makes difficult to ship it with Linux distributions in a legal way. It has to be somehow installed afterwards.
If you're lucky, your distributor has the driver is the software repositories but that still requires an active internet connection.
If you are out of luck, you need to install the driver by hand. And no, that's not a simple double-click on an icon: Kill the X-Server, log in via terminal, change the install file's permissions to executable, and then run it via command line. Great!

Novell at least helped in the past fixing the GPU troubles by developing radeonhd but financial troubles meant the end in that field.
Mandriva's death means the end for the Poulsbo package.
The only commercial entity left trying to fix the GPU issue is Red Hat with its involvement in the Nouveau project but that one is still experimental for anything related to OpenGL-accelerated graphics.

There are a bunch of distributors out there with pretty deep pockets. Since it fits with this news item, Canonical obviously comes to mind.
I firmly think that spending corporate money on improving the FOSS GPU driver situation is way more helpful getting the operating systems on people's PCs than some funny tricks with webcams.

In all fairness, I don't think that Canonical is the only "guilty" distributor. For starters Orcale even ships two OSes that could use improved drivers: Oracle Enterprise Linux and Solaris (as both use Xorg). Linpus also comes to mind, several other Asian distributors gathered around Asianux (Red Flag,...) as well. God knows what Xandros does these days but certainly not contributing to FOSS GPU drivers.
Re-distributing and selling services around Debian is also a a big business but so far I haven't seen anyone of those (with HP being the most prominent example) contributing anything to Linux GPU drivers...

Edited 2010-09-21 00:41 UTC

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