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21 November 2008, 14:56

Kernel Log: VIA co-operates with the open source developers of openChrome

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Kernel Log logo From now on, VIA intends to co-operate with the programmers of the open source openChrome project, who have, for years, developed open source graphics drivers for VIA's mainboard chipsets, to develop graphics drivers. According to the vendor, a co-operation already exists for improving the RandR and multi-monitor support of the drivers which are part of many Linux distributions. This will most likely cause the openChrome driver to become the main driver for VIA hardware. The "via" driver by, the outdated unichrome driver and the VIA graphics driver whose code was partially published in late August should, therefore, soon be forgotten. The publication of the latter already gave rise to the question why VIA should release another open source driver rather than co-operate with the developers of existing open source drivers – and also provided suitable answers.

Together with Harald Welte, who has worked at VIA as an open source advisor since last summer, the chipset manufacturer also ensured that the documentation relating to the 2D and 3D features of the Chrome9 and UniChrome graphics cores was published – it can now be found on a freely accessible server run by the project. VIA also pointed out that a frame buffer driver for VIA graphics hardware has recently been integrated into the main development branch of Linux, which is to produce Linux 2.6.28 late this, or early next year.

Having for years laboured with proprietary drivers that sometimes presented major installation issues even for experienced Linux users, VIA now appears to be making an earnest effort to become an active member of the open source community. Intel has pursued this strategy for a long time and is often even willing to develop solutions or improvements that also considerably benefit the hardware of its fiercest competitors.

AMD has also been active in the open source arena for a long time, although its efforts haven't been quite as enthusiastic as those of Intel. Only yesterday (Wednesday), the company released a CPUInfo tool for Linux – although it would have probably been less work and made more users happy if AMD had further improved existing programs like x86info, which come with many distributions. Since its merger with ATI, AMD has also put a lot of work into providing open source developers with all the information they need for programming the drivers for recent Radeon graphics chips. The vendor even actively supported the developers of open source graphics drivers. Both of these measures considerably improved the situation for Radeon hardware drivers, but AMD still continues to develop its proprietary graphics drivers for Linux.

Nvidia, on the other hand, continues to keep the information about its graphics chips under wraps and exclusively relies on proprietary drivers. While the vendor initially also tried to provide proprietary Linux audio and network drivers for its mainboard chipsets, this approach was quickly abandoned. Nowadays, Nvidia actively helps improve the storage, audio and network drivers contained in the Linux kernel. Multimedia specialist Creative had a similar experience and has recently released an open source driver for the X-Fi series, after wasting a lot of effort on, and finally abandoning, the development of proprietary drivers for its X-Fi sound hardware.

Kernel Log in brief

  • The development version of the radeonhd graphics driver has recently started to support screen rotation. Alex Deucher reports about the progress made in connection with the 3D support of AMD's R6xx/R7xx GPUs in his blog. These GPUs are part of the Radeon series 2000, 3000 and 4000 graphics hardware.
  • Peter Hutterer has released versions 2.0.8 and 2.1.0 of xf86-input-evdev; the latter version includes major changes to the input event interface code. The developer explains these changes in detail in his blog.
  • Nvidia has released the first beta version 180.08 of its proprietary graphics card drivers for Linux. They temporarily support OpenGL 3.0 and contain corrections to VDPAU.

Further background and information about developments in the Linux kernel and its environment can also be found in previous issues of the Kernel Log at heise open:

Older Kernel Logs can be found in the archives or by using the search function at heise open. (thl/c't)


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