OLS: Open source graphics drivers
Posted Jul 20, 2006 5:33 UTC (Thu) by drag
Parent article: OLS: Open source graphics drivers
I think that this situation is fairly critical for people who are hoping for Linux on the desktop success.
If Linux has promise on displacing Windows on even a significant minority of desktops a pull out of support from either ATI or Nvidia will kill it instantly. Deader then a doornob. And if Microsoft has any leverage at all on ATI or Nvidia I beleive that they will do their best to try to make Nvidia or ATI choose between Windows and Linux... Of course the answer for them is obvious, Linux is going to loose every time.
The fact of the matter is that although distros Ubuntu and all the hard work that Gnome and KDE people put into the systems to make them usable to make them stable and work well for a large number of people it is entirely dependant on Nvidia's binary drivers.
People simply cannot use the software without the hardware support. Thats all there is to it.
The dirty little secret behind the success of the PC in developed nations is due to the success of video games. That's right, video games. Video games are not important for the server, or the unix workstation, or the business desktop. But they are absolutely critical for people like students and young people as well as the home desktop.
If there were no games that work on Linux, then there wouldn't be nearly as many people using things like Ubuntu as there are. Even if people use Linux all day at work, when they come home and if there arn't some fun games to play on Linux they'd rather just have Windows installed.
For example take DirectX/Direct3D. This is my understanding of why this thing is dominate on the Windows platform... Windows default OpenGL stuff sucks. OpenGL on Windows is very dependant on the quality of the drivers aviable supplied to Windows by indpendant companies. And since these companies are very propriatory oriented they each have their own OpenGL stack.. The stack will vary quite in quality and capabilities from PC to PC... Large scale game programmers don't know what their customers are going to have. Are they going to install the drivers from the cdrom, do they have the default microsoft stuff, are they using the latest drivers off of the internet? Are they using Intel or ATI's or Nvidia's OpenGL version, what is going on?
However since DirectX is supplied by one vendor and is aviable by default every Windows PC deliver good-enough 3d performance that the game designers can depend on. And if it doesn't work then it's not their problem it's Microsoft's support issue. They can target DirectX/Direct3D and know that it work.
But it's not like they are utterly dependent on it.. Pretty much every gaming engine has the choice of using Direct3d OR OpenGL. They work with both, but they still choose Direct3d.
What Linux needs, in my humble and rather unkowning opinion, to do is make SDL/OpenGL work as well on Linux as DirectX/Direct3d does on Windows.
It doesn't need to be as fast as Nvidia's propriatory drivers. It doesn't need to be as feature complete and it doesn't need to be targetted towards the high end/workstation end of the market like Nvidia does. But what it needs to be is consistant.
Consistant to the point were a fellow could install Ubuntu on a machine, apt-get some nice 3d game, and be able to play it by default. That's all. That's it, nothing special. This is something that anybody can do with Windows on any machine they feel like. (well except for the apt-get part, replace that with browser and warez site) They've been able to do this sort of thing since Windows 98 days. No sweat. Worst case they just had to upgrade their directX version, which was fairly painless.
Now another thing. Gaming on Windows has grown stale. All you have is these big propriatory companies cranking sequel after sequel. It's rare that they create something new. Make a football game becuase you can sell a new version each year because you have new names to stick on the Bios and stats between the games. Make a another first person shooter because the one that you made last year sold pretty well.
Sure they are pretty, but the game play hasn't changed much since Bond 007 on the nintendo 64. It's just too big, too expensive, with little choice but to be risk adverse.
Open source software can probably dramaticly reduce the cost and lower the bar for the entry level game maker. Recreate a environment were you are allowed to take risks, allowed to work on stuff that you enjoyed... And it's not like the software isn't there for Linux. We have all sorts of nice stuff that wasn't around just a few years ago when Loki was around.
For instance tools like Blender, it's much more capable and usable then it was just a couple years ago. Python scripting and all sorts of advanced stuff. Id released their GTKRadiant under the GPL just a little bit ago.
We now have decent gaming engines. Id quake 3d engines are being used to do some cool stuff. We have Ogre3d gaming engine. Crystal3d gaming engine.
These things are very capable and can do great things.
And what is sad is that I've actually seen people say things like Ogre3d is too Windows centric, which is kinda silly.
Most the major Ogre3d engine developers, from what I understand, are heavy Linux users. But almost all the game MAKERS that use Ogre3d are on Windows, Most of the people on their forums are going to be Windows users. It's easier to get Ogre3d to run under Windows. And all sorts of stuff like that. I don't think it needs to be this way.
If you can attract amature game developers by providing a platform for them full of great tools, great code, great engines that is nicely packaged and easy to use with it's own games and fun stuff. Then I figure they will start using it. And as those amature game makers stop being so amature and start making cools stuff then they will have all their stuff aviable on your platform first.
Then people will have a choice. Do they want to have the big monolythic games and game makers on Windows with numerious restrictions and hassles with cdrom protections, product keys, waiting on bugs to be fixed sometime-next-year, waiting for new features that never come.. Or they can come to Linux and have access to lots of fun, new, and interesting stuff and then can not only play the games, but contribute their own stuff as well. I know that with Quake2 on Windows and Quake3 on Linux my favorite games and stuff to do with those engines weren't nessicarially what Id provided by default.. but what was aviable from 3d parties and add-ons to those engines. I remember seeing hundreds of user contributed models for quake2, some of which were as high of quality as any propriatory game.
I think that if distros work with people that do make and produce open source games and gaming tools to make these things more aviable and start having them as features I think it may start to attract a slightly different audiance then it has done in the past. It doesn't even nessicarially need to be big propriatory games like Ut2004 or windows compatable layers like Cedega (although that helps a lot in getting people to switch), but just having the stuff aviable for them to play with.
I mean you include have a dozen browsers, file managers, Gimp, Krita, Kino, openoffice and other such things.. Why not also Blender, Wings3d, Crystalspace, Ogre3d, (and their respective language bindings which make game making much more approachable) GtkRadient, Nexuis, Alien Arena, Scorch3d, etc etc?
Just saying.. (I suppose this is pretty long rant, I'll go away now)
to post comments)