Not logged in
Log in now
Create an account
Subscribe to LWN
LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 16, 2013
A look at the PyPy 2.0 release
PostgreSQL 9.3 beta: Federated databases and more
LWN.net Weekly Edition for May 9, 2013
(Nearly) full tickless operation in 3.10
Danger with NVIDIA drivers 180.29
Posted Apr 22, 2009 14:56 UTC (Wed) by dilinger (subscriber, #2867)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 15:24 UTC (Wed) by petegn (guest, #847)
The problem that statement causes is that put simply the Free video drivers are not up too much in reality i dont got a choice but use the non-free binary drivers for my GeForce FX5500 as the free one is very limited . I know certain people will get their panties in a bunch over that sort of statement but to coin a phrase common in the IT world Schit Happens (and yes i do know thanks very much ) and didely squatt as well .
Posted Apr 22, 2009 16:15 UTC (Wed) by dilinger (subscriber, #2867)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 16:32 UTC (Wed) by pr1268 (subscriber, #24648)
Welcome to the world of Microsoft. It's all too easy to blame the OS for grief caused by 3rd-party buggy drivers (or user-space apps).
Of course, Microsoft tends to internalize this problem and fix problems themselves (according to this Raymond Chen blog post from several years ago about unsavory programming practices at a game software company).
Posted Apr 23, 2009 6:54 UTC (Thu) by man_ls (subscriber, #15091)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 21:22 UTC (Wed) by SLi (subscriber, #53131)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 15:57 UTC (Wed) by qg6te2 (guest, #52587)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 15:22 UTC (Wed) by mrshiny (subscriber, #4266)
The "binary nVidia driver crashes your kernel" bit is FUD, IMO.
Posted Apr 22, 2009 16:53 UTC (Wed) by nye (guest, #51576)
Still get some graphical corruption with KDE4, mind :P
Posted Apr 23, 2009 7:03 UTC (Thu) by epeeist (guest, #1743)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 21:09 UTC (Wed) by seyman (subscriber, #1172)
I'm not sure. When the nvidia driver needed to be rebuilt against your kernel every time you upgraded, the Red Hat mailing lists were submerged with mails complaining that the kernel upgrade had crashed their machine (in fact, X hadn't started).
The same thing happened with upgrading to the next version of the distribution which upgraded your kernel but didn't rebuild the nvidia driver to match.
Feel free to argue that this isn't a crash, per se but the heart of the matter is that a) users didn't like it and b) it happened with the nvidia driver, not the nv one.
Posted Apr 22, 2009 21:57 UTC (Wed) by mrshiny (subscriber, #4266)
First, when you install third part software it sometimes breaks when you update your distro (or even just parts of your distro). Whose fault this is isn't even important, it happens, but it's certainly not a "Crash".
Second, the kernel's no-stable-abi/api nonsense is hardly nVidia's fault. Any out-of-tree drivers will have this problem. nVidia just happens to be the poster-boy for this particular issue.
Finally, the X server has been pretty pathetic about video driver selection; in Windows there are often fallbacks so that if one driver can't be loaded something else is, so that you at least get SOME display. X? zip. nothing. Just a console. nVidia's fault? hardly.
Dont' get me wrong, I can't wait for the nouveau guys to fix everything that's wrong with nVidia's driver. But "stability"? that's not one of the things.
Posted Apr 22, 2009 23:13 UTC (Wed) by seyman (subscriber, #1172)
No, I'm blaming nVidia because they refuse to publish the source to their driver which prevents the open source community from shipping a rebuilt version along with every new kernel.
Posted Apr 23, 2009 11:08 UTC (Thu) by Duncan (guest, #6647)
The console /is/ the fallback, in that case. It's the ultimate "safe
Meanwhile, I agree with Seyman, no need to blame nVidia for the kernel
policy, when they could simply release decent specs and let the community
handle it at far less trouble than they are going to (despite nVidia) with
the nouveau driver.
FWIW, I did run the nVidia driver when I first got serious about switching
to Linux, because while I had done enough pre-buy (pre-switch) research to
know nVidia had Linux drivers and that they worked with TwinView, but I
had unfortunately NOT groked the difference (again, while doing pre-switch
research still on MS Windows) between unfreedomware Linux drivers and
freedomware Linux drivers.
It didn't take me long to figure it out tho once I switched, tho, as those
separate recompiles (I was building my own kernel before I had even chosen
my Linux mail client) got old VERY quickly, and that was the last
proprietaryware needing card I ever bought (and will ever buy, if I have
anything to say about it). I very quickly decided I did NOT dump a decade
of experience on proprietaryware just to continue to be subject to the
mastery of unfreedomware on Linux, as well. If I were to subject myself
to that, what was the point of dumping all that experience to start over
again? Not much. That one taste of freedom was all it took.
Duncan (I'll close with the quote I use as a sig on the mailing lists,
that I referred to above with that "subject to the mastery of
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman
Posted Apr 23, 2009 16:37 UTC (Thu) by k8to (subscriber, #15413)
If you think this is bad (obviously), then why don't you go over to OpenSolaris or FreeBSD and stop insisting that something is wrong with Linux?
Whether or not you think it's reasonable for the Linux developers to alter the Linux kernel, it's certainly unreasonable to ship end user drivers which repeatedly fail in this environment.
Posted Apr 22, 2009 21:24 UTC (Wed) by jengelh (subscriber, #33263)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 21:58 UTC (Wed) by joey (subscriber, #328)
Posted Apr 23, 2009 21:05 UTC (Thu) by gcallow (guest, #4316)
Personally I think the claim of FUD has some merit. The nvidia driver isn't perfect, but I don't see
evidence that the Free drivers are doing a significantly better job, and nvidia have demonstrably
If you want to use only Free software, then fine. If you're unhappy with the additional maintenance
overhead, or the fact that nvidia drop support for older cards out of newer drivers then that's also
fine. However, If you want to claim the nvidia drivers are bug-ridden and imply that the Free
drivers are intrinsically more reliable then, at the moment, I don't think the evidence is there.
Posted Apr 30, 2009 10:55 UTC (Thu) by lkundrak (subscriber, #43452)
Secondly, most kerneloops data is collected from bleeding edge and development releases. More reports from non-nvidia hardware generally mean more development is happening there.
When it comes to stable Linux-based OS-es, let's consider RHEL 5 (I haven't used other comparable OS-es, but I believe most widely used enterprise-class distribution is a pretty good example). ATi and Intel works mostly flawlessly there compared to NVidia, which for example can not resume from suspend, or freezes for minutes (on T61, again fairly common platform). And no, no kerneloops messages were sent for it.
Posted Apr 22, 2009 22:49 UTC (Wed) by flammon (guest, #807)
Nvidia drivers have been crashing most systems that I've worked on for the past year. Just because you have a combination of hardware that doesn't crash, lucky for you, doesn't mean that it's FUD. It's real. Go ahead buy yourself an HP G60 laptop with an nvidia 8200, install your favourite distribution and the latest stable nvidia drivers and I'll eat my shorts if it doesn't crash.
Posted Apr 26, 2009 11:31 UTC (Sun) by pharm (guest, #22305)
Yup: there was a period a while back when the i2c drivers would brick some IBM laptops. Then there was the mess with the Intel network cards...
Hardware isn't perfect, and there's always the risk that you tickle an edge case that does something permanent, even if you're doing things strictly by the book (assuming you have the docs at all).
Posted Apr 22, 2009 16:00 UTC (Wed) by trasz (guest, #45786)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 16:25 UTC (Wed) by sbergman27 (guest, #10767)
Probably my vote for the "Lifetime Embarrassment Award" would go to the perpetually unfinished open-source Radeon driver. At least my Intel X4500 graphics are finally stable. I purchased an MB with a G43 chipset last Fall, specifically because Intel was supposed to be doing such a great job supporting Linux FOSS drivers. And it was, without a doubt, the *worst* Linux graphics experience I have ever had. I had to go back to my NVidia for a couple of months, waiting for even the *text consoles* to become usable.
So be careful about trashing NVidia and making implied claims about FOSS video driver quality. Because there is a lot more embarrassing evidence I could throw back at you.
Posted Apr 22, 2009 17:55 UTC (Wed) by rakoenig (subscriber, #29855)
And they also provided beta drivers early that already fixed the problem quickly, but it took still a while for the public release.
So besides of the GPL vs. proprietary driver discussion I have to say that even in a mixed world with OSS software and proprietary drives customers should be aware that they get full support for problems. And currently nVIDIA is "state-of-the-art" in 3D graphics and BTW: in a notebook you don't have much choice to replace the graphics card. :-)
So thanks to the team that provided all the knowledge, tools and skills to quickly fix this bug and thanks to the (thank god) few customers that were patiently waiting for the final bugfix.
Rainer (The reporter of bug 433 on RPMFusion :-)
Posted Apr 22, 2009 21:30 UTC (Wed) by SLi (subscriber, #53131)
You probably also think the kernel developers are just being asses for
accepting backtraces from non-graphics parts of the kernels when you have
nvidia binary blobs insmodded?
It was insightful to read a comment by one of the ext4 developers (I
it was Greg Kroah-Hartman) about the fsync 0-byte file issue. He very
specifically pointed to nvidia binary blob issues where it is known to
randomly corrupt memory when wondering about people who tolerate
Call it bashing if you wish, but I don't want anything unsupportable
crap like that near my computer, thank you, and I do feel I'm the pragmatic
Posted Apr 22, 2009 23:55 UTC (Wed) by sbergman27 (guest, #10767)
No. It was Ted Tso. He initially tried to blame the whole problem on NVidia and Ubuntu users... and then on the majority of application developers... but then ended up fixing the worst problems with his filesystem, instead, when enough people pointed out what he was doing.
I followed those discussions closely, and would hardly call that particular part of them "insightful". "Wildly Blameful" would probably be a more accurate term to apply.
I would prefer FOSS drivers to proprietary ones. I would like to see NVidia open up. But the fact remains that NVidia's drivers have historically been of higher quality than most of the FOSS video drivers. And denying that doesn't help FOSS. Higher quality FOSS drivers would help FOSS.
Posted May 18, 2009 18:03 UTC (Mon) by daenzer (✭ supporter ✭, #7050)
(No) thanks for the award; it's very rewarding and motivating for the people who've put effort into improving those drivers, isn't it.</sarcasm>
There's no question that as far as features and performance are concerned, currently no free drivers compare to the major IHV proprietary drivers. However, it's quite disappointing to have to read something like the above on this site, from someone who judging from his other comments seemed to have some appreciation for what free software is (not) about.
Posted May 18, 2009 20:32 UTC (Mon) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
The trick is to look for those cards that already work reasonably well,
not to think 'ooh, the driver's called "radeon" so anything ATI ever made
should work perfectly'.
(but you know that of course)
Copyright © 2013, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds