LINUXGAMES

Gaming Freedom?

July 17th, 2007 by Crusader

ArsTechnica mentioned that Mark Shuttleworth,founder of the Ubuntu Linux distribution,has announced Gobuntu:

Gobuntu, which will eschew virtually all proprietary software components, aimsto pacify critics who think that Ubuntu’s support for “non-free” software isdetrimental to users. Last year, the Free Software Foundation announced therelease ofgNewSense,an Ubuntu derivative without proprietary graphicsdrivers, proprietary plug-in components like Adobe’s Flash player, andpatent-encumbered proprietary media codecs. According to Shuttleworth, thegoal for the Gobuntu derivative is to “provide a cleaner and easier tomaintain base for projects like gNewSense.”

Shuttleworth says that the current focus is on hardware drivers, but moresignificant differences will emerge as the team grows. In his announcement,Shuttleworth asks for interested developers to participate by joining theGobuntu development team. “This is a call for developers who are interested inpushing the limits of content and code freedom—including firmware, content,and authoring infrastructure—to join the team and help identify places wherewe must separate out pieces that don’t belong in Gobuntu from the standardUbuntu builds,” says Shuttleworth.

I, along with what I suspect are most Linux gamers, at least run propietaryvideo card drivers to have acceptable performance withOpenGL-rendered titles. That said, Iwould prefer that there were viable open source alternatives, and to be fair,there have been a fair number of projects over the years with varying degreesof success. Today there’s Nouveau and xf86-video-avivo,which hopefully will become comparable to their closed-source counterparts.

Given the debate, I guess my questions to you are: what kind ofperformance hit would you be prepared to accept to switch to open drivers? Ordoes it matter at all? Do you think it possible that reverse-engineered projectscould ever exceed the performance of the official releases? Thanks!

12 Responses to “Gaming Freedom?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    uhm

  2. djame Says:

    “what kind of performance hit would you be prepared to accept to switch to open drivers?”
    None. I mean, if I switch to linux, it’s not to have a crappy half working machine. If a video card manufacturer has sufficient manpower to create a working video driver, I don’t see the point of duplicating the effort for the sake of Open Source. Be realistic, how many people have the sufficient knowledge to create a working drivers ? How many of them can create a optimized drivers ? How many of them can test it on a vast range of system ? How many of them can make them robust and more importantly trustfull ?
    yes, not that much. So loosing time just for the sake of open source anything doesn’t mean anything really.
    Just a few example :
    utah-glx -> they managed to have half decent 3d rendering on ati rage 128 and Unreal tournament and quake 3 looked crappy like hell on it (compared to the windows and mac version on the same card)
    the kyro II people : anyone who remember ?

    not to talk about the directFB who based their stuff only on advanced Matrox Open Source drivers and it’s not even usable on anything but a matrox derived card….

    sigh, they’d better spend their forces to finish parsec (parsec.sf.net), golgotha forever or fix beagle to kill it’s crazy slowwwwwnessss…

    Sigh again…
    Djamé
    ps: yes, I spent too much time reading this newsite, so I get cynical. Who wouldn’t after the fall of Loki ?

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I have my doubts whether the open source drivers will ever be able to run modern 3d games, although I once said the same thing about wine and look how far it has come.
    I could handle a small framerate drop if that was the only loss but the compatibility, image quality and stability would have to be at least as good as the proprietary drivers.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Free Software started when someone (RMS) wanted to use his own hardware to the full extent possible, knowing how to do that. (At the time, it was a Xerox printer and the “paper jam” sensor.)

    I want to use my own hardware to the full extent possible. My understanding is that only the software engineers working next door with the hardware engineers on a 200+ million logic gate GPU have the knowledges and competence to provide me the most appropriate drivers for my video card. It’s not anymore a matter of enabling a paper jam switch. It’s much, much more complex.

    I trust the writers of my drivers that they allow me to fully exploit the hardware I BOUGHT. Is their driver proprietary? It sucks, but the alternative is worse.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    If Microsoft already made Windows, why waste time working on Gnu/Linux? How many people know how to write an operating system, let alone the kernel?

    Why write an open source 3D implementation of Total Annihilation when Warcraft 3 or Supreme Commander already exist? Why bother doing total conversion mods for Quake? How many people even know how to make a game?

    I’d rather have a free video driver that works well than a proprietary video driver that works well. Even if there were only a handful of people out there who would support it on their own, I’d at least like the option of fixing it myself or paying someone else to fit it if something went wrong. Frankly, I’m tired of having to mess with my computer every time I upgrade a kernel. If it wasn’t for the proprietary drivers, I wouldn’t get apprehensive about upgrading the kernel each time.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    hi there peeps,

    I might be flammed for this but at this juncture I dont care. I have overall diminished respect for linux when I see geek’s proclamation and verbal attacks that if you dont use OSS your somehow a traitor or worse. This mentality is a disease and its high time it was stopped. We all get the principle behind ‘OSS’ , but come on its not realistic and I totally agree with djame. There are amazing OSS apps like GImp, blender etal and the dev work behind them is amazing,- but Let those that ‘own’ the hardware and are paid to work on the drivers do it ( nvidia or even ati ) and stop wasting precious OSS dev time for the sake of the almighty ego. Is it not better to ask nvidia for support for said older hardware than bother wasting time RE’ing things ? What is really to be gained by this OSS drive other than to say ‘oh kewl man we have oss driver’ ? Are there literally reports on file somewhere showing horrible bugs that nvidia has not fixed ?

    If your that adament about using only OSS, then how about standing behind projects like:

    http://wiki.opengraphics.org/tiki-index.php

    cu
    g.leej

  7. Anonymous Says:

    man this really is a tough question,, at the moment, my doom3,quake4, and even ut2004 performance suffers ~%15 and I’m ok with that. I make certain sacrifices to support Linux because of the advantages.. bottom line is I think I’d be willing to accept another %15 loss.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    The utah-glx project is not dead, it just merged with the DRI project.

    And as for the performance hit question, I’d accept perhaps around a 20% performance decrease.

  9. glutinous Says:

    If it is sufficient to do the job, then I would use the open source version. The demands of a desktop with all the 3D candy is much less than a game. So for that, I would be more than happy to use an open source driver that can drive that at a satisfactory level. As for games, again, if the open source ones were good enough for smooth gameplay, then I would use it. That might not be the case right now, but I am just basically saying: if it is ‘fast enough’ then I will use it.

  10. lemonade Says:

    “None. I mean, if I switch to linux, it’s not to have a crappy half working machine.”

    This is so true. I know that people don’t want to switch to linux which only supports half of their hardware fully – it’s like buying an expensive device and using only features of a cheaper one. But hey, if you’re too much into proprietary world – why ever you need to use open sourced operating system?

    “If a video card manufacturer has sufficient manpower to create a working video driver, I don’t see the point of duplicating the effort for the sake of Open Source. Be realistic, how many people have the sufficient knowledge to create a working drivers ? How many of them can create a optimized drivers ? How many of them can test it on a vast range of system ? How many of them can make them robust and more importantly trustfull ?
    yes, not that much. So loosing time just for the sake of open source anything doesn’t mean anything really.”

    There are lot’s of people who can do testing – some can do coding – it’s the whole idea of open source that many people can collaboratively make projects that could take thousands of working hours. But I’m not sure that you’ve quite understood what open source is about. The open source software is not good only for replacing the proprietory software – it really gives all power of hardware to user. Hardware manufacturer don’t have interests in developing drivers for products which are too old – so you are left with device that isn’t possibly supported at all. So you have to purchase a new device just to get support, although the old one would have been enough for your uses. If there would have been open source drivers life would have been easier. It’s all about freedom to do what ever you want and not to be locked with some companies software or hardware.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    I bought hardware with open source drivers already available more than 3 years ago. No reverse engineering required and I’ve found the performance completely acceptable. Doom 3/UT2004 runs fine!

  12. Anonymous Says:

    What hardware do you have that has open source drivers and plays those games so well?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.