NVIDIA takes one step closer to Linux support

Sep 06, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org)—Good news: NVIDIA has a technology called Optimus which since its 2010 launch is regarded as a great extender for notebook, netbook, and ultrabooks. Some NVIDIA fans think favorably of Optimus as "awesome" in the way it can tap into the discrete GPU when needed to conserve power. They like the way battery life is preserved as GPU power is switched off when not needed and switched on when needed again. As the company explains, NVIDIA Optimus technology automatically and instantaneously uses the high performance NVIDIA GPU for GPU-Compute applications, video, and 3-D games; and low power integrated graphics for applications such as web surfing or email. The Optimus approach in "dynamic" switching based on application needs is notable and according to reports a growing number of laptops from the commercial majors are equipped with Optimus.

Sad news: Linux fans, especially gamers, have expressed frustration in not being able to enjoy the most out of that carry the Optimus switching technology as a power-saving mechanism.

Linux users have had the option of checking out the Bumblebee project, which notes that "Many recent notebooks with a discrete nVidia card in it and an i3/i5/i7 processor use the nVidia Optimus technology to improve battery life. Unfortunately, this software solution is only available in Windows 7 and later.The Bumblebee Project is a set of tools developed by people aiming to provide Optimus support under Linux (legacy nVidia hybrid graphics is supported too) while waiting for kernel and drivers to support these notebooks."

Even Linus Torvalds let loose on his frustration bordering on disgust earlier this year at an entrepreneur session in Finland. He was asked why NVIDIA did not offer support for its under Linux. Torvalds responded that NVIDIA was a thorn and that he thought it very sad that NVIDIA was being difficult about it.

But back to some good news. The latest word is that NVIDIA is working to achieve Linux compatibility with its Optimus graphics switching technology.

In a recent e-mail sent to a developer listserv, NVIDIA software engineer Aaron Plattner expressed remarks that indicate NVIDIA is working on Linux support. Plattner in the e-mail said that he has created a working proof of concept driver.

Reader comments to news sites reporting the NVIDIA engineer's e-mail have been favorable, in fact happy. Compatibility moves will benefit NVIDIA audiences as well as fans of Linux. Hopes are that the two will work things out. Certainly among the hopefuls are those who use their laptops for gaming and need better . Running Linux on Optimus-equipped laptops, for many, will be ideal.

Explore further: Technology turns eyewear into a smart device capable of displaying visual information

More information: bumblebee-project.org/

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User comments : 25

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Nattydread
5 / 5 (4) Sep 06, 2012
Hooray!
Deathclock
1.8 / 5 (11) Sep 06, 2012
Who cares? If you have hundreds of dollars to spend on a high performance video card meant for gaming then you can afford to buy a real desktop operating system that is meant for gaming as well. Linux has it's niche, but for daily use as a consumer desktop OS... it's not ideal, and even less so as a gaming platform. That's why companies like nVidia and many others are slow to support it, if at all. Linux users probably comprise less than 1% of people who would buy such video cards, so why should the company spend time (money) developing drivers for it? Isn't that the entire point of Linux, to be customize-able by it's users? Let the community provide support if they really want it.
Bowler_4007
5 / 5 (2) Sep 06, 2012
millions of people use Linux and i'm sure that a mininum of 1/6 (i chose 1/6 to try not to over estimate) of them like their games and then we split this 1/6 in half, 1/2 for ATI and 1/2 for nVidia, so for every 10 million Linux users we have about 830,000 that would like nVidia graphics card drivers for Linux, also if we say $200-$300 per card thats $1.63 million - $2.5 million that those 830,000 would be spending, making the drivers would be worth it on those numbers alone

this excludes the fact they have to make Windows drivers to sell just 1 card, if they really can't be arsed then for god sakes just release documentation for the cards (btw the reason the community can't support the cards is because nVidia are shitting their kecks over releasing the documentation, as if some big conspiracy will emerge when they do), its not gonna hurt anyone, hate Linux all you like as a gaming platform but the fact is some people want to use it for gaming so get over it

btw, sorry for swearing
Bowler_4007
3 / 5 (2) Sep 06, 2012
btw forgot to add that when Windows Vista was released how many noticed that the specs required for a game went up by half? for example games that required 1GB of memory on XP require 1.5GB on Vista/7 so DeathClock if Windows is designed for gaming why did its support for games get worse?
Deathclock
1.3 / 5 (4) Sep 06, 2012
btw forgot to add that when Windows Vista was released how many noticed that the specs required for a game went up by half? for example games that required 1GB of memory on XP require 1.5GB on Vista/7 so DeathClock if Windows is designed for gaming why did its support for games get worse?


Because people don't know how to properly configure Windows 7 for performance... Out of the box it is a bloated piece of shit and I wouldn't be caught dead using it with it's default settings. When I run a game on my installation of 7 I have fewer than a dozen processes running using less than 100mb of RAM... I have over half of the default services disabled, and depending on the game I may even shutdown windows explorer just to squeeze every last possible bit of performance out of it.
chromosome2
5 / 5 (2) Sep 06, 2012
I plan on building an i5-3570K rig in a BitFenix Prodigy with a GeForce GTX 660Ti, and I plan on using it primarily for Steam games and normal desktop usage in Ubuntu, although I'm also building it for OS X compatability and I'll have W7 on it for emergencies as well as the OS X vm for making the bootable flash drive and so on.

I have Windows 7. I prefer Ubuntu, for everything.
Deathclock
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 06, 2012
Too bad, windows 7 gives consistently higher performance on benchmarks than Ubuntu, and I doubt this tester had his windows 7 install optimized for performance...

http://www.phoron...gl/3.png

On top of this, they were comparing OpenGL to OpenGL... if he had used DX11 on win7 the difference would be even greater for most games.
Deathclock
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2012
Bowler_4007
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2012
all this still doesn't negate the fact that windows has gotten worse with game support, do note though that while you trying to convince me windows is best with all your benchmarks and talk of reconfiguration my standpoint is relatively neutral, although if i were forced to choose i would go for Linux due to its flexability and Windows for games i can't get to work in Linux
Roland
not rated yet Sep 06, 2012
I wonder if the loss of an order for 10 million units had anything to do with this apparent change of heart.
http://news.teche...se-order
Deathclock
1 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2012
all this still doesn't negate the fact that windows has gotten worse with game support


What negates that "fact" is that it simply isn't true... Every single commercial PC game is "supported" by windows. Game developers develop for DirectX first, which is a Microsoft technology, primarily because it allows simultaneous development for PC and the XBox 360. OpenGL support is an afterthought, if it even occurs. Microsoft is THE gaming OS company, they have their own game console for christ sake... when Ubuntu has a game console that is competitive with the 360 and PS3 then I'll consider it a legitimate gaming OS, how about that?

Minimum system requirements, as you alluded to earlier, mean jack shit. I already explained that windows 7, with it's default configuration, is a heavier OS than XP was... that of course means that you need SLIGHTLY better hardware to run the same game on 7 than on XP... but you need SLIGHTLY better hardware to run 7 with default config ANYWAY!
Deathclock
1 / 5 (4) Sep 06, 2012
Finally, if your so poor that you're looking at minimum requirements then you should probably just stick with a free OS anyway, and if you are too stupid to cut windows 7 memory and CPU usage to 10% or less of what it is out of the box then you should probably just be doing your gaming on consoles rather than ANY PC regardless of OS...

As you already stated, windows is the OS of choice for gaming, because it has full support for every major game released and 90% of the time the game will run better under windows.

The funny thing is you, in the same breath, criticized windows for worse support for games and then went on to say that you would choose windows over linux for it's game support... lol?

although if i were forced to choose i would go for ... Windows for games i can't get to work in Linux
alfie_null
5 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2012
Who cares? If you have hundreds of dollars to spend on a high performance video card meant for gaming then you can afford to buy a real desktop operating system that is meant for gaming as well.

Gaming? You're in the wrong forum. On the wrong web site.

You should understand there are other uses for computers.

In my work environment, which has a heavy concentration of scientists, most of the number crunching and rendition of results is accomplished under Linux.

This is likely the general case. If you examine commercially available applications targeted at science, you will find they are almost always available in Linux versions. Ditto the open source stuff (in fact often only available in Linux versions).
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2012
He was asked why NVIDIA did not offer support for its GPU under Linux. Torvalds responded that NVIDIA was a thorn and that he thought it very sad that NVIDIA was being difficult about it.


Because he didn't want to point out that X.org's DRI system for graphics hardware is an obsolete clusterfuck that barely works and forces driver manufacturers to apply duct tape and bubble gum in the form of X-server extensions and patches, and lots of elbow grease to get full support for all the features of their hardware. They're forced to fix stuff that X.org is supposed to fix, which it still doesn't fix, in every HW driver they make, specifically fitted for each version of X.org.

So he blamed nVidia.

Meanwhile DRI2, Wayland, Gallium 3D or any of the other myriad parallel and redundant attempts to fix the original Direct Rendering Infrastructure, have either been halted, abandoned to infighting and politics, or lack proper resources. Nothing substantial has happened in the last 7-8 years
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2012
if they really can't be arsed then for god sakes just release documentation for the cards


AMD/ATi did that. Guess what happened?

Nothing. The open source drivers for their cards still suck donkey round things, because of the reasons mentioned above. The system is broken and unwieldy, and you ain't getting proper graphics hardware support for Linux until it is fixed.

Which will happen in.. oh, about 20 years from now by the rate things are going over at the la la land of Open Source.

Here's someone else saying the same thing: http://lunduke.com/?p=429
Deathclock
1 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2012
Gaming? You're in the wrong forum. On the wrong web site.

You should understand there are other uses for computers.


This article is about a video card manufacturer not releasing linux drivers for video cards meant for gaming... 99% of the sales of these VIDEO CARDS are by consumers for the purpose of gaming you retard. The article is about gaming... there are better professional GPU's for pure number crunching or 3D rendering for scientific application.
Bowler_4007
5 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2012
all this still doesn't negate the fact that windows has gotten worse with game support


What negates that "fact" is that it simply isn't true... Every single commercial PC game is "supported" by windows. Game developers develop for DirectX first, which is a Microsoft technology, primarily because it allows simultaneous development for PC and the XBox 360. OpenGL support is an afterthought, if it even occurs. Microsoft is THE gaming OS company, they have their own game console for christ sake... .....

and the rest of your comment

you seem mixed up, games work on Windows because they were written to do so, Windows wasn't written to work with all those games, in fact the very idea that Windows was written to work with all those games is just ludicrous not only because each is vastly different from the other but also because games continue to be released after a release of Windows
kochevnik
5 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2012
This article is about a video card manufacturer not releasing linux drivers for video cards meant for gaming... 99% of the sales of these VIDEO CARDS are by consumers for the purpose of gaming you retard. The article is about gaming... there are better professional GPU's for pure number crunching or 3D rendering for scientific application.
No it's about GPU support on linux in general. I did GPU calculations as well as gaming with the same GPUs. I suspect many GPU programmers blow off steam with games between code binges.

Why would a real coder use windows? Most any moron can hack into the box and take your source code or your wallet. Windows isn't a tool platform it's a platform for tools.
Bowler_4007
5 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2012
Finally, if your so poor that you're looking at minimum requirements then you should probably just stick with a free OS anyway, and if you are ....

although if i were forced to choose i would go for ... Windows for games i can't get to work in Linux

dude don't get personal, i am not poor, i am not looking at minimum requirements either, i just prefer Linux because of its background and i have very problems with it, and you have cut my comment down in the quote i said i would pick Linux over Windows then use Windows for games not supported by Linux, how you took this as praising Windows i will never know, tbh with you i wouldn't care if Microsoft crashed and burned tomorrow because then Linux would get even better with just about everyone turning to it as a replacement for Windows
Bowler_4007
5 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2012
if they really can't be arsed then for god sakes just release documentation for the cards


AMD/ATi did that.
When did ATI do that? point me to documentation for one GPU and i will retract my comment
Bowler_4007
5 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2012
i am not looking at minimum requirements
i should clarify that i did mention minimum requirements early on, but that doesn't mean i would build a computer with such a small amount amount of RAM, i would probably put somewhere from 8GB-16GB, then i'd add a HardDisk of perhaps 500GB, then a 4-8 core CPU, a decent mainboard, then a decent graphics card costing anywhere up to £300 and perhaps if it is worth it add a second in either an SLi or CrossFire setup, i have not yet investigated these technologies so i don't know if either is worth using, and as for PSU's i don't know yet and finally a case that can take all these although tbh i don't fuss that much about the asthetics of a machine so long as it is well ventilated and easy to access and maintain inside then i'm happy
Deathclock
2 / 5 (4) Sep 08, 2012
you seem mixed up, games work on Windows because they were written to do so, Windows wasn't written to work with all those games, in fact the very idea that Windows was written to work with all those games is just ludicrous not only because each is vastly different from the other but also because games continue to be released after a release of Windows


Okay, you're forgiven because you don't know me... I am a software engineer, I have a masters in computer science, I have written 3D applications using the majority of the DirectX libraries... I know full well what the role of the operating system is, how games and other 3D applications are developed, etc etc...

Windows, to the extent that Microsoft developed DirectX, WAS written to support games. The DirectX libraries are primarily used for gaming, particularly Direct3D (which is now known as DirectGraphics). The VAST majority of commercial games use one of two 3D graphics libraries as the basis for their engines, DX or OGL...
eMJayy
5 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2012
I'm not sure why this discussion has degenerated into one centred around gaming. As the article states, the proprietary Nvidia technology in question is found on ordinary laptops, netbooks and ultrabooks. It has nothing to do with people who buy high end graphics cards for desktop PCs or for gaming. This is about support for longer battery life in ordinary notebooks.

According to Microsoft's figures, Linux is being used on 5% of PCs, whether offline or online. That's nothing to sneeze at, because there are over 2 billion PC users in total. It's also important to note that companies like Nvidia only control a fraction of the total market, and that Optimus technology will only be found in a fraction of Nvidia's total user base. That makes it possible for Linux users to make up a larger fraction of the Optimus user base than you might expect. You can't use general web usage stats to determine how popular usage of a particular piece of hardware tech is under a given OS.
Eikka
4 / 5 (4) Sep 08, 2012
When did ATI do that? point me to documentation for one GPU and i will retract my comment


http://www.phoron...x=NjA1Mw

This happened five years ago. The community got what they wanted, and accomplished nothing.

That makes it possible for Linux users to make up a larger fraction of the Optimus user base than you might expect.


The general consensus that I've come across with Linux is, that you're supposed to buy hardware that is supported by Linux - not hardware you want and then demand Linux to support it.

So I don't think so.
eMJayy
5 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2012
That makes it possible for Linux users to make up a larger fraction of the Optimus user base than you might expect.


The general consensus that I've come across with Linux is, that you're supposed to buy hardware that is supported by Linux - not hardware you want and then demand Linux to support it.

So I don't think so.


What you said is only true if the manufacturer of the hardware offers no driver support under Linux. That's not the case with Nvidia, because Nvidia itself publishes drivers for use with its products on Linux, just as it does for Windows.

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