What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

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Konata
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What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Konata »

ReactOS is doing great, I can see it reaching total usability very soon. My only concern is, what about the drivers? Surely, in a community revolving around software freedom, some of us (me included) don't want to use AMD and Nvidia's proprietary drivers. I don't recall Windows ever having free drivers, I only know of them on GNU/Linux. So, exactly how viable would it be to port GNU/Linux's free drivers (ati-dri, mhwd-nvidia, etc) to ReactOS? Is this planned for the far future? Will they be packaged with ReactOS later if they can be ported?

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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Z98 »

Considering one of the main selling points we use for ReactOS is the ability to just run Windows drivers out of the box, probably not.

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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by PurpleGurl »

I'd love to see this. I am sure the devs won't mind if you were to write your own. Even if they won't go into ROS, you could distribute your own distro. The live distro would likely work better if it had a wider range of video driver options.

That said, Z98 is right. There is no need to include driver bloat if there are available Windows-compatible drivers and ROS can run them. A handful of Windows versions were bad about including obscure drivers nobody used anymore. Now if you were going to make it embedded or for a kiosk or something, then sure, include an open source driver that makes use of more features specific to that hardware.

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Konata
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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Konata »

Yeah, you all have good points. Guess I'll just set a long-term goal of getting into driver development then, so I can take care of it myself. I don't think I'm really gonna worry about it until at least ReactOS' kernel is done. Hopefully by then I'll be a little decent at C programming, haha.

erkinalp
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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by erkinalp »

Z98 wrote:Considering one of the main selling points we use for ReactOS is the ability to just run Windows drivers out of the box, probably not.
LiveCD needs them, because current build architecture does not allow us to install any driver at LiveCD run time.
-uses Ubuntu+GNOME 3 GNU/Linux
-likes Free (as in freedom) and Open Source Detergents
-favors open source of Windows 10 under GPL2

Frontier
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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Frontier »

If you want to get into driver development, there's lots of places to start. ReactOS needs open source drivers for usb audio and video inputs (which would make skype much more usable), a usb3 driver, we also need a solid print system, or you could get fastfat_new working properly, although I don't recommend it file system drivers also need to be written, and if you're serious then you'll be splitting your time between ROS and 2003 for the dev and you'll learn enough to submit kernel patches.

Frontier
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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Frontier »

But closed source video card drivers are probably the worst place to start. You've no spec for the hardware, and there's good legal for ROS users to install alternatives (the real ones).

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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Webunny »

Z98 wrote:Considering one of the main selling points we use for ReactOS is the ability to just run Windows drivers out of the box, probably not.
That was my initial thought on the matter too; the more ROS gets Windows-compatible, the more all drivers will work out of the box. But then again, it wouldn't hurt including, say, the ten most used drivers for networkcards, audio and graphics (especially integrated). After all, it gives a much better perception to the lay public if their RH works without any hassle. To some extend, Windows version already have it too, after all. And, fairly recently, the driver was included for networking too, wasn't it? I thought that one of the major (noticeable) improvements over former iterations of ROS, to be frank. And I think most would be of the same opinion; it may be just 'the feel' of ROS 'fully working' or not.

To be able to have and auto-install the most generally used drivers for network, sound (HD audio comes to mind) and graphics would really go a long way of giving a good impression of ROS. And I guess those will have to be ported from the free/FLOSS drivers Wine/Linux already have back-engineered.

In fact, to be more specific: are there any plans on the short run TO implement more of the generally used drivers, just like one did with the network one? I think ROS 0.4 should make work to incorporate at least half dozen more of the widely used ones. Getting everything to work 'out of the box' - at least for the more commonly used stuff - will be a huge boon.

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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Black_Fox »

I think that there is already some graphics driver because we can see something :) They would be really hard to do and currently probably not worth the effort (thinking mostly about AMD and nVidia here). I agree with the network drivers, since when net connection is available, everything else can be downloaded. As for the sound drivers, they are useful, but I'd much rather have sound mixer present in ROS - drivers I can usually download later from somewhere.

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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Z98 »

There is no legal obstacle on ReactOS' side to distribute closed source drivers. We'd just need to talk to the companies in question and I doubt they'd object since we're not modifying any drivers, just bundling them. As such, there's not any specific need to require that all drivers that are bundled bye open source.

Also, people seem to be severely underestimating the complexity of drivers for modern GPUs. Those things are basically operating systems unto themselves. They're even bundled with built in compilers for the specific architectures. Writing or even attempting to port them is a nontrivial task.

mrugiero
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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by mrugiero »

Black_Fox wrote:I think that there is already some graphics driver because we can see something :) They would be really hard to do and currently probably not worth the effort (thinking mostly about AMD and nVidia here). I agree with the network drivers, since when net connection is available, everything else can be downloaded. As for the sound drivers, they are useful, but I'd much rather have sound mixer present in ROS - drivers I can usually download later from somewhere.
VESA drivers is my guess. Those drivers allow you to use the computer, but provide no acceleration.
Webunny wrote: That was my initial thought on the matter too; the more ROS gets Windows-compatible, the more all drivers will work out of the box. But then again, it wouldn't hurt including, say, the ten most used drivers for networkcards, audio and graphics (especially integrated). After all, it gives a much better perception to the lay public if their RH works without any hassle. To some extend, Windows version already have it too, after all. And, fairly recently, the driver was included for networking too, wasn't it? I thought that one of the major (noticeable) improvements over former iterations of ROS, to be frank. And I think most would be of the same opinion; it may be just 'the feel' of ROS 'fully working' or not.

To be able to have and auto-install the most generally used drivers for network, sound (HD audio comes to mind) and graphics would really go a long way of giving a good impression of ROS. And I guess those will have to be ported from the free/FLOSS drivers Wine/Linux already have back-engineered.

In fact, to be more specific: are there any plans on the short run TO implement more of the generally used drivers, just like one did with the network one? I think ROS 0.4 should make work to incorporate at least half dozen more of the widely used ones. Getting everything to work 'out of the box' - at least for the more commonly used stuff - will be a huge boon.
I'd like to agree, but the amount of work it'd take to port that many drivers from Linux to ReactOS would be too much. When you put something in the kernel tree, you make no effort to make it kernel agnostic, and with good reasons. You know it's supposed to only be ran on that kernel alone.
Frontier wrote:But closed source video card drivers are probably the worst place to start. You've no spec for the hardware, and there's good legal for ROS users to install alternatives (the real ones).
Actually, NVIDIA is pretty much the only big player not providing specs, and even that's just a half-truth, as they did provide some at times. The thing is it is still really hard to implement a feature-complete driver. Just to point it out, Intel has more people working full time on their open source Linux driver than ReactOS has volunteers contributing on their free time, and they only get to increase around one or two OpenGL minor versions per year.
Z98 wrote:Also, people seem to be severely underestimating the complexity of drivers for modern GPUs. Those things are basically operating systems unto themselves. They're even bundled with built in compilers for the specific architectures. Writing or even attempting to port them is a nontrivial task.
Porting Gallium3D based drivers should be relatively easy, as everything but the following things are (intentionally) OS-agnostic:
winsys component for the Gallium driver;
kernel-side driver, which the winsys driver will talk to.
The shader compiler, which I guess you are referring to, is on the OS-agnostic side.
It is of course non-trivial, but it would be far worse without that infrastructure in place. Anyway, the only reason I see for anyone to attempt this is for supporting deprecated hardware dropped by the binary drivers, as anything else would come with a lack of DirectX support and an outdated OpenGL support, and also worse performance than the closed drivers.

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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Z98 »

"Relatively easy" compared to starting from scratch? That assumes that the abstraction layers aren't leaky, at which point it actually would be easier to start from scratch than try to reuse code. Again, having existing code doesn't always help.

Linuxgamer94
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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Linuxgamer94 »

They need to fix their Ethernet driver in 3.16 first as without it you won't be doing much in React OS. :x :evil: In My opion React OS should get their own opensource drivers so their dvd can run on all the hardware unlike Windows XP. I think they should get the Graphic drivers form Haiku as Haiku will run on most hardware, like the Beos version of NetBSD. :D :) ;) :lol: :lol: :P

mrugiero
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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by mrugiero »

Z98 wrote:"Relatively easy" compared to starting from scratch? That assumes that the abstraction layers aren't leaky, at which point it actually would be easier to start from scratch than try to reuse code. Again, having existing code doesn't always help.
I'm aware having existing code doesn't always help. Still, why assuming the abstraction IS leaky? If I understand what you mean by leaky, it would mean that it basically is defective and doesn't abstract as much as it is intended? If that's the case, AFAIK vmware uses their platform agnostic part for several backends, including Windows, and there are strict standards for portability detailed within the readme that comes with the source code, so I doubt any patch breaking those gets accepted. Of course, if the abstraction is defective it wouldn't help, but the same can be said if any given driver is defective, regardless of the design it tries to follow.
Linuxgamer94 wrote:They need to fix their Ethernet driver in 3.16 first as without it you won't be doing much in React OS. :x :evil: In My opion React OS should get their own opensource drivers so their dvd can run on all the hardware unlike Windows XP. I think they should get the Graphic drivers form Haiku as Haiku will run on most hardware, like the Beos version of NetBSD. :D :) ;) :lol: :lol: :P
Haiku video drivers are the same Linux uses, they ported mesa a few years ago.

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Re: What is the future of AMD/Nvidia drivers?

Post by Z98 »

Because projects that are Linux centric have a history of pretending nothing else exists even when they offer "cross platform" support. They very often try to pretend that everything is the Linux variant of Unix, regardless of whether the platform they're running on is Windows or BSD or Linux. The BSDs have been dealing with that kind of crap for years now when proposed APIs and extensions are made that rely on Linux specific behavior and functionality even if they're ostensibly to allow for portable management of agnostic Unix systems.

Though this is all a moot point since there's no technical reason for the project to invest the resources to try porting Gallium.

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