On Sat, Nov 23, 2002 at 08:07:17AM -0500, Richard Ayotte wrote:
> ATI obviously doesn't care about Linux users. This recent binary driver
> release is simply a publicity stunt. Don't fall for it.
IMO, this is untrue. ATI's *support* division might not, but I have pretty
good firsthand knowledge that ATI's engineers are very Linux-friendly,
based on me talking to a few of them at their Siggraph 2002 booth. I get
the impression that all of the problems with the Linux support can be
attributed to higher-ups who don't see it as something worthwhile enough to
spend lots of money on.
In fact, after Siggraph, ATI is the *only* major graphics card manufacturer
I care about for now, based simply on how the people in the booth treated
me. I went to the various booths to ask about Linux driver support, and
here's the answers I got:
nVidia: "Are you an artist who uses PhotoShop? You need a Quadro4!
Are you a leet gamer? You need a geForce 4! Oh, you're a grad student who
runs Linux? Uh, I'm busy..."
Matrox: [guy glances at my badge and sees it says "grad student" and won't
even give me the time of day]
ATI: "Hey, sure, we'd love to talk to you about our hardware, our plans for
Linux support, our vendor drivers, and show off the cool internals of the
demos we have running on the booth systems. Oh, hey, you're a grad student
doing research and want to use one of our cards? Even better! I don't do
the Linux side of things, but this guy over here is the lead of the Linux
driver team, so you should probably talk to him. Anyway, what you're
seeing here is a demo of how the Radeon 9700 can actually generate the
shadow volumes in hardware, and if you look really closely, you'll also
notice that it's motion-blurring these objects - this is totally in
hardware, done using vertex shaders..."
I think I spent a whole hour chatting with the engineers in the ATI booth,
and it left me with the distinct impression that they *want* to support
Linux better, and that they have long-term plans to (like, the guy who I
did end up talking to about Linux support told me about these unified
drivers which are the "big news" now), but they just have such limited
resources for it.
Also, the specific reason that the drivers only support "built by ATI"
8500s and up is because they're intending the drivers for pro graphics
workstations (for running Softimage and Maya and so on), and aren't really
intended for the general gaming public just yet. I'd imagine the main
reason is that the graphics workstation market is a better justification to
the managers for working on drivers for a "freeware" (in their minds) OS.