Nvidia releases new Legacy drivers: begins AMD-style retirement

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Saist
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Nvidia releases new Legacy drivers: begins AMD-style retirement

#1 Postby Saist » Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:05 pm

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=ODQyMQ

Okay, might as well get this out of the way. For a couple months now I've been telling users not to count on Nvidia's Legacy driver program, that Nvidia would be following AMD's lead and ceasing updates making the drivers compatible with newer versions of X.org. Well, it's now happening.

The 173 branch has been updated to 173.14.75 with a couple bug fixes and support for Xserver 1.8. This branch supports the GeforceFX and some Quadro cards.

The 96 branch has also received a couple bug fixes to bring it up to 96.43.18, but it's Xserver Support stops at Xserver 1.7.

According to Phoronix, there are no plans to update the 71 series legacy driver, and that this release is the end of the road for the 96 legacy driver.

As of right now NVIDIA hasn't updated their even oldest legacy driver (the 71.xx.xx series), but it's doubtful they will especially with their 96.xx.xx driver not even receiving X.Org Server 1.8 support. For those with NVIDIA graphics cards older than the GeForce 5 series, this basically means it's the end of the line for having proprietary NVIDIA driver support on newer Linux distributions.


Presuming Warren goes with Xserver 1.8 for Mepis 9, this will mean support for any Nvidia cards older than GeforceFX will be entirely through either VESA or Nouveau. http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/

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#2 Postby lucky9 » Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:08 pm

They did wait for nouveau to get good enough. The radeon driver has been good enough for awhile, it's just that most think there's a big enough difference to use the proprietary driver by preference. NVIDIA has given a heads up for quite a while.
I assume that the nouveau driver is in the same class efficiency-wise and speed-wise as the radeon.
Yes, even I am dishonest. Not in many ways, but in some. Forty-one, I think it is.
--Mark Twain

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#3 Postby Saist » Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:32 pm

lucky9 wrote:They did wait for nouveau to get good enough. The radeon driver has been good enough for awhile, it's just that most think there's a big enough difference to use the proprietary driver by preference. NVIDIA has given a heads up for quite a while.
I assume that the nouveau driver is in the same class efficiency-wise and speed-wise as the radeon.


Yes and no.

First, to get it out of the way, Nvidia makes the retirement of the 71 driver series official: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=ODQyNQ

Second: at this time Nouveau is still little better than a Vesa driver that recognizes Nvidia cards. Unlike the VESA driver though, it supports EXA Xv, and RandR12: http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/FrontPage#Status :: http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/FeatureMatrix

Which means it's a heck of a lot faster than the VESA driver, and will handle dual head / rotated screen setups. It is, however, nowhere near close to the X.org ATi driver on efficiency and speed, or features. Here's the ATi driver matrix for comparisons: http://www.x.org/wiki/RadeonFeature

Now for the, um, correction. Nvidia doesn't have anything to do with Nouveau. Nvidia has pubically declined to involve itself with the project or the developers. I'm sorry, but I find the idea that Nvidia was waiting on Nouveau to improve to the point where they could retire their not-really-open-source NV driver and the 71 performance driver, a bit ludicrous. Well, more than a bit. I find it entirely ludicrous. That's like saying that at least Microsoft waited for KDE 4.3 to launch before launching Windows 7. Sure, KDE 4.3 launched in August 2009 and Windows 7 launched in October 2009, but that's a pretty hard sell to say that Microsoft was waiting on an competitor to get their product out first.

Fair enough, retiring an old driver when an Open-Source one was ready was AMD's strategy on their DX9 / OpenGL cards... but the X.org ATi driver was also far more mature in features, and outside of 3D gaming performance support, the X.org ATi driver at the time was largely ready to step in and replace the mainline Catalyst driver. AMD is actually involved with the X.org ATi driver as well, outright hiring developers after Novell fizzled on the X.org RadeonHD driver, providing code drops, and providing documentation drops. They've got somebody on staff who bug fixes Rage128.

Just because that's how AMD did it, given Nvidia's open-source history, Nvidia's own comments on the Nouveau driver, and Nvidia's actions towards the Open-Source Communities, I just can't picture Nvidia following the same strategy.

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#4 Postby lucky9 » Mon Jul 19, 2010 2:39 am

I certainly wouldn't comment negatively about the AMD/ATI commitment to the XOrg driver. I probably could comment about the NVIDIA strategy, but I won't. I will say that the history of working drivers, both free and proprietary, has been pretty one-sided for some users. I do hope that will change in the future.
Yes, even I am dishonest. Not in many ways, but in some. Forty-one, I think it is.
--Mark Twain


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