On Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 07:50:00PM +1000, Ben Sturmfels wrote:
> I see they've already raised $8M in pre-sales though, so perhaps
> there are other free software organisations that would benefit more
> from a donation right now. I'm thinking instead of buying a video
> card from Think Penguin [3].
> 
> [3] 
> https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/geforce-9500gt-1gb-pci-express-20-video-card-gnulinux

I just noticed... it's an Nvidia card you are talking about. This gives me
mixed feelings. Sure supporting free software drivers and stores that find
such hardware is great, but supporting Nvidia?  <shudder>

I'm assuming it's still the case that Intel drivers are 100% free software for
at least some of their newer cards, although obviously the performance won't
be the same.

AMD makes cards that have excellent free software drivers, and (unlike Nvidia)
they release the specs... however most modern AMD cards rely on non-free
firmware - firmware that isn't built into the device's ROM, but instead needs
to be loaded by the driver during initialisation.

Even so, it seems to me that AMD is doing far better at helping the free
software driver communities than Nvidia ever has. I have a Radeon HD 5870
(which I purchased with Bitcoin) with 6 LCDs hooked up to it at work, running
the free software drivers. The performance is great. I can play OpenArea with
max detail at 7680x1024, 60fps (I use v-sync or it would likely be much
higher). There are some FoV issues in doing that I haven't completely
resolved, but it's quite impressive to see.

Note: It appears that newer Nvidia cards also require proprietary firmware,
until free software drivers are reverse-engineered.
http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/InstallDRM#Firmware

I would like to put more pressure on AMD to release the code for their
firmware though, or at least see as much effort put forward to develop free
firmware for AMD cards as we have seen from the Nvidia reverse-engineering
guys.

Regards,
Adam

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