Linux Torvalds has criticised Nividia for allegedly offering weak support for Linux developers, while exploiting the Android market for its GPUs
Nvidia officials are not going to change the way they approach Linux, regardless of the obscenity-laced rant aimed at it by the man who helped create the open-source Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds.
Speaking at the Aalto Centre for Entrepreneurship in Finland on 14 June, Torvalds was asked about Nvidia and its lack of support for Linux. Torvalds, whose talk was taped, tore into Nvidia, noting that the graphics chip maker still does little to support the open-source technology while at the same time trying to court the Android device space with its Tegra line of chips based on ARM Holdings’ designs.
“I know exactly what you’re talking about,” Torvalds said in answering the question. “I’m very happy to say that it’s the exception rather than the rule, and I’m also very happy to point out that Nvidia has been one of the worst trouble spots we’ve had with hardware manufacturers. That is really sad because Nvidia has tried to sell a lot of chips in to the Android market, and Nvidia has been the single worst company we’ve ever dealt with, so Nvidia, [expletive] you.”
Torvalds’ brief tirade garnered a lot of attention, but it took Nvidia officials several days to respond. The response essentially was that nothing’s changing.
“While we understand that some people would prefer us to provide detailed documentation on all of our GPU internals, or be more active in Linux kernel community development discussions, we have made a decision to support Linux on our GPUs by leveraging Nvidia common code, rather than the Linux common structure,” they said in a prepared response. “While this might not please everyone, it does allow us to provide the most consistent GPU experience to our customers, regardless of platform or operating system.”
Nvidia officials noted that their Optimus notebook technology supports only Microsoft’s Windows 7, but noted that the open-source community worked around that with the help of the Bumblebee Open Source Project. In response, Nvidia made changes to the installer and readme files in some drivers that made working with Bumblebee easier.
They argued that because of such steps as offering greater support for Bumblebee and using the Nvidia common code, Linux users get same-day support for new GPUs, OpenGL parity between Windows and Linux support from Nvidia, and equal OpenGL performance between Windows and Linux on Nvidia products.
In addition, a wide range of Nvidia GPUs – including the latest GeForce, Quadro and Tesla graphics chips – support Linux in notebooks and desktops, and that Nvidia is an active participant in the ARM Linux kernel.
“At the end of the day, providing a consistent GPU experience across multiple platforms for all of our customers continues to be one of our key goals,” the Nvidia officials said.
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