Linux Video

State of Linux Video as of 2007/11/26. What will it take for change to occur?

The state of video on linux is no secret: both of the industry leaders are trying to balance between providing good driver support while remaining closed-source (completely reasonable). The problem is that so long as this remains the case linux users will not get the best use out of their video hardware.

There is much reluctance to change this for the obvious reason of protecting secrets and upholding any patents, disclosure licenses, etc.

The solution would be one of the following:

a. Design, build, and release a card specifically for linux that will allow the maintenance of legal obligations as well as protect the company’s interest while providing a good enough (not top of the line) card for the linux community.


b. Design, build, and release a card that will “wrap” the functionality of the company’s offerings in top-of-the-line video cards. This would basically work by offering a firmware-based driver that would communicate with the video card, while the driver for the ‘wrapper card’ would be open source.

In both scenarios the idea is to give the linux community access to hardware that they have ultimate control of the drivers while protecting your interests. Both scenarios provide for special hardware designated for linux.

The beauty of such an undertaking would be three-fold: you’d have a major advantage over your competition in the linux market, you’d gain a ton of respect in the linux community, and you’d promote linux as a platform to have full capability.

Obviously this is not a project that could be taken lightly, but at the same time it is not as sizable as developing a full-fledged new card. In both scenarios the hardware is at a diminished state (case a provides for lesser hardware than the top-shelf, case b provides for something more on the lines of a controller card).

Anyway, I’m obviously not aware of market research on the linux market so I’m not sure what sort of incentives exist (ie, depending on the potential market, how much would a company be willing to risk in R&D and marketing for the possible returns, etc.) I just want more choices when it comes to my video hardware in the future.


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