Linus Torvalds Rips Into NVIDIA For Lack of Linux Support

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News Posted: Sun, Jun 17 2012 5:46 PM
NVIDIA is cringing this one out and there's really not much that can be said about it, beyond what the founder of Linux already has.  In a rather passionate response to a student developer's question about NVIDIA driver support for Linux on her notebook, at a talk at Finland's Aalto Center for Entrepreneurship,  Torvalds absolutely rails on NVIDIA for their sub-par support of the Linux operating system. 

Linus was asked by the student for his perspective on this very frustrating situation she's experiencing with her machine that is comprised of both Intel and NVIDIA graphics cores, the latter of which doesn't play at all very nice with Linux.  Torvalds goes on to explain that NVIDIA is, in his opinion, "the exception rather than the rule" and that NVIDIA specifically is "the single worst company we've ever dealt with."  Torvalds also shares frustration with the fact that the GPU and SoC hardware manufacturer is obviously trying to move as many chips as possible, especially with respect to the booming Android handset and tablet markets, but they can't seem to get out of their own way in support of Linux. Or they won't.  Or both.

What was then even more surprising was that Torvalds actually turns to the camera at one point and flips NVIDIA the bird in a display of frustration and anger that is rarely seen in venues like this, much less coming from the relatively mild-mannered chief architect of the Linux kernel and now holder of the Millennium Technology Prize, (a distinction widely thought of as the "Nobel Prize" of the Tech arena). 

Scan to right around the 48:10 mark to catch the question and Linus' stinging response...
(FYI - R-rated, in case there are delicate ears near by)


Talk about a deep shot to street cred in the open source community, especially with respect to Android.  NVIDIA clearly has some damage control work to do, the likes of which may echo for a long time in one of the market's most vocal, tight-knit group of developers.
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JDiaz replied on Mon, Jun 18 2012 12:34 PM

It's partly Linux fault for the lack of support, as Nvidia does release Linux drivers for their products but Linux is a very fragmented platform with literally hundreds of distros and a constantly evolving Kernel that further complicated things as not every distro keeps up equally well with the latest changes and support needs can span multiple Kernel iterations.

Add that it can take a lot longer to get Linux drivers released than Windows means the drivers may not support the latest distro releases or may be designed for certain distros but not others.

So say what you will of MS but they don't break API support as often as Linux does. So in addition to the fact Windows represents far more users on desktop systems than Linux, it's also easier for Nvidia to support Windows over long periods of time.

While Nvidia can provide better support when it's worth it to them as shown with support for Android for their Tegra products.

Meaning desktop Linux needs to get to the point that it's more worth Nvidia's time and money to invest in better support but that may come once they start running desktop Linux on the same Kernel as future versions of Android. Thanks to the fact Linux re-merged the Kernels starting with 3.3 and onward.

Mind I'm pointing this out because I believe there are worse offenders than Nvidia. At least they provide Linux drivers but there are companies that have never done so and never supported Linux.

Though another reason why they are complaining about Nvidia is because their Linux Drivers aren't Open Source. So the Linux community can't tweak and optimize the drivers for each distro as they could with proper Open Source drivers but that too is something a lot of others are also guilty of as the market has a lot of closed driver products.

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mhenriday replied on Mon, Jun 18 2012 3:29 PM

My experience with drivers for an Nvidia GeForce 7600 GTX on various Ubuntu versions these last few years has, in fact, been quite good ; on the other hand, I've heard some real horror stories about drivers for AMD cards. Thus, I've been considering updating to a 560 Ti in order to be able to run a 2560x1600/1440 monitor, but when I hear Linus' remarks, I begin to wonder if that's such a smart move. Any HH readers with experience of this configuration out there who could shed some light on the matter ?...

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mhenriday replied on Thu, Jun 21 2012 12:16 PM

Here a link (http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTEyMjk) to a Phoronix article which details Nvidia's PR Deprtment's response to Linus' remark....

Henri

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