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LinuxGames.com: Gaming Hardware at the Linux Expo

Feb 13, 2000, 00:06 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Matt Matthews)

"In order for Linux to become a successful gaming platform, it will have to have access to the very best hardware available. Currently, that primarily means having drivers for cutting edge video and sound cards. In the sound card arena the two biggest players, Creative Labs and Aureal, have already made moves in this direction. Several video card companies, most importantly Matrox, ATI, and 3dfx, have released information that has facilitated the creation of Linux drivers that provide support at the level of commercial video drivers in Windows. Much of this new hardware was on display at the Expo, running these brand new drivers, and the cumulative effect was to make gaming look like a natural part of the Linux platform...."

"One of the biggest questions, however, has been whether NVIDIA and SGI will be releasing anything as open source. I was told that the initial release should be a binary only, providing a drop-in solution to provide access to the supported hardware features. After that, SGI and NVIDIA will be considering which parts of the drivers, if any, to release as open source. No indication was given that they're even considering a release of the register-level information that would be required for 3rd party drivers to be developed. The argument, I'm told by another developer, is that NVIDIA believes that their low-level interface is so different that most developers, except their own, would have significant difficulty writing adequate drivers. While their claims about the difficulty of the interface may well be true, NVIDIA seems perfectly willing to underestimate the programming abilities of the Linux community."

"Though without a booth at the Expo, ATI had representatives present, including David Johnson who shared the stage with Loki's Scott Draeker for a developer session on Linux as a gaming platform. As part of that presentation, Quake 3 Arena running on ATI's Rage Pro was demonstrated on a Celeron laptop. This is the first (and currently the only) Linux video driver providing 3D on a laptop. It clearly showed the quality and speed of the open source Utah-GLX driver developed from the information ATI provided to developers last year. So far, register-level information for the Rage Pro and Rage 128 chipsets only has been released, allowing them to function as both 2D and 3D cards in Linux. When questioned about the release of the necessary information to make their newest card, the Rage Fury Maxx, work as well under Linux as it does under Windows, I was told that the release of that information will be made on a card-by-card basis...."

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