[PC-BSD Testing] Some news for the NVidia folks out there regarding XOrg server 1.8 onward

Kris Moore kris at pcbsd.org
Mon Jul 19 12:31:51 PDT 2010

On 07/19/2010 15:17, Arthur Koziol wrote:
> I was kind of surprised by this news myself but maybe they'll have a 
> change of heart later on from community pressure.
>   NVIDIA's Oldest Legacy Driver Will Not Gain New Support
>     Posted by Michael Larabel on July 18, 2010
> A few days back there was the release of two updated NVIDIA legacy 
> drivers <http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=ODQyMQ> 
> for Linux, but only their newest legacy driver (they have three 
> different legacy drivers at present) gained support for X.Org Server 
> 1.8 <http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=search&q=X+Server+1.8>. 
> This support though is needed for the older NVIDIA drivers to operate 
> on newer Linux distributions like Fedora 13 and openSUSE 11.3. On this 
> Sunday evening we have now confirmation from NVIDIA that they have no 
> plans on providing xorg-server 1.8 support for their oldest legacy 
> driver.
> The NVIDIA 173.14.75 legacy driver released provides X.Org Server 1.8 
> support so that those customers with GeForce 5 (FX) graphics cards can 
> continue using the proprietary driver for 3D/OpenGL and XvMC video 
> acceleration support when they update their X Server when updating 
> their distributions. The other NVIDIA 96.43.18 legacy update provided 
> some bug-fixes, but went without any server 1.8 support. NVIDIA though 
> will be updating the 96.xx.xx driver in the future with this updated 
> X.Org support.
> NVIDIA's Andy Ritger wrote to us, "Yes, we will eventually add xserver 
> 1.8 support to the 96.xx.xx series. We do not plan to backport new X 
> server support to the 71.xx.xx series." In other words, it's basically 
> the end of the line for the NVIDIA 71.xx.xx Linux legacy driver.
> This is the driver for any customers with GeForce 3, GeForce 256, TNT 
> / TNT2, Riva 128, Vanta, and Quadro 2 Pro graphics cards. This NVIDIA 
> hardware is quite old so it shouldn't affect too many people, but 
> those running such vintage hardware will have the only choice of 
> switching over to using the Nouveau 
> <http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=search&q=Nouveau> graphics 
> driver stack when updating their X.Org Server or Linux distribution. 
> Those with GeForce 2 Go, GeForce 4 MX, GeForce 4 Go, and GeForce 4 Ti 
> graphics cards still should be getting this new support within the 
> 96.xx.xx driver, but you may have to wait a while.
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This really doesn't surprise me a whole lot. Its got to be a total pain 
in the rear to maintain those old drivers, especially at the rate at 
which linux / xorg is changing and breaking old functionality. At some 
point it makes more sense to just pick up a Geforce 7200 for about $25 :P

I think the real shame here is the lack of backwards compatibility in 
linux / xorg. Instead of providing a way for older binaries to continue 
to operate, each new release of xorg-server demands a new driver to 
support it. At the rate of xorg / linux changes, that would be the same 
as needing a new driver almost yearly on Windows as well.

Kris Moore
PC-BSD Software

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