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NVIDIA Open Sources SHIELD's Operating System 83

Posted by timothy
from the neat-packaging dept.
hypnosec writes "NVidia has now open-sourced the operating system that powers the gaming console to encourage its modification and further development. Powered by NVidia's homegrown Tegra 4 processor, the console runs Android, which shouldn't surprise many as the company moves ahead with its open-sourcing intentions. The GPU company has said that the SHIELD is an 'open gaming platform' that allows for 'an open ecosystem,' enabling developers to develop content as well as applications that takes advantage of the underlying hardware and which can be enjoyed on bigger displays as well as mobile screen." Playing with it isn't without risks (like potentially voiding the warranty), but NVIDIA's blog post says they're also providing a recovery image to fall back to.
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NVIDIA Open Sources SHIELD's Operating System

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  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:16PM (#44510789)

    Also, there is currently no word if HYDRA's OS will also be open sourced.

  • This is a very good idea, and I wish more vendors would do it. However, I also wish the first vendor had done it with a more compelling product. Much as I want to support open source, I see no reason to spend $300 on this product.
    • by rwven (663186)

      Are there any scientific applications that could be catered to with the Tegra 4 and a custom ROM?

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Depend on what kind of community it gathers. There are a lot of examples (nokia n900, raspberry pi, etc) where the ability to play with what it runs turned them into something bigger than what was at launch. Is not so much what it is, but what it could be.
    • Buy the chips from China. Make your own, and run your own tweaked version of their OS. Save $200.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It's really too bad that nvidia didn't make a game console instead of the shield. Maybe they could have made a USB stick that slotted into the shield, which would be a $200 peripheral for a $100 Tegra 4 android stick computer. Because I'd have actually bought that, but I definitely didn't need a gigantic mutant handheld gaming device. That just don't make no sense.

      I guess when Mad Catz brings out their console I'll take a look at that, but they are not exactly known for high-quality hardware; indeed, the op

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:23PM (#44510885) Journal

    Isn't the 'shield' device running a GPL2 linux kernel (about which they have no legal choice on openness), some apache licensed Android components (dalvik, bionic, etc.) and a big Nvidia GPU driver blob?

    It's nice of them to not be assholes about the bootloader just for spite (though I have to imagine that voiding the warranty of any device with an unlocked bootloader might not fly in jurisdictions where 'consumer protection' isn't a joke...); but what exactly are they 'opening'? Linux is GPL, Android is apache (and so could include proprietary modifications; but deviations from 'mainstream' Android aren't exactly a good thing), and the real meat of the device is a huge binary GPU driver, which Nvidia has no intention of opening.

    • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:25PM (#44510907)

      Actually, NVIDIA have made moves towards opening up parts of the Tegra driver stack with plans to open source more going forward.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Is it sufficient that you don't need any propritary pieces though? If not there is little point to the exercise other than good PR.

      • by Bradmont (513167) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:38PM (#44511075)
        Really? I'd love to read more about that.
      • by RMingin (985478)

        You know, I still wish the Linux Nvidia driver was fully open source, but they done a exceptional job of making large parts of the binary blob's support open and documented. This means while you still have a large blob acting as a black box, the inputs and outputs are at least well documented, and the supporting semi-open bits are often modifiable into working while you wait for a driver update to support new open tech XYZ. Specifically, most new xorg versions and kernel versions can be made to work with a

    • Yesterday's story [slashdot.org] was about how Qualcomm were being assholes just for spite about releasing the big GPU driver blobs for the bootloader for the new Nexus 7.
  • Nvidea does not control Shields OS, thats Android.

    They opensourced shield. Bloody duh.

  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @12:26PM (#44510921)

    Is it because nobody is buying it, or even talking about it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I bought it. it's actually an awesome piece of kit. great emulator support, plays nearly every game on steam, and is an awesome media streamer. Works great with my plex server. I couldn't be happier

      • Never heard of this thing before today. So it's basically a more expensive Ouya that doesn't suck?

      • Can it handle N64 emulation without stuttering? I currently have a Gameclip to play emulated games on my gen 1 Nexus 7 and my Galaxy Note, and have had to stick with early arcade and 2600 games because the N64 games all stutter very badly on both.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          It doesn't stutter. I found that Mario 64 and Super Smash Bros work fine with a teensy bit of occasional audio chop. I probably could mess with the settings to fix the audio chop. Works surprisingly well. PPSSPP works well too.

          • Choppy audio is the biggest problem with N64 emu on the Nexus 7. What do you mean by teensy bit and occasional?
    • by dpidcoe (2606549)
      Me and a friend tried to talk to them about it when they were showing it off at maker faire. Unfortunately they had sent a booth full of marketing people who told us to come back in an hour when their one person who actually understood the technical side of it got back from lunch. Nvidia should have known better than to send a bunch of marketing people to an event geared towards engineers and other technical people.
      • an hour for lunch - for a tech? More likely they were checking out all of the other booths to see what was going on. In this case, Nvidia did the right thing in sending Sales Drones. They don't give a damn about the others, just pushing their crap on everyone and sitting on their asses drinking $5 latte's from Starfucks.

  • “Our goal here isn’t to discourage people from rooting their devices – it’s yours, after all – but to give us a course of action if folks start to abuse the hardware through software modifications”

    It's fantastic to see a company not use the act of rooting as a crutch excuse to not warranty something, but instead to void warranty for harm the user ACTUALLY brought against the device outside of the normal operating condition.

  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Thursday August 08, 2013 @01:12PM (#44511461) Journal

    Seriously. Stop saying that playing with software somehow invalidates a warranty on the hardware. That is simply not how things work in the Unites States, so please just STOP SAYING THAT.

    (All replies not taking the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act [wikipedia.org] into consideration will be cheerfully ignored under the presumption of idiocy on the part of the respondent.)

    • by DogDude (805747) on Thursday August 08, 2013 @01:18PM (#44511511) Homepage
      YOU'RE RIGHT. If a manufacturer decides not to honor the warranty on the hardware, you're free to get an attorney to sue them in order to get your money back on the gadget you paid for. GOOD LUCK.
    • IANAL but after reading the link you provided, I have doubts that you're completely correct.

      (All replies not taking the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act [wikipedia.org] into consideration will be cheerfully ignored under the presumption of idiocy on the part of the respondent.)

      I did see a lot of details about enforcing "full warranties" however NVIDIA only provides a "limited warranty" and they explicitly state:

      NVIDIA does not guarantee that the operation of the Warranted Product will be uninterrupted or error

      • > You'd have to prove that modifying the firmware isn't unreasonable use.
        > It would be cheaper just to buy a new $300 device

        Wrong. That's what makes MMWA so potent. Once you file the complaint with the FTC, the onus is 100% on the manufacturer to demonstrate to the FTC's satisfaction that your modification of the firmware was the reason for the failure. It's cheaper for THEM to just re-JTAG your device to stock, run the factory diagnostics on it, and either return the original to you if it passes, or

        • You do have a point. However they did explicitly state the terms of their warranty and make it available prior to the sale. It appears that they satisfied the MMWA by disclosing the conditions that will void the warranty.

          I did find this Understanding the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act [mlmlaw.com] in a Google search.

          • by adolf (21054)

            Yes, they disclosed all kinds of stuff that they say that they will not cover under the warranty.

            Tell me, Bill: Which one of those terms voids the warranty by using different software? I don't see it.

            • These are the sections, which I emphasized them in my original post, that lead me to reply to you.

              NVIDIA is not responsible for any interoperability or compatibility issues that may arise when (a) products, software, or options not supported by NVIDIA are used; (b) configurations not supported, provided or approved by NVIDIA are used;

              and this within the same paragraph:

              NVIDIA will have no warranty obligation with respect to the following: (a) Warranted Product hardware that has no defects in materials or

              • Let me clarify. Rooting the device doesn't necessarily void the warranty. The warranty doesn't cover you bricking your device while rooting it.
                • by adolf (21054)

                  Nor does it cover replacing the screen after it has been used as a hammer.

                  So what?

                  • You implied that there were no consequences from "playing with software". I just pointed out that was not entirely true.
                    • Geez, Bill. Are we discussing vapid implications of stuff read between the lines, or just digesting written English?

                      Let me know what the rules are.

                    • Sigh, Adolf.

                      Seriously. Stop saying that playing with software somehow invalidates a warranty on the hardware. That is simply not how things work in the Unites States, so please just STOP SAYING THAT.

                      Synopsis so far: You are not entirely correct. Yes simply installing or playing with software does not invalidate a warranty. However if the hardware stops functioning correctly solely because you played with the software then remedies like replacement or repair are not covered by the warranty.

                    • by adolf (21054)

                      Remedies like replacement or repair are covered by warranty, just not for the particular defect that I myself caused.

                      Go read the warranty document again.

                      And "playing with software" doesn't invalidate the warranty. Which we both agree about.

                      (Yes, you can in theory brick a device by playing with software. I have at different times thought I've bricked my share of things, but I was always able to recover them, so they really weren't bricks after all. Defect thus eliminated, the warranty status is good.)

                    • Agree. Good talk. Enjoy the weekend.
      • by adolf (21054)

        You'd have to prove that modifying the firmware isn't unreasonable use. It would be cheaper just to buy a new $300 device.

        Eh?

        From your own posting:

        The federal minimum standards for full warranties are waived if the warrantor can show [...]

        I ain't no warrantor. I'm a just a consumer. That duty is theirs, not mine.

        • Well the logic being that they could say that you messing with the firmware or boot configuration can cause the unit to become inoperative and therefore unreasonable or expected use. You'd have to counter their argument in court or arbitration.

          Of course, they don't need to do this if they explicitly state what their warranty doesn't cover.

          • by adolf (21054)

            How about a computer analogy? I can hose up the configuration on my new Dell desktop and make it unbootable.

            But they still get to replace a dead power supply or a hard drive under warranty, no matter what software I'm using or how poorly that software works, unless they can prove that the software caused the particular defect that I am complaining about.

            I can also install Kingston RAM [kingston.com] in that computer without affecting the status of the warranty. Or a different video card. Or, you know, whatever.

            Same wit

    • by slew (2918)

      1. Nobody is required to offer a warranty on any product.
      2. If there is a warranty, it must be either a full warranty or a limited warranty (as per MMWA it must be conspicuously stated if it is a full or limited waranty)
      3. Almost nobody offers a full warranty on their products, only a limited warranty so most of the MMWA provisions applicable to a full waranty or implied waranty are moot.
      4. According to MWA, a company can pretty much limit the warranty any way they want if it is a limited waranty.

      Shield (

      • by adolf (21054)

        Good! You considered the MMWA. We can discuss this.

        Now can you quote for me the line in the Shield's limited warranty where it is conspicuously written that installing software on the device voids said warranty?

        • by slew (2918)

          NVIDIA will have no warranty obligation with respect to the following: (a) Warranted Product hardware that has no defects in materials or workmanship, (b) software, games or applications, (c) cosmetic damage; (d) normal wear and tear; (e) expendable or consumable parts; (f) defects or damage to the Warranted Product arising from or related to: (1) any modifications, alterations, tampering, repair, or servicing by any party other than NVIDIA or its authorized representatives ; (2) handling, transit, storage, installation, testing, maintenance, or use not in accordance with the Warranted Product documentation; (3) abuse, negligence, neglect, accidents, or misuse; (4) third party software or viruses

          Depending on how you interpret the highlighted part...

          • by adolf (21054)

            (f) is important. Without it, condition (1) is without context or meaning.

            (f) is as follows: defects or damage to the Warranted Product arising from or related to

            So if the modification, alteration, tampering, repair, or servicing by other than NVIDIA or its authorized representatives causes defects or damage to arise, they're not going to cover your ass with a warranty repair on THOSE PARTICULAR defects or damage.

            Please note that the paragraph you quoted doesn't even say I'm not allowed to physically rep

          • by adolf (21054)

            And in case I didn't make it clear: There is no verbiage there which allows a single insular act to void, carte blanche, the entire warranty.

            Even if I toss my SHIELD into a fire, I still have a limited warranty on the charging adapter.

    • by exomondo (1725132)

      Who the fuck even cares? People who want to hack and tweak devices don't give a shit about whether they could potentially void the warranty on their devices, that's something asshat lawyer-types care about. I've overclocked a heap of CPUs, RAM and GPUs and don't give crap that I've most likely voided the warranty by doing so, I've hacked and flashed new BIOSes onto graphics cards that may well push the hardware beyond its - and its cooling system's - limits causing irreparable damage to that hardware, doing

      • by adolf (21054)

        Jailbreaking my iPhone, rooting my Galaxy and hacking my original XBox probably voided those warranties too

        No, it probably didn't.

        And you do care: When EVGA replaced your board for you, were you either happy or unhappy with the outcome?

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Jailbreaking my iPhone, rooting my Galaxy and hacking my original XBox probably voided those warranties too

          No, it probably didn't.

          If I'm running custom firmware that pushes the hardware beyond its specs then I would certainly expect the warranty to be voided.

          And you do care: When EVGA replaced your board for you, were you either happy or unhappy with the outcome?

          No, just because they replaced it doesn't mean I suddenly care whether I've voided the warranty. When my GPU RAM failed they didn't replace that even though it wasn't necessarily due to overclocking, but I'm not going to go through some process of forcing them to prove that.

          • by adolf (21054)

            If I'm running custom firmware that pushes the hardware beyond its specs then I would certainly expect the warranty to be voided.

            It's a computer. It just runs software. That said "software" might happen to reside on a some manner of flash EEPROM instead of spinning rust does not change this relationship.

            • by exomondo (1725132)

              If I'm running custom firmware that pushes the hardware beyond its specs then I would certainly expect the warranty to be voided.

              It's a computer. It just runs software. That said "software" might happen to reside on a some manner of flash EEPROM instead of spinning rust does not change this relationship.

              So if I flash firmware onto my GPU that overclocks it and fries it that should be covered under warranty?

  • I just have to find the time to 3D-print my own helicarrier.

  • Those could be repurposed into some very interesting industrial controllers.

    Neat.

  • They discontinued Tegra250 support. Tegra250 is only two years old by the way. It doesn't instill buyer's confidence.
    They can say what they want. I don't believe them. It hints how they will treat open-source folks 2 years from now.
    I'm not touching tegra stuff or any other arm stuff until they show they seriously support open-source.
    I've wasted enough time with the Tegra250
    It's going to take a lot of commitment and time to win over this hardware buyer.
    Intel/AMD is the only place for me and it's faster.
    H

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Intel/AMD is the only place for me and it's faster.

      In short, the mobile chips are improving too quickly for any of this stuff to stick around long at this point. A PC GPU is expected to have support for some years and hopefully even another version or two of Windows. A mobile device is expected to be replaced when the next model comes out. I think that this is an increasingly unreasonable idea, but maybe I'm wrong about that; people do seem to buy a lot of gadgets, myself included. Then again, my phone is from 2011...

      In any case, the only ARM-related GPU th

  • I hope this is going to move us to more native code on the Android platform.

    The Dalvik JNI-alike feature isn't going to solve everything we need to have really good games on Android.

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