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Intel Open Source Games Linux

Valve Finds Open Source Drivers To Be Great 159

An anonymous reader writes "Intel's Open-Source Technology Center was given source-code access to Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 game in order to help them fix Linux bugs and to better optimize their graphics driver to this forthcoming Linux native game on the Source Engine. Intel has talked about their Valve Linux development experiences and now they managed to get Left 4 Dead 2 running on their open-source graphics driver. Valve also has grown fond of open-source hardware drivers: 'Valve Linux developers have also been happy looking at an open-source graphics driver. Valve Linux developers found it equally thrilling that now when hitting a bottleneck in their game or looking for areas for performance optimizations, they are simply able to look into Intel's open-source Linux graphics driver to understand how an operation is handled by the hardware, tossing some extra debugging statements into the Intel driver to see what's happening, and making other driver tweaks.'"
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Valve Finds Open Source Drivers To Be Great

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  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @12:52PM (#41191715) Journal

    Of the GPUs available, Intel has by far the best open source driver. They don't even bother supplying a proprietary one. However, intel GPUs suck, and gamers will have either a nVidia card or an AMD card. There are open source drivers for both of these, but they both suck far worse than the Intel driver.

    I really hope Valve can talk either AMD or nVidia into doing something about the quality of their open source drivers. But I'm not holding my breath. Chances are they'll just release a Steam box with Intel hardware instaed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2012 @01:04PM (#41191873)

    I have this feeling that Linux community (or the larger free software community - ESR fans may simply not care) ever since announcements of Steam and L4D ports got public, thinks of Valve a little too high than the company deserves. At the same time as they criticise Windows 8 walled garden, they are pushing new TOS to their Steam service users which, most importantly, dropped the notion of owning a digital "product" in favor of "subscribtion". This is yet another step on the path towards taking our legally purchased software away from us.

    As Linux serves to give it's users total control over their computers, I think at least part of community should rethink their enthusiasm over Valve coming to Linux platform. In my opinion, some of practices it brings are totally at odds with free software values.

    PS. captcha "dissent", very true.

  • Re:Yes, we get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cley Faye ( 1123605 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @01:07PM (#41191915) Homepage
    Linux IS a good platform for games. As said, you can see what's happening at every level, which mean no need to workaround weird unexpected behaviors and stuff.
    Linux isn't a good platform for some game developpers, because of the small user base. But for Valve, aside from the initial work of porting their Source engine, it only means more reach. Having the engine already work on macs probably helped a lot. And if great games start to be available on Linux (and I mean more than one AAA game per year, at most), it might also leverage the linux presence.
    Giving the user the choice is the only sensible choice for people working with their brains, and Valve's pretty good at it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2012 @01:21PM (#41192103)

    One of the core issues here though is that we have a company that is trying to cater to their customers both with great games, an easy and intuative way to install/manage them, easy ways to keep them up to date, solid support for mods and modders on practicaly all their own games, good prices, and DRM which doesn't get in the way of almost anyone.

    I agree that what you say about steam's TOS is a step back (if it's really as you describe, i hadn't heard about it before, but i'll take your word for it). But in a landscape that is filled with players such as Electronic Arts, UBISoft and Blizzard on one end, and companies like Nvidia, Sony, Microsoft on the other end (the hardware), it becomes very hard not to root for Valve. I think they seem approachable enough that an outcry by their users will result in them actually reconsidering or at the very least explaining their position. They're far from perfect (Where's my Half-life 3 Gabe, what gives!!! and nice intervals between episodic content !) but they're a choir boy surrounded by serial rapists in the marketspace.

  • Re:Yes, we get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2012 @01:29PM (#41192215)

    >Funny how Valve just *loves* Linux now that Microsoft threatens their primary business model. Meanwhile, John Carmack, who supported Linux before it was trendy and cool and has no financial incentive to shit all over Microsoft claims that Linux is not a good platform for games. Gee, I wonder who I should believe?!?!

    John Carmack did not say that linux is not a good platform for games. He said that the games that ID-Software ported on linux did not earn the cost for porting. This is a hard fact.
    But, no wonder that this is the case. Most gamers that use linux although have a windows partition for gaming. And when the windows version of a game comes month before the linux version, you already "lost" a big part of the potential linux market to the windows version.

    Now, Valve shit their pants because of the windows market, and try to change it. And they have the power. Valve can solve all the distro and patch problems for the developers. If they deliver an easy way for game developers to reach the linux audience, linuxgaming will hopefully be a worthwhile market.

  • Re:Yes, we get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by semi-extrinsic ( 1997002 ) <asmunder.stud@ntnu@no> on Friday August 31, 2012 @01:41PM (#41192393)
    No matter how you twist it, if Linux gets graphics drivers on par with Windows, it is much better for games since it wastes much less resources.

    Case in point: My Linux installation at work, which is an 8 core, 16 GB RAM computational workstation, uses 231 MB of RAM after I've logged in. Two days after last reboot, with five terminal windows, Firefox with a dozen tabs, Citrix (to run Outlook, restrictive company Exchange policy...), Gimp, Blender, two additional CAD programs, and two instances of a PDF viewer, I'm still only using 1.7 GB RAM.

    On the same system, Windows 7 uses 1.5 GB after I've logged in, no programs running. And yes, I'm using both preload and readahead on the Linux system, so don't give me the "Windows uses RAM to store things it will need in the future" because my Linux does as well.
  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:04PM (#41192653)

    The fact that the open source drivers are on Linux isn't really important to the story at all, asides from the background (i.e. that is the reason Valve are working with open source drivers to max out performance in the first place). The interesting thing is how the OSS allows Valve to tweak or examine the driver code on the fly to find out how to optimize performance.

    Reading the summary is great, but understanding the point is even better.

  • Re:Yes, we get it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by not already in use ( 972294 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:06PM (#41192675)
    >And yes, I'm using both preload and readahead on the Linux system, so don't give me the "Windows uses RAM to store things it will need in the future" because my Linux does as well. If you're *only* using 231MB of 16 gigabytes, you're not caching nearly as many things as it could/should be. The only point you make is that Linux is terrible at putting your system's resources to good use.
  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:32PM (#41192927)

    Intel GPUs don't "suck", they're just not as high-performance as the others. They're perfectly adequate for most uses, and getting better all the time.

    This is like saying a Toyota Camry sucks; no, it's not a Ferrari, but it's highly reliable and performs perfectly adequately for most drivers.

  • by maeglin ( 23145 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:35PM (#41192975)

    The interesting thing is how the OSS allows Valve to tweak or examine the driver code on the fly to find out how to optimize performance.

    Anyone who *actually* games wants to know who the fuck cares about underpowered Intel video card drivers. Oh, it will be able to play 5 year old Valve games? WHOOPTY-FUCKING-DOO.

    Perhaps you forgot about the time, years ago, when the FOSS crowd courted ATI, saying "Release your specs! The FOSS community will do the rest!" What did ATI do? They released the specs. An opensource driver was born, and it's an unstable, slow piece of shit. When these FOSS folks realized they weren't technically competent enough to actually create a driver for a modern GPU architecture, they went back to demonizing ATI for not releasing their proprietary driver under a free license.

    What's the moral of the story here? Just because something is open source doesn't mean "the community" is going to be able to do shit about it. Intel wants to point and say, "Look! Intel GPU can play 5 year old valve games!" Valve wants to say, "Look, Linux is a viable gaming platform!" At the end of the day, it's totally irrelevant to people who want to play new games on modern GPU's.

    You are clearly not a big picture person. What this means is that a multi-million dollar company is saving time by using open source. Time saved is money saved, and, using political algebra, every dollar saved is 30 jobs. What did Intel lose? Nothing. Meanwhile, the economy as a whole gains GDP and everyone wins.

    But, absolutely, you're right, and the other guy is wrong: this is all useless because you don't like Valve's game line-up.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @03:07PM (#41193393)

    Anyone who *actually* games wants to know who the fuck cares about underpowered Intel video card drivers. Oh, it will be able to play 5 year old Valve games? WHOOPTY-FUCKING-DOO.

    Again, NOT THE POINT. The point is: open source drivers are easier to work with. Creating one for a graphics card yourself? Hard. Writing drivers is always a bitch, thats why they often don't work right (even the closed source ones creating by the people who made the hardware in the first place). Thats why the ATI open source driver kind of sucks. Graphics cards have a ton of out-of-spec tweaks and gimmicks to improve performance, and always have, sometimes even tweaks intended to make a single engine run well. That makes creating your own driver a monumental task, even if you ostensibly have the specs, because those specs are never quite valid. Hell, ATI/Nvidia can't even get their drivers to work right all the time, and they made the damned cards.

    All of that is a reason why the ability to work with an existing driver (assuming it is well-made) a huge bonus. Because otherwise you are working with a black box that doesn't ever work exactly as advertised and as it properly should. If you can look at the source, you can try to figure out why. Ideally, the hardware would itself be open too so you could see how far it deviates from the specs (they all do), but we don't live in an ideal world. Thats why I use a close-source driver and probably always will. But it'd be cool if I didn't have to. And that's the point of the story.

  • Re:Yes, we get it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oursland ( 1898514 ) on Friday August 31, 2012 @03:49PM (#41193843)
    You're misunderstanding Valve's position. They're not tweaking the drivers so much as using the source to understand which operations in THEIR software behave poorly. You're also ignorant to how much tweaking is already done in video games to make them work under Windows. Look at the furor Rage's release last year caused because AMD's drivers were broken and id Software didn't jump through hoops to make it work on that platform like so many other companies do.

Disraeli was pretty close: actually, there are Lies, Damn lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, and Delivery dates.