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Graphics Operating Systems Software BSD

Accelerated nVidia Drivers for FreeBSD 293

zero0w writes "nVidia has released the official OpenGL accelerated driver set for FreeBSD 4.7 STABLE. Check out the nVidia Driver page for more detail. According to the page, this release should be considered as initial beta. So don't count on it to build a day-to-day production system, yet."
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Accelerated nVidia Drivers for FreeBSD

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  • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:09AM (#4624400)
    According to the page, this release should be considered as initial beta

    Isn't that usually called 'alpha'?
    • Re:initial beta? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No an alpha stage is when the internal company does the testing. Beta is generally given out to trusted 3rd parties and rarely the public. An alpha release will be so full of bugs that the program isnt usable. a beta release on the other hand should contain very few bugs and they shouldnt be related the actual use of the program. In the case of drivers this means it should work but playing an accellerated game or something that uses a feature like vertex shaders etc might not work as expected but 2d graphics and the default feature set should be pretty stable.
      • Unless your Microsoft, in which case beta is where everything gets pressed on the CDs and a several hundred dollar price tag gets put on it, right?
        • by benwb ( 96829 )
          No, no, no, that's alpha. When a product hits beta Microsoft stops supporting it.
          • Just a hint for the future, you miss out on those highly covetted "Troll" and "Flamebait" moderations if you actually spell Microsoft correctly. If you want to be really elite and properly anti-Microsoft, you should incorporate a $, or use "shaft" or "sloth" instead of -soft.

            Without those <sarcasm>insightful plays on the word 'Microsoft'</sarcasm> one typically only manages to produce an asinine off-topic comment.

            Just some hints for the future, your mileage may vary, all standard disclaimers apply.

            Thank you for not choosing Microsoft... meanwhile, back on topic:

            This is great news for the FreeBSD community. One of the complaints against the OS and long sought-after milestones has been graphics drivers for desktop applications, design work, and even gaming. FreeBSD, like most other OSes, isn't just for servers, and this helps make it better for the desktop.

            nVidia always impresses me with their efforts to support operating systems other than the 500 lb Redmond gorilla that dominates the desktop market. Linux and FreeBSD support is a great PR move for nVidia, and is one of the reasons I will ALWAYS choose nVidia over ATi, Matrox, etc.
  • FreeBSD != Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OrangeSpyderMan ( 589635 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:09AM (#4624403)
    The nvidia page is fairly annoying on this point - the direct link to the drivers is under a subtitle "For Linux Users", and on the installation instructions we can read, "Please note that the NVIDIA driver set requires XFree version 4.2 or greater. If this is not available on your linux distribution,"

    A shame to muddy a laudible effort such as BSD drivers with a couple of dumb (lazy?) errors. I can appreciate that much of the info may be common to both, but to explicitly ignore the fundamental differences is a bit of a shame.
    • They also forgot to port the license agreement to FreeBSD.

      2.1.1 Rights. Customer may install and use one copy of the SOFTWARE on a single computer, and except for making one back-up copy of the Software, may not otherwise copy the SOFTWARE. This LICENSE of SOFTWARE may not be shared or used concurrently on different computers.

      2.1.2 Linux Exception. Notwithstanding the foregoing terms of Section 2.1.1, SOFTWARE designed exclusively for use on the Linux operating system may be copied and redistributed, provided that the binary files thereof are not modified in any way (except for unzipping of compressed files).
      ...and no sign of FreeBSD.
    • by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @04:06PM (#4627953)
      Look, FreeBSD support isn't a huge deal at NVIDIA. It's a few coders in their driver development group that are doing this with company approval. No doubt, these pages didn't go through the official "gods of marketing" over at NVIDIA. As such, give it a little time. What most likely happened was that they were pressed for time in releasing these drivers, and so they just made some hastly pages to put it up. What matters is the actual code, and once that's working nicely, I'm sure the page will get polished.
      • Look, FreeBSD support isn't a huge deal at NVIDIA. It's a few coders in their driver development group that are doing this with company approval.

        Good point. Use Nvidia and you've got to wait for a lone geek in their team to write decent drivers. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll stick with ATI, where the Open Source drivers work just fine on any platform.
        • Um, the guy on their team doesn't write the drivers. First, the driver core is fully portable, so maintaining more than one platform is very easy. Second, the Linux port has commercial importance, because SGI uses NVIDIA GPUs in their Linux-based machines. It's only the FreeBSD port that seems to be a community job. As for ATI, I couldn't care less about ATI. NVIDIA has a track record (back from the Riva128 days) of being community-friendly. They also have a track record of having very good drivers, and improving the drivers even for existing hardware, not just their latest stuff. ATI has a history of crappy drivers, and their open source OpenGL ones barely work at all. NVIDIA's Linux drivers in comparison, are just as fast and stable (for most people, anyway) as their Windows drivers.
          • ATI has a history of crappy drivers

            For one thing, that IS history. ATI cards have been well supported for at least the past couple years. Also, I would much rather see crappy Open Source drivers than even hi-quality binary-only drivers. Whens it's open it can be improved, modified, extended, ported, by anyone that wants to do so. Binary-only releases, and you just have to try and convince the company to work on something few people are interested in.
  • Great! But... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CheeseCow ( 576966 )
    ...the question is, will my games run faster on FreeBSD?

    • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:54AM (#4624614) Journal
      ...the question is, will my games run faster on FreeBSD?

      I dunno but SSH runs great on my headless nForce firewall.

  • by jpmahala ( 181937 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:15AM (#4624429)
    From their site:

    NOTE: GeForce2 Go and GeForce4 Go mobile processors are not supported in this driver. Please contact the notebook's manufacturer for graphics drivers for your notebook PC.

    Sucks for my Dell Inspiron 8100. Anyone know if there is any way to set up drivers for the GeForce2Go?
    • by tgreiner ( 107912 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:55AM (#4624616) Homepage
      These drivers work perfectly with GeForce2 Go cards. I'm writing this on a Dell Inspiron 8200 with GeForce2 Go.

      From 'glxinfo':

      OpenGL vendor string: NVIDIA Corporation
      OpenGL renderer string: GeForce2 MX/AGP/SSE2
      OpenGL version string: 1.3.1 NVIDIA 32.03


      $ uname -a
      FreeBSD tybalt 4.7-STABLE FreeBSD 4.7-STABLE #39: Fri Nov 8 14:42:57 CET 2002 thorsten@tybalt:/usr/src/sys/compile/TYBALT i386
    • It may work, but some drivers have specific tweaks for specific LCD displays on certain notebooks. They don't suggest that you use generic drivers for them, even though they will probably work.
  • We BSD folk have been waitting for this, because we like to play Quake too! The bad part is where are the drivers? Nvidia's web page [] only show's the Finux variety. Hopefully the website will update soon. There is no mention of this on the FreeBSD -stable mail-list from any Nvidia folks, so I'm a bit skeptable. The only mention on the FreeBSD list thus far is also pointing to the same website, with not metion of FreeBSD driveres.
  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:22AM (#4624463) Homepage
    I'm the kind of person who likes to run Windows for games and multimedia, and Linux for server stuff.

    It has been under my impression that BSD development is even more focused on server side and ultra stable solutions.

    Of course drivers make sense to use X on BSD, but what about games? Does it pay off to keep BSD for games, or is it simpler to use Linux/Windows for gaming? Just wondering, I guess :)
    • It has been under my impression that BSD development is even more focused on server side and ultra stable solutions.

      I do not know about you, but I like game play to be ultra stable. :)

      Seriously, I bought a Ti4200 which I run under Win2k and FreeBSD. I am excited about having better 3D performance under FreeBSD for trying out games (through Linux ABI support or not) and speeding up xlockmore 3D, which should impress some people I know.

      First, I will be trying out the Atlantis screen saver mode as my root window. :)
      • Actually, I imagine companies may be a lot more inclined to develop proprietary drivers for systems under the BSD license because it is more lax with regards to "tainting" of derived works. But hey, if FreeBSD becomes a gaming platform, I'm all for that!
    • You may want accelerated video drivers for things other than games, like:
      • Visualization of scientific data (protein molecules, for example);
      • Rendering of images for films;
      • Or maybe just making your ordinary applications faster (see, for example, gliv [] for an image viewer which uses OpenGL).
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:24AM (#4624471)
    Finally I can stop dual-booting to Linux just so I can play games...
  • by dubbayu_d_40 ( 622643 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:25AM (#4624477)
    As if your shell wasn't already 100X better than my dos console, you just have to go and make it paint faster.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:39AM (#4624537)
    It is official; 3D now confirms: NVIDIA is dying.

    One more crippling bombshell hit the happily fragging NVIDIA community when /. confirmed that NVIDIA drivers are coming to FreeBSD. Coming close on the heels of the recent Doom3 beta, which plainly shows that we'll need the GeForce5s of the future to run it, uh, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. NVIDIA is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified putting a graphics card in every Apple, every X-Box...

    Geez, trolling is a lot harder than I thought...
  • by Leimy ( 6717 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:43AM (#4624564)
    I haven't been running FreeBSD now for almost a month because my job is linux related and the more familiar I am with it the better I do.

    I wasn't planning to use FreeBSD again until 5.0 got released which I *think* is slated for the end of the month still [whether it makes it or not is a different situation].

    Anyway I hope this driver continues to work on later FreeBSDs as it was a major bummer to not have it the last 2 years I ran this OS.
  • by jregel ( 39009 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @09:49AM (#4624585) Homepage
    Although it's nice to think that Nvidia are porting their drivers to FreeBSD because they are keen on supporting open solutions, the number of users is [relatively] tiny, and I don't find it particularly convincing.

    What is more interesting is the possibility that Nvidia are contracted to develop drivers for a company that is developing a product that will run a BSD variant. What better way for Nvidia to test their new drivers than allow a public beta.

    Pure speculation though, we'll have to wait to see whether anything comes of this.
    • > the number of users is [relatively] tiny

      Everyone who uses Yahoo! uses FreeBSD...

      • Don't forget also that FreeBSD is the darling OSS OS (god, that looks retarded) of the commercial vendors... for many reasons, but the licensing being the top. Even Microsoft has released a reference implementation of (parts of) the .NET framework on FreeBSD. Plus, BSDers don't seem nearly as rabid about licensing issues and the like... much unlike our Linux brethren.
      • Everyone who uses Yahoo! uses FreeBSD... ...but won't make use of any 3D graphics!

        I was referring to desktop use - not servers.
        • Yahoo uses FreeBSD on all their unix desktops (to minimize the number of different types of systems they maintain). I have no idea how many of their people are using FreeBSD over Windows, but it was enough to make a port of Yahoo Messenger to FreeBSD worthwhile.
    • The simple reason is why not? The FreeBSD and Linux drivers use the same closed source binary driver module, the only difference is in the Kernel hooks (very minor). Truth is there has been a partialy working independant NVidia FreeBSD implimentation for some time now. Most likely NVidia just used that and refined it a bit. Now that they have the kernel hook code working for both Linux and FreeBSD, maintaining them will be relatively simple.

    • The reason seems to be the FreeBSD-NVIDIA project. They did some driver porting, and were really hitting the wall, so their contacts at NVIDIA decided to just do a release. It's not that hard at all to port the NVIDIA driver to another OS. The X11 part is OS independent (like all X11 graphics drivers) and the kernel part is wrapped in a small portability layer. Most likely, they're just doing it because the effort in porting is small compared to the good faith it gets in the community, and the fact that it allows vendors using a BSD to also consider NVIDIA products.
    • Although it's nice to think that Nvidia are porting their drivers to FreeBSD because they are keen on supporting open solutions, the number of users is [relatively] tiny, and I don't find it particularly convincing.

      Based on the number of complaints that end up on the freebsd-stable mailing list on the (rare) occasion that something in the tree is broken, I would have to disagree.
  • by jason andrade ( 17150 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @10:10AM (#4624744) Homepage
    just letting people know we've mirrored the freebsd drivers in australia at / []


  • Correction (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 08, 2002 @10:15AM (#4624781)

    the readme says:

    if your XF86Config has a "Device" section with a 'Driver "nv"' line, you will need to update it to 'Driver "nv"'

    this should say:

    if your XF86Config has a "Device" section with a 'Driver "nv"' line, you will need to update it to 'Driver "nvidia"'

    Dreamweaver Templates
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  • So don't count on it to build a day-to-day production system, yet.

    Huh? Who on earth has a day to day production system that isn't headless? And one that requires accelerated OpenGL? I guess you could say that if you're talking about workstations for 3D modelling, perhaps. But who uses FreeBSD for that? The applications just aren't there. Don't get me wrong, the drivers are a step in the right direction, and without them, the applications will never follow. But the warning about not using it for production use is a little premature methinks...

  • ... Hello?

    What is the point of putting a high-end graphical card into a FreeBSD server, for instance?

    As far as I am concerned, for whatever i386+ FreeBSD server I have, I would only use the lowest of the low-end graphical card, something just good enough to install FreeBSD in VGA text mode, and not some fancy-schmancy NVidia with unstable alpha binary-only drivers!

    Once installed, there is no need for graphics anyway, and OpenSSH is your friend!

    On the other hand, I could use such a card on a graphical workstation (no, this is not a production system, AFAIK) if I was to use, say, Blender or the Gimp on a FreeBSD desktop machine.

    Even then, I'd rather have something well-supported by XFree86...
  • So don't count on it to build a day-to-day production system, yet.

    ermm, I don't know about you .. but I'm not playing Quake3 on my unix/bsd production systems :)

  • Good Deal (Score:5, Funny)

    by SomeOtherGuy ( 179082 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @10:40AM (#4624963) Journal
    Now I can get working on my dream Apache module called mod_3daccel
  • Linux drivers... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dubious9 ( 580994 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @10:46AM (#4625029) Journal
    While I'm glad that Nvidia is broadening their base, I can't wonder if more people wouldn't benefit from new drivers for the new releases from Red Hat and Mandrake.

    I know the rpms don't work for either (8.2 under Mandrake 9.0 and 7.3 under RedHat 8.0) so as far as I can tell, you need to compile the source to get the driver working.

    This however requires configured kernel source and if you don't have that for your current kernel i.e. you never installed the src rpm, you'll have to install, configure, compile the kernel, then compile the NVidia drivers then edit the XF86Config file to change the driver string!

    Come on Nvidia, can't we have an automated driver? Please? Pretty please?
    • Come on Nvidia, can't we have an automated driver? Please? Pretty please?

      Aside from providing a different download for every distribution on the planet, and for every kernel update for every distribution, which would be a complete nightmare, i think they have made it about as automatic as they can.

      Just run "rpm --rebuild nvidia-kernel-xxx.rpm"

      As for needing the kernel source, either you are running a custom kernel in which case you already have the source tree from which you built said kernel, or you are running a stock kernel in which case just install the kernel-source-xxx.rpm.
      Note it is kernel-source-xxx-i386.rpm, not kernel-xxx-src.rpm that you want to install, to get a prepatched preconfigured source tree in /usr/src

      There's absolutly no need to configure and compile a kernel before building the nvidia kernel module.
    • While I'm glad that Nvidia is broadening their base, I can't wonder if more people wouldn't benefit from new drivers for the new releases from Red Hat and Mandrake.

      While I'm glad that Nvidia is broadening their base by providing Linux drivers, I can't wonder if more people wouldn't benefit from new drivers for Windows XP.

      I mean, if you're going to make business decisions for them based solely on the number of users...
  • If the FreeBSD driver proves to be stable and reliable, does it make sense for Aliaswavefront and Softimage to port their 3D packages to FreeBSD? After all FreeBSD is a very stable OS suitable for such task.
  • I like it (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ded Bob ( 67043 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @11:02AM (#4625145) Homepage
    I am running with the nVidia drivers now on my Ti4200. Things I have noticed:

    1) You need a chmod 0666 on /dev/nvidia*. It helps xlock run.
    2) Atlantis mode (xlock) is my desktop background. Hi shark. Please do not eat my menu.
    3) The artifacts left behind by the XFree86 nv driver are no longer there. I believe that XFree86 v4.3 is supposed to fix this.

    Now, I need to go find some games. Time to try out UT.
    • Re:I like it (Score:2, Informative)

      by rplacd ( 123904 )
      You can avoid the chmod 666 if you run xdm. Simply edit /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/xdm/GiveConsole and add

      chown $USER /dev/nvidia*

      Make a similar change to TakeConsole (the examples in the file'll help).

      I realize this isn't necessary for most people (most people don't have other users logging in), but it's still good practice.
  • So don't count on it to build a day-to-day production system

    I am using GNU/Linux for quite some years now and have moved to the NVidia drivers fairly early.

    You should not run _any_ production system with the NVidia drivers,they are the cause of the most system crashes. Not even for the tried and tested GNU/Linux platform :(

    Come to think of it, why would you want 3D support on a production system :) Would you trust anyone running Q3 on your file server ;) Just leave off X alltogether ;)
  • it is likely that this group [] was instrumental in obtaining official support for nvidia cards in freebsd. the page isn't updated often but there is a petition and some history of the effort.

    i never considered petitions to corporations to be effective. i'm happy to be wrong.

  • by Hythlodaeus ( 411441 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @01:37PM (#4626365)
    I don't know anything about any differences in how the BSDs handle drivers, so I'll ask, how much work would it take to make these nVidia drivers run under NetBSD or OpenBSD?
  • I am getting signal 11 (seg fault) if I tried to load the glx. The error in signal 11 caught while trying to load GlxInit. Anybody know what is going on? If I comment out glx in the modules sections the rest loads fine, and it does appear to work quicker. Mind that I have done only basic testing, e.g. scrolling through large images with gqview, but they do appear to be loading quicker.
  • Common guys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by linux_warp ( 187395 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @02:12PM (#4626663) Homepage
    For years we have been bitching about not having nvidia drivers for freebsd, and now that they have made substantial progress and released a alpha/beta all we can do is bitch that they are unfinished? Lets give them a hand, they are making progress and obviously care about their customers.
    • Re:Common guys (Score:2, Insightful)

      Damn right. Even if the drivers are closed source, they sure beat the hell out of nothing. nVidia's doing the right thing by supporting our OS's rather than selling us short. The Radeon 9700 Pro is an impressive piece of hardware, but anybody who buys one with the intent on running accelerated apps in Linux or BSD is an idiot for not taking into consideration ATi's drivers (Or lack there of). Those who buy nVidia cards can enjoy identical performance under Windows and Linux, which is more than many other pieces of hardware can offer (Especially graphics cards).

      Give me a kernel tainted with non-GPL code over a Windows kernel any day.
  • NetBSD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hubertf ( 124995 ) on Friday November 08, 2002 @02:24PM (#4626772) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to see this (at least) for NetBSD too, and maybe not only for PCs.

    => Open-Source these drivers, please!

    - Hubert
    • Re:NetBSD (Score:3, Informative)

      by be-fan ( 61476 )
      The kernel portability layer is already open. The FreeBSD-nvidia project even got some initial results porting the Linux version. However, there are some issues in the binary part that held up the port. Given that they've most likely cleaned up the issues in the binary part for the FreeBSD port (why bother maintaining two different nearly identical binary modules?) a port to NetBSD should be fairly easy.
  • Alot of the newer Macs are or have been sold with Geforce cards too. It sure would be nice to be able to use the 3D acceleration in Linux.

    Or have I missed something? I can't find any mention of such a thing anywhere.

    Considering they have a port of their drivers to MacOS X on PPC, and to Linux on x86 you'd think it'd be pretty trivial for them to make some for Linux on PPC.

  • I thought I might actually be productive and get some work done today, nVidia has to go and do this to me!

    ...must resist the temptat...WAIT! You mean I can have GL accelerated sprongies now!!! OMG! *click*

    -- AcquaCow
  • It works! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Icy ( 7612 )
    ICY> glxgears
    7377 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1475.400 FPS
    7359 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1471.800 FPS
    7342 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1468.400 FPS
    7316 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1463.200 FPS

    ICY> uname -a
    FreeBSD 5.0-CURRENT FreeBSD 5.0-CURRENT #3: Wed Nov 6 09:29:55 EST 2002 root@:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/ICY i386

    libc required a little editing (that damn __sF), but it works.

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