'Buntu, Nvidia drivers and OpenGL complaints

I like playing around with 3D software such as Autodesk Maya and Blender. I gave Blender a much greater focus during the last few months, as I developed a tendency to prefer opensource solutions whenever I can.

At the beginning I had some annoying problems with it, which surprisingly or not, aren't Blender's fault at all. Most of them are Nvidia's fault.

I have a graphics card based on the Nvidia GeForce 8600GT chipset.
On Ubuntu 9.04, my OpenGL didn't work at all, so I couldn't even get Blender to start.

Gladly, with the upgrade to 9.10 and the new ver 185 Nvidia drivers, that problem was solved and I could finally use Blender on a Linux platform.

All was well for a couple of months, and I greatly enjoyed the amazing speed at which Blender loads and runs on my 'Buntu.

But then started going into texturing, and I saw a tutorial (a great one to anyone interested in Blender or 3D modelling in general) in which OpenGL was utilized to give a very nice realtime preview of textures in the viewport.

This is a great advantage, as you don't have to render every time to see changes in your materials and textures. I liked that feature very much in Maya, and was thrilled to see it applied in Blender.

However, it refused to work. Trying to apply it, I got a message that this feature is not supported on my graphics card or driver.

Since I also have windows XP installed here, I checked it out there and it worked fine. Conclusion: This is a fuck up with the Nvidia drivers for Linux again.

These kind of errors are what's hurting Linux's viability as a platform for 3D, despite all it's other great advantages. And I can't help but wonder, how difficult could it be to release fully functional drivers?

Has to be easier to do this in an opensource OS like Ubuntu, compare with Windows, isn't it??

Since my Hanvon graphic's tablet also doesn't work in Linux, I already have to use windows for 2D sketching and stuff. Now, since the realtime texture display is pretty important to me in 3D, I reluctantly have to do all my 3D work in windows too.

Since I also have Maya installed on my WinXP (with which I'm better acquainted), I find myself drawn back to developing my 3D skills there, rather than using Blender. So this one annoying disability in the available Nvidia drivers fucks up most of my efforts to adopt opensource 3D tools.


1 Comment

The problem is not exactly the Nvidia [driver] but rather with Nvidia [the company].

Writing drivers is relatively easy (or easier) when you're the company that produces the hardware (as it is with Nvidia), but it gets more difficult when you aren't. There are closed source Nvidia drivers for GNU/Linux that Nvidia created, but they aren't fully-compatible with the Windows drivers.

When kernel developers (working in Canonical [Ubuntu], Novell [SuSE] or Red hat [Red hat]) want to work on free software drivers (or at the bare minimum open-source ones), they need access to the hardware. Not having it (which is the case) forces them to reverse engineer. It works but it takes a very long time and a lot of failed attempts along the way. It's like trying to find the correct way to grandma's house without knowing the path or in which house she is. So you go through each path and try each house there, see if the person there kisses or smacks you for breaking into their house.

Nvidia should be blamed for keeping the drivers closed (thus no one can contribute) and for creating incomplete drivers. "You don't want to do it? Fine. Let us!"

It's hardly a fair race when Microsoft get the drivers created for them and GNU/Linux have to reverse engineer for years or pester them to provide drivers (which are still incomplete). Some graphic card companies don't even provide drivers at all...

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About TheFinalCut

user-pic I'm a perl developer, beginner sys-admin, former plant biologist and aspiring 3D artist. I'm gonn'a write about perl programming, opensource software and probably lots about 3D too.