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Silicon Graphics

SGI Open Sources GLX 79

An AC was the first to inform us that Silicon Graphics has released GLX as Open Source for Xfree86 in order to stimulate the number of hardware-accelerated 3D drivers supported by Xfree86. Interestingly Red Hat and SGI are funding new driver work to be done by Precision Insight on a multiple pipe 3D architecture extension for X. Precision Insight were the people who brought the NeoMagic drivers to Xfree86 under contract to Red Hat. Of course it comes with its own license: anyone care to comment on it? Grab the code here.
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SGI Open Sources GLX

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  • If only matrox would release the documentation for it... :/
    Info coming soon they have stated on their website for close to 6 months now :(

  • Don't forget that Creative Labs is planning to support 3D video drivers for all their products, including the Graphics Blaster Riva TNT. To find out more information from GGI developer Jon M. Taylor, check out his post to the GGI mailing list [progressive-comp.com].
  • It's not a bad license. It's mainly a BSDish license, but no advertising clause; the license must be reproduced if the software is distributed in source form, and ALSO if the software is distributed in executable form. Great job SGI, this can really but put to some use!
  • by Magus ( 470 )
    I don't think there could be better news. Now lets get XFree fully OpenGL!

    Doesn't Raster have something about buying dinner for anyone who could make some X calls use hardware acceleration? I call dibs!
  • Posted by Bill, the Galactic Hero:

    First, their Visual Workstations aren't just standard PC's -- there's some thought in the architecture

    Second, they really support Linux and OSS.

    I was wrong about them. Buy SGI.

  • Supposedly, you can get primitive 3D support with a bunch of hacks starting here [uni-tuebingen.de]. It involves using ancient versions of XFree and Mesa, so I haven't tried it. However, you may be able to learn something about the card by reading the sources...

    I'm really hoping that XFree 4 will have 3D acceleration for the G200 card, but Matrox (who I annoy on a monthly basis about this) still refuses to release any information or write any drivers. The card is still really nice in X with 16M of video RAM, though :)
  • Baloney. X is awesome. It does have its problems, but a "complete rewrite" is not in order. I assume you mean a "complete rewrite" of the X protocol definition since a "complete rewrite" of any particular server or Xlib implementation really doesn't mean anything.

    X is proven technology that has been around for 15 years. I believe that the only people who are clamoring for things like a "complete rewrite" (and those who constantly bitch about X for one reason or another) are those who don't really understand it well enough to appreciate it.
  • XFree86 is being rewritten - XFree86 4.0

    I believe he was refering to X itself, not the XFree86 implementation of it in particular.

    The concern that X is getting too big is valid. While it may be humanly possible to write a large, complex software program that's relatively bug free, no one has done so yet.


  • This rocks. This puts Mesa in a different position, though, that's for sure.
  • Ok. I've noticed I've been happier with SGI
    lately than I have been angry at them. It's odd.
    SGI seems to be trying (hard or not) to do the
    "right thing" and one often questions why the heck
    they aren't taking the stingy backstabbing who
    cares what we want route. I figure they'd be
    a little more dedicated towards capitalizing...

    I see three things:

    1> SGI is really dumb and don't realize that this
    could hurt them in the longer run. (they're not
    exactly in the most financially stable state
    right now)

    2> SGI is doing this out of the kindness of their
    hearts and doesn't seek any returns at all.

    3> SGI sees this as a plan to profit, and in the
    process gives us exact what we want.

    Idealistically, it'd be the second case.

    Realistically, it's the third case, which if it
    is, has proven to me that capitalism really does
    work for everyone! hooray!

    Three cheers for SGI!

  • "We love SGI." :)

  • Isn't Redhat just so Eviiiillll......NOT
  • Make that a *big* pat on the back!

    It seems to me that he did more than anybody to stimulate these developments, by writing Mesa. We should all be grateful for all of his very hard work.

    The future sure looks bright!
  • Graphics in userland is the way to go for anything that may be used heavily in server roles. Unix has always followed this wisdom.

    NT 3.5 was properly engineered. NT 4.0 is not.
  • SGI has made a good decision here, one that should help both 3D accelerated applications on top of XFree86, and SGI.

    I'll be thrilled if I can purchase one of SGIs Visual workstations in the near future, install Linux on it, and be able to take full advantage of the graphic horsepower of the machine.

    Thanks to everyone at SGI that made this possible!
  • ...it started at about 500 or so. And the monk was off, so what he intended as year 1 was actually about -4.
    So, it's just a number anyhow. Can we just party at big round numbers?
  • ati? i wouldn't count on it. not any time soon anyway.

    according to ati, they are not releasing 3d drivers forn non windows platforms, and they consider their 3d implemetations to be completely proprietary information. maybe they would change their mind if enough people asked them, but i wouldn't count on it any ime soon.

    other things aside, the ati's (at least mine) are also really good 2d cards for x, which is what i mostly care about anyway
  • by diakka ( 2281 )
    Those people probably think they're one year old once they're born (read: have come into their first year of living), too.
    Incidentally, there are some cultures that do count age in this fashion. Chinese culture is this way, but it's changing due to western influence.

    Actually, had we started the calender at the year 0, the same way we normally count our age, then it would in fact be the new millenium on 1-1-2000. Does anyone know if that's the case? Or did the year number start at 1?
  • Given that SGI has press releases saying that they are going to support Linux, something like this is needed for their new Intel machines.

    This is a very positive development and I hope there is a driver available for my Matrox G200 in the future. I've been meaning to go through my OpenGL books, this will help inspire me to actually get Mesa and start working on some 3D stuff (haven't used gl in years).

  • Four days after Dave asked for people interested in improving Linux hardware support to write more accelerated GL drivers in his mini-interview on happypenguin.org [www.happyp...argetblank]. What synchronicity. Here's to every video card we've got, including - Permidia2 - ATI RagePro - G200 - RivaTNT - i740 - and soon Voodoo3 all working in accelerated GL by the millenium!
  • The license looks OK at first glance. I'll need more time and a pot of coffee to give it thorough going-over, but it looks MPL-inspired.

    I am downloading now, so I don't know what is in the package. If it's the whole of Open GL and is really Open Source licensed it would kill Mesa.

    SGI used stochastic dither antialiasing in their renderer, which is patented by Pixar (I left there last week to form a new company and am technically "on vacation" at the moment). That's just one of the areas where "infringement" might be a problem. I hate software patents.


  • Do I see open source, network-transparent, hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in X on the horizon?
  • No, the 20th Century is from 1-Jan-1901 through 31-Dec-2000. The 21st Century begins on 1-Jan-2001.

    There was no year 0 A.D.; the 1st Century A.D. was from the year 1 to 100, inclusive. The 1st Century A.D. had to start with the first year A.D., which we write as 1 A.D.

    Someone wrote in to PC magazine a while back about how stupid this was, and that common sense shows that the century starts with 2000. He proceded to give an argument that disproved his own point; he said something to the effect of "Everyone would agree that your 100th penny is part of your first dollar." That is, of course, entirely true, which means that your 2nd dollar starts with your 101st penny. Centuries work in exactly the same way.

    This in no way precludes having a great party on 31-Dec-1999. I fully plan to have a huge party on that date, to celebrate the "rolling over of the odometer", as it were, and another huge party a year later, to celebrate the end of the century.

  • Agreed - although X is relatively well designed, the line between client and server is drawn at some very bad places. It's also not easy to make X support multiple monitors as well as MacOS, short of figuring a way to make the root window use the shaped window extension. The question of spanning heterogeneous displays is also very awkward - what happens when a window crosses from a 32bpp display onto a 16bpp display (or even a 1bpp)? Most window managers don't grok the concept either, so the default behaviour for error dialogs would be every bit as bad as NT. Yes, a replacement for X would be nice, but I have no time to work on such things for the next several years at least, unless someone wants to make that my full-time job. ;^)
  • Man, I think I'm going to start supporting SGI more. Hmm, maybe my pocketbook might be big enough for a new Visual Workstation, running Linux of course, hmm....

  • SGI plans to support Linux on it's new intel-architecture workstations -- supporting advanced 3-d on Linux will mean porting GLX. Every commercial Unix has already licensed GLX, so the giveaway won't cost SGI anything. Since SGI has gotten a great Unix for free to bundle with their machines, it only makes sense that they give away GLX. Yes, you'll be able to use GLX on other Linux machines, but SGI believes that some people will be willing to pay for machines with really kick-ass hardware.
  • I assume you are implying that contracting Alan Cox to hack the kernel is not actually useful... Yes, I know what you're real point was and all I can say is that competition is good.

    In closing, go SGI!

  • Mesa is already mostly there, but it costs to take the compliance tests, so he never claims to be.

  • http://www.sgi.com/software/opensouce/


  • The first millenium had 999 years. Yep, we just cut one off. Just like that. Retroactively even, since of course the calendar changed quite a bit.

    I know some pencil-necks are quivering with impotent rage that not every convention of mankind is mathematically precise, but most of us accept it and plan to party this year like the next begins the next millenium. Because according to society's ever-sloppy definition, it is. Try to get over it.
  • Seems like SGI is taking cues from IBM's turnaround-they are listening to their customers again.

    I used to work in a large all SGI shop. To sell the Visual Workstations to management, there would have to be assurances that the existing administrative routines be preserved.

    And that takes NT, an OS designed from the ground up to be incompatible with non-MS systems, out of the picture entirely.

    Thus, those machines will need an alternative operating system that can play with _any_ existing configuration. I've got one on the tip of my tounge-Linux.

    Less than a year ago I had marked SGI for dead by 2001. They are extending the lease on life every day it seems.

  • I found one thing that some people won't like - the acronym is GPL....;)

  • Out-by-one errors are so *pervasive*!

    Same again, Embarrassed Anonymous Coward.

    Perhaps you meant, by 2000. Or Y2K if you must.
  • NT 3.51 did all the rendering in user space outside of the kernel and it was terriblely slow and linux works like this today. :-(

    in kernel graphics is not faster than user-space graphics.

    Why does everyone think that graphics *acceleration* has to be in kernel space? "Wheee let's throw everything into the kernel that has the slightest thing to do with hardware" and we'll end up with a monster kernel ala NT4!

    (kernel/s/ i know, NT4 is a micro-kernel arch).

    So why aren't the SANE scanner backends integrated into the kernel? They send whatever scsi commands they want to a scanner via the scsi generic interface. surely we can't allow that in user-space!!

    get a clue people.

    unix is good precisely because the all the functions aren't integrated into the kernel. because the kernel implements a simple safe interface to hardware, and leaves the rest to userspace.

    ie simple framebuffer that can do some simple functions like change video modes, reset the card,
    etc. And leave the accelerated and 3d graphics to X or *whatever*.

    If the whatever cocks up, the kernel can always recover.


  • This is good news BUT, in order to get decent 3D accelleration, we HAVE to keep after the hardware companies.

    I work for one of these companies (although i cant say which one) and let me tell you they are all in the "considering it" phase, but they really need to know that there is customer interest before they invest man-hours writing X drivers.

    This is the most important thing the Linux/FreeBSD/etc. community can do at this point. The more _polite_ and _persuasive_ emails the hardware companies recieve, the better. None of these companies want to be "the first to try it" and then get burned. It must be proven to affect their bottom line.

  • Wow...sounds like linux may be getting real multimedia development afterall. :)
  • I wouldn't say this is that much of a boost for gaming. The current mesa drivers for 3dfx would do a much better job. GLX is an X server extension and some libraries that translates opengl calls to a data stream, and then converts them back to opengl calls at the X server end.

    You would get better performance by cutting X and GLX out of the loop and using a console opengl implementation such as mesa/3dfx. This would be true for any opengl implementation.
  • Personally, I'm hoping this will help someone embarrass Matrox very, very badly. They promised that they would have a working OpenGL driver in September (about a month after the Millenium G200 was released and the month that the Mystique G200 was released). October, still nothing, but they say it's almost ready. Same thing in late November. Then they release an alpha driver in December which actually works worse than the D3D wrapper in most cases. What had they been doing all that time?! But the worst part is that they were lying to their customers (including me) all the time. I really doubt they realistically believed they could have that thing out in a month in August. Their customer relations were very, very bad. And they treated the people at www.matroxusers.com as their own customer service department, one they didn't have to pay. I hope someone comes out with an OpenGL driver in Linux for the G200 very quickly to further shame Matrox. It's sad; they used to be a good company. I will never buy another card from them, though.
  • No, _they_ didn't get in working quickly at all. I asked Matrox about X support, and they told me to look at Xi. Suse ended up releasing the driver, not Matrox. And I never said the card itself was bad. It's actually quite decent. It's just their customer service and driver support that sucks. (They also completely botched K6-2 compatibility; no, not just support for 3dNOW; the things make Super7-based machines crash all the time in Windows--even more than they would do otherwise)
  • GLX is not a replacement for Mesa; GLX is what connects OpenGL (or Mesa) with the X server. In the near future, GLX and Mesa will be hooked up into XFree86, giving a full software renderer.

    Precision Insight is also working on enhancements to GLX [precisioninsight.com] which will be the
    basis for a hardware driver kit that can be used to build drivers for specific boards.
  • Speaking of G200s - I'm running XFree86 3.3.3. on an 8MB OEM card at 1600x1200, and occasionally get white horizontal flickers while moving big windows. Anyone else have experience with / solutions for this? Basically a good setup, there's just this minor annoyance.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson