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Date:      Sat, 1 Sep 2018 12:11:27 -0500
From:      Valeri Galtsev <>
Subject:   Re: FreeBSD OpenCL/CUDA nVidia
Message-ID:  <>
In-Reply-To: <>
References:  <> <> <> <>

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On 9/1/18 9:54 AM, Carmel NY wrote:
> On Sat, 1 Sep 2018 11:44:02 +0200, CeDeROM stated:
>> Thank you Tommy.. bad news.. how did that happen for nVidia to become
>> worst GPU driver provider to FreeBSD lagging even behind ATI/AMD and
>> Intel.. I guess these are closed-source drivers so we have nothing to
>> do here.. I was always buying nVidia only because of trust in their
>> best drivers.. but that needs to be revised I see :-(
> I don't believe that is a correct interpretation of the problem. Several
> years ago, FreeBSD was unable to support nVidia's 64 bit drivers. Eventually,
> that problem was alleviated. However, and this is what I have gathered from
> reading chat forums dedicated to nVidia, FreeBSD still does not properly
> handle all of the features that nVidia offers in a manner similar to MS
> Windows (naturally) and other *.nix operating systems. A business model where
> nVidia would be forced to spend large amounts of money to devise a way to be
> 100% compatible with FreeBSD, a user base magnitudes smaller than MS Windows
> or other *.nix operating systems, would prove to be a losing strategy.

I was holding it off, but you just made me comment on NVIDIA and on what 
you said.

You have it all backwards. It is not FreeBSD that doesn't [supports ... 
NVIDIA ... features]. It is NVIDIA that does not disclose the internals 
of their chips, and it does not disclose any [or at least sufficient] 
specifications. In other words, there is no way any programmer will be 
able to write driver for NVIDIA chips plainly because of lack of 
necessary information.

NVIDIA was like that since forever. It sets me off when someone [of 
Linux folks] says "compile NVIDIA driver". It is not NVIDIA driver they 
compile, but merely interface between NVIDIA proprietary driver 
(available only in binary form) and particular version of [Linux] kernel.

> A far more easily implemented plan would be for the FreeBSD developers to pin
> point exactly what FreeBSD needs to do to become fully compatible with nVidia
> products. Microsoft works closely with nVidia, as well as some other *.nix
> developers to assure that their products are compatible. Why isn't FreeBSD
> taking this approach?

Please, get your facts straight! It is NVIDIA that just ignores the 
existence of other systems (apart from which they made sure their binary 
proprietary driver works on). Do not request open source systems to 
become "compatible" with some proprietary hardware which is just a black 
box without any description of what is inside (for the whole open source 

Also, previous poster of this thread put NVIDIA above Intel and ATI 
video chips. I don't care about Intel video chip (which is crap IMHO), 
but I feel offended by under-rating ATI. In my observation, for over 
decade (maybe a couple of decades) ATI (bought out by AMD a few years 
ago) was disclosing sufficient amount of information about internals of 
their video chips, therefore open source Linux drivers always worked 
well and had access to pretty much all features of ATI video chips. To 
the contrary to NVIDIA, for whose chips there was only minimal 
information, thus it was possible to write open source driver that 
worked only in very generic way (e.g. you could get in trouble using 
open source driver for NVIDIA card with dual screen, so you have to 
install darn NVIDIA binary driver).

Some Linux folks around me were always setting me off when they were 
praising NVIDIA, and saying BS like "compiling NVIDIA driver" whereas it 
is merely interface between binary closed source driver and kernel that 
they were compiling.

And last but not least. FreeBSD is open source system. Therefore, 
demanding that FreeBSD "works with" proprietary software and hardware 
developer, is something way out of reasonable. If someone - NVIDIA - 
elected not to disclose their information to open source community, no 
sane person will invest their time into even develop some open source 
software even for some particular hardware for which enough information 
is available. It only will be possible if NVIDIA in our case discloses 
all information, but even that is not enough, or at least will not be 
enough for me, they have to commit to always providing all information, 
otherwise tomorrow they may stop doing it and all my today's work goes 
to trash.

So, please, put the blame where it belongs: with NVIDIA not supporting 
several major open source systems, FreeBSD being one of them.


Valeri Galtsev
Sr System Administrator
Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics
University of Chicago
Phone: 773-702-4247

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