Could AMD move open desktop Linux market?

Could AMD move open desktop Linux market?

Summary: So long as content and gaming are closed to open source, Linux' desktop market share will remain minimal. We're still talking here of baby steps, which must be followed-up by programmers working for fun instead of food.


ATI game graphics boardAMD's recent move to fully support open source graphics could be the best news desktop Linux has had in a long time. (That's an AMD ATI graphics board, the X800GT, at right.)

Or it could be another example of someone throwing a losing proposition over the side in the hope someone picks it up.

AMD said last week it would support development of open source graphics drivers on its ATI Radeon chips, not just with code but with documentation.

Intel had begun work on an open source graphics driver a year ago. Intel generally makes complete graphics systems, not just discrete graphics chips.

Both these moves could help move some game development to open source. For better or worse, games are an important application category where open source presently has little presence.

But it may mean nothing if Nvidia drivers remain proprietary, and if that company continues to grab market share. AMD is also refusing to cooperate with efforts to open up DRMs or copy protection schemes, and continuing to roll-out its proprietary software.

So long as content and gaming are closed to open source, Linux' desktop market share will remain minimal. We're still talking here of baby steps, which must be followed-up by programmers working for fun instead of food.

But baby steps are better than none.

Topics: Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Processors

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  • "... programmers working for fun instead of food."

    Yes, that's what's necessary to advance Linux. I agree with you completely.

    Over time, I suspect that programmers with sufficient food and perhaps less fun will believe themselves better off than programmers who have had no food and palling fun.
    Anton Philidor
    • Get off it all ready!

      These programmers are paid by AMD! Enough with the misleading people about Open Source programmers and their pay!

      SOME programmers do it for the sheer pleasure others, like the ones at AMD, ATi, Novell GET PAID and PAID WELL AT THAT! ]:)
      Linux User 147560
  • Game and productivity market different.

    I'm not sure why there is a belief that the gaming market is important for desktop Linux or FLOSS in general. These markets are very different. The Entertainment Software industry has closer ties as far as business models are concerned to the rest of the entertainment industry. The value of peer production for these folks are minimal, except for things which are essentially infrastructure (rendering engines, and other tools used by the industry).

    While I believe that peer production (FLOSS, etc) will dominate in specific domains such as productivity/infrastructure software, scientific and medical journals, and non-fiction educational material, I equally believe that non-zero marginal price business models will continue to dominate in entertainment (entertainment software, music, movies, television).

    That is the economics of the situation. Politically I believe that the non-zero marginal cost entertainment industry (software and non-software) will believe that they have affinity with the non-zero marginal cost businesses outside of entertainment being challenged by peer production, and will mistakenly politically support them. They will hopefully quickly realize that there will be more money for their businesses if they allow these outdated incumbents in unrelated markets to be replaced.
    • Good point, but... increasing portion of the PC market overall is tied to gaming and entertainment.
      • Maybe so, but funding the IT...

        market is mostly from business and science.

        If the IT industry depended on gamers as their market, they wouldn't survive. If their were no gamers, the business world would still support the IT industry.
        • But how does that help desktop linux?

          Seems like you aren't connecting the dots, or maybe i'm just not seeing it.
  • RE: Could AMD move open desktop Linux market?

    "So long as content and gaming are closed to open source, Linux??? desktop market share will remain minimal."

    First, there is very little content that is not available to Linux. In fact, I'd venture to say that content is more accessible on Linux than any other platform. The legality of accessing that that content (codecs, filesystems, protocols) may be questionable in some countries, but that doesn't alter the reality.

    Second, gaming (high-end) is only a small percentage of usage on the most popular desktop. I am of course excluding the low-end games that play equally well on all platforms. There is continuous debate over whether a general purpose machine makes a good, cost effective, gaming platform. I'm in the camp that says you can use a general purpose machine for simply games (e.g., solitaire through Quake), but for serious gaming, get a dedicated platform (a console).

    So where does that leave us? Linux is more than ready for the desktop, and no one has a clue what its installed base is. Installed base, NOT market share. The vast majority of Linux is not sold, so a market share number is meaningless. The installed base could, today be anything from 5% to 25% - no one has any clue, and anyone that says otherwise is lying. The best estimates I've seen put Linux at twice the installed base as Mac OS X.
    Mace Moneta
  • Well...Maybe it could...

    Or Maybe they realize there is a growing awareness & interest of things outside of just MS, and they wish to sell more.

    I could be mistaken, but my understanding is ATI/AMD will make greater effort in providing better "Proprietary Drivers", but be making the Specs available, which would a allow third parties to Create GPL, OpenSource & maybe even other Proprietary drivers.

    This not only leads to better standards, good will in the Free & Opensource Communities, but also augments AMD/ATI's own Developement strategies.

    Yes it is a step forward.....

    Both in your teaser & last say;
    "So long as content and gaming are closed to open source,....."

    That seems like FUD to me...
    What Content & Gaming do you refer?
    I have had no need of Windows in many years, and have little or no need to Purchase hardware or software which do not support my needs & Interests.

    I have Sat & HD (OTA) and use OGG, FLAC, Theora & Xvid.

    The last games I purchased were Doom3 & Xplane
    Yet also Still play older OpenGL & DirectX (Via Wine) games, like the GTA's & WarCraft.
    Not to forget the many GPL & OSS Games & Simms Celestia, Stellarium, Tank, FlightGear etc.... If they wish to sell me a game it better be native....

    Do not mind spending money on Prop stuff when there is need, benefit & value.
    Mathmatica, Cycas, MainActor, Maya etc.... But there are many Free(GPL) & Opensource tools as well

    The last Video Card I purchased.was a nVida 6600.
    And I use the Nouveau drivers.
    I am not completely against proprietary drivers if they have Benefit & Value, but do prefer GPL/standards based, especially with hardware.

    So if they want my interest & money they need to provide what meets my interest, needs.& platform.

    BTW their 9xxx (R300) & FireGL lines with GPL drivers are old but nice.
  • QUICK ! Use the magic spells Cartman?!!!

  • Dana....I really think you may have it backwards.

    Since before '04 the Linux (desktop) Market World Wide has been over 5%. Today it is well over 7%, (*for business/corporate/enterprise) and will continue to grow. So Much so that ODM's & OEM's are taking a more considered look and offerering even consumer systems, even in the US. Dell, HPaq, Lenovo, Acer etc..

    ATI/AMD has two major competetors (Intel & nVidia) and many smaller ones (VIA, Matrox, S3)
    most of which have better support or policies which are more GPL/Opensource friendly.

    I (now) specifically look for or generally favor the Intel's for me & My clients.
    In a notebook or in a desktop board because their drivers are GPL'd.and turn out to be/have much better benefit & Value in the Long term.....(even for Windows)
    (even the older 7,8,& 9000 series/FireGL/(r300) still has use & value)

    *Getting back to the (general/consumer/community) desktop market(share).
    That shadow market that many seem to avoid/ignore/discount, because it cannot be accurately counted. (if it could, I hazard a guess, they would be afraid to publish the info)
    I also would hazard the guess, that if not the same it could be twice the size for the business numbers.and growing.
    (why are all the major OEM's starting to offer Linux preinstalled)

    Businesses rarely create trends, they recognize & then follow trends.
  • Linux is my desktop.

    Linux is my primary desktop at work and home although I also use OS X, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista on a daily basis. Sure, having better 3D support in Linux will be great, and I do think it'll help bring games to Linux, but ot really isn't that important to the Linux desktop.

    If they get good 3D support, using open source drivers, for ATI graphics cards under Linux then I can say for sure that I will switch from buying Nvidia cards to buying ATI cards. The only exception would be if Nvidia would step up and release their specs and get high-quality open source drivers with 3D support too. In that case I'd take whichever card has the most bang at the time I'm buying. I don't really care what it costs - I just want it to work and kick ass.
    • Ditto

      If ATI/AMD open source graaphics under Linux become really good - then I'm switching form Nvidia to ATI as well. I just gave a 8600GT that I bought last week to my gram .... and I'm starting to examine ATI cards for my Debian 64 Godzilla system.

      Games will follow the market, because that's what it's all about.