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Re: Intel i830/i845 video support, and the future

On Tue, 7 Jan 2003, G. Roderick Singleton wrote:

>> unsupported, and go out and buy the hardware first, then find out 
>> it isn't supported, rather than finding out first, and _THEN_ 
>> making hardware purchase). 
>Your point is taken but it would help if one could actually view the 
>compatitbility lists. For example, any search returns no results and an 
>opprotunity to repeat.  Thus I suspect your claim that users aren't 
>using the compatibily lists is false.

That would be nice if it were possible to _create_ compatibility
lists, and have them actually _accurate_ for more than 5 days.  
It also would require that Red Hat have one of every single piece
of video hardware in existance out there from every vendor.  
Considering many are only found in laptops and/or motherboard
chipsets, that is one heck of a lot of laptops and motherboards
that would be required.  It's also something that would require
about 10-20 times as many engineers doing video testing and
creating a compatibility database of various video hardware each
release - than the number of people working on XFree86 here to
begin with.

So, while I certainly support your thoughts fully that providing 
an accurate compatibility database to users would be wonderful.  
In reality, it is impossible due to the volume of hardware out 
there, the amount of effort doing such would require in order to 
be accurate, and the small gain it would provide for the amount 
of money invested into doing such.  Also, any XFree86 update 
would invalidate the entire database, thus requiring complete 

Don't expect this type of thing to happen any time soon, at least 
not a database of sufficient quality to truely give the 
user/customer truely accurate information.

>> XFree86.org just commited improved 2D support to the i810 driver 
>> and added 3D support for this hardware as well.  Of course, it is 
>> untested at this point in time.  I just wanted to let you all 
>> know that the work is aparently done, so XFree86 4.3.0 will have 
>> 3D support for this hardware.  Many further i810 driver 
>> improvements were just committed as well, including a big driver 
>> cleanup.
>Interseting. The issue of the Intel i8xx graphics controllers has 
>exisited since the release of RedHat 6.2. Why so late addressing this 
>issue? Why only the i810 controller rather than later versions such as i845?

And Intel i8xx video hardware has also been supported for that 
long.  This is not an inability for Red Hat to address _any_ 
issue.  You clearly do not know anything about what you are 
talking about.

The Intel i810 video driver in XFree86, is merely *named* "i810".  
That _name_ is somewhat of a misnomer.  A more accurate name 
would be "intel" as the driver does not support _just_ the Intel 
i810 video hardware.  It supports:

	i810, i810e, i815, i815e, i830, i830m, i830G

It does not support the Intel i845 integrated video support 
because XFree86 4.2.0, which is what shipped in both Red Hat 
Linux 7.3 and 8.0, does _not_ support the Intel i845 video 
hardware.  Why?  Because i845 did not exist when XFree86 4.2.0 
was released to the public, and XFree86 did not get support for 
this until several months ago in CVS.  That code was not remotely 
stable until about 2-3 weeks ago, and still contains a few 

David Dawes, the president of XFree86 implemented the support for 
the Intel i845 graphics, I believe under contract with Intel to 
do the work (if I understand correctly).

If you want to know why the Intel i845 was not supported and is 
not supported in Red Hat Linux, the answer is that the code in 
Red Hat Linux was written 9 months or more prior to the driver 
code existing.

If you want to know why the code did not exist earlier than that:

1) Intel did not provide video specifications to open source 
   developers until they contracted to have the work done.  
   The specs were not available to the public even after that, 
   and might still not be available (I haven't looked in a while)

2) Intel did not pay someone to do the work earlier or write the 
   code themselves and contribute it.

It is the responsibility of video hardware vendors to either:

1) Write drivers for their hardware for the OS platforms they 
   want users of which to buy their hardware


2) Pay someone else (perhaps Red hat) to do the work, and provide
   them the documentation


3) Provide the documentation to the community either publically, 
   or to certain volunteers willing to do the work in their spare 
   time or for other motivations

Your question is misdirected, and should be sent instead to 
Intel, by saying "Intel, why are you so late in addressing the 
issue of supporting i845 on your video hardware?  Do you not want 
me to purchase your video hardware for Linux?"

Unless a video hardware vendor produces drivers themselves, or
pays someone under contract to develop them, or provides the
necessary information for someone to do so voluntarily, as
mentioned above, then the hardware will be completely unsupported
until they do so.  And it will not be supported by XFree86 until
it does get done, and gets integrated into a new release of
XFree86.  After that, it will not be supported by Red Hat, until 
a release of Red Hat Linux has integrated the XFree86 release 
that supports it.

The short story is: Do not buy bleeding edge video hardware if 
you use Linux.  Buy hardware that the XFree86 release in the OS 
you plan on using, is listed as supported on the XFree86.org 
support pages for that XFree86 release.  You should also do 
further research prior to purchase to ensure hardware is 

While it would be nice to have the kind of out of the box
hardware support in Linux for video as well as other hardware
that Microsoft Windows enjoys, and have such support exist at the 
split second that new hardware is available for purchase - this 
is not the reality of the current state of any type of hardware 
support in Linux.  It is likely to change at some point, but it 
is not something that any given Linux vendor has much control 
over.  Hardware vendors choose to support out of the box, the 
OSs that they feel like spending the time/effort/money supporting 
out of the box.

Mike A. Harris     ftp://people.redhat.com/mharris
OS Systems Engineer - XFree86 maintainer - Red Hat

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