Funding Radeon driver development

Daniel Kasak dan at
Sun Apr 15 16:46:18 PDT 2007

Firstly, I thought I'd start a new thread instead of replying the the 
original one, as I'd like to get maximum exposure and not just people 
interested in tv-out ...

Hanno Böck wrote:

> Hi,
> One of the most missing features for me in linux is my non-working tv-out. 
> (well, it can work with the proprietary ati-driver, but that's not really 
> what I want)
> Now, I heared that some people were working on that, but never saw a patch 
> that made it work for me. As this would make things much easier for me, I 
> thought that I might donate a small amount of money if someone is willing to 
> pick that issue up. I also think that I could gain some more donaters via a 
> public announcement in my blog.
> My question: Would such an initiative be welcome by the xorg-devs? Anyone 
> probably already interested in getting such a bounty?

I've been meaning to suggest something similar, but I've been snowed 
under in work and stuff. I think the bounty idea is a great way of 
motivating both users and developers. I contacted Tungsten Graphics a 
little while ago, asking about the feasibility of them working on the 
Radeon driver again, with funding from users. The response I received 
said that basically the best way to accelerate the development of the 
Radeon drivers is to collect funds for the people currently working on 
the open-source driver ( ie they didn't seem to think it was feasible 
for them to work on it ).

Another interesting point made was that if Tungsten Graphics had access 
to hardware specifications for later cards, they would be able to secure 
commercial funding to work on it again! But anyway, we know the 
likelihood of this happening at the moment ...

So ... I assume there would be quite a decent number of ATI users who 
would like to see the open-source Radeon driver developed at a faster 
pace than it currently is. Certainly there's no point in sitting around 
and waiting for ATI's drivers to shape up - the pace of development is 
glacial, and they seem to focus their attention on things which most 
users aren't interested in, while neglecting the things we're asking 
for. What's more, I think the open-source driver is in better shape than 
theirs anyway - I use it exclusively on my system ( X700 mobility ) as 
it's more stable and has better support for features that I use.

I'm not really sure the best way to go about this though. We'd really 
have to ask the developers who are currently working on it as to which 
way they'd like to see funding happen, for example:


Personally I like this method, and I assume end users will favor it too. 
Transgaming's voting system keeps users interested and engaged in 
specifying the direction of development, and I believe this is a major 
contributor to their success in keeping customers paying monthly 
subscriptions ( works for me anyway ).

  - likely to attract more ( and continued ) funding from end users
  - allows users to specify which features they want to see developed

  - restricts the freedom of developers to work on stuff they want to do



  - more developer-friendly - work on what you want to work on
  - possibly faster development of features, taking into account above point

  - less likely to attract donations from users ( can't specify features 
you want )
  - still need to work out how much money a feature is worth ... maybe 
devs can do this



An easy way ( requiring the least organisation at the users' end, anyway 
) would be to simply raise the money, then donate it to a group of 
developers ( maybe people who have worked on the Radeon driver in the 
past year / couple of years ) and let them decide what to do with it. I 
believe this is how the donation to the nouveau project happened.

  - easy to organise

  - hardest to raise funds from end users? especially on an ongoing basis


So what do people think? Please, end users and developers, comment on 
this so we can get an idea of whether this is feasible, and what methods 
people would prefer. To get people thinking, here are some 
possibilities, and some things that are going on in current development:

- future:  RENDER acceleration for r300 driver
- future:  tv-out
- future:  EGL driver development
- current: reverse-engineering of stuff for r4xx ( eg xpress )
- current:

Surely there are people who think it's worthwhile funding ( or rewarding 
for ) some ( or all ) of the above?


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