Does FreeBSD 6.0 fully support PCI-Express?

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at
Thu Nov 24 06:32:40 GMT 2005


  Would you please list a cite that the nv driver is open

     There is also another site here:

  although I will admit this is 5 months old - please cite
a more recent article where nvidia has reversed their policy?

  As Mike Harris eloquently said a couple years ago:

Nvidia doesn't release their technical specifications for their 
hardware to *anyone*, not even under NDA (non-disclosure 
agreements).  One might be tempted to think "well you have the 
source code though right?", however the source code isn't enough.  
None of the video hardware registers are documented, instead they 
are programmed as a series of random "magic" numbers, so you have 
absolutely no idea what the purpose of a given register is, that 
is getting written seemingly random information into it in the 
driver.  The driver is for all intents and purposes obfuscated 
unless you have the hardware documentation which turns numbers 
like 0x3432 into a useful name like NVIDIA_SUCH_AND_SUCH_REGISTER 
with documentation of WTH that register actually does.

That's the long story, the short story is, that even though the 
"nv" driver is open source, it is more or less supplied as-is and 
the only way it gets updated is if Nvidia updates it, because 
nobody outside Nvidia has the foggiest clue how their hardware 

So if a card isn't supported, that's unfortunate.  If 2D doesn't
work, that's also unfortunate.  By reporting bugs that occur in
the "nv" driver to, the bug report will
get assigned to Mark Vojkovich, who is the official driver
maintainer, working at Nvidia, who has access to pretty much
every Nvidia card ever made, and the technical specifications to
go along with them.  If he can't fix the bug, then more or less,
nobody can.  Not without getting hired by Nvidia to work on the 
'nv' driver.  ;o)

Micah, if this has changed, please cite where.  I myself also happen to
have a system with an onboard nvidia card so I really am interested,
not just trying to flame-bait.


>-----Original Message-----
>From: Micah [mailto:micahjon at]
>Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 7:02 AM
>To: Ted Mittelstaedt
>Cc: Hans Nieser; freebsd-questions at
>Subject: Re: Does FreeBSD 6.0 fully support PCI-Express?
>Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:
>> As far as I know Nvidia hasn't allowed Xorg to write drivers
>> for their cards, all the nvidia drivers out there are
>> binaries from Nvidia.  This for me would cross that card
>> off my list.
>Just to correct this bit of mis-information, there are two drivers 
>available for nvidia.  The nv driver is an open source driver provided 
>by xorg, and the nvidia driver is a closed source driver 
>provided by nvidia.

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