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In a move that's going to raise a lot of eyebrows, Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network to 'protect Linux and other important open source workloads from patent assertions'.

For those who haven't heard of the OIN, their mission statement is quite a simple and honourable one "The Open Invention Network is a shared defensive patent pool with the mission to protect Linux.". To find out more about the OIN see here.

Hold the phone, this isn't gaming news?

Correct. However, this is still very interesting and extremely surprising from a company that has been pretty hostile to Linux in the past. It's the kind of move that could result in some big shifts in the entire industry.

We know Microsoft’s decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents. For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs. 

Surprising is one word for it! Honestly, I'm in shock at this news. Does this mean we can firmly put the "Embrace, extend, and extinguish" phrase to rest and replace it with Embrace, extend, and protect? With Microsoft joining, they're bringing with them around 60,000 patents.

Moves like that, makes me seriously think about how Microsoft have changed, especially since their previous CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux "a cancer".

I think it also shows how far Linux has come as a platform for all things too, especially with Microsoft having a "Windows Subsystem for Linux" along with their support for running Linux on their Azure cloud computing platform.

What do you think to this?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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127 comments
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tuubi 17 October 2018 at 8:03 am UTC
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Purple Library Guy
Kristian
cprnDirectX can't be ported to Linux per se, it's a bunch of Windows core calls. Its API can be re-implemented on Linux, that's what wine does and yeah, maybe wine folks would benefit but nobody else, really.

Hypothetically DirectX would be suitable as an open standard, replacing Vulkan, right? I mean from a purely technical stand point, they could open source it and turn it over to some standard's body or something. I ask because I am not well informed enough on the technical aspects.
Neither am I, but I infer from what cprn said that DirectX is fundamentally different from Vulkan in that Vulkan is a sort of set of specifications of how stuff is supposed to work, which is then implemented in different OSes and stuff, whereas DirectX is instead an implementation of thingies that tell Windows specifically what to do in language Windows specifically understands . . . an implementation which no doubt has some documentation which may superficially look like a specification, except they aren't, because the specific code comes first and the description of what it does comes second.
DirectX 12, or more specifically the graphics API Direct3D 12 is very similar to Vulkan. Both APIs were built on AMD's Mantle, and I don't see a technical reason why hardware vendors couldn't implement both in their Linux drivers. Vulkan 1.1 even added a bunch of DX12 compatibility extensions which makes the difference even smaller.

However, even if Microsoft hypothetically released an open DX12 spec, (deliberately) breaking their own "standards" and making competitors scramble for compatibility with their own implementations would be par for the course. They don't exactly have a stellar record when it comes to playing fair. I wouldn't trust Khronos either if they had their own platform to push. Instead they have all the interested parties working on a common spec. (Note that even Microsoft is a Khronos "contributor" member.)

There's also the fact that MS would never give up total control of the API. They like their lock-in as long as they're the big dog with nothing to lose.
Kristian 17 October 2018 at 8:12 am UTC
"even if Microsoft hypothetically released an open DX12 spec, (deliberately) breaking their own "standards" and making competitors scramble for compatibility with their own implementations would be par for the course."

Them not doing this, or anything like it, was intended as part of my hypothetical.
tuubi 17 October 2018 at 10:10 am UTC
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Kristian"even if Microsoft hypothetically released an open DX12 spec, (deliberately) breaking their own "standards" and making competitors scramble for compatibility with their own implementations would be par for the course."

Them not doing this, or anything like it, was intended as part of my hypothetical.
I still don't see the point. What would DX12 bring to the table that Vulkan doesn't offer? Many companies have invested a lot in Vulkan support and know-how already. Why would they want to switch to another API now, equivalent or not?

DX12 is more limited in scope and hardware support by the way. It only needs to support XBox and anything that runs Windows 10. Vulkan is supported everywhere from the Nintendo Switch to specialised safety critical aircraft hardware. Vulkan could replace DX12 as is, but not the other way around.
Kristian 17 October 2018 at 12:02 pm UTC
"I still don't see the point. What would DX12 bring to the table that Vulkan doesn't offer? Many companies have invested a lot in Vulkan support and know-how already. Why would they want to switch to another API now, equivalent or not?"

I am not sure it would be useful at all. But in the (unlikely) event my hypothetical came true, it would show a change in attitude on the part of Microsoft, right?

The reason I suspect such a hypothetical situation might be useful is because DirectX has a lot of mindshare, tools, tutorials, books etc and most of all games that actually use it. Have many games ship with DirectX support vs support for open API's?

Hopefully that will change with Vulkan. If open API's are used more and more on the Windows side of things then that will help Linux gaming.

By the way is Vulkan seeing any widespread adoption by Switch developers? AFAIK Nintendo only offers Vulkan as an alternative to their own API's. If Vulkan was the only option for a major console that would also help alot.


Last edited by Kristian at 17 October 2018 at 12:03 pm UTC
tuubi 17 October 2018 at 1:31 pm UTC
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KristianThe reason I suspect such a hypothetical situation might be useful is because DirectX has a lot of mindshare, tools, tutorials, books etc and most of all games that actually use it. Have many games ship with DirectX support vs support for open API's?
Direct3D 12 is a completely new graphics API and it isn't that much more established in the industry than Vulkan. As far as I know, only a couple dozen games have released on Windows with D3D12 support thus far, and none of them are D3D12 exclusive.

KristianBy the way is Vulkan seeing any widespread adoption by Switch developers? AFAIK Nintendo only offers Vulkan as an alternative to their own API's. If Vulkan was the only option for a major console that would also help alot.
I don't think it matters. As long as a cross-platform API is properly supported, it doesn't need to be the only option. Nintendo wouldn't be a likely candidate to do something like this anyway.


Last edited by tuubi at 17 October 2018 at 1:50 pm UTC
Kristian 17 October 2018 at 3:17 pm UTC
tuubi
KristianThe reason I suspect such a hypothetical situation might be useful is because DirectX has a lot of mindshare, tools, tutorials, books etc and most of all games that actually use it. Have many games ship with DirectX support vs support for open API's?
Direct3D 12 is a completely new graphics API and it isn't that much more established in the industry than Vulkan. As far as I know, only a couple dozen games have released on Windows with D3D12 support thus far, and none of them are D3D12 exclusive.

KristianBy the way is Vulkan seeing any widespread adoption by Switch developers? AFAIK Nintendo only offers Vulkan as an alternative to their own API's. If Vulkan was the only option for a major console that would also help alot.
I don't think it matters. As long as a cross-platform API is properly supported, it doesn't need to be the only option. Nintendo wouldn't be a likely candidate to do something like this anyway.

I am just thinking that if Vulkan was the only option on the Switch then more games would have a Vulkan backend and the less work would be needed for a Linux port. If the Switch version of a game uses Vulkan than you have to support it for that anyway. But if the Switch version uses some proprietary Nintendo API, then that would not help porting efforts to Linux. The same goes for Mac and the PS4. There is no official Vulkan support on Mac and AFAIK none at all for the PS4. Never mind Vulkan being obligatory on those platforms.

"Direct3D 12 is a completely new graphics API and it isn't that much more established in the industry than Vulkan."

That is good. Hopefully this time around, the open API can gain the edge over the proprietary one.

I really wish some antitrust authorities or something like that could pressure Microsoft(Windows(DirectX)), Apple(Mac OS/iOS(Metal)) and maybe even the console manufacturers to give up on their proprietary API's. But it is not looking likely.

"As long as a cross-platform API is properly supported, it doesn't need to be the only option."

Didn't the PS3 also offer some form of OpenGL(PSGL?)? But as far as I know hardly anyone used it. It seems that so long as consoles offer proprietary API's that is what developers are going to use.

Edit:

Does anybody here know of actual Switch titles that use Vulkan on the Switch?


Last edited by Kristian at 17 October 2018 at 3:24 pm UTC
tuubi 17 October 2018 at 4:06 pm UTC
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KristianDoes anybody here know of actual Switch titles that use Vulkan on the Switch?
I don't really follow console gaming news, but Doom (2016) and Wolfenstein II might be likely candidates.
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