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Aureal Sound Card Petition for Open Specifications

By iCEBaLM in News
Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 04:16:34 AM EST
Tags: Hardware (all tags)
Hardware

Aureal, makers of the extremely popular "Vortex" family of 3D sound processor chips used in such cards as the Diamond Monster MX300, Turtle Beach Montego series and Aureal's own cards, started work on linux drivers for these cards with the promise of them becoming open source back in November. To date the linux drivers are only half open with any code that interfaces directly with the hardware closed in object form only. To this end, a petition has been setup to ask Aureal to open specifications enough to write stereo drivers for the cards. If you own one of these cards and/or wish to see the specifications opened, please sign the petition.


As an extended discussion about this topic I would like to ask the k5 readership what kind of recourse consumers have against companies who promise something, in this case open source drivers, and never deliver on them? Could this possibly be false advertisement or is the only remedy to "vote with your dollars" and never buy a product from that company again?

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Aureal Sound Card Petition for Open Specifications | 19 comments (19 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
I signed the petition, but i don't ... (none / 0) (#1)
by ramses0 on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 08:42:13 PM EST

ramses0 voted 0 on this story.

I signed the petition, but i don't know if k5 is the best place to write directly about specific driver petitions-- maybe something about more than one driver petition, or about driver petitions in general.

Something about logitech quick-cam vc drivers:

http://www.crynwr.com/qcpc/

Finally, you can even get source code for QuickCam drivers on other operating systems (but not linux). It would be nice if we could still get the official low-level protocol documentation directly from Logitech. Connectix had a web page specifically for QuickCam Developers, but Logitech seems to have dropped it.

--Robert
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

Having personally contacted Aureal ... (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by deimos on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 09:25:31 PM EST

deimos voted 1 on this story.

Having personally contacted Aureal for assistance in providing drivers for the FreeBSD community, I can attest to the apathy at Aureal. Unless I was willing to pay them some huge licensing fee for the SDK, and not release the source, I could not have the drivers, nor the SDK. Aureal is a company barely surviving, since most of the executive team up and left all at once. They are desperate for money, and trying to stay afloat. Unless the linux/freebsd communities can be proven to provide a large bang for their development buck, they have no incentive to release open source anything.
irc.kuro5hin.org: Good Monkeys, Great Typewriters.

...but don't forget, Aureal is in t... (none / 0) (#3)
by Pseudonymous Coward on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 09:37:20 PM EST

Pseudonymous Coward voted 1 on this story.

...but don't forget, Aureal is in the process of going under. Keep in mind that you'll likely have to communicate with whomever buys out their technology portfolio and/or operation, and often in those cases there is much confusion over the prior commitments and responsibilities of the newly-acquired outfit.

The stories of for example Rendition, Hercules, Diamond Multimedia and STB show that there is a history of leaving current customers in the lurch when a business fails and the inevitable acquisition happens. In the hardware business, especially, current end users are expensive to support and not terribly profitable to keep happy.

It's not the way I'd like to do business, but do keep history in mind when you ask a failing company for support.

As far as I'm aware, Aureal went be... (none / 0) (#11)
by Cariset on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 10:20:30 PM EST

Cariset voted 0 on this story.

As far as I'm aware, Aureal went belly up and died. (<a href=http://www.tech-report.com/onearticle.x/619>more info) Which would explain why they never got around to developing Linux drivers. (Hence a -1.) But it's also point in favor of them opening their drivers - what do they have to lose? It's not like it'll give their competition a leg up on 'em or anything, and a large-enough base of support might attract buyers... (And +1 cancels it out.)

"[W]hat kind of recourse [do] ... (3.00 / 2) (#10)
by the Epopt on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 10:41:13 PM EST

the Epopt voted -1 on this story.

"[W]hat kind of recourse [do] consumers have against companies who promise something ... and never deliver on them?"

The cruel and omnipotent power to not buy whatever they're lying about.


-- 
Most people who need to be shot need to be shot soon and a lot.
Very few people need to be shot later or just a little.

K5_Arguing_HOWTO
If nothing else, it would be nice i... (none / 0) (#4)
by Greyjack on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 11:08:50 PM EST

Greyjack voted 1 on this story.

If nothing else, it would be nice if they'd deliver the goods before they completely disappear (y'all know they filed chapter 11, right?)

--
Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett


Wow, this is great! I have the TBS ... (none / 0) (#8)
by Frigorific on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 11:49:37 PM EST

Frigorific voted 1 on this story.

Wow, this is great! I have the TBS Montego II (it came with my Dell) and for a while I despaired of ever getting decent support for it. Perhaps this petition will change some minds over at Aureal...
Who is John Galt? Rather, who is Vasilios Hoffman?

Aureal has filed for banruptcy. Cr... (none / 0) (#6)
by gooloo on Mon Jun 12, 2000 at 11:58:47 PM EST

gooloo voted 0 on this story.

Aureal has filed for banruptcy. Creative Labs beat them soundly. Most of their staff has jumped ship -- the executives left when they filed -- and people were thinking that the W2k drivers would never ship. CL might buy rights to the Vortex and liquidate Aureal. If this happens, then hardware specs for the Vortex will be lost unto this world.

What about the tech? (none / 0) (#12)
by pwhysall on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 06:38:42 AM EST

Is anyone going to pick up this stuff? After all, it's not going to cost anyone a great deal of money, relatively speaking.

And buying someone else's designs beats the hell out of doing the work yourself...
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: Aureal has filed for banruptcy. Cr... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by fluffy grue on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 11:42:02 AM EST

And this is the second time they've been beaten into bankruptcy. Remember Media Vision with the *vastly* superior (for the time) Pro Audio Spectrum 16? CL's superior marketing of an inferior product (the SB16) buried MV; while that ship was sinking, the engineering department spun off a new company (Aureal), and history repeated itself, where A3D-based cards such as the Vortex 2 are a vastly superior product to Creative Labs' EAX-based pieces of shit, but are just marketed better. I mean, after all, which would you prefer, a 3D sound chip which actually wavetraces interreflections and deals with doppler effects and SIMULATES the sound environment (A3D), or a pathetically-simple reverb processor (EAX)?

I hate Creative Labs. They are, quite literally, the MSFT of multimedia products. Their video cards are crap (compared to other cards using the same chipsets) and yet outsell everyone else because of their name and their lower pricepoint. Their modems and soundcards ahve always been crap, and usually more expensive than their competitors' but they've got that CL branding to them and come with lots of shitty demo versions of games which are a big selling point to the unwashed masses. They fragment the soundcard market by constantly bringing as many soundcard products to market as possible (did you know that the AWE32 really only has 30 voices due to shitty engineering, and there is no legitimate hardware difference between the AWE64 and AWE32? and having more than 64 voices is quite pointless and yet they're always coming out with the PCI128 and PCI256 and PCI512 which have NO hardware differences, just drivers which pretend to handle more voices and a reason to deprecate their old hardware), buying up companies (like the once-cool Ensoniq, makers of fine electric keyboards and the chipset in the Gravis Ultrasound) so that they can assert themselves over other markets, and, of course, using FUD, revisionist history (their marketing department must be thinking, "who cares if the Gravis Ultrasound had this long ago? they don't even ACKNOWLEDGE their soundcards anymore, they won't sue if we say we have the first CD-quality wavetable synthesis soundcard!").

I used to feel that the holy trinity of FUD and crap were Microsoft, 3dfx, and Creative. (3dfx was a whole other rant.) However, even 3dfx has eventually started to redeem themselves in my eyes, now that they're actually engineering chips which aren't just glorified rehashes of the original Voodoo. But although Creative started to seem kinda cool a few years ago (coming up with all sorts of "open standards" for soundcards to follow, like their open memory module standard and their open soundbank format), all that's been more than reversed with interest compounded in feces.

Oops. Um. </rant> :)
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

I have a couple of aureal's cards, ... (none / 0) (#5)
by Didel on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 12:17:11 AM EST

Didel voted 1 on this story.

I have a couple of aureal's cards, so this matters to me.

While I would agree that Aureal sho... (none / 0) (#9)
by Macross on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 02:41:46 AM EST

Macross voted 1 on this story.

While I would agree that Aureal should release whatever drivers they have developed, since they are in Chapter 11 (if I'm not mistaken), I'm not sure who is even working there right now. When SyQuest declared bankruptcy, the only way I was able to get to a living person on the phone was by entering common last names in their directory search program (ended up talking with a Ms. Johnson), and even then she was not being paid to work, but wanted to help out stranded customers with no other recourse. So there might not be anyone there to hear our pleas, at least until they work out their "financial difficulties".

I was gonna get me an Aureal Vortex... (none / 0) (#2)
by pwhysall on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 03:05:37 AM EST

pwhysall voted 1 on this story.

I was gonna get me an Aureal Vortex card (because they're good and relatively cheap) but bailed because the driver support under Linux is cack.

Decent drivers *would* reverse that decision.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown

Current proprietary drivers cause kernel faults! (none / 0) (#13)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 09:27:43 AM EST

I'm an owner of Turtle Beach Montego II card, I bought it over a year ago. I'm dissapointed at current proprietary drivers for Vortex2 since they cause kernel faults (awful messages in syslog). I believe open source drivers would do better (and longer) on Linux.


Petitions are good. (none / 0) (#15)
by mcb on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 01:52:27 PM EST

I own a card with the vortex chip onboard so I am happy that there is a movement to get this card linux drivers. I never saw any promise from them to deliver open scource drivers, but I think that a petition is the best way to get something out of them. Voting with dollars is probably not the best way because this might lead Aureal (or whatever has become of Aureal) to believe that their is no need for them to write the drivers at all.

Re: Petitions are good. (none / 0) (#16)
by iCEBaLM on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 04:13:58 PM EST

I never saw any promise from them to deliver open scource drivers, but I think that a petition is the best way to get something out of them.

This is why I linked to the promise made by the then Developer Relations Manager at Aureal who said:

We are indeed releasing Linux drivers for all of our chips and will release source too. This will be happening very soon (much sooner than you think).

-- iCEBaLM

[ Parent ]
Too late for me (none / 0) (#17)
by Moebius on Tue Jun 13, 2000 at 04:43:54 PM EST

I bought a cheap A3D 1 card when they first were out. Aureal was a good company, they really brought 3D sound to the public and caused Creative Labs to wake up and produce something new instead of the ISA line SoundBlasters (which was still their flagship product at the time). It was good technology and it was available at a good price. Then I installed Linux. No support at all except for commerical OSS/Linux drivers, which were in barely useable beta. The price of the drivers ($30) was more than I had paid for my sound card in the first place! After waiting a long time for Aureal to produce on open source drivers (they said this to me specifically via email), I got tired of substandard sound (with my SB16) and bought a Trident 4DWave chipset soundcard, which I've never regretted. I would still like to be able to use the Aureal card sometime for an extra box though. Perhaps now that (regretfully) Aureal appears to be going under, they can at least give out the specs.

Better drivers needed, yep! (none / 0) (#18)
by WWWWolf on Wed Jun 14, 2000 at 05:45:02 AM EST

I like my Vortex2 card. I really do. Certainly better sound quality than what I get from my ancient SB16 PnP =)

Anyway, the Vortex driver is... huge. I mean, lsmod says it's over 170 kilobytes. It works, it plays sound nicely. And that's all - some problems, like the device not closing and thus jamming the program, or that mixer settings don't apply when recording are there. Those, I think, wouldn't be too hard to fix.

But I'd really could use MIDI support in Linux - TiMidity hogs processor, and the OPL3 in SB16 sounds undescribably crappy...

I don't think releasing the 2D sound specs or driver code would hurt the company too much - after all, those specs only apply to Aureal's own cards, and the competitors can probably come up with their own solutions if they want to make new soundcards. (And I guess their own drivers won't give them money either. Card makers should sell cards, not driver software =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


Re: Better drivers needed, yep! (none / 0) (#19)
by theFish on Wed Jun 14, 2000 at 08:25:55 PM EST

I hate to pick, but MIDI != synthesis , it's a mainly protocol for communicating performance data between equipment. I think wavetable synthesis support is what you mean.

[ Parent ]
Aureal Sound Card Petition for Open Specifications | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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