[Bf-committers] Minimal Blender specs - 5 year old systems & OS

Chad Fraleigh chadf at triularity.org
Sat Feb 2 02:55:19 CET 2013

On Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 3:31 AM, Ton Roosendaal <ton at blender.org> wrote:
> I don't think this response justifies the careful and positive way everyone who works on Blender is handling this topic. But I realize it might not be well visible whether people who talk here are also contributing to Blender though.
> Knowing all of the active devs here quite well, I can only ensure you they're all very responsible, and proud to contribute to a program that runs on nearly everything.
> But we have to cope with open source dynamics, which depends on the singular fact that nothing happens without people contributing to it. That's democratic & fair.

I have nothing against the blender developers.. in fact I've been
trying to help and _be_ one of those developers (part time anyway). It
is just that when someone makes a comment that seems to imply "play
with blender if you like, but if you're serious and don't have _real_
hardware, then don't bother", it comes off a little insulting..
especially for those that don't try to "keep up with Joneses", so to
speak. This is what I was trying to point out that _IF_ such a view
was applied to an open source project (like blender), then interest in
contributing would drop. Letting blender do new and great things,
giving the average user the potential to create amazing things (and
without shelling out an insane amount of money for Maya) is the best
goal.. but alienation effects (which will always happen no mater what)
should be balanced in.

And I know I'm not anywhere near the best "professional grade" user of
blender in the world, and it took me a long time to get the hang of
it. When I first started I would try it for a while, learn all the
[effectively] minimum shortcuts, then stop for awhile, and then had to
relearn all the shortcuts I forget. Mostly this was because there was
a bug in my laptop video driver that would lock up the system about
%80 of the time I used the selection box (B), followed by a hardboot,
and filesystem check. There was no driver update available and being a
laptop I couldn't install a new video card. I even tried running an
Xserver and displaying blender back from my BSD box, but hit the same
bug. Eventually when I did get a new laptop, part of the criteria was
it _had_ to have a keypad and not use the same series video card, so
that I could run blender without the problems (see.. that's how much I
like blender!).

> For non-developers this 5 year guideline might seem arbitrary or unclear, but for everyone who's been working - especially on support and bugs - it's a growing frustration that we can't help people anymore using old hardware or OSes.
> Also... developers and users also want the best product possible, utilizing current hardware and OS developments. To balance this I proposed this guideline, which still offers a far better platform support you'd get from any commercial 3d software. Maya wouldn't even be supported 5 years ago on systems we still do!
> At some moment people who are stuck in the past with hardware, also need to accept they cannot get new software for it either. We will do our very best here, but in cases where support is really impossible we can use the proposed guideline to define what to do.

If it is _just_ a suggested minimum [for the user] and official
support criteria [for the developers], then that isn't so bad. But
most of the time when software comes with an OS minimum, they mean it
-- if it said XP minimum, then it generally _wouldn't_ run on Win98 at
all. If all blender is changing is that it will only support bugs that
they can reproduce on "these" officially supported OS's (even if the
bug was seen on an old OS by the user), then that is different. This
is why I kept asking "what" those minimum changes really mean (e.g.
"Don't expect to run newer blenders on XP [at some point] at all" vs.
"It is known to run on XP, but we can no longer provide support for XP
specific problems"). Ideally Win32 is Win32 is Win32 and something
written for that spec, running on Vista, Win7, etc, should still run
on XP (and maybe even Win98?) But in reality M$ is M$ is M$ and when
library calls that work on XP Pro don't always work on XP Home, the
whole ideal thing goes out the window.

Having said all that, I have no delusions that the current blender
should run on old systems forever, like a 32M RAM system running Win98
(though I was a little disappointed many years ago when I could no
longer install FreeBSD on an old 4M RAM laptop). Maybe I'm just too
much of an idealist developer, in that if done right, you don't always
have to make sacrifices (or complete sacrifices) to move forward (the
Capt. Kirk/Kobayashi Maru opinion of software I suppose). Or maybe
I've been burned too many times by vendor support and gotten a little
sensitive.. like that laptop video card -- seems like every hardware
vender declares EoL on their products just after (if not before)
people buy their product from a store (unless one buys it when it is
bleeding-edge and probably costs 5x as much). The laptop venders are
another problem with customized drivers that you can't always just
upgrade the OS and find working drivers (because they discontinued
support once again), forcing you to buy a whole new system (where the
old one may have been fine, except for the OS, if it was very high-end
when initially bought).

> Also note that effectively, for OSX our support level is less than 4 years now. This is due to the fact Apple makes OSX upgrades available very cheap, so nearly everyone's been switching to newer versions.

This seems to be the new model I heard M$ is adopting (well, I don't
about the cheap part).. instead of service packs you can "pay" to get
an update each year. If they charge too much, this might make it worse
as many users may be unwilling to pay for these updates, where the
SP's filled in some before so they wouldn't have to jump major
versions every time. If it becomes all just updates now, some may drag
their feet even more before becoming "current" (unless you'll be able
to upgrade from a 5yr old version for the same cost as a 1yr old and
not all the upgrades in between).

Oh and as for the dual boot idea mentioned in the other reply.. yes,
that is an option for some. I did a dual boot on my desktop many years
ago, but was inconvenient. Now a days just using VirtualBox or
something would be better, but needs HW with more memory (depending on
the max it can be upgraded to). Now I just use the Windows that comes
with the laptop and SSH into my BSD box to do most of my real work.

And yes, users can still use older versions of blender (in some cases
with a security risk), but that only goes so far if one expects to
interact with others (that use current versions). Even if a newer
blend file can be opened by an old blender, if the model extensively
uses some new modifier or cycles feature, then the old blender can't
do much with it. This is another reason why I would like to help get
blender to a point it can support plugable modules.. so that one might
be able to drop in a new modifier from say blender 2.93 into blender
2.75 (assuming plugable support existed at that point). It could also
help with system resources.. so instead of compiling or not compiling
all the features in (e.g. ffmpeg, osl, cycles, xcf), they might all be
compiled/available modules that can be disabled for those running with
less memory and whatnot, while still letting those with high end
systems do it all. And this might even go both ways and let a user
drop in an older OpenGL blender module into a newer blender (depending
of the abstraction layer, if any, it uses), getting all/most of the
new features and still running on their old video card/driver.


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