[vbox-dev] Funding new features

Klaus Espenlaub klaus.espenlaub at oracle.com
Thu Aug 27 19:55:34 UTC 2020

Hello Ibrahim,

On 2020-08-18 21:11, Ibrahim A wrote:
> Dear Virtualbox developers, 
> I am interested in contributing financially to add new features to
> VirtualBox. I think there many other users who share my interest as
> well. It would be nice if one of the main developers start a fund
> gathering e.g. via GoFundme For each feature so interested users can
> contribute.

Your idea isn't bad, but doesn't address the problem from a direction
which works.

Creating such a fund would bring a lot of work (and complexity), because
the developers would have to find ways for Oracle to accept such direct
payments, and spend the money for additional developers. Which is at the
very least a significant challenge, because usual budgeting works very
differently in big corps.

A generally possible approach would be finding some freelancers with the
right skills and get them to work with the VBox dev team to come up with
the code in a way which can be integrated. The bar is high (quality,
cross-platform compatibility, ...), especially with big features. If
someone works silently on such enhancements and just throws the result
at Oracle it's very likely not accepted since the amount of work to
integrate in a sensible shape would be too much to be "squeezed in
between" by the dev team.

> Here are some examples of features I need:
> 1. Support new OpenGL  e.g. 4.5
> 2. Access physical GPU e.g. for deep learning.

Those items are on our own wishlist, too, but the available resources do
not allow us to work on this when you need it.

> What I need to know:
> 1. How many hours are needed for this to be done?
> 2. How much time does it cost?

Features in this area need several man-months (no precise idea how many,
but easily 6+). Both of them. Overall you'd have to calculate very
quickly with low 6 digit numbers because it needs the time of a rather
skilled programmer. Many average ones would never get it done.

Going from OpenGL 2.1 to 4.5 isn't feasible in a few weeks. Likewise,
physical GPU access is a highly complex task. VirtualBox had PCI
passthrough functionality for a while - Linux only - but it was never
really working well enough for GPUs. Some users claim (usually months
after the fact) that they got it to work, but personally I never saw it.

Also... the number of users who can really benefit is not that high. GPU
passthrough in the literal sense does not allow sharing the GPU with the
host OS. So you'd need to have a 2nd GPU in the system to work in the
usual fashion with what's shown on a monitor.


> Best regards!
> Ibraheem

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