Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

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Teknobo
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Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby Teknobo » Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:04 am UTC

I've been thinking about building another computer this summer, but I am woefully ignorant on the state of video cards now that I don't play too many computer games anymore, and I now have violent physical reactions to using Windows. So I'm wondering on the state of video cards for open source operating systems. Last I checked, ATI was awful and NVIDIA was barely tolerable. Have there been any real changes since then?

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Bruce
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby Bruce » Sat Mar 22, 2008 5:28 am UTC

Yes there have been some changes. Here is basically where it sits:

Intel: Completely open and works perfectly. Has very little power, so not for anything but the casual gamer.

Ati: Getting a LOT better. Recently opened up lots of specs so that the open driver is advancing in leaps and bounds, though still has some catching up to do with the closed driver. Closed driver is good but not perfect.

Nvidia: Getting WORSE. They keep reintroducing old bugs or finding new ways to break things. Their quality control is practically non existent. Reverse engineering efforts have produced some impressive results, but you are probably better off with an Intel/Ati card still if you want an open solution.

The future: All of the hardware support is being ripped out of X. This is a big deal. In the long term it will make everything cleaner and neater (though hurt things like BSD which will have to port/make their own kernel drivers). During the transition expect Intel to work perfectly and Ati to not be far behind. I think Nvidia will really feel the pain here, even more so than currently.

Conclusion: Nvidia makes the best hardware, but if you want performance under Linux I would only consider Ati right now.
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bridge
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby bridge » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:08 pm UTC

I recently updated my video card too, first i was using an old Nvidia 6200LE (wich worked fine with OS drivers)
Last month i bought a Nvidia 8800GT and i had to switch to the proprietary nvidia linux driver
(which is annoying since every time the system updates X or the kernel i have reinstall the driver and reconfigure xorg.conf)
Additionally the driver does not have automatic temperature control and the fan is always running at 100% (You can solve this with NVClock)

No clues about ATI and/or BSD, sorry
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Bruce
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby Bruce » Sat Mar 22, 2008 1:13 pm UTC

bridge wrote:Additionally the driver does not have automatic temperature control and the fan is always running at 100%

This is a bug. Try picking another driver version at random and see which other bugs you get.
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby LikwidCirkel » Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:23 pm UTC

I'm not so sure I agree with all that's been said.

For me, running dual monitors that can rotate on their stands...

ATI/Intel cards will NOT run beryl/compiz with dual monitors, period. This is due to Xinerama not working with xrandr, and there is no way around it.
ATI/Intel will NOT allow xrandr (on the fly rotation) with dual monitors at all.

They also don't likely allow you to change any configuration on the fly, like disabling certain monitors. I practically need this because I run console games from one monitor. Again, Nvidia is excellent for this.

My nvidia card does all of that. It initially had a few bugs, but once I got the right combination of settings, it seemed to work fine. Some disadvantages are the somewhat hackish and undocumented configuration options. There is a nice config gui from Nvidia, but it's less than perfect with the xorg.conf file autogeneration. Some of the options are difficult to figure out exactly what they do.

I believe that ATI and Intel drivers provide no config gui, but you shouldn't need it because the setup is inherently easier and actually makes sense.

If you're an "open source" preacher/fanatic, don't get Nvidia. If you want Beryl on dual monitors, then your only choice IS Nvidia.

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Bruce
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby Bruce » Sun Mar 23, 2008 2:29 am UTC

I have not tried that case, though from the sounds of things it is a limitation with X rather than the hardware support. Nvidia does a lot of crazy things outside of the existing infrastructure so they get away with breaking some rules. This is also how they come unstuck.

To give you a counter point, Nvidia documents (and has in their GUI) an option to scale resolutions keeping aspect ratio for running 4:3 games on a 16:10 (or other) screen. For several driver revisions in a row (though I have not tried any from the last 6 months) this option has done NOTHING. If you check the binary, the string is not even there, it just disappeared one day.
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby |Erasmus| » Sun Mar 23, 2008 5:17 am UTC

I've also had no luck with any non-nvidia cards with regards to desktop effects in unix. My friends old laptop was especially bad, it kept having artifacts everywhere from the ati graphics in Ubuntu.

I have heard that ATI have gotten alot better, but I'm still not sure about them actually working in linux, and would be hesitant to try it.

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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby wing » Sun Mar 23, 2008 6:00 pm UTC

I have an nVidia setup in my main box. Dual monitors. Everything works okay with one MAJOR caveat... It won't drive any displays over 1600x1200 (okay, it will, but not at 4:3 aspect ratio, and STILL not as high as my monitors support) even in a single monitor configuration.

I also have nVidia on my laptop. The card is actually unsupported by the drivers (too old) but works just fine anyway.
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Bruce
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby Bruce » Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:56 am UTC

There is a 'legacy' Nvidia driver which supports their older cards. For the record I would like to say I have an Ati 3870 which does work under Linux with binary Ati drivers.
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby d3adf001 » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:06 am UTC

if you are going to do anything 3d id have to say get nvidia. their cards are great and so are their drives. atis closed and open source drives both blow.

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FACM
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby FACM » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:58 pm UTC

I'm going to vote for nvidia as well. ATi's drivers are open, in that they released the 2D part of it. The 3D part is still closed, and it seems to be because they use a lot of borrowed code they need permission to release. [I suspect nvidia does as well]. Intel's stuff is open too, but Intel doesn't make any high-powered cards. You don't seem like you're going to do a ton of gaming, so you may be OK with Intel onboard graphics unless you want to run dual monitors or something like that. nvidias drivers havent given me too many issues, and if you're not compiling them yourself [that is, you're on a distro that has a precompiled package for them like Ubuntu] you probably won't either.

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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby segfault » Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:02 pm UTC

Short version: Nvidia

Long version:
Intel: Not bad at all for 2D and getting better as they have opened up a lot of their specs and are planning on competing with ATI and Nvidia soon on accelerated video (think home theater PC and maybe low to mid-end 3D). They have add-on cards for some of their higher end chipsets that feature DVI and Svideo output.

ATI: Closed source driver sucks. Sure, it is supposedly getting better but life is too short for supposedly. Just avoid it until many people confirm it no longer sucks. Due to long standing "no documentation for you" approach before AMD brought them the open source driver suffered greatly. I don't doubt it will improve if ALL of the relevant documentation has been released. But why buy a problem right now?

Nvidia: Best of the worst. The 2D isn't too bad with the closed driver but the open source nouveau driver shows that 2D could be improved in the closed driver. The nouveau driver is also working on 3D support but it is slow going according to their website. Nvidias closed driver has frustrated a lot of people. It is pretty much the only viable video card for linux-based home theater PCs and the rate of bug regression and failure to resolve long-standing (yet typically small) bugs exasperate many. I suspect the 3D gamers also have similar complaints. Hopefully, ATI and Intel can get Nvidia to do something about their "better than the rest but not all that great" driver approach. The nouveau driver is promising:

http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/

On the flip side, Nvidia has supported Linux for a long time with a fairly decent driver. It's just it could be much more.

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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby niko7865 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 5:59 pm UTC

My nVidia (6800GS) and my ATI (x1400 Mobile) work just fine for me.

The nVidia is in my desktop so I haven't tried suspend, but everything else works just fine. Games, compiz, etc.

The ATI is in my laptop, suspend works fine as does compiz & 3D games. Although I suspend does not work with compiz enabled right now, I have not tried to get it working either, so it may be a simple fix.
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Posi
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby Posi » Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:18 am UTC

LikwidCirkel wrote:ATI/Intel cards will NOT run beryl/compiz with dual monitors, period. This is due to Xinerama not working with xrandr, and there is no way around it.

Yes it can. I have been doing it for at least a year. Both with XGL and AIGLX.

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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby eijkaibjck » Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:59 am UTC

I haven't even tried ATI my experience is reduced to an old nvidia (6800, I think) that I got for free from some guy who was upgrading for "vista" .

I use a little program that searches for the latest propietary driver and gets it installed. Every time I upgrade X there is a high likelihood of the driver not working. Be ready for command line in advance. Or get a second qowputer running side by side.

I have used it with compiz for a while, but I miss the point of compiz besides saying to the world we are prettier than vista or osX in old hardware and socks. We can find better things to do than that.

I use 3D to run Celestia alone, I am in a retro gaming phase.
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wst
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby wst » Sat Apr 05, 2008 7:12 pm UTC

When I had a Radeon x550 in my box, it caused no end of problems for Compiz/XGL in Fedora 8 (2 weeks post-release). XGL only let me use the top right 1024*768 area of my 1280*1024 monitor. Closed drivers made it worse, causing system hangs and artifacts, eventually refusing to boot. I changed to using the integrated x200, with equal success with Compiz/XGL. But it booted ok.

Then I broke Fedora properly a few months ago, so meh. I'll fix it one day.
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tetromino
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby tetromino » Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:23 pm UTC

Short version:
d3adf001 wrote:if you are going to do anything 3d id have to say get nvidia. their cards are great and so are their drives. atis closed and open source drives both blow.
QFT.

Long version:
Intel has a fully open, well-written, stable driver. Unfortunately, even the best driver in the world can't hide the fact that Intel graphics are slow. If you don't care much about 3D, Intel is the best solution. However, if you want to play a game released in the last 5 years, Intel doesn't have what you are looking for.

ATI has a closed-source driver (fglrx) which combines okay performance with numerous bugs and horrific instability. Fortunately, ATI released the specs, so people are now working on an open-source driver. However, at this point in time, the open driver is very much a work in progress. Check back in 2009.

NVIDIA has a closed driver that has Windows-level performance (in fact, better than Windows-level for some tasks) and supports numerous advanced features. The downside, it's closed. If it crashes or doesn't let you suspend your machine, you are basically out of luck: your only solution is to complain on NVIDIA's forums and hope somebody listens. Plus, its 2D performance leaves something to be desired. Fortunately though, NVIDIA's closed driver works fine for 99% of people. As a last resort, there is also an open driver (nouveau) - which is beta-level in terms of quality and hardware support, has awful 3D performance, but to be fair, its 2D performance is excellent (much better than what NVIDIA's binary driver can do).

So, if you want to play games, choose NVIDIA. If you don't want to play games, choose Intel. And if you want to write drivers, choose ATI.

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niko7865
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby niko7865 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:28 am UTC

The current ATI drivers work/perform just as well as the nVidia drivers. Even allows me to set power states from the command line.
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Bruce
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby Bruce » Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:58 am UTC

I would like to reiterate, how many of the people with complaints about the Ati binary drivers have used them in the last 6 months? One year ago I would completely agree with tetromino.
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wst
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Re: Video Cards for Linux/FreeBSD?

Postby wst » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:41 pm UTC

Bruce wrote:I would like to reiterate, how many of the people with complaints about the Ati binary drivers have used them in the last 6 months?

*Raises hand*
Me sir, I did.
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