Friday, August 11, 2006

Suse 10.0 ATI Graphics Driver - ATI Incorporated

Note: This is not a music review. Just so's you know.

Historically, NVidia was always the company that a Linux fanboy would rely on to get a graphics card that worked with Linux. Not that they worked really well (they didn't), or that all the features were ported (they weren't), or that they came with a reasonably open license (not so!), but at least you could plug in your card, rebuild your kernel, and be on your way. Of course when you needed to update your kernel there was a good chance you'd be screwed, but we were all used to that.

Hell, for the official distros there was often a script in place to make this a lot easier. All in all, not a bad way to live.

ATI is a relative newcomer to the Linux scene, and here at work I've been forced to use a PC with an ATI graphics card in it. I was pleased to find an install tool on ATI's web site that was supposed to make the driver installation a one-click affair. Unfortunately it didn't really live up to my expectations.

None of the features have been ported, it seems, except for OpenGL acceleration at depths up to and including 16 bits per pixel. The install process, which varies depending on what minor version of what distribution you're using, involves dropping to runlevel 3 and running two different command-line tools to reconfigure your X server. At least, that's what you have to do on SuSE 10.0. But that's fine, I can live with all of that.

What I just can't get over is the limitation that OpenGL acceleration is only available on display :0.0. WTF? I am reasonably certain that NVidia's driver will give you hardware acceleration on all local displays. This may seem like a small beef, but it's really ridiculous. I like to have one login session active for my root user, and one active for myself. I can switch between them by hitting ctrl-alt-, which sort of puts a barrier to me doing stupid things as root when I don't mean to. But now I have to make sure that I log in as myself first, or else I get no OpenGL direct rendering goodness. Piece of crap. If you're from the Windows world, think of this like only the first person who logs in gets to play Halflife.

What I'm trying to say here is that Linux fanboys should still stick with NVidia. ATI gets nothing but a big "fuck you!" from me. (For this, plus the fact that they haven't got a V4L driver for their capture cards, but that's a whole 'nother story)


At 3:38 PM, Blogger gwilli said...


At 10:36 AM, Blogger Russ Weeks said...

You got a problem with that?


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