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Re: Nvidia drivers

On 30 Mar 2001 nbecker fred net wrote:

>I've been trying NVidia drivers since their first much anticipated
>release.  My results have been frustrating and dissapointing.
>First, when I tried them with kde1.x, I found that installing the
>NVIDIA libGL killed kde.  Apparantly the lib was not binary compatible
>with the mesa libgl that kde was linked with.  IIRC relinking fixed
>I have tried the latest, but the X server won't even run.  Running X
>-probeonly spits out a list of unresolved symbols.  I believe this is
>with a clean RH7.0 X installation (not updated).  Yes, I know some
>other people have it working.  My guess is it's dependent on the
>Xconfig setup.
>But wait, there's more!  Oh, you wanted to try the new AA fonts?  Too
>bad!  The nvidia server doesn't have the RENDER option.
>Oh, BTW, trying to install, test, uninstall the driver is hazardous.
>Besides screwing around with renaming some GL libs, you also
>(according to nvidia's instructions) need to change some options in
>your xconfig.  Installing the NVIDIA_GL package will move the old GL
>libs - but after it doesn't work and you need to uninstall it I think
>you have to fix things manually.
>Have fun.

That is unfortunately the result of buying video hardware from
companies that do not support open source software.  You get a
broken binary only driver that you need to rely on the vendor of
the hardware to update as changes occur in the open source world.

If people want Windows style hardware support, they might as well
stay using Windows.  If people want Linux friendly hardware, they
should buy hardware from vendors that support open source

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - to everyone:


Their hardware may have all sorts of wonderful whizbang features
that work in Windows, but for the most part they are useless in
Linux.  This is sad because I've seen these cards run 3D
stuff and they are decent (in other non-Linux OS's).

Some people are happy with the binary driver, but that will
change the split second something in XFree86 or the kernel
changes (such as Render above)  and the driver breaks.  This will
happen again and again and again.  Nobody at Red Hat, nobody on
the XFree86 team can fix this.  Only Nvidia can fix their
driver, and even the open source driver in XFree86 can mostly
only be fixed by those clever enough to reverse engineer parts
of Windows drivers, or hack long enough.  Mark Vojkovich works
for Nvidia now, and he's made some patches to the open source
driver, so this could be a good sign, but at this point, nvidia
cards are IMHO the last 3D card I would buy for use in Linux.

If I could, I would build XFree86 so that the nvidia binary only
driver would NOT _ever_ work period, just so they have more
incentive to release open source.  Supporting binary only stuff
is the last on my personal list of things to do.

If *ANYONE* wants *GOOD* hardware that works incredibly well in
Linux, buy hardware from *ATI* and *Matrox*.  Both ATI and Matrox
cards are VERY WELL supported in Linux.  ATI is very open source
friendly.  Matrox is friendly to open source as well.

If out of the box hardware accelerated 3D is important to you, go
for an ATI r128 based card such as the All in Wonder 128 Pro AGP.

If high end 3D is what you want, get the ATI Radeon, it smokes,
although hardware 3D is not available in XFree86 4.0.3 for this
card, it is available in the XFree86 trunk code which will become
XFree86-4.1.0 in a few months.  I'll be making alpha packages
available before long, so it is a damn good buy.  Trond is
running Radeon 3D right now.

If dualhead is important to you, the Matrox G450 and G400 are
dualhead cards that lead the pack of dualheadness.  3D works very
well on them for most people as well.

3dfx cards are also half decent, but all the features of the
cards are not supported and likely never will be because all the
specs are not available, and Nvidia has now assimilated this info
so there is a good likelyhood these cards will work, but you'll
never take full advantage of them.

Many other cards work, but are not necessarily as stable or high
quality as the above IMHO with the testing I have done, and the
feedback I've received from bug reports, and from reading
virtually every XFree86 related mailing list on the net, etc.

Before anyone buys video hardware, they should decide what
features are most important to them, and ask someone in Linux
land that is knowledgeable about hardware support what to buy.

If you have to go to a vendors website to download a driver to
use the card, BE VERY WARY.  Ask first on xpert xfree86 org, or
on one of the dri lists at sourceforge, or ask me.  In general,
downloading a driver from a vendor means caveat emptor.

Right now you'll more or less be told to get an ATI Radeon or
r128 based card for 3D, or Matrox for dualhead, and blazing 2D

I hope that by posting this here, if I can save even one person
from wasting money on buying proprietary closed source hardware,
and instead buying useful hardware - that the entire 25 minutes
it just took to write this was time well spent.

Feel free to send a copy of this email to anyone who is
investigating buying a new video card for use in Linux.  It could
very well save them money, and more importantly frustration.

Hope this helps!

Mike A. Harris                  Shipping/mailing address:
OS Systems Engineer             190 Pittsburgh Ave., Sault Ste. Marie,
Red Hat Inc.                    Ontario, Canada, P6C 5B3
http://www.redhat.com           Phone: (705)949-2136

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