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Old 10-23-07, 12:40 AM   #9
bgamari
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 21
Default Re: What NVidia-Card for Linux

@energyman76b:

There seems to be a misunderstanding here. I don't hate NVidia by any means. I believe that their hardware is technically far beyond anything offered by ATI or Intel both in technical design (based on reverse engineering information produced by the Nouveau project) and performance. I am sorry if my original post lead you to believe otherwise. This, however, is not to say that there are no issues.

If you read the forums, you will find many users whose cards work precisely as expected. Indeed, NVidia has been developing their binary driver for some time now; it would take immense skill (or lack thereof) to invest so much time and money into a codebase with no success. However, you will also find that there are numerous users (especially mobile users) who find that their hardware performs below expectations and even competition, not due to any flaw in the hardware itself, but because of the software that drives the card.

While features such as 3D and 2D acceleration work fine for a vast majority of users (myself included), this basic functionality no longer constitutes functional hardware. Graphics hardware is now expected to effectively manage power consumption, dynamically configure display devices (through Xrandr 1.2, which, props to NVidia, is apparently on the development agenda), and suspend with near perfect reliability. Additionally, users should be able to submit bug reports in a unified place and expect the issue to be responded to in a relatively timely manner (which a few dedicated NVidia employees do, but a forum such as this is hardly an appropriate place to track technical defects, this is why bug tracking systems exist). To me and numerous others, any device which does not satisfy these requirements is considered less than fully functional.

This is especially true when there is a field of equally capable cards with open-source Linux support either in development (in the case of AMD) or already available (in the case of Intel). While I will gladly agree that current Linux support provided by AMD's fglrx driver is miles behind NVidia's binary driver in both stability and performance (I once had the misfortune of owning a X300-based notebook), I believe the recent release of 2D specifications for the RV630 and M56 mark a turning point in the company's stance towards Linux users. While support may be lacking now, AMD has followed its talk with action and their partnership with Novell holds great promise. It won't be long before AMD hardware will have full open-source support on a variety of alternative operating systems.

On the matter of Intel, of course it is absurd to compare the performance of a discreet graphics processor to an integrated solution, if your benchmark is performance. This, however, was mentioned by the original poster to be not a particularly pressing issue. Especially with regards to his desire for a quiet solution, integrated graphics seems like a very good compromise. But maybe I misunderstood and in that case, it was just a suggestion. The fact remains that Intel's completely open driver support and major contributions to the open-source community as a whole deserve a great deal of recognition.

Personally, I am a strong supporter of the open-source development model. As a result, I want a graphics vendor who will support my configuration without reservation, with a responsive official support staff, and open-source drivers.

Indeed, this last point is crucial. While binary drivers might work, they are unsustainable in the long-term. What happens when NVidia decides that they no longer wish to continue updating support for their legacy devices that I use on my desktop machine? Either I will be forced to freeze my Xorg and the kernel versions or my computer will be left without any graphics capability (and indeed, the legacy drivers already leave much to be desired). This, when if given the source (not even necessarily the specifications), I could easily continue maintaining this support into the future. Furthermore, open source drivers allow one to declare independence from the priorities of the internal development team: When I find a bug, I can fix it; when I wish to see a feature implemented, I can implement it; when I find that a codepath is running a suboptimally, I can profile it and find the exact sticky spot. The speed with which SLI support, a rarely used feature (especially on Linux, an operating system with few heavy 3D applications), was added to the drivers compared to the numerous remaining outstanding issues simply amazes me.

While I understand that you may have different requirements than the poster, this does not mean that he should preclude options that you might not find acceptable. Comments such as your last contribute nothing to the discussion and do nothing but stir up flames where there needn't be any. Mine is but one opinion and if you wish to offer yours, you are welcome to do so, but there should be no reason why the sentiments of others are any less valid.

If, knowing the above points, the poster still feels an NVidia card is the best solution for him, then wonderful. It is merely my goal to see that he knows of all of the options on the market today.

Matkoh, good luck with your decision and if you have any questions of me, I'll be monitoring this thread.

Sincerely,

- Ben
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