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Old 06-28-06, 01:56 AM   #1
penguin dude
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 23
Default RenderAccel, Xorg 7.1, nvidia... soon, I hope?

DISCLAIMER: This is by no means a flame or a display of angst towards Nvidia. I have the utmost respect for their creativity and for their efforts towards supporting numerous hardware and software platforms, especially OSS platforms like Linux. It's a tough job for a relatively small amount of people -- that is, relative to the rest of the OSS community. I'm an advocate for open software and have been for 10+ years, but working for one of the largest commercial software companies in the US (one that deals extensively with Linux) has shown me a few things about how commercial entities fit into the Open Source Software spectrum. A key observation -- a key reality -- is that commercial software-producing companies will tend to lag behind supporting what might be considered the "bleeding edge". It is important for consumers (myself included) to understand this.

I see this on a first hand basis every day I work considering I support and maintain a cluster of 100 or so *NIX boxes of a dozen flavors, many of which are older than probably many of the users on this board. Why so old? Because the stuff is still out there and people -- MANY people -- still use it. Support, product testing and qualification will, as a priority, be done against the stuff that people use. Plain and simple. Support for the "bleeding edge" is, well, rare in commercial places.

Xorg 7.1, having been released about a month ago, I'd say qualifies as bleeding edge stuff. It is release *seven* of X11, i.e., a significant change. Support for it, even by distribution vendors in the OSS community, is a very new thing. Pretty sure it hasn't hit the enterprise distros yet at all. :-)

So it is understandable that Nvidia, a commercial entity with priorities, deadlines, and process, hasn't cranked out a new driver, beta or otherwise, that plays nicely with 7.1's ABI changes and functionality.

That said, I'll put on the consumer hat and just throw a few facts out there because consumers should have a decent influence on what commercial priorities are. At least I hope so.

The hackers of the world (with a postive connotation) are prime candidates for bleeding edge material, which could perhaps include beta drivers from commercial companies. We're the folks that install all the new stuff, tear is apart, break it, report bugs, and get stuff fixed. This is true for much of the Linux community; we work together to make new and cool things, try new things, come up with new ideas, etc. The Linux community is at the heart of OSS methods and ideals. Although Nvidia does not embrace these ideals and philosophy directly, they support it indirectly by supporting the Linux platform and the users of the Linux platform. Whether or not this obligates Nvidia to keep up with the pace of OSS development, I'm not sure. I am sure that we can work together to make change happen, even if the source isn't open. The best time to test is at the bleeding edge. There are certainly lots of us willing to do it.

My system is RPM-based, built entirely from source, and sees almost daily updates as my build process and software interests evolve. One piece of software I'd been reluctant to update is X11. Until yesterday I'd been running XFree86 4.5.0, but after some unique voodoo magic involving a cool filesystem called Unionfs, I got Xorg 7.1 rolled into RPMs and installed. That was a feat in and of itself because the modularized build is a little hairy to do from scratch on a live system without inadvertanlty breaking stuff. Nonetheless, X11R6 is a thing of the past, and for the time being so is the GL functionality of my 7800 (a 300+$ piece of hardware). Ironically, the primary motivation behind installing 7.1 was to see if it'd improve overall X11 performance, 3D-accelerated or otherwise.

Well, not entirely. 8762 still works but with a clear warning that it may behave erratically. Although much of the software is fairly new stuff on this system, erratic driver behavior is not an option so I've resorted to the nv driver.

GL acceleration with native games seemed OK for the 30 second test I tried with native quake3 binaries. However 90% of my gaming to date has been in WoW with Wine. Lack of RenderAccel results in the text of Wine-run Windows applications being invisible. Wine D3D support is weak and OpenGL mode, since WoW 1.11, crashes with an X BadMatch error, similar to the one seen here:

There have been reports that if you have an nvidia card, when you try to run WoW, the system crashes with the following error ...

X Error of failed request: BadMatch (invalid parameter attributes)
Major opcode of failed request: 143 (GLX)
Minor opcode of failed request: 5 (X_GLXMakeCurrent)
Serial number of failed request: 467
Current serial number in output stream: 467
So let's keep up with the pace and get some beta drivers out there, shall we? We can test on the bleeding edge before X11R7 obsoletes R6.

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