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Old 08-24-04, 09:36 PM   #1
Austin Powers
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Default NForce 2 and Linux

Hi all,

I'm considering the motherboard to get for a new Athlon XP rig. I would like to get NForce 2-based board (probably Abit NF7-S) but I need it to work with Linux. So, what's the state of Linux support for NForce? How do the open source drivers compare to the nvidia proprietary ones? Why does nvidia sound driver need its own mixer? I hear alsa is not supported, is that true?

In short, I'm alarmed by the number of horror stories I've read. Did anybody actually manage to make it work? (as in stable, with all the bells & whistles?)

thanks in advance.
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Old 08-24-04, 10:10 PM   #2
hlfmanhlfamazng
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Default Re: NForce 2 and Linux

Hi Austin.... Sorry in advance, this is gonna be rather long........

The new nforce 283 drivers in terms of features are pretty damn good. They're not exactly stable, but nVidia has definately made the right step with their installer. It requires very little to get working, besides the need to edit a .conf file or two. That's how it should be.

With that being said, the ALSA drivers are decent. The best thing in their favor is the fact that they just work. Install, and go.

The ALSA drivers biggest problems is the fact that they only support a single sound stream via the intel8x0 driver.(to my knowledge, they just released the 1.06 drivers, I haven't read the changelog that could be different) I installed the 106 a day before the 283's came out and IMHO, the 283's have *WAY* better sound quality, especially in the voices area. Output is higher switching drivers and without touching my yamaha reciever as well.

I only wish I could've watched LOTR 3 with the new drivers, but Xine didn't like them very well. Spiderman, however was awesome with the upgrade. :-)

As far as hardware mixing goes, the key word is hardware. The sound chip in the high end south bridge is more or less a PROCESSOR that is not supported by ALSA, as nVidia is keeping a lid on specs.(yes, it offloads from your CPU) They have a superior chip, and don't want to teach the competition how to defeat them with their own stuff. I can respect that.

ALSA will do digital output if you prep an .asoundrc file properly, but it aint hardware mixing.
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Old 09-07-04, 06:50 AM   #3
cq3
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Default Re: NForce 2 and Linux

I currently use ALSA 1.0.4. ALSA works quite well:
- analog stereo OK
- PCM over SPDIF ok
- DTS over SPDIF ok
- AC3 pass-through overs SPDIF will often not be detected by external decoder
- spdif capture OK
- no AC3 encoding
- no HW mixing

In fact ALSA drivers only use the Realtek chip (ALC650). The soundstorm chip is completely ignored
(ALSA folks have no specs on this chip).

AC3 pass-through over SPDIF does not work probably because Soundstorm interferes the control bits of the SPDIF stream.

Cheers
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Old 09-08-04, 12:23 PM   #4
holmes
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Default Re: NForce 2 and Linux

Honestly, as far as staibility with this mobo and linux w/3D acceleration, I've had numerous headaches. I've scoured many threads suggesting to try this or that and as of yet have been unsuccessful getting my system completely stable. Granted, I've not tried all solutions as I've been tinkering w/ 3D acceleration on the comp in my sig "for fun" as I have linux on two other machines (w/ 2D accel) that are rock stable. Things are looking up though as I've been able to get it much more stable than it used to be, although it still suffers from the occasional lock-up. I haven't been able to determine if it's the mobo, video card drivers or just a config issue. Actually, in an attempt to get it more stable I flashed the mobo BIOS, which went sour, so I'm currently waiting for a recovery chip in the mail. Don't take this as an indication that it's impossible, but it does take some work.. at least for me.

good luck!
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Old 09-10-04, 06:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: NForce 2 and Linux

What kernel version are you using ?

Some stability issues were solved in kernel 2.6.7 and 2.4.27. Since kernel 2.6.7, I did not
have any lock-up (well, except when I tried the nvsound module... )
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Old 09-10-04, 06:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: NForce 2 and Linux

did you check new nforce drivers ? they work with 2.6 and have hardware mixing
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Old 09-10-04, 10:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: NForce 2 and Linux

using 2.6.3-7 kernel...
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