Quoting Dave Airlie (airlied at csn.ul.ie):
> hey somepeople use 3D for non gaming things.
A valid point. _Not many_, but those few do need quality hardware and
quality 3D support at the software level. However:
Last I heard, the open-source GL code worked very well for ATI Radeon
cards up to a certain model number, just not for the most recent cards.
I believe the Radeon 8500 is the current cut-off, though this isn't an
area I stay current on. (My idea of a good use for video is giving me
lots of xterms.)
That is, the problem area is the "r300+" family of cards, which I
vaguely understand to be models Radeon 9500 and up. (I'm told that the
9000-9200 series are cheaper variants of the 8500, despite the higher
> I may end up using the ATI drivers out of having no choice.
Well, if your _task actually requires_ you to do 3D Linux work on a
Radeon 9500 or such, then you would by definition be among the very few
non-gamer Linux users who (currently) cannot get along without a
proprietary X11 server and proprietary support modules for it in your
> 2d is old school...
<shrug> I guess I have a very pretty and functional old schoolhouse.
Being an old NeXTStep fan, I of course favour Window Maker and other
> ...you can't get a nice MACOSX front-end without 3d stuff...
(Hey, speaking of NeXTStep.)
Well, if you do _that_, you're owned by the Church of Steve anyway, so
what's a little more proprietary code? But that's not relevant to the
Anyhow, some of you guys seems to be under the impression that hardware
lacking open source drivers (or adequate drivers for some purposes) is
somehow new, or a worse problem than previously. I have news for you:
Things are in general much, much better in this area for Linux users
than they were a decade ago. Back then, you had to buy hardware with a
little bit of care if you seriously expected all your hardware to be
supported on new models of computers. Most people cultivated the habits
of (1) favouring slightly older boxes for their Linux builds, and (2)
choosing hardware components for purchase critically to avoid likely
The latter habit, in particular, continues to serve us old-timers well.
You arrive at hardware prejudices that sidestep pretty nearly all
missing-driver problems automatically without even being very aware of
o Avoid cheap-junk components that seem likely to omit otherwise
needed circuitry and emulate it in software (e.g., winmodems /
winprinters). These are pretty easy to spot, once you see the
o Avoid newly-introduced chipsets. (Nforce, anyone?)
o Avoid hardware with narrow and specialised userbases.
o Avoid "combo" components that seek to throw several functions
together on one chassis that are normally separate, as the
urge to cut corners to hit a super-low price point is often
irresistable to manufacturers. E.g., HP OfficeJets, Centrino,
Atheros, integrated video chipsets that steal main RAM and
offload work to the host CPU.
o Avoid a component that has a suspiciously super-low standard
price, especially if it has a suspiciously small chip count
compared to alternatives. (E.g., winmodems.)
o Avoid devices reached through painfully convoluted chains of
(multiple) interfaces, e.g., an ATAPI device reached over a SCSI
shim layer that in turn is reached over a parallel-port-to-SCSI
o Avoid devices whose big attraction is being on a cheap interface
when that standard alternatives use a somewhat more expensive
(and/or external or standalone) one. Examples: PCI internal modems
instead of serial/external, USB ADSL adapters instead of external
ethernet-connected ones, parallel-port scanners instead of SCSI.
o Avoid devices that are pointedly connected to a high-speed bus
with the apparent design goal of being able to sap processor
power over that bus instead of having independent processing
ability like standard alternatives. Examples: PCI internal
modems, integrated video chipsets that steal main RAM and
offload work to the host CPU.
The same principles that worked a decade ago still work today, and,
if you avoid suckerbait low-spec stuff, you're actually much more likely
to have success with all open-source drivers on randomly selected
hardware than you were then.
Cheers, "Linux means never having to delete your love mail."
Rick Moen -- Don Marti
rick at linuxmafia.com
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