Install Nouveau 3D by default

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AlbertP
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Install Nouveau 3D by default

Post by AlbertP » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:11 pm

Ubuntu Natty is going to have automatic install of the NVidia proprietary drivers because of Unity. We at Linux Mint do not use Unity by default, so there's no need to install proprietary drivers automatically. For people that really want them, there is Additional Drivers.
Can Mint include the 3D support of Nouveau instead of the proprietary? Compiz and Gnome Shell are working fine with it, Fedora includes it from version 15 on, and Mint would gain another edge over Ubuntu. Now I will tell you why I prefer Nouveau: because I often connect and disconnect a 2nd screen.

Set-up 2nd screen with Nouveau: just connect, wait 5 seconds, and it works. XRandr remembers the previous resolution used and sets my 1280x1024 monitor to 1024x768.

Set-up 2nd screen with NVidia proprietary: Connect. The driver does not have auto-detect. Open Nvidia X config. Click Screen Setup. Click Detect Displays.
The 2nd monitor is detected, but still disabled: its setup in Xorg.conf is only read during boot.
Then I click Configure, TwinView, OK. After that, I set the resolution to 1024x768 and click Apply.
It usually fails to set the mode. Even the 15 seconds time out does not revert it, X locks up.
I kill X with Ctrl-Alt-Backspace and login. Then I attempt for a second time to set-up 2 screens, doing the same steps. Often I also need a 3rd attempt.
If I am lucky I am ready with this in 5 minutes. That's 60 times as long as when using Nouveau. It's using the 'current' version - the 173 from Additional Drivers is even worse. And installing the file from NVidia's website does not work for me: just a black screen. With a not-so-very-stable beta (some crashes) I can get it to work some better, but even if it works the 1st time, it still takes much longer than with Nouveau.

And, some parts of the screen are a little stretched on my 2nd monitor. The proprietary driver sometimes cuts off some pixels at the left of the screen.

I also have to reinstall my NVidia driver every month to keep my webcam working. With Nouveau I have never had this issue.
By the way, if I set my 1st screen (which is widescreen 1280x800) to 1024x768 - some of my apps need it, I get ugly purple artifacts using the proprietary driver. They are not there using Nouveau or Windows. The same app conflicts with Xinerama - I have to disable my 2nd screen and reboot (!) before I get normal working back: without rebooting, programs cannot change the resolution of the 1st screen.

Now you know why I hate the driver so much. Nouveau 3D support is quite stable and even outperforms the proprietary driver on older cards - on newer cards it may be some slower, but framerates around 20 are still quite common using an open-source driver (both Nouveau and Radeon) and sufficient for most people.
Gamers who really need more performance can use the existing installation method.

My suggestion is, add 3D support for the Nouveau driver, and add the FμC firmware for Fermi cards to Additional Drivers, as an alternative to the proprietary driver. Please remove the auto-install of the proprietary driver and leave it in Additional Drivers as it is in Mint 10.
Last edited by AlbertP on Tue Apr 26, 2011 10:20 am, edited 4 times in total.
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TBABill
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Re: Install Nouveau 3D by default

Post by TBABill » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:44 pm

I do not have nVidia in any of my Linux machines, but I do have it in a Win7 machine I'm considering switching over. Does your situation occur on a wide spectrum of hardware configurations that has been documented to support the request? I'm not at all disputing whether it is or is not a broad-based request, just wondering if will impact me if I switch that machine over and if others are having similar issues with the proprietary drivers.

I don't have that machine nearby to know the specs on the card, but I believe it's either a GeForce 6x or 7x series. Can't recall.

I did see a test, perhaps on Phoronix, where the proprietary and open drivers competed and the open driver came out a very strong contender. If I recall, most of the problems I have seen posted on Ubuntu forums regarding the open source driver were more heat related than actual performance (unless they were stuck with 2D only). Is that also still the case? If it is, that could impact the decision on an issue like this as well.

I'm neutral on this one, but curious about some aspects of the debate. Hopefully others will chime in with their own experiences as well.

AlbertP
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Re: Install Nouveau 3D by default

Post by AlbertP » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:05 pm

My card is a 8400M GS. Most people with my problem don't know it as they only use 1 screen or never disconnect their 2nd screen after they have got it to work once. I know that it is not quite common to do this

The actual 3D performance has improved much in 2010/2011, so far that Fedora considered it stable enough. And the 2D performance was already considered stable in Ubuntu Lucid / Mint 9 and has been merged into the kernel a year ago.

The problems with heat are that Nouveau does not yet have the power management fully implemented. There is significant progress in implementing these things, but it does not yet work fully on newer cards. And Phoronix is showing great results, but its 3D performance is not yet as good as the proprietary driver's (the 3D performance is the only thing I like about that driver). But with every commit in Git it gets better.
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