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Tom's Hardware Reviews ATI and Nvidia on Linux 201

Beuno writes "I stumbled upon a GeForce vs Radeon review on Tom's Hardware, which seems normal enough. The big surprise is that it was actually a comparison of those two video cards on Linux (Fedora Core 5). The review isn't as thorough as I would like, but it does review all aspects ranging from tools available, complexity of getting them to work and benchmarks on performance. To me, this is a clear signs of Linux finally making a long expected breakthrough into common desktops."
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Tom's Hardware Reviews ATI and Nvidia on Linux

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  • Re:Compatibility... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Billy the Impaler ( 886238 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @12:08PM (#15724779)
    WINE and Cedega are not emulators, rather, they implement a compatibility layer. Cedega is a proprietary fork of WINE that has more advanced DirectX implementation.
  • by killpog ( 740063 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @12:26PM (#15724837) Journal
    Yup, I agree. No comparison yet. I advise all my clients not to buy ATI. They will not respond to requests for support, and refuse to acknowlege any bugs. They disgust me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 15, 2006 @12:39PM (#15724870)
    The print version [] and because that didn't work for me, the same via coral cache []
  • by miyako ( 632510 ) < minus language> on Saturday July 15, 2006 @12:42PM (#15724881) Homepage Journal
    I've always used nVidia cards, which have always worked well for me under Linux. I've never tried getting an ATI card to work because I've never heard anything other than it was sheer agony to use an ATI card under Linux.
    In general, this is fine. If a hardware vendor doesn't support my OS, then I will buy from a vendor who does. In this case, nVidia hovers between "almost as good as" and "slightly better than" ATI, depending on who has most recently released a new video card, so it's not a big compromise.
    I do find ATIs lack of Linux support to be disappointing now however, because those of us interested on running Linux on an intel mac are stuck with a choice between ATI and an embedded crappy video card.
    Incidentally, has anyone had any luck getting Linux to dual boot with OS X on one of the newer iMacs? I'm interested in getting one, but until Autodesk offers an Intel Mac version of Maya I'm stuck on Linux (and actually, even if there were an Intel Mac version, I'm not sure I want to pay the fee to transfer my license from Linux to Mac) so I can't justify getting a new machine unless it can run Linux well with good 3D support.
  • hm (Score:4, Informative)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @01:03PM (#15724950) Journal
    From TFA: "Acquiring Nvidia drivers seldom entails more than consulting a package repository for your Linux distribution of choice, and instructing local package management facilities to fetch, build, and install all required files and dependencies."

    Well, support for Nvidia isn't supported on FC5 because it is non-free, so you won't find it in the standard repositories using yum... if you add livna you can do "yum install kmod-nvidia -y" which will handle it all... but it is important not to use the Nvidia ones because they overwrite sections of your X and can cause problems, especially if you change you card later. More info can be found here; on_notes.html#nVidia []... just wanted to get the message out there to protect the penguins
  • by loftwyr ( 36717 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @01:18PM (#15724991)
    You can always get good info on hardware under linux on Phoronix []. They've got lots of experience with linux builds and games and wine to give good information.
  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Saturday July 15, 2006 @01:20PM (#15724997) Journal
    Where's your line breaks?

    Bad Slashdotter. No cookie.

    Regarding your problems, I'm not surprised. The last time I had an ATI card, I had to manually hack the Linux drivers, as they were autodetecting my system as using AGP 2.0, when it was AGP 3.0 (AGP 8x). Now, I have two PCI Express systems, so that wouldn't be a problem, except that experience was enough to put me off of ATI on Linux, and I haven't bought an ATI card since, except the one in this Powerbook.

    Once I got it working (by commenting out autodetection and hardcoding AGP 3.0), I still had similar problems to yours -- I never really tried TV out, but I never, ever had the ability to play video properly while using the proprietary ATI drivers. The open source DRI drivers worked fine, of course, but they didn't have any 3D acceleration at all, much less the extensions required by UT2003. So I had to choose, on boot, whether I wanted to be able to watch video or play games.

    Basically, even the parts of the driver that were open source (the AGP acceleration) sucked. The closed parts sucked even more, especially because I could actually fix the open parts, but not the closed ones.

    My next video card was nVidia, and I've never looked back. Almost completely proprietary, but they keep it up to date with every new kernel and kernel feature I try. I have a fairly custom kernel -- 64-bit, patched for Reiser4 and recent open source drivers straight from my gigabit card manufacturer, lots of custom hacks here and there -- but all I ever have to do is "emerge nvidia-kernel" whenever I get a new kernel. And everything works as well or better than any open source drivers I've had -- I can do XvMC (hardware-accelerated mpeg decoding), or just xv (X Video extension) which almost always looks good, fullscreen, antialiased by mplayer, at 1600x1200, no matter what the video is. Any game that I can get to work on Linux, period, never has any problems from the video drivers -- stuff just works.

    My only ATI card left is something I had to get for my server, which I built as a second desktop machine, with the same motherboard as my desktop -- which was built for PCI Express, which does not boot unless it has a PCI Express card in there, even though the BIOS would seem to suggest that I could use a standard, $5 bargain-bin PCI video card. Problem was, although the PCI video card works fine, it won't boot at all unless there's a PCI Express card in there. So I got a $50 ATI card, which has the added advantage that, for another $10 or so, I got a tuner card to go with it. If I ever get around to it, I can set up MythTV on that box.
  • by Hobart ( 32767 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @01:29PM (#15725028) Homepage Journal

    This seems like a good on-topic thread in which to mention the ( folks) effort to write a 100% open source 3D driver for the NVidia cards -- nouveau []

    If you're an owner of an nVidia card, please do all you can to help contribute! They appear to be suprisingly far along.

    Slashcode bug # 497457 - unfixed since December 2001 - Go look it up []!
  • by matrixhax0r ( 988785 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @02:18PM (#15725179)
    There's a new opensource driver for ATI cards. As you may already know, ATI released code and documentation for their old r200 and r100 based cards. Then the opensource community used that information to write opensource drivers which are now found in X11-DRM and Mesa.

    However, for r300 and up, ATI wanted to force users to use their proprietary drivers which have really sucked so far. Never fear! There's the r300 project currently in development that aims to add support for these more modern cards. What started as an invididual project (, is now fully integrate into the the offical DRM and Mesa development trees.

    Although the r300 driver is not in the offical DRM nor Mesa releases yet, the are in the CVS tree.
    DRM - checkout drm
    Mesa - checkout Mesa
    There are quite a few guides on compiling and using these sources. I recomend checking the Gentoo Forums. They support EXA and Xorg 7.1 (unlike current ATI / nVidia drivers IIRC). In fact I'm using them as I'm typing this.

    Performance is not nearly the speed of the binary drivers. However, I can still play UT2K4/Doom 3, so it's good enough. It looks very promising and is likely to get must faster in the future. It seems very stable and I haven't had a video driver crash since I started using them (around Xorg 7.01 release).
  • However, to spoil your nitpick, but won't there be free third party data files (maybe even Id software's demo levels too) that you can use with your free software Quake 3 binary?

    Indeed. []
  • There are other reasons to buy nVidia. They actually support OTHER open source operating systems. (FreeBSD, Solaris) I can play some games under FreeBSD 6 like Enemy Territory quite nicely using the nvidia binary drivers. The binary drivers got me to buy my first nVidia card ever. I'm rather impressed with it considering its not even one of their more recent cards (only fx5200). xorg support sucks above 9200 chipsets as their is no 3d acceleration. I only wish nvidia made their own video cards like ati does. I've had bad luck with some oem cards. (one nvidia and several ati)
  • must mean free drivers, since Quake 3 isn't free :)

    So tell me, what the source packages on this page [] are about.

    Let me quote the most relevant entry on that page:

    Q3A 1.27g Game Source This is the combined source code for Quake III Arena and Quake III: Team Arena. It can be used to build the 1.27g point release or the Team Arena release. It contains buildable project files and all related game source code as well as prebuilt tool executables.

    It is released under the GPL. How is that not free software?

    Ah, you mean the game data? You can get that for free as well abeit with some limits, and as a matter of fact there are free and Free datafiles for quake 3 that do not need the data files from ID software to work.
  • by bhunachchicken ( 834243 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @02:53PM (#15725305) Homepage

    From the article,

    "Installing Nvidia drivers is simple, straight-forward, and usually incorporated into your distribution's package repository. For example, Fedora Core 5 offers GeForce driver revisions 8756 and 8762 through select repositories, so installation involves little more than invoking Yellow Dog Updater, Modified (YUM) or YUM Extender (YUMEX). Nvidia clearly wins on this front, because ATI doesn't offer this luxury."

    The last few updates of the ATI drivers I have recieved have been done so via YUM on FC5. In fact I'm due for an upgrade now,

    yum check-update


  • by ATMD ( 986401 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @06:13PM (#15725903) Journal
    Nvidia's driver code should be more or less the same

    Nvidia's driver code is exactly the same - they've said that the binary part is just copied wholesale from the Windows driver, except with a different layer to interface with the operating system.
  • Boycott ATI (Score:3, Informative)

    by vandan ( 151516 ) on Saturday July 15, 2006 @07:53PM (#15726157) Homepage
    ATI's track record of Linux support is appauling, the most recent example being their pulling support for all pre-R300 cards. They also flatly refuse to assist DRI developers working on the R300, claiming that their own driver 'supports' the R300 and above line. But in all honesty, that 'support' is patchy at best, and the writing is on the wall for R300 support as well - pretty soon only the new X1xx cards will be supported.

    Locking when switching between X and a console are NOT FIXED despite what the article says - ATI simply marked the bug page in bugzilla as 'fixed'. There are lockups with XGL. The XPRESS chipset is very badly supported and very slow - my friend's Turion-based laptop with an XPRESS chipset plays UT2004 slower than my Athlon XP 1600 with an original Radeon 7200 with DRI drivers! 2D performance is pathetic. There is no XRENDER acceleration. Suspending / hibernating doesn't work. XCOMPOSITE support is non-existant. The list goes on and on.

    If people want a gaming card, buy an nVidia, or you will be sorry. If gaming isn't so important, buy a something with an Intel chipset - they have excellent open-source drivers, and are only getting better. I installed XGL on a laptop with an Intel i945G card last weekend, and I was shocked by it's impressive performance - XGL in particular was as smooth as I've ever seen it ...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 15, 2006 @09:00PM (#15726279)
    I would like to point out that all the newer nVidia cards (6x00 and 7x000 except the 6600) DO NOT have "xv" overlay support. This causes problems for some applications so buyer beware!
  • Re:No thanks... (Score:2, Informative)

    by ErixTr ( 601648 ) <erixtr@gmail.YEATScom minus poet> on Sunday July 16, 2006 @04:44AM (#15727299) _radeon_take_on_linux/print.html []

    Adding "print.html" works for all articles on THG.
  • Re:Compatibility... (Score:3, Informative)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @09:52AM (#15727811) Homepage Journal

    FWIW, this usually comes up, and it's worth pointing out a few things.

    1. Most people know that WINE is a reimplementation of an API, not a CPU emulator. I know a handful of people get confused here, but the majority, in my experience, do not.

    2. Historically, the word emulator has, actually, included programs that simulate operating systems, not just programs that simulate CPUs. For example, the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga had several systems marketed as "Macintosh emulators". The non-hardware versions of each merely patched the Macintosh ROMs to use local hardware rather than Mac hardware. So called "CP/M" emulators for V20/V30 series CPUs (an NEC version of the 8086 with native 8080 code execution support) were also widely available. These are by far not the only things refered to as "emulators" that were operating system, not CPU, emulators.

    3. The debate over the term is so commonplace, that at one time WINE stood for, officially, both as "Wine Is Not an Emulator" and "WINdows Emulator". This is perfectly legitimate, it isn't a CPU emulator, but it does emulate Windows. A quick look-up of the dictionary definition of the word "emulate" will put you in good stead here as to why both terms are legimate.

    The word "emulator" does not mean "CPU emulator", it merely means "Something that emulates". Whether you're emulating (immitating) a CPU, or an operating system, you are, actually, an emulator. Jumping in with a correction over the word emulator because it's not a CPU emulator is entirely unnecessary, and largely wrong. I don't doubt your motives, unfortunately usually when someone says "emulator", a large proportion of listeners think they hear an unspoken "CPU" in front of it, but even those who do usually know that nobody's talking about CPU emulation in WINE. Nobody except the Darwine people, anyway, but that's another issue.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison