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Thread: Leading Issues With Drivers

  1. #1

    Default Leading Issues With Drivers

    I was recently asked: what do you believe are the five leading issues with the current state of ATI's Linux drivers. You can see my answers below, but to make things more interesting I have decided to open up this question on the forums. What do all of you believe are the leading issues/bugs that need to be addressed with the drivers that you use?

    ATI Linux Drivers
    1. Gaming/frame-rate performance
    2. Control Panel
    3. Supporting GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap (For AIGLX)
    4. Overclocking support
    5. Fixing various other minor bugs or glitches
    NVIDIA Linux Drivers
    1. Supporting X.Org v7.1 / GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap
    2. Poor SLI support/performance
    3. Poor installer
    4. Features (e.g. dynamic display options, improved TV-out)
    5. Fixing various other minor bugs or glitches
    6. More frequent/definitive release cycle (if that counts)

  2. #2

    Default

    The biggest gripe I have are NVIDIAs infrequent releases. They seem to release a new beta every other day for Windows. X 7.1 has been out for a fair while now... and we still don't have support.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Well here goes.

    Ati Linux Driver Issues:

    1) Performance/frame-rate.
    2) Existance of -Critical- bugs in production releases.
    3) Mysterious/lack-of-output installer.
    4) Lack of Functional and Easy to Use Control Panel
    5) Lack of documention for...pretty much everything.
    6) Driver chokes if more than 1 ati card is installed (crossfire or not).
    7) No crossfire support.
    8) Many releases, but mixed-progress. Not proving helpful.


    Nvidia Linux Driver Issues:
    1) Lack of power-saving options for mobile users.
    2) Not open w/ community regarding 'when' releases will be.
    3) Lack of RPM packages (w/ the exception of Redhat users ) for distribution management.
    4) Lack of Xorg 7.1 support.
    5) Poor SLI performance.
    6) Limited FreeBSD version support.


    Examplantion for Ati points above:

    1) Well this is a no brainer. Nvidia drivers are on-par w/ their windows counterparts in most instances.

    2) Bugs exist such as only 1 x-server at a time, or an entire product line does not function. [example: Attempting to use 3D applications on Radeon 9000/9100/9200/9250 and FireGL 8x00 products fails to start and reports back something similar to ?[fglrx] API ERROR: could not register entrypoint for SelectTextureSGIS?. Further details can be found in topic number ]

    3) The installer will say "completed successfully" even if it did NOT complete successfully. The gui is nice, but all of the functionality one would -expect- in an installer is lacking.

    4) This is a no brainer. We've seen the FireGL Panel for years. Lets get a real config utility already! One that at least offers configuration of various features etc. without interruption of the x-server, and that provides info such as Temperature, FSAA configurations, etc.

    5) All of the Xorg.conf options, how to accomplish certain tasks, etc.
    The README has no documentation on any of that. The FAQ is pointless (very outdated and inaccurate) and of course, when to use Aticonfig over when to use xorg.conf editing. What are the recommended best practices?
    Nvidia's Readme is VERY SPECIFIC for every feature. Ati does not provide any such documentation. They sure show a lot of pictures of their installer though. Also, any limitations seem to be "hidden". (i.e. it requires Xorg 6.9 or higher to get TV-out to work w/ X1000 series cards. I don't see anything anywhere referrencing which Xorg/Xfree version you need to get which features to work).

    6) Some of us actually have more than 1 card in our desktops. God forbit right? Nvidia can drive multiple cards w/ no problems. Ati can't. You have to physically remove the card. Of course when you're under a SLA with a vendor, they often don't let you do that! So ati has no solution to this problem.

    7) For the hardcore gamers that dual-boot, this would be nice. Some users have a crossfire rig (it's true). IF they want to dual-boot into Linux, they have to remove one of the cards! At least with nvidia, you don't have to do any hardware modifications, you just reboot normally. (granted their SLI performance is lacking, but the fact that SLI seems stable and at least works is a good starting point).

    8) Once again, releasing all the time is great, but introducing serious/critical bugs into a Production Release? Maybe Ati is not using the correct approach here...?



    Explanations for Nvidia Points Above:
    1) Ati has been generous enough to give users the ability to utilize the predefined clocks of Powerplay. Nvidia still lacks PowerMizer functionality w/ their linux drivers. Would be nice for mobile users who are trying to get usable battery life in Linux!

    2) You may know that a bug-fix is coming in the next release of the nvidia driver (by emailing them), but they won't tell you when that is. In some cases, that could be 4 months! Need to be more open/honest with the community regarding the 'WHEN' component of their release cycle. If not for all releases, at least give rough estimates for their 'next' driver (releasing sooner than announced isn't bad either!)

    3) I will say this has been a strong point for ATI. They have distro-specific builds. While the nvidia installer seems to be universal, it sucks from a package-dependency management point of view. Perhaps taking an approach similar to Ati for various distributions would allow better package management for end-users? (I noticed various RedHat folks get an Rpm, what about us SuSE guys?).

    4) While xorg 7.1 is still not in any fully-released kernels, I will say that it can't hurt for Nvidia to keep ahead of the game by at least trying to keep people happy. Ati has surprising done this (although w/ some big bugs). Would love to hear an explanation as to 'why' they are holding back.

    5) This is a no-brainer. SLI profiles don't seem to readily exist for Linux. Granted this may be due to the fewer number of games, but perhaps we could see the 'roadmap' or at least a 'rough idea' of what to expect from SLI in linux in the future?

    6) First off, the fact that Nvidia supports FreeBSD is a Huge deal as Ati does not. So this issue can't be held comparitively against ATI. That said, Nvidia keeps discontinuing support for older BSD kernels every other release, forcing users to upgrade. Some people prefer the Legacy 4.x BSD releases for stability reasons. Would be nice to perhaps see a 'legacy' driver for BSD users!


    That's all I got. Quite a bit of reading, sorry

  4. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rinthos View Post
    Well here goes.

    Ati Linux Driver Issues:

    1) Performance/frame-rate.
    2) Existance of -Critical- bugs in production releases.
    3) Mysterious/lack-of-output installer.
    4) Lack of Functional and Easy to Use Control Panel
    5) Lack of documention for...pretty much everything.
    6) Driver chokes if more than 1 ati card is installed (crossfire or not).
    7) No crossfire support.
    8) Many releases, but mixed-progress. Not proving helpful.


    Nvidia Linux Driver Issues:
    1) Lack of power-saving options for mobile users.
    2) Not open w/ community regarding 'when' releases will be.
    3) Lack of RPM packages (w/ the exception of Redhat users ) for distribution management.
    4) Lack of Xorg 7.1 support.
    5) Poor SLI performance.
    6) Limited FreeBSD version support.


    Examplantion for Ati points above:

    1) Well this is a no brainer. Nvidia drivers are on-par w/ their windows counterparts in most instances.

    2) Bugs exist such as only 1 x-server at a time, or an entire product line does not function. [example: Attempting to use 3D applications on Radeon 9000/9100/9200/9250 and FireGL 8x00 products fails to start and reports back something similar to ?[fglrx] API ERROR: could not register entrypoint for SelectTextureSGIS?. Further details can be found in topic number ]

    3) The installer will say "completed successfully" even if it did NOT complete successfully. The gui is nice, but all of the functionality one would -expect- in an installer is lacking.

    4) This is a no brainer. We've seen the FireGL Panel for years. Lets get a real config utility already! One that at least offers configuration of various features etc. without interruption of the x-server, and that provides info such as Temperature, FSAA configurations, etc.

    5) All of the Xorg.conf options, how to accomplish certain tasks, etc.
    The README has no documentation on any of that. The FAQ is pointless (very outdated and inaccurate) and of course, when to use Aticonfig over when to use xorg.conf editing. What are the recommended best practices?
    Nvidia's Readme is VERY SPECIFIC for every feature. Ati does not provide any such documentation. They sure show a lot of pictures of their installer though. Also, any limitations seem to be "hidden". (i.e. it requires Xorg 6.9 or higher to get TV-out to work w/ X1000 series cards. I don't see anything anywhere referrencing which Xorg/Xfree version you need to get which features to work).

    6) Some of us actually have more than 1 card in our desktops. God forbit right? Nvidia can drive multiple cards w/ no problems. Ati can't. You have to physically remove the card. Of course when you're under a SLA with a vendor, they often don't let you do that! So ati has no solution to this problem.

    7) For the hardcore gamers that dual-boot, this would be nice. Some users have a crossfire rig (it's true). IF they want to dual-boot into Linux, they have to remove one of the cards! At least with nvidia, you don't have to do any hardware modifications, you just reboot normally. (granted their SLI performance is lacking, but the fact that SLI seems stable and at least works is a good starting point).

    8) Once again, releasing all the time is great, but introducing serious/critical bugs into a Production Release? Maybe Ati is not using the correct approach here...?



    Explanations for Nvidia Points Above:
    1) Ati has been generous enough to give users the ability to utilize the predefined clocks of Powerplay. Nvidia still lacks PowerMizer functionality w/ their linux drivers. Would be nice for mobile users who are trying to get usable battery life in Linux!

    2) You may know that a bug-fix is coming in the next release of the nvidia driver (by emailing them), but they won't tell you when that is. In some cases, that could be 4 months! Need to be more open/honest with the community regarding the 'WHEN' component of their release cycle. If not for all releases, at least give rough estimates for their 'next' driver (releasing sooner than announced isn't bad either!)

    3) I will say this has been a strong point for ATI. They have distro-specific builds. While the nvidia installer seems to be universal, it sucks from a package-dependency management point of view. Perhaps taking an approach similar to Ati for various distributions would allow better package management for end-users? (I noticed various RedHat folks get an Rpm, what about us SuSE guys?).

    4) While xorg 7.1 is still not in any fully-released kernels, I will say that it can't hurt for Nvidia to keep ahead of the game by at least trying to keep people happy. Ati has surprising done this (although w/ some big bugs). Would love to hear an explanation as to 'why' they are holding back.

    5) This is a no-brainer. SLI profiles don't seem to readily exist for Linux. Granted this may be due to the fewer number of games, but perhaps we could see the 'roadmap' or at least a 'rough idea' of what to expect from SLI in linux in the future?

    6) First off, the fact that Nvidia supports FreeBSD is a Huge deal as Ati does not. So this issue can't be held comparitively against ATI. That said, Nvidia keeps discontinuing support for older BSD kernels every other release, forcing users to upgrade. Some people prefer the Legacy 4.x BSD releases for stability reasons. Would be nice to perhaps see a 'legacy' driver for BSD users!


    That's all I got. Quite a bit of reading, sorry
    ATI doesn't recommend or support directly modfying the xorg.conf, in all instances they endorse using aticonfig. aticonfig --help is quite useful for showing off those features. I have heard other complaints of their other documents being outdated.

    Being able to use multiple ATI graphics cards for a greater number of display heads would always be nice. With that, being able to drive more than two displays from the dynamic display management options would be nice (e.g. two LCDs and a S-Video TV).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Michael,

    I can understand why they prefer users to stay out of the xorg.conf file, however they put options in there that should be explained, no?

    I.e:

    Option "CapabilitiesEx"
    Option "ForceGenericCPU"
    Option "Capabilities"
    Option "CenterMode"
    Option "StereoSyncEnable"

    to name a few.
    For some of these, I can guess, but whether or not my guesses are correct is beyond me. i.e. CenterMode I assume will center the output on a single display? Is there an option to go with it to specify which display? Does it use EDID to determine the center? When should it be used, not used?

    Honestly, if they don't want the xorg.conf file modified, they shouldn't throw so many customizable options in there!

    And re: the outdated documentation, see here (for example):
    http://www.ati.com/products/catalyst/linux.html
    That makes one think Xfree 4.1 is still supported, no?

    ---

  6. #6

    Default

    Sorry if my previous post wasn't clear. Yes, I do agree that their documentation should be improved.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    22

    Default

    Michael,

    Apologies, I read your previous post as "haven't heard" not "have heard".

    My bad on that. These eyes are failing on me i fear .
    ---

  8. #8

    Default

    ATi Linux Driver problems

    1. Performance
    2. Stability
    3. Crossfire support (although this really does not help me in anyway)

    nVidia Linux Driver problems

    1. Installer Nightmare (Good thing there's Synaptic in Ubuntu)
    2. SLi is forgettable... (although this doesn't affect me in anyway)

    I do hope that ATi can finally get their act together now under the AMD banner. The GPU+CPU core does prove to be intriguing.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    I was recently asked: what do you believe are the five leading issues with the current state of ATI's Linux drivers. You can see my answers below, but to make things more interesting I have decided to open up this question on the forums. What do all of you believe are the leading issues/bugs that need to be addressed with the drivers that you use?

    ATI Linux Drivers
    1. Gaming/frame-rate performance
    2. Control Panel
    3. Supporting GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap (For AIGLX)
    4. Overclocking support
    5. Fixing various other minor bugs or glitches
    NVIDIA Linux Drivers
    1. Supporting X.Org v7.1 / GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap
    2. Poor SLI support/performance
    3. Poor installer
    4. Features (e.g. dynamic display options, improved TV-out)
    5. Fixing various other minor bugs or glitches
    6. More frequent/definitive release cycle (if that counts)
    You can add for ATI incorrect Xv video display on TV-out (S-video), you have to use video through OpenGL with flabby appearence. In combination with no TV-out support from the open source drivers, an ati card is a non-starter if you want to use your TV, or your TV hasn't got digital input

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    714

    Default

    my gripes:

    ATI Linux Drivers:

    1. Non-existant support for open source developers coming from corporation.
    2. Making a binary-only driver so horrid that I don't want to have it on my machine.

    Horrible open source drivers is something I can deal with. They are open about the sort of thing they do to my machine and easily tracked and developers are accessable. Horrible closed drivers lie about functionality and obscure what is going on by the matter of course and developers and such are completely unaccessable when it comes to trying to fix problems.

    NVIDIA Linux Drivers:

    1. Same as above except their stuff is actually decent performance wise.

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