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Thread: Linux + Compiz + Four Monitors?

  1. #1
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    Default Linux + Compiz + Four Monitors?

    Currently, I'm running four monitors using a pair of GeForce 7300 GT's. The problem is that I end up with two choices: Run Xinerama and get crap performance and none of the fun transparency effects or what I'm doing now, running two TwinView desktops, which has nice performance, but can't drag windows between and things like maximizing a window causes it to take up two screens and I can never use full-screen effects. (TwinVideo Xinerama hints only work when you use two monitors, not four)

    Is there any better solutions for this? Perhaps an nVidia card that does QuadView instead of TwinView? Or does ATI Crossfire do this better?

    I'd really like the window functionality I had back when I ran Xinerama, but still have the performance and transparency effects I get with separate desktops. This machine's a workstation, so I don't need gaming performance, just desktop. (I'm a big fan of translucent xterm windows)

  2. #2
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    Well, there are limitations inside X when combining Xinerama and compositing. I don't know if anyone is even working on fixing those.

    Quote Originally Posted by Forbidden View Post
    (TwinVideo Xinerama hints only work when you use two monitors, not four)
    There are some old patches here, don't know if they still apply:
    http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=85604
    Search for other posts from JaXXoN over there, he's spent a lot of time on >2 monitor setups.

    Quote Originally Posted by Forbidden View Post
    Is there any better solutions for this? Perhaps an nVidia card that does QuadView instead of TwinView? Or does ATI Crossfire do this better?
    The solution is to avoid Xinerama altogether, i.e. make it work with a single GPU.
    * use two DualHead2Go / TripleHead2Go (they're basically DVI splitters)
    * use an nvidia card with 4 outputs (I don't know any, IIRC there's only quadro card upwards of 1000 bucks)
    * use an eyefinity card with 6 mini-DP ports. Note that you'll either need new DP-capable monitors or four active DP->DVI adapters (~50 each). Also note that eyefinity isn't supported by fglrx yet, but they're working on it.

  3. #3
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    Regarding the eyefinity solution, up to two DVI/HDMI monitors can be connected through cheap passive adapters. Additional monitors need native DisplayPort or active adapters.
    The least expensive card to support 4 or more monitors is the PowerColor 5770 Eyefinity 5 edition ($220 at newegg), in Europe those are sold under the Club3D brand (190 approx.).

    The open source drivers don't support acceleration for 5000 series cards yet. Maybe you can hold off with your purchasing decision until compiz works (shouldn't be too long).

  4. #4
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    you're right, two monitors can be connected with passive adapters, saving around 2x 40.
    Quote Originally Posted by chithanh View Post
    The open source drivers don't support acceleration for 5000 series cards yet.
    But do they support eyefinity? Have you tried?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rohcQaH View Post
    Well, there are limitations inside X when combining Xinerama and compositing. I don't know if anyone is even working on fixing those.
    I'm reasonably certain no one is. Everyone tells me Xinerama is deprecated. Can't even use RandR with Xinerama.

    There are some old patches here, don't know if they still apply:
    http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=85604
    Search for other posts from JaXXoN over there, he's spent a lot of time on >2 monitor setups.
    I remember looking at his work years ago when I was first fiddling with this. His patches are, unfortunately, to the Xinerama extension, which we can't use anymore.

    * use two DualHead2Go / TripleHead2Go (they're basically DVI splitters)
    I looked at these at one point, but wouldn't they have a similar problem in terms of X not knowing where the monitor break is? (So maximizing windows or "full screen" video would cross the monitors, like I have now with Dual-TwinView) Or are there drivers to give X the hints?

    * use an eyefinity card with 6 mini-DP ports. Note that you'll either need new DP-capable monitors or four active DP->DVI adapters (~50 each). Also note that eyefinity isn't supported by fglrx yet, but they're working on it.
    I've haven't had an ATI card in Linux in probably over ten years, so I'm not entirely familiar with the driver situation there. (For the longest time, nvidia had very good drivers, so I just kept going with them) I know there are open source 3d drivers and proprietary Catalyst drivers, but everyone kept telling me that the proprietary ones were useless. However, I've been hearing that's changed since AMD took over. Is it that the HD 5xxx cards aren't supported yet or specifically an issue with Eyefinity?

    Thanks for your help. It's been tough to get good information since so few people use more than two monitors and the tribal warfare of ATI vs. nVidia never helped.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rohcQaH View Post
    Well, there are limitations inside X when combining Xinerama and compositing. I don't know if anyone is even working on fixing those.
    I'm reasonably certain no one is. Everyone tells me Xinerama is deprecated. Can't even use RandR with Xinerama.

    There are some old patches here, don't know if they still apply:
    http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=85604
    Search for other posts from JaXXoN over there, he's spent a lot of time on >2 monitor setups.
    I remember looking at his work years ago when I was first fiddling with this. His patches are, unfortunately, to the Xinerama extension, which we can't use anymore.

    * use two DualHead2Go / TripleHead2Go (they're basically DVI splitters)
    I looked at these at one point, but wouldn't they have a similar problem in terms of X not knowing where the monitor break is? (So maximizing windows or "full screen" video would cross the monitors, like I have now with Dual-TwinView) Or are there drivers to give X the hints?

    * use an eyefinity card with 6 mini-DP ports. Note that you'll either need new DP-capable monitors or four active DP->DVI adapters (~50 each). Also note that eyefinity isn't supported by fglrx yet, but they're working on it.
    I've haven't had an ATI card in Linux in probably over ten years, so I'm not entirely familiar with the driver situation there. (For the longest time, nvidia had very good drivers, so I just kept going with them) I know there are open source 3d drivers and proprietary Catalyst drivers, but everyone kept telling me that the proprietary ones were useless. However, I've been hearing that's changed since AMD took over. Is it that the HD 5xxx cards aren't supported yet or specifically an issue with Eyefinity?

    Thanks for your help. It's been tough to get good information since so few people use more than two monitors and the tribal warfare of ATI vs. nVidia never helped.

  7. #7
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    Support for more than two monitors in the radeon driver has been fixed recently (fdo bug 27692).

    An active DisplayPort->VGA adapter costs around 25, while an active DisplayPort->DVI adapter is closer to 90. Passive adapters cost ~15.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by chithanh View Post
    Support for more than two monitors in the radeon driver has been fixed recently (fdo bug 27692).

    An active DisplayPort->VGA adapter costs around 25, while an active DisplayPort->DVI adapter is closer to 90. Passive adapters cost ~15.
    Does that mean I can use compiz across four monitors with HD 5770?

    Something like:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814161338


    Or does that require waiting for Eyefinity support?

  9. #9
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    Presently you cannot use compiz with four monitors on Radeon 5000 series, because the open source drivers don't support 3D acceleration for Evergreen yet and the proprietary drivers don't support Eyefinity yet. But both should come in the near future.

    The card you link to is a "normal" 5770 card which only supports 3 simultaneous displays. You need something like this and two active DisplayPort->VGA or DisplayPort->DVI adapters.

    But as I mentioned previously, in order to avoid disappointment I would wait with the purchase until compiz is actually confirmed to work.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by chithanh View Post
    Presently you cannot use compiz with four monitors on Radeon 5000 series, because the open source drivers don't support 3D acceleration for Evergreen yet and the proprietary drivers don't support Eyefinity yet. But both should come in the near future.

    The card you link to is a "normal" 5770 card which only supports 3 simultaneous displays. You need something like this and two active DisplayPort->VGA or DisplayPort->DVI adapters.

    But as I mentioned previously, in order to avoid disappointment I would wait with the purchase until compiz is actually confirmed to work.
    Thank you. How does one tell the difference between a Radeon that will support only three vs. the ones that will show more? The one I linked had four ports (two DVI, an HDMI, and a DisplayPort). Is there a table somewhere that lists how many can be driven at once for each card? Newegg doesn't seem to list it, and both of those cards are HD 5770 gpu's.

    Where would be a good place to look to keep an eye on to know when either the open source supports 3d or the proprietary support Eyefinity?

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