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Thread: Best-card-for and practicality-of r600g on a Debian desktop?

  1. #1
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    Default Best-card-for and practicality-of r600g on a Debian desktop?

    I'll be building a new desktop system in the next few months. For the graphics card, I would prefer to support AMD, but use a free driver.

    However, I'd like to use Debian Stable or Testing. Gaming/3D requirements are Blender, OpenArena, SuperTuxKart, Lugaru, Penumbra and the other HIB stuff, and maybe Nexuiz - at 1920x1080.

    The cards I'm considering are the Radeons HD 4670, 5570, 5670, 5750, and 5770. I'd initially been thinking of the 4670 (at that time there was no Evergreen support in radeon), but seeing how well r600g is doing with 5xxx's now, I'm having to reconsider.

    Obviously Debian official packages aren't new enough, so I'm assuming newer versions of the kernel, xorg, and mesa will have to be compiled.

    Is this a practical idea? (Compiling a recent r600g in Debian.)

    Is the driver easier-to-compile/working-better for the 4670 than the 5xxx?

  2. #2
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    If you don't mind (and have the know-how) to run Debian unstable, and grab a few packages from experimental (kernel, ddx, drm), keeping up to date with and compiling Mesa is a breeze.

  3. #3
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    Any of those cards should be strong enough to run what you want using r600g. My 4550 can just about push OpenArena at 1080p, but not Nexuiz (too choppy). The cards you listed have more horsepower.

    There is no difference in compiling the driver. You'll probably be able to find Debian packages with recent enough Mesa and xf86-video-ati, but even compiling it is not too difficult.

    As for the differences between 4xxx and 5xxx, they should be at basically the same level, but I didn't test this. I've tested all the apps you listed except Blender, and they run fine with HD 4550. Lugaru had some issues which go away if you turn off blood, but this was a long time ago, and was probably fixed.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the responses, whizse and pingufunkybeat.
    Quote Originally Posted by pingufunkybeat
    Any of those cards should be strong enough to run what you want using r600g.
    ...they run fine with HD 4550.
    That's good!

    @whizse
    You mean installing Debian testing "Wheezy" but using driver and kernel packages from Sid? I've never used Testing, just Stable, but I've heard the rumours of it being "as stable as other distro's releases."
    Are Sid packages kept updated enough to have those new things (SwapBuffersWait and page flipping) in a few months?
    Quote Originally Posted by whizse
    keeping up to date with and compiling Mesa is a breeze.
    Do you mean Mesa will have to be compiled, rather than using Sid packages, or just that it's so easy it's worth doing anyway?

    @pingufunkybeat
    Quote Originally Posted by pingufunkybeat
    You'll probably be able to find Debian packages with recent enough Mesa and xf86-video-ati, but even compiling it is not too difficult.
    Did you have a source of packages in mind - ie Sid, Ubuntu, or xorg-edgers?
    Does that mean compiling the whole xorg?


    Anyway, thanks to both of you -- it's reassuring to know this scheme isn't too far-fetched.

  5. #5
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    You don't need anything experimental. A recent kernel (the higher, the better), recent libdrm, mesa and xf86-video-ati (the higher, the better) is all you need.

    The problem with Debian stable is that it often uses ancient software. They use Mesa 7.7, and 7.10 is out, for example. So you need to pull later packages of stable, released software and install it on your machine.

    Whether you get them from backports, sid, xorg-edgers, I don't know. I haven't actively used Debian in many years (I will start using it again soon), but it should really not be too difficult.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by utrrrongeeb View Post
    T
    @whizse
    You mean installing Debian testing "Wheezy" but using driver and kernel packages from Sid? I've never used Testing, just Stable, but I've heard the rumours of it being "as stable as other distro's releases."
    Are Sid packages kept updated enough to have those new things (SwapBuffersWait and page flipping) in a few months?
    No, I mean using sid/unstable and then grabbing select packages from experimental (which is yet another repository, but not a complete distro like stable/testing/unstable is).

    Depending on what you want/need choose between testing and unstable. Packages in unstable have occasinal conflicts and are uninstallable for a couple of days, that's not a problem in testing but it will on the other hand take quite a bit longer for bug fixes and new versions to trickle down.

    Do you mean Mesa will have to be compiled, rather than using Sid packages, or just that it's so easy it's worth doing anyway?
    [/QUOTE]
    Depends, sid usually get the stable releases quite quickly, but since r600g is under heavy development I'm guessing you will want to stay up to date, thus compiling.

    If you install the self-compiled Mesa somewhere besides /usr it's easy to just set a couple of environment variables to switch between this and the stable driver.

    Let's hope I didn't make things even more confusing

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pingufunkybeat View Post
    You don't need anything experimental. A recent kernel (the higher, the better), recent libdrm, mesa and xf86-video-ati (the higher, the better) is all you need.
    Sorry, I was referring to the Debian repository called experimental, not experimental software per se. This is usually where development releases are first packaged, like kernel rc:s.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, debian terminology can be confusing.

    Mesa 7.10 is a released, stable package, and not experimental. It's not in debian stable (but in "experimental" repo) because Debian uses those differently.

  9. #9
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    I run a RadeonHD 4550 on Debian aptosid, which just updated to 2.6.38 kernel. I compile my own drm,mesa,and ati because sid/unstable repo has Mesa 7.10 and there's no 7.11-devel version in the experimental repo.

    Code:
    sudo apt-get build-dep libdrm mesa xorg
    cd /opt
    sudo git clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/xorg/driver/xf86-video-ati
    sudo git clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/mesa/mesa
    sudo git clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/mesa/drm
    Here's my update script I use (note that it doesn't build Debian packages, so it's technically not the best).
    Code:
    #!/bin/sh
    
    cd /opt/drm
    make distclean
    git pull
    ./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr --disable-intel
    make && make install
    ldconfig
    
    cd /opt/mesa
    make distclean
    git stash
    git pull
    ./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr --with-dri-drivers=swrast,r600 --enable-gallium-r600
    make && make install
    ldconfig
    
    cd /opt/xf86-video-ati
    make distclean
    git pull
    ./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr
    make && make install
    ldconfig
    
    cd /opt/mesa
    make install
    ldconfig
    
    cd /opt/xf86-video-ati
    make install
    ldconfig

  10. #10
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    I'll probably want to use testing, as it will be a primary desktop.
    Would I need to compile xorg, too, or would the latest xf86-video-ati be compatible with testing's xorg?

    Can the environment variables needed for loading mesa from /usr/local or /opt be set for use with gdm?

    @DanL:
    That script looks like just what I need -- thanks! Do you think it would work with testing? Presumably making it produce .deb's wouldn't be too hard....


    I was thinking of only updating every month or so, to avoid hassle and hopefully keep it stable. It'll be a few months before I'll begin; by then 2.6.29 should be out and r600g will be even better.

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