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Thread: Killing DRM Graphics Cruft With Fire

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wubbbi View Post
    You still can use Kernel 2.2, 2.4, 2.6 and so on for your old computer. I mean they dont need new features. Just use debian 6.0 and you will have your fun. No need to worry.
    This I have to agree with. You do not need to run Fedora 16 or 17 or Ubuntu 11.10 or 12.04 (or any other modern distro) on older hardware. You can just use older versions, or hop to one of the many speciality distros out there that are created for this very purpose. These distros would probably innately give you a better experience with the hardware anyway.

  2. #12
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    Feel free to make the code useful to modern systems instead of complaining that it got cut from the main git tree. Also, if you're still using the code in question, chances are that you won't be updating to the current libdrm until at least 2020.

    cutting drivers is a real bad things
    What is being cut that isn't unused, broken beyond repair, and/or doesn't have a good replacement?

    so the shuttles was hard to keep going into space...
    Space shuttles? What? (I think your head's in the clouds). I'm sure the shuttles can still fly with enough time/money/effort, just like an ISA card can still run. However, there comes a point when maintenance and repair make other options more attractive, especially if the requirements change.

    BTW, my backup system has an intel i810, but running anything other than vesa is just useless at this point, and I could even get an nvidia PCI card if I had to (though I realize not all systems have the luxury of expansion options).

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    Michael wrote in the article: "a few tiny tweaks. This is sadly the most work these ancient and largely unsupported drivers have received in a while"

    This is not so sad, really, but a matter of code maturity and completeness. These drivers work well enough on the hardware they were written for, and there is not continuously new hardware shipping which they have to adapt to (like for Intel and AMD drivers). The drivers support most of the few hardware features there are on these cards.

    Wubby wrote: "Go to ebay or stuff like that and you will get a ATI RADEON HD 3*** Card ~20€"

    This is not an option for old laptops, which I guess cater for most of the existing via/sis/savage/etc users out there.

    Schmidbag wrote: "you're better off using framebuffer/vesa, or some sort of CPU 3D acceleration these days"

    These old computers have slow CPUs so any HW acceleration is very benefical. For simple things as video playback, a card-specific driver with Xv support makes a huge improvement over the vesa driver.

    Hamish and others suggested: "You can just use older versions"

    Unless you're gonna mix and backport and compile yourself, that means you're gonna run an old distribution with unpatched security issues...

    Having an old savage laptop myself, I am glad I can install the latest, say, Lubuntu 11.10 on it and it works as well as it ever did. Forget latest memory-hogging gnome or compositing desktops though... For a resource-friendly, ecological point of view it is nice that old working hardware can be kept in use (for the same things they were used for years) and still profit from software enhancements, bug and security fixes instead of being thrown away. However, I agree supporting these few, old machines should not stand in way of development for the newer hardware that 99% use. So sacrificing DRI1 if that makes DRI2 rock is fine with me. If it would get to removing hardware support to "clean up the code tree" for the pure sake of it or "these drivers have not been rewritten every half year" it would be sad. But we are not seeing this here. As other have pointed out, in this DRM case only some API has been ditched and existing hardware support has been ported over and kept.
    Last edited by tormod; 10-28-2011 at 09:37 AM.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tormod View Post
    Michael wrote in the article: "a few tiny tweaks. This is sadly the most work these ancient and largely unsupported drivers have received in a while"

    This is not so sad, really, but a matter of code maturity and completeness. These drivers work well enough on the hardware they were written for, and there is not continuously new hardware shipping which they have to adapt to (like for Intel and AMD drivers). The drivers support most of the few hardware features there are on these cards.

    Wubby wrote: "Go to ebay or stuff like that and you will get a ATI RADEON HD 3*** Card ~20"

    This is not an option for old laptops, which I guess cater for most of the existing via/sis/savage/etc users out there.

    Schmidbag wrote: "you're better off using framebuffer/vesa, or some sort of CPU 3D acceleration these days"

    These old computers have slow CPUs so any HW acceleration is very benefical. For simple things as video playback, a card-specific driver with Xv support makes a huge improvement over the vesa driver.

    Hamish and others suggested: "You can just use older versions"

    Unless you're gonna mix and backport and compile yourself, that means you're gonna run an old distribution with unpatched security issues...

    Having an old savage laptop myself, I am glad I can install the latest, say, Lubuntu 11.10 on it and it works as well as it ever did. Forget latest memory-hogging gnome or compositing desktops though... For a resource-friendly, ecological point of view it is nice that old working hardware can be kept in use (for the same things they were used for years) and still profit from software enhancements, bug and security fixes instead of being thrown away. However, I agree supporting these few, old machines should not stand in way of development for the newer hardware that 99% use. So sacrificing DRI1 if that makes DRI2 rock is fine with me. If it would get to removing hardware support to "clean up the code tree" for the pure sake of it or "these drivers have not been rewritten every half year" it would be sad. But we are not seeing this here. As other have pointed out, in this DRM case only some API has been ditched and existing hardware support has been ported over and kept.

    I understand your position of having an old laptop and making it serve purposes that still fulfill your needs, and I respect that. But, keep in mind that an old laptop is considered just about the most useless hardware you can get and the most annoying to software and hardware vendors. Basically anything that is a Pentium 4 of worse is stuff that is actually hurting the computer industry. Yes, you are right that for old laptops, buying a new video card or using VESA is not an option, but the reason those 2 points were made in the first place is to show that new hardware is incomparably faster yet it doesn't cost any different. That being said, if you were to buy the crappiest modern CPU you can get (probably a $40 AMD Sempron) you can do something like vesa and get more performance than you'd get out of your old hardware with GPU acceleration. $40 won't get you very much on old systems.

    I've really come to notice lately that a lot of OS devs are deliberately trying to ignore older hardware. Could Linux keep these old drivers for another 10 years? Yes, and I'm sure it'd work too. I'm sure people would buy OS X Lion for PPC if it existed, and I'm sure some people would still like to have Rosetta. Microsoft does a lot of this sort of stuff too but they're harder to compare to because they make stuff incompatible strictly for profit.
    Many hardware companies are also doing the same thing. AMD's bulldozer series is actually arguably faster than Sandy Bridge but the problem is 99% of software doesn't care about it's changes. The reason they made it is because SOMEBODY has to force the x86 architecture to move on from the old parts.

    So why are Linux, Apple, AMD, etc making these decisions that never had to be made in the first place? Because if the old stuff isn't forced to be ignored, they will hold back future development and only make a mess of code. That being said, Hamish is 100% right and although that is something you might not want to accept, think about this situation - maybe people who have new hardware don't want to accept their products not working to their optimal performance because old stuff is holding it back.

    I'm not trying to bash you, like I said, I respect your opinion and I understand your views and what you're trying to do. But you need to realize that with everything in life, nothing should stick around as long as possible, just because it can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tormod View Post
    This is not so sad, really, but a matter of code maturity and completeness. These drivers work well enough on the hardware they were written for, and there is not continuously new hardware shipping which they have to adapt to (like for Intel and AMD drivers). The drivers support most of the few hardware features there are on these cards.
    A driver does more than interface with hardware however, it must also interface with the rest of the system which is a moving target. So even full featured drivers may and often do still need work just to keep them compatible.

    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    That being said, if you were to buy the crappiest modern CPU you can get (probably a $40 AMD Sempron) you can do something like vesa and get more performance than you'd get out of your old hardware with GPU acceleration. $40 won't get you very much on old systems.
    Hey, I think I am running on that $40 AMD Sempron and it is doing quite well for me thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    I've really come to notice lately that a lot of OS devs are deliberately trying to ignore older hardware. Could Linux keep these old drivers for another 10 years? Yes, and I'm sure it'd work too ... So why are Linux, Apple, AMD, etc making these decisions that never had to be made in the first place? Because if the old stuff isn't forced to be ignored, they will hold back future development and only make a mess of code. That being said, Hamish is 100% right and although that is something you might not want to accept, think about this situation - maybe people who have new hardware don't want to accept their products not working to their optimal performance because old stuff is holding it back.
    I do not think it is even that much that the Linux kernel and driver devs want to ignore older hardware, but there is simply a lack of people willing to maintain it. If their is no one to maintain it in an active and ongoing project, of course it is going to be considered cruft that has to be removed, as there is no one making it workable. That is basically the policy the DRM and Kernel developers seem to be enacting. Older radeons have a better chance of support simply because there are people willing to maintain the code. But in the case of SiS and VIA chips, no one seems to be stepping up to do it, so these drivers are under threat. I can understand the reasoning behind it, and if these old platforms still do remain valuable and are in need of further support, someone who cares must step up and maintain them. If not, you do as I suggested and just stick to older versions or use speciality distros.

    Also, I am unsure of what I am 100% right on. If you are saying that I am 100% right in saying that someone could use older or speciality distros for older hardware when it comes to end of life, I would agree with you, if you are saying that we should always drop older hardware just beacues it is old, I would not. As I said, I love my old Radeon 9200 and continue to use it alongside my modern Radeon HD cards. And as long as someone is willing to maintain it, that code should remain.
    Last edited by Hamish Wilson; 10-28-2011 at 01:39 PM.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamish Wilson View Post
    A driver does more than interface with hardware however, it must also interface with the rest of the system which is a moving target. So even full featured drivers may and often do still need work just to keep them compatible.



    Hey, I think I am running on that $40 AMD Sempron and it is doing quite well for me thank you.



    I do not think it is even that much that the Linux kernel and driver devs want to ignore older hardware, but there is simply a lack of people willing to maintain it. If their is no one to maintain it in an active and ongoing project, of course it is going to be considered cruft that has to be removed, as there is no one making it workable. That is basically the policy the DRM and Kernel developers seem to be enacting. Older radeons have a better chance of support simply because there are people willing to maintain the code. But in the case of SiS and VIA chips, no one seems to be stepping up to do it, so these drivers are under threat. I can understand the reasoning behind it, and if these old platforms still do remain valuable and are in need of further support, someone who cares must step up and maintain them. If not, you do as I suggested and just stick to older versions or use speciality distros.

    Also, I am unsure of what I am 100% right on. If you are saying that I am 100% right in saying that someone could use older or speciality distros for older hardware when it comes to end of life, I would agree with you, if you are saying that we should always drop older hardware just beacues it is old, I would not. As I said, I love my old Radeon 9200 and continue to use it. And as long as someone is willing to maintain it, that code should remain.
    Well, I don't think the devs are deliberately trying to ignore old hardware for the sake that the hardware is old. I think they want to clean up the code and I may be wrong but it seems like Linux 3D progression is being slowed down due to old drivers getting in the way. The fact that the drivers are not maintained is basically the excuse why it is actually ok to remove them. If you had super old drivers but they were still being maintained to operate with the latest software, then there's no reason to remove it. But if hardware is so old that no one is updating it and it is incompatible with newer software, then it's becoming a problem.

    I was agreeing with you regarding using specialized distros for older hardware. As I said in my previous post, I like the idea of people using Linux to take advantage of old hardware, so I strongly disagree with just ignoring anything old. But, Linux needs to be able to move on and moving on means that some things need to be left behind.


    BTW, when I said crappy $40 Sempron, I think the sempron is an excellent CPU for the price, but it does have the lowest price of it's generation for a reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    BTW, when I said crappy $40 Sempron, I think the sempron is an excellent CPU for the price, but it does have the lowest price of it's generation for a reason.
    Yeah, I knew what you meant, actually, in some ways I was proving your point. That being said, in the long term I will want to upgrade to the best my motherboard can support (AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition) simply to max out my current machine. But for the moment I do not feel the pressing need, as it can handle all the tasks I am throwing at it (including gaming and some limited HD video playing) quite admirably and it reliably stays below 45 degrees even with the most extreme tasks I can throw at it (and well bellow that for most desktop tasks, with it idling around 35 or 33 degrees), which I consider damn impressive.

    Not trying to go of topic, but anyway...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamish Wilson View Post
    Yeah, I knew what you meant, actually, in some ways I was proving your point. That being said, in the long term I will want to upgrade to the best my motherboard can support (AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition) simply to max out my current machine. But for the moment I do not feel the pressing need, as it can handle all the tasks I am throwing at it (including gaming and some limited HD video playing) quite admirably and it reliably stays below 45 degrees even with the most extreme tasks I can throw at it (and well bellow that for most desktop tasks, with it idling around 35 or 33 degrees), which I consider damn impressive.

    Not trying to go of topic, but anyway...
    looks like you might want to look into overclocking

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by schmidtbag View Post
    I understand your position of having an old laptop and making it serve purposes that still fulfill your needs, and I respect that. But, keep in mind that an old laptop is considered just about the most useless hardware you can get and the most annoying to software and hardware vendors. Basically anything that is a Pentium 4 of worse is stuff that is actually hurting the computer industry.
    Right, this is from my side not about protecting software and hardware vendors. Yes, keeping old hardware working *is* hurting the computer industry. I am thinking about the users. Not the "consumers" Some like to keep otherwise fine and useful hardware and use it safely. That is my point. Nothing more, and I don't want to freeze development and progress. On the other hand, shorter obsolence cycles, although great for industry and economical growth, might not be good for environment and sustainabilty. New hardware can use less power but a lot of power is used to manufacture them etc. But then we go into politics and philosophy and it might not be the right place.

    Yes, you are right that for old laptops, buying a new video card or using VESA is not an option, but the reason those 2 points were made in the first place is to show that new hardware is incomparably faster yet it doesn't cost any different. That being said, if you were to buy the crappiest modern CPU you can get (probably a $40 AMD Sempron) you can do something like vesa and get more performance than you'd get out of your old hardware with GPU acceleration. $40 won't get you very much on old systems.
    Comparing prices or commercial value is irrelevant from /this/ point of view, I am not suggesting people should buy 10 year old computers instead of a 3 year old one. It is about keeping using what you have, if you want to. Note that I am adding a point of view here, not saying this is the only one or the most important one.

    I've really come to notice lately that a lot of OS devs are deliberately trying to ignore older hardware. Could Linux keep these old drivers for another 10 years? Yes, and I'm sure it'd work too. I'm sure people would buy OS X Lion for PPC if it existed, and I'm sure some people would still like to have Rosetta. Microsoft does a lot of this sort of stuff too but they're harder to compare to because they make stuff incompatible strictly for profit.
    If you are talking about the Linux kernel, it actually is known to keep hardware support for a *long* time. On the other hand X.org developers, especially (understandably) the big part hired by hardware vendors, can not prioritize support of old hardware*. OSX for PPC, yes why the hell would Apple support that since they profit from selling new hardware and they control the whole bundle?

    Many hardware companies are also doing the same thing. AMD's bulldozer series is actually arguably faster than Sandy Bridge but the problem is 99% of software doesn't care about it's changes. The reason they made it is because SOMEBODY has to force the x86 architecture to move on from the old parts.

    So why are Linux, Apple, AMD, etc making these decisions that never had to be made in the first place? Because if the old stuff isn't forced to be ignored, they will hold back future development and only make a mess of code. That being said, Hamish is 100% right and although that is something you might not want to accept, think about this situation - maybe people who have new hardware don't want to accept their products not working to their optimal performance because old stuff is holding it back.

    I'm not trying to bash you, like I said, I respect your opinion and I understand your views and what you're trying to do. But you need to realize that with everything in life, nothing should stick around as long as possible, just because it can.
    Bashing and flaming is fine, but I smell hypocrisy when I hear talk about "respect" and then formulations like:

    "what you are trying to do" - trying to do? I am doing it, and I am happy that it works.

    "But you need to realize ..." - when did I say something to the contrary of this? Did you not have the respect to read my whole post before answering to it? What did I say about "stand in way of development"?

    "is 100% right and although that is something you might not want to accept" - so I am refusing to see the truth, right? I was hoping I was coming through as more nuanced. Whether my poor phrasing or reading skills is at fault I can not tell

    I was not commenting on all Hamish (or anyone) was saying, only the "just use older versions" which I don't believe is 100% right because of, as I already explained, security issues.

    Now back to some testing on my 2003 laptop which runs kernel 3.1 beautifully... OK, I admit I compile it on another laptop

    *) They are doing a great job at it though. For instance Daniel's efforts here, or AMD engineers keeping R100 alive. Maybe on their spare time, I don't know.
    Last edited by tormod; 10-29-2011 at 04:06 AM. Reason: added footnote

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by tormod View Post
    Bashing and flaming is fine, but I smell hypocrisy when I hear talk about "respect" and then formulations like:

    "what you are trying to do" - trying to do? I am doing it, and I am happy that it works.

    "But you need to realize ..." - when did I say something to the contrary of this? Did you not have the respect to read my whole post before answering to it? What did I say about "stand in way of development"?

    "is 100% right and although that is something you might not want to accept" - so I am refusing to see the truth, right? I was hoping I was coming through as more nuanced. Whether my poor phrasing or reading skills is at fault I can not tell

    I was not commenting on all Hamish (or anyone) was saying, only the "just use older versions" which I don't believe is 100% right because of, as I already explained, security issues.

    Now back to some testing on my 2003 laptop which runs kernel 3.1 beautifully... OK, I admit I compile it on another laptop

    *) They are doing a great job at it though. For instance Daniel's efforts here, or AMD engineers keeping R100 alive. Maybe on their spare time, I don't know.

    I understand why you made your response and why you think I'm being hypocritical, but I think you're just misunderstanding some of the points I've made, just as I've misunderstood you. That's fine though, it's not like I require you to understand my angle entirely. I do have explanations for your responses but I don't really feel like getting into it.

    As for not wanting to use something older due to stuff like security issues, well, if security is really that high of a priority then you might want to look into either an antivirus, or hardware new enough to support the latest kernel. Since I've started using Linux I've never had any security issues of any kind related to my systems. IMO, the main concern with older hardware is performance and resources. Yes sometimes newer kernels come with performance optimizations or shrink in size, but as more features are added, that will eventually make an impact in some manner. Besides, most (not all) optimizations are generally for newer hardware, or, in this particular situation where it's actually removing old stuff.

    I do want you to know though that I don't ever want old hardware going ignored, I just don't want it getting in the way. The newest piece of hardware I have is nearly 2 years old. I too have a very old laptop (in terms of performance, it's probably worse than your 2003 model) but the day that it loses support of something is a day where I'll either replace it or stick with an older kernel.


    This may already exist, but what I'd really like to see is a distro designed specifically for all legacy and/or hardware that is no longer supported (but has been at one point) while still using the most modern software compatible with that hardware. A distro like this could deliberately ignore stuff heavyweight desktop environments or things related to openCL.

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