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devilOffline
Post subject: Poll on usage of free and proprietary drivers for Nvidia  PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 08:49



Joined: 2010-08-26
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Since the floodgates in debian unstable opened after the release of squeeze and the related end of the freeze, we had, as expected, some quirks and some serious breakage. After the first storm was over and dist-upgrades were possible again, Xorg changed its abi naming-scheme ( from abi-8.0 to abi-8 ), breaking the proprietary nvidia driver. This was a serious problem for lot of users, leaving them in a tty without X. On the other hand, the free 'nv' driver was discontinued and removed from debian, which more less put us in a situation where we had to enable the 'nouveau' driver in the kernel to have at least one acceptable alternative to the proprietary 'nvidia'driver, knowing 'nouveau' will probably break with every major kernel release.

Since the 'nvidia'-situation was worked-around by a community member on the frickelplatz-repository, there is a discussion among the devs, if this or any other 3rd party repository, which is unofficial, should be promoted as it was during the last days. In the course of that i would like to get some answers from the community to get a clearer picture of the needs and/or wishes of our users. Specialy i would like to get a clearer picture on the usage and need for proprietary graphics drivers like 'nvidia' and 'fglrx'. (We all know, fglrx is a very bad choice in unstable because its never on par with our kernels). Also, do users know about nouveau, its features and its current development state?


As a poll is an inadequate tool in this case, please elaborate in the thread on your usecase and reasoning for nvidia or nouveau. Thanks for taking the time to think about these questions.

• Do you need the nvidia driver for private use?
• Do you need the nvidia driver for your job?
• Would at this point the 'nouveau' driver be a solution for you instead of 'nvidia'?
• Does the fact that the 'nvidia' driver is not free, mean anything to you?

greetz
devil
 
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BTOffline
Post subject: RE: Poll on usage of free and proprietary drivers for Nvidia  PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 09:23



Joined: 2010-09-12
Posts: 40
Location: Belgium
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Hello Devil,

I was using nv before, but with the removal of nv from debian, I took the proprietary nvidia driver from experimental. This was OK until the last dist-upgrade that wanted to remove nvidia-glx again.
nvidia-glx had unmet dependencies.

Yesterday i tried Slam's HowTo, but it didn't work for me.

So my last resort was using Towo's solution. I fully understand the risks and disadvantages of this solution, but it's at the moment my only available solution (Thanks Towo !!).
I suppose a lot of other people are in the same situation.

It would be a good idea to give some support to Towo's solution during this difficult period for nvidia users (with the necessary warnings of course)

PS: When nouveau is working, I will definitely use nouveau !
 
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aylaOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 09:31



Joined: 2010-09-11
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Hi,

private use only.

I would use any free driver if possible in first case. So far my chipset nVidia C79 [GeForce 9300 / nForce 730i] is not in the list of supportet chipsets of the nouveau driver -at least not in xorg log.
As soon as this situation is changing I will gladly give it a try again. And because I'm not a gamer I don't care much if the performance of the free driver is a little less good then of the proprietary one.
But I also need a working X.
So I'm really glad and thankful to know of and be able to use frickelplatz repo.
If I loose support because of this I can live with that and will not complain.
If my system is not useable anymore I can't.
I think it's far better to be able to work with the package management and a -good maintained- 3rd party repo then being forced to use the blob from producers webside and have to nail it in by bypassing apt.

greets
ayla
 
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slamOffline
Post subject: Graphics drivers for Nvidia chipsets  PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 09:35
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vesa

The Vesa driver (xserver-xorg-video-vesa) is a basic robust solution for all cards, but the range of available resolutions/colors is limited: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VESA_BIOS_ ... de_numbers - for all resolutions above 1024x768 you can use hwinfo --framebuffer to check which ones are provided by your graphics card. Several extended features are not included, the most prominent ones are all modern 2D/3D extensions. It is sufficient for rescue operations, but also for all basic computing.

nv

The nv driver (xserver-xorg-video-nv) was the first free and open source driver for all Riva, TNT, GeForce und Quadro cards. It supported all possible resolutions/colors and full 2d extensions, but no 3d. However, it's development has stopped and it was removed from Debian Testing/Sid recently therefore. It was sufficient for normal computing.

http://www.x.org/wiki/

nouveau

The Nouveau driver (xserver-xorg-video-nouveau) forked long time ago from nv, and continued development where nv stoped. It adds better support for newer cards, better performance and a wide range of modern 2d extensions. 3d support is still experimental, but will improve as development is proceeding. Nouveau is free and open source, and the new default driver for Nvidia cards in Debian and Aptosid. It works with KMS, so having it installed is all you need to do for proper resolutions/colors. In case of failure, it automaticly falls back to Vesa, so the user is not left without graphical environment. It is sufficent for all usual computing tasks, just those demanding 3d features (mostly Windows games played using wine) are not yet possible.

http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/

nvidia

This is the closed source proprietary driver from the manufacturer. It adds full 3d features for many cards. Support for new chipsets is added with every release, while support for older ones is dropped from time to time. It needs an extra compiled kernel module, which needs to be done with every kernel update. nvidia-glx overwrites core Xorg files, and needs to be reinstalled with every Xorg upgrade. Like all closed source drivers, it often lags behind changes done in the open source components, and therefore breaks from time to time until the manufacturer releases a fix. Besides those technical hassles, the legality of external closed source modules linked into the Linux kernel is disputed. The nvidia driver is not working with KMS, and has no fallback - in case of any problems users are left without a graphical environment.

http://packages.debian.org/unstable/ker ... nel-source

The Aptosid development team recommends and fully supports the removal of the nv driver and installation/usage of the nouveau driver. Only for those actually needing the full 3d features of the proprietary driver, we always have and will provide help in our manuals, forums and IRC channel. Please understand that we do not recommend to use any software from outside Debian/aptosid repositories in general, as we have no ability to fix problems in 3rd party packages (plus potential security issues have to be considered).

Greetings,
Chris

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development is life
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Last edited by slam on 20.02.2011, 10:15; edited 1 time in total
 
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myloOffline
Post subject: Re: Poll on usage of free and proprietary drivers for Nvidia  PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 10:08



Joined: 2010-09-11
Posts: 116
Location: Wiesbaden, Germany
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      devil wrote:
As a poll is an inadequate tool in this case, please elaborate in the thread on your usecase and reasoning for nvidia or nouveau.


Hi devil,

to help the team gathering more information what are the users needs and requirements, i like to give my statements.

First of all, I linke to thank towo for his indefatigable work and support in chat, forum and frickelplace. He is very helpful for many people, who got lost while a d-u crashes their X.

Although some threads were on the way with warnings, hints and solutions, many people failed in securing their nvidia/driver config, against a misconfiguration after, before d-u 'ing.

The matter is complex, most of the users (I do not count here the experts, but the ones who want a nice working machine on linux and start getting helpless when X is black) are not in the details of the problems and the options. I fear, at least it is the point for me, that you sometimes expect too much from the people in how far they understand the matter.

We have:

drivers, legacy, proprietary, 173.x.y.z, 260.x.y.z, free ones, nv, nvidia-glx, experimental, xserver-xorg-core, 2D, 3D, fglrx, dmakms, nouveau and and and...

I do not know exactly what is what and how it is related. Also a verbal poll as you start here, just makes sense, when the people understand what they should judge/talk about. How to judge between nouveau and nvida, when I do not know the difference?

Some questions are asked and the informations, about what the questions are asked, follow thereafter (slam started trying lighten the dark a bit for users like me).

Please understand this not as critics, but it mirrors a bit the situation, that might have led to at least some lost or confused users.
If you ask questions, that just experts can answer, then you get a non-complete picture, where important things are missing.

So, hopefully, my answers are helpful for you (the team) in order to develop a "nvidia-driver-strategy" along with recommendations (per card type) and receipts for the manual:

      Code:
• Do you need the nvidia driver for private use?

I use my pc private and therefore the driver private.

      Code:
• Do you need the nvidia driver for your job?

No.

      Code:
• Would at this point the 'nouveau' driver
be a solution for you instead of 'nvidia'?

Good question! In order to do this, I wait for the first statements and experience of guys, who tried slam's receipt.

      Code:
• Does the fact that the 'nvidia' driver
is not free, mean anything to you?

Yes! I bought a nvidia card, but I am not sure, whether I may use the nonfree driver (I payed the card, did not steal it). If I am not allowed, then I am very interested in a fee driver, to have a clean legal situation on my harddisk.


Feel free, to ask me anything, should there be anything incorrect or unclear!

Tanks a lot starting this discussion!

_________________
Regards
mylo

Linux 3.1-6.slh.1-aptosid-amd64 x86_64[2010-03 Ἀπάτη (201012262151)]
Intel Core2 Duo E6550 @ Cache/Ram 4MB/4GB nVidia G72 7300 nouveau 2*250GB
 
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slamOffline
Post subject: RE: Re: Poll on usage of free and proprietary drivers for Nv  PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 10:14
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I have added the above summary to the nvidia -> nouveau HowTo in our Wiki. Everyone is invited to extend/correct it; the goal is to offer exactly the information requested by mylo, and to enable our users to make educated decisions.
Greetings,
Chris

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towoOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 10:55



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      Quote:
• Do you need the nvidia driver for private use?

Yes, for gaming and HD video

      Quote:
• Do you need the nvidia driver for your job?

Sometimes i need hardware accelerated 3D.

      Quote:
• Would at this point the 'nouveau' driver be a solution for you instead of 'nvidia'?

No.

      Quote:
• Does the fact that the 'nvidia' driver is not free, mean anything to you?

No, but i'm sadly, that there is no support from Nvidia for a free driver.
 
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oduffoOffline
Post subject: RE: Re: Poll on usage of free and proprietary drivers for Nv  PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 11:03



Joined: 2010-09-11
Posts: 15
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Hi devil,

1. Short answers
- private use
- nouveau is no solution for my use case
- as long as "non-free" is better than "free" I'll go for "non-free"

2. Explanation
In my case googleearth is the k.o.-criterion. Nouveau does not offer 3D and thus googleearth is unusable.

3. After all the recent spamming (couple of identical posts and crossposting) I did try nouveau. It installed ok but didn't work for me (see 2.).
Then I installed nvidia from frickel-repo without any problems and now everything is fine again.

4. For this thread it might be a good idea to mention the applications that do or do not work with nouveau.

Gruß
oduffo
 
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slamOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 11:03
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Recent Nouveau does play HD videos fine for me (just now tested on Vimeo and Youtube).
Greetings,
Chris

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muchan
Post subject:   PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 11:39
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Joined: 2010-09-11
Posts: 468

I use a PC with nVidia card at workplace.
On this, I use virtualbox heavily, with multiple guests,
where actual works are done. So, if I can't start X, I can't work.
If only one solution breaks, I'm forced to stay in older backup system, or forced to boot in another OS.

The card have not been supported with "nv" driver, when I started to use this.
So I have been using binary driver.
Since the day "nv" started to supported the card, I enjoyed the stability. I didn't need 3D for the job.

I use old generic monitor with 1280x1024, so vesa can still support it.
With new Xorg, "vesa" can be a backup. but font rendering is not very good.
And also, graphical editing in details, the pixel sizes are not quite uniform... so, it's OK for temporary fallback, but not good for longtime solution.

      Quote:

• Do you need the nvidia driver for private use?

no.

      Quote:

• Do you need the nvidia driver for your job?

If the free driver works and will not break, no.

      Quote:

• Would at this point the 'nouveau' driver be a solution for you instead of 'nvidia'?


I did not have time to try yet, since aptosid kernel was enabled for it.

      Quote:

• Does the fact that the 'nvidia' driver is not free, mean anything to you?

yes... I wan't to avoid it, if free drivers works well.

So, currently, "nv" from frickel is chosen.
When I have idle time, I'll try nouveau with new kernel. If it works, then I'll use it with "vesa" as backup.

As I wrote in other thread, having alternatives when things break, is the most important point for me.
 
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cid-babaOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 11:44



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• Do you need the nvidia driver for private use?

Yes - I want to use VDPAU for HDTV, because the GPU is much better (aka faster and more silent) solution to encode the Videos, and the Imagequality is better, too.

• Do you need the nvidia driver for your job?

No - but maybe not yet. Its possible that I will need CUDA for my study. I didn't have a look if its possible to use CUDA on Linux at all, but I'm sure, if it works, it will need the Nvidia driver.

• Would at this point the 'nouveau' driver be a solution for you instead of 'nvidia'?

Not until VDPAU, 3D acceleration and maybe CUDA is possible with noveau, and I think that will need a lot more time.

• Does the fact that the 'nvidia' driver is not free, mean anything to you?

I don't like it - but there is no real choice, is there? I would prefer a free driver, but I won't buy expensive hardware, and then use a driver that leaves 95% of its capabilities unused. With drivers I'm more likely willing to compromize - if a company provides a stable and working driver for its hardware, but doesn't provide it under a free licence, I will use it until there is a free driver with the same abilities. If there are more companies with comparable products I buy producs of the company providing free drivers or supporting a community writing them. But with graficcards there is no choice. Nvidia is the best of the bad choices. I never had problems with the driver, so its okay for me.

A big "Thank you" to towo for providing frickelplatz and the usabel nvidia packages!

Lg
cid-baba
 
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diblOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 14:18



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• Do you need the nvidia driver for private use?

Yes, I use desktop effects (cube and switching) for data entry purposes for research hobby (genealogy).

• Do you need the nvidia driver for your job?

No.

• Would at this point the 'nouveau' driver be a solution for you instead of 'nvidia'?

It is substantially less capable, unfortunately -- until it can provide 3D equivalent to nvidia, it is not attractive to me.

• Does the fact that the 'nvidia' driver is not free, mean anything to you?

No. I am not idealogical about my computer. I am a long time "enthusiast", since Commodore 64. I spend my money on good hardware, and I want to get the performance out of it. If someone designs and builds excellent computer hardware, then it is their decision how to make their product most attractive and competitive in the market. I do not understand why Nvidia chooses not to provide design data sufficient to allow the open source community to write a good FOSS driver, but that is the choice they have made. They give away their binary blob, but not with GPL of course, so I just use it, because that is how I get the best performance from my GPU.

Thanks Devil for checking with your user base -- this is a good idea, IMO.

Don


Last edited by dibl on 20.02.2011, 18:06; edited 1 time in total
 
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micha_52Offline
Post subject:   PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 14:25



Joined: 2010-09-12
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I'm using the nvidia driver.
I'd be happy if this driver would be free unfortunately this is not the case. The noveau driver does not help me. As cid-baba stated before: "The nvidia driver is the best of the bad choices". It worked always for me and I'm happy with it.

Regards,
Michael
 
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ghstryderOffline
Post subject: Re: Poll on usage of free and proprietary drivers for Nvidia  PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 14:27



Joined: 2010-09-12
Posts: 95
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devil spoke:
As a poll is an inadequate tool in this case, please elaborate in the thread on your usecase and reasoning for nvidia or nouveau.

Hi devil, thank you for starting this, I think it can be valuable in terms of educating the non-expert users and informing the team of the needs of the user base. I would like to thank the team for their efforts, it is complicated from the point of view of that ever-elusive "average" user, your help is appreciated.
      Code:
Do you need the nvidia driver for private use?
No
      Code:
Do you need the nvidia driver for your job?
No
      Code:
Would at this point the 'nouveau' driver be a solution for you instead of 'nvidia'?
Possibly - I have yet to get it working. I won't go into details, but I think I might have seen yet another clue today.
      Code:
Does the fact that the 'nvidia' driver is not free, mean anything to you?
It does, from a philosophical point of view, but not at the sake of a large performance hit, ease of use, or stability.
 
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OppaErichOffline
Post subject:   PostPosted: 20.02.2011, 14:43



Joined: 2010-09-13
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Location: Essen, Germany
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• Do you need the nvidia driver for private use?

No, I don't need it but like to have kwin effects running and a bit less stress on the CPU. It's a weak Atom 330 here.

• Do you need the nvidia driver for your job?

Simply: No, I rather need screw drivers. Smile

• Would at this point the 'nouveau' driver be a solution for you instead of 'nvidia'?

Yes, probably. In fact, nouveau is running on a Squeeze and a LMDE install on this machine. It's running fine but hardly comparable, both systems run Gnome and no effects at all.

• Does the fact that the 'nvidia' driver is not free, mean anything to you?

Yep, I prefer free and open drivers and are willing to accept regressions to some extend...
 
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