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December 12, 2009 / P. Filippaios

The -Old- Nouveau Driver

Nouveau driver is still in its infancy.

OK, look here

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Nzc5NQ

and here

http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=86675

(i’ve made a post on the second link)

What has been happening with Nouveau till now ?

Nouveau is (for those who don’t know) the opensource implementation for the Nvidia cards, currently, for all Nvidia cards. Unlike xf86-video-ati, nouveau had never had 3D support for any Nvidia card, so it’s differences between nv (the very simple display display driver by Nvidia) and itself were minimal. After many years of work, nouveau got KMS* support in the last months and it is by default within Fedora 12 installation cd.

For now, if someone wanted to try nouveau, had to install xf86-video-nouveau, nouveau-drm (kernel modules) or kernel with these modules installed within it – along with mesa, libgl etc. It wasn’t very easy, KMS was not always succesful. Basic 2D, basic Xv video acceleration (just video acceleration, nothing else), KMS. That’s all.

OK, very nice. What is going to happen now ?

What’s for sure, is that we won’t see a “usable” driver (that means: satisactory 3D, stable KMS, powersaving, at least basic VA-API support) until the end of 2010. We’ll see, the Mesa devs work hard.

Till then, the best solution is the binary Nvidia driver.

*KMS = Kernel mode-setting is a technology that puts the work of setting graphics output modes into kernel space. This allows for a cleaner implementation, and means that switching VTs (Ctrl+Alt+F1, etc.) is nearly instantaneous. KMS also allows a full-resolution framebuffer (which is nice for high-res displays in console mode)

** VDPAU = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VDPAU

*** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VaAPI

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