Saturday, January 29, 2011

Observations on using the Nouveau driver

A few weeks back I made a post about switching back to the open-source nouveau drivers for my Nvidia graphics card. The main upside was that the suspend and hibernate functionality now worked - something that did not happen with the binary drivers from Nvidia. This is a concern for me, since I now have a Home Theatre PC running continuously and I would like to make some power savings with my main computer.

After running for a few weeks, here are some things I have noticed:

Artifacts on screen after coming out of suspend. They usually take the form of a vertical line of red pixels, spaced apart. They disappear after a reboot, so it is not permanent, but it is mildly annoying.

OpenGL performance much reduced. I was able to bring some of it back by installing libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental, found in the Ubuntu repositories. They bring a few extra modules for using OpenGL, and allows programs like Google Earth to run again (more about this next). The modules in the repository are a fairly early build - people have had more success using current-build versions of the Gallium3D driver. I haven't tried them yet, not sure if I will.

Google Earth problems. In linux, Google Earth makes use of OpenGL to draw its graphics on screen. The implementation in the binary Nvidia drivers is quite good, in the open-source drivers it is lagging behind somewhat. Before installing libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental, Google Earth would not run at all, simply putting up a message box asking you to update your drivers. After installing, it now runs, albeit slowly.

I'm still in two minds about whether to keep these drivers or go back to the binary versions. I'll probably see how things go for a while - how much I make use of suspend (which is sooo much quicker to resume from than booting from scratch - the AHCI manager takes forever to read the drives in the BIOS) will probably determine things. It might even be worth trying an ATI card to see how the drivers are with that. I'm quite impressed by the open source radeon drivers in my laptop. I don't really use my desktop now for MythTV since building the HTPC, so VDPAU performance isn't so much a priority.

I'll update in time, whenever a decision is made.

No comments:

Post a Comment