Skip to main content

Linux Notes: Latest ATI graphics drivers installed

I'm now running with the latest ATI/AMD Linux drivers, 8.02. You can go to the Ubuntu Gutsy Installation Guide and use Method 2 to install them. I've been installing pretty much every release that's come out, especially all of this year's (2008).

First, the 'bad' news. Starting with 8.01, released in January, AIGLX support is broken. AIGLX experimental support was introduced in 8.42.3 back in November. I installed it then and had issues with that driver and my video card, an ATI X1950 Pro. There were conflicts between OpenGL applications and the Compiz desktop. As a consequence I never bothered to run the fancy desktop. But every time I updated the drivers I tried to enable the visual effects (Compiz) to check if the situation would get any better. In never did. Now, starting with 8.01, any attempts to enable visual effects fails.

Which, frankly, is fine by me. Everything else works flawlessly with the latest drivers, including OpenGL and movie playback. In fact, these drivers have provided the highest levels of performance I've seen so far on my Ubuntu system. Using a very simplistic example, glxgears runs about 5,000 frames/second on my system with 8.02 installed. Booting into a live CD, such as the latest PCLinuxOS Gnome Edition, and then running glxgears produces only 500 frames/second. That's a full order of magnitude difference in performance between the 'free' Xorg radeon driver and 8.02 under Ubuntu. I'll trade that increase in performance for a lack of Compiz functionality any day. As another example, I can play two movies simultaneously (one with VLC, the other with totem) and chew up only 25% of the processor load on my system. I'd be lucky to get that level of performance with just one movie on a stock installation. And of course Google Earth runs smooth as silk.

Over all I'm quite happy. But your mileage may vary.


Popular posts from this blog

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…

vm networking problem fixed

Over the weekend I upgraded to Windows 8.1, then discovered that networking for the virtual machines wouldn't work. Then I tried something incredibly simple and fixed the problem.

Checking the system I noticed that three VMware Windows services weren't running; VMnetDHCP, VMUSBArbService, and VMwareNatService. VMware Player allows you to install, remove, or fix an existing installation. I chose to try fixing the installation, and that fixed the problem. The services were re-installed/restarted, and the virtual machines had networking again.

Once network connectivity was established there was exactly one updated file for Ubuntu 13.10, a data file. This underscores how solid and finished the release was this time. Every other version of every other Linux installation I've ever dealt with has always been succeeded by boatloads of updates after the initial installation. But not this time.

Everything is working properly on my notebook. All's right with the world.

sony's pivotal mirrorless move

I'm a died-in-the-wool technologist, even when it comes to photography. I have always been fascinated with the technology that goes into manufacturing any camera, from the lenses (optics) through the mechanical construction, the electronics involved, and especially the chemistry of the film and the sophistication of the digital sensor. It's amazing that the camera can do all it's asked of it, regardless of manufacturer.

Of all the types of cameras that I've really taken an interest in, contemporary mirrorless (again, regardless of manufacturer) are the most interesting because of the challenging problems the scientists and engineers have had to solve in order to build a compact but highly functional camera. In particular I've followed the sensor advances over the years and watched image quality climb (especially with μ4:3rds) to exceed film and rival one another such that there's very little difference any more as you move from the smaller sensors such as 4:3r…