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Old 04-27-2008, 04:18 PM   #1
jgombos
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Limitations of the linux VGA driver vs Windows video card emulation


I have a high end video card for which there is no linux driver. The generic VESA driver fails. So the VGA driver is my only option. Using the VGA driver, xorg fails to start with any color depth greater than 8 bit. Does that sound right? Is that really the limit of VGA? What other limits do I have, with respect to pixel addressability (resolution) and refresh rate?

Also, suppose I install Windows as a host OS along with the OEM video driver, and then linux as a guest OS. Will windows emulate a better video card than what the VGA driver supports?
 
Old 04-27-2008, 04:34 PM   #2
lazlow
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What video card?
 
Old 04-27-2008, 05:08 PM   #3
jgombos
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazlow View Post
What video card?
It's an old 3dlabs oxygen gvx420. It was expensive back in its time, which is why it's not mainstream enough to have linux driver support. XiG produced a commercial driver for it at one point, but no longer. They're not selling their driver anymore, they would not give me whatever they had from years ago.

Anyway, the card is quite capable, but it's severely limited by the generic drivers. The VESA driver produces garbage, and the VGA driver appears to be limited to 8 bit color.

So I believe the only way to get half decent video is to install XP along with the OEM driver, and then run linux within virtual box. I just found out that I should be able to get 32 bit color if I install the virtual box guest additions within the linux machine. I hate to make the linux machine dependent on the windows machine (it should be the other way around), but it seems necessary for video.
 
Old 04-27-2008, 05:19 PM   #4
lazlow
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I guess I would just spend the $20 to get a "newer" mainstream card. It will probably blow the doors of your current card.
 
Old 04-27-2008, 05:23 PM   #5
jgombos
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I just found a chart that shows the limitations of the different technologies:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_VGA

Looks like I need a generic UXGA driver.
 
Old 04-27-2008, 07:31 PM   #6
jgombos
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Originally Posted by lazlow View Post
I guess I would just spend the $20 to get a "newer" mainstream card. It will probably blow the doors of your current card.
Perhaps. But setting this machine up to do something interesting is already a solution looking for a problem.. I don't need it, but I just want to make use of the hardware as it is for a couple experiments before giving it away. So spending a dime on it would be wasteful.
 
Old 04-27-2008, 08:10 PM   #7
jgombos
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I was able to get good 2D graphics from the glint driver. I was looking at this list of drivers available in xfree86 (even though I have xorg):

http://www.xfree86.org/4.3.0/RELNOTES3.html

And noticed the "glint" driver listed next to 3DLabs (OEM for the GVX420), and I also recall the GVX420 manual mention glint.. so I tried that driver (glint_drv.so also appeared in the xorg library) and it worked! So the problem all along was lousy video card detection w/ debian and xorg. The glint driver will drive the oxygen gvx420 at 24 bit color and at high resolutions.

Problem solved.

BTW, if anyone else has a legacy 3Dlabs card, you cannot navigate to the manual or OEM drivers from the 3dlabs front page.. you must go directly to http://www.3dlabs.com/content/Legacy/ to get that information.

Last edited by jgombos; 04-27-2008 at 08:13 PM.
 
  


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