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Old 07-10-2017, 02:51 PM   #1
Mr. Macintosh
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Mesa vs Nouveau vs Nvidia Proprietary


I'm curious about the open-source drivers purely because it's easier to install them than to go find them on Nvidia's site and then install them.

Which is better: Mesa or Nouveau?

Or is the proprietary driver significantly better?
 
Old 07-10-2017, 04:46 PM   #2
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Nouveau's not perfect, but I've had almost nothing but problems with Nvidia's proprietary drivers. They left me wondering if Nvidia wants to be seen to support open source, but doesn't want to put in the effort.
 
Old 07-12-2017, 12:48 PM   #3
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To put things in order...

- Mesa and nouveau are 2 different things. Nouveau is the opensource driver for nvidia gpus and mesa is the open source implementation of opengl libraries used for 3d content. In short, nouveau works with mesa's libraries while nvidia (the driver) has it's own, closed source ones.

- Installing the nvidia driver is as easy as
Code:
apt-get install nvidia-driver
and apt will take care of the rest which is: install the driver libraries, install its binaries, buid the relevant nvidia module for the kernel you have and, in the end, blacklist nouveau to prevent it from loading. So there is no need to download stuff from nvidia's site and do it on your own.

- The nvidia driver is better than nouveau in every aspect, from 2d performance to 3d and powersaving. In short, I see no real reason to prefer the nouveau over nvidia...
 
Old 07-12-2017, 02:59 PM   #4
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If one wants OpenGL and other type of acceleration then the closed-source NVIDIA drier is pretty much the only way. Certainly for gaming things like Steam only work with the proprietary driver.
Personally, I have been using NVIDIA proprietary drivers for around 10 years and the only issue I have had with them was the weird "blue people" bug with Flash videos a long time ago.
 
Old 07-12-2017, 03:06 PM   #5
rigor
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A good point was made about Mesa.

However, WRT to the drivers themselves, naturally a driver may work better on some hardware than on other hardware; there may also other factors, such as other software that contributes to the overall usability of the graphic environment. In my situation, it seems there are multiple NVIDIA provided packages, and the dependencies between them seem incorrectly specified.

To be specific, I'm currently running openSUSE Leap 42.2 on an HP Pavilion Elite m9350f with AMD Phenom X4 9850 CPU, and a GeForce 9800GT Graphics environment. The hardware passes built-in hardware diagnostics and a variety of externally obtained hardware diagnostics.

Yet, if I try to use the NVIDIA driver, the graphics environment is so completely non-functional that I am UNABLE to use KDE. I am able to use KDE quite nicely with the Nouveau driver.

Results that you obtain on your hardware may be different than my experience with it. I've tried the NVIDIA driver with different distros on this hardware; I don't know that I've ever tried Debian on this hardware, but I have tried it using Ubuntu and had problems. To be fair, things may be different on Debian.

I have tried various versions of the NVIDIA driver over the years, and most of them have left the graphic environment so completely UNUSABLE that I was forced to remove the NVIDIA driver and related software using a plain text based TTY.

What's worse, when I have thought that an NVIDIA driver was working for a substantial period of time, I sometimes had nasty system crashes when I finally just happened to use some program that made use of driver features which I hadn't used up to that point. When I replaced the NVIDIA driver with the Nouveau, that same task was completed without any problem.

So pardon me if I tend to recommend caution with the NVIDIA driver. I have to wonder about their Quality Control, the thoroughness of their testing, the scope of hardware on which they test, etc.

Last edited by rigor; 07-12-2017 at 03:07 PM.
 
Old 07-12-2017, 03:13 PM   #6
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rigor, are the issue you have seen recent or have you always had them and is your system one with both Intel and NVIDIA graphics?
I ask because back when I had a 9800 GTX in my desktop the NVIDIA proprietary driver was pretty much the only way to get it running without issues, however, it is now over 6 years ago and should I wish to run that card I would likely pick a legacy driver. Added to that I have to admit that I have not owned and will avoid system with switchable graphics between Intel and NVIDIA because all I see are bad reports.
And, yes, I have only run desktop NVIDIA cards -- a 7200, then a 9800 GTX, then both, then a GT 640 and, now a GTX 970.
 
Old 07-12-2017, 05:25 PM   #7
rigor
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Although I certainly haven't kept a log of the events, I believe the machine was made in 2007, and obtained in 2008. It's one of the few pre-built machines I've used, I usually "integrate" my own machines; at the time I needed something that would take less time than building my own machine.

On general principle, and since it seems that NVIDIA tends to want to be proprietary, I would have expected NVIDIA's own driver to work best with NVIDIA's hardware. I would expected it would almost be a matter of pride for them to make sure of that. AFAIK, I didn't initially have problems using an NVIDIA driver. Then at some point, someone else patched/updated their system with a newer NVIDIA driver and reported problems. When I later applied the patches/updates which included the newer driver, I had problems too.

Most of the years since then, it has seemed as though I've experienced various problems with the NVIDIA driver versions, at least on this machine. But as I say, the machine passes all sorts of diagnostics, and overall I know I'm not the only person on the Planet who has had problems with, and complained about, one or more versions of NVIDIA's proprietary driver since then.

As to Intel, I've usually tried to stick with the provided NVIDIA hardware. When I've sometimes felt the need to try something else, I've generally used ATI/AMD branded graphics cards in this machine.

To provide a frame of reference, during one time frame I sometimes strongly recommended some disk drive manufacturers. Even though later they seemingly developed some quality control problems, I didn't jump to recommend against them, even though some people did start recommending against the manufacturers, based on the quality control issues; probably fair to say I recommended them a little less strongly, but as long as they stood behind their products, replaced what was bad, and they issued statements about any limitations, etc., I continued to recommend in favor of them. I also continued to try to work around their stated limitations. ;-) However, at least with NVIDIA, for me and for some other people as well, I feel almost as if the driver is not something NVIDIA stands behind, so to speak. Could there be something strange/unfortunate that HP did with this machine? I suppose so. Unfortunately, as the tech. gets more and more high density, it seems a bit more involved than just grabbing a collection of data books on chips, to try to find something someone did, which might be causing problems with a particular combination of boards, etc.

Overall, that's why I appreciate distros. that have a place to report individual experiences with software on particular hardware.

I do continue to try different versions of NVIDIA's driver on this machine as they become available; it's actually been some of the more recent versions that
have seemingly behaved the worst.
 
Old 07-12-2017, 07:22 PM   #8
Mr. Macintosh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim_p View Post
To put things in order...

- Mesa and nouveau are 2 different things. Nouveau is the opensource driver for nvidia gpus and mesa is the open source implementation of opengl libraries used for 3d content. In short, nouveau works with mesa's libraries while nvidia (the driver) has it's own, closed source ones.

- Installing the nvidia driver is as easy as
Code:
apt-get install nvidia-driver
and apt will take care of the rest which is: install the driver libraries, install its binaries, buid the relevant nvidia module for the kernel you have and, in the end, blacklist nouveau to prevent it from loading. So there is no need to download stuff from nvidia's site and do it on your own.

- The nvidia driver is better than nouveau in every aspect, from 2d performance to 3d and powersaving. In short, I see no real reason to prefer the nouveau over nvidia...
Oh, okay. Thanks for explaining that. As to the proprietary driver working better - at least going by other responses in this thread - it seems to depend either on your distribution, desktop environment, or hardware.

Last edited by Mr. Macintosh; 07-12-2017 at 07:24 PM.
 
Old 07-12-2017, 07:23 PM   #9
Mr. Macintosh
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Thanks everyone! I've really gotten some great responses in this thread. Whether the proprietary or open source driver works better really seems to depend on either your hardware or your distribution. It might even depend on your desktop environment.
 
  


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