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Old 07-22-2004, 06:50 AM   #1
Registered: Jan 2002
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How good are the ATI drivers for Linux?

I'm on the verge of a potential major PC upgrade and I'm faced with choosing between ATI and NVidia. Now I know that NVidia has great support for Linux, but I've read some topics saying some of their newer cards are noisy and require a lot of power to drive them.

I've only read bad things about ATI's support for Linux, so I was wondering what is the current state of ATI's drivers for Linux? How well do they support accellerated 3D and 4x or 8x AGP? Do the drivers support full 2D accelleration?

And other such wonderful questions! Thanks a lot.
Old 07-22-2004, 07:15 AM   #2
Registered: Jan 2004
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i have an ati. there seems to be no special things about it... i run gentoo and its easier to get drivers for nvidia, but i managed mine for ati.
Old 07-22-2004, 09:29 AM   #3
Registered: Jul 2003
Distribution: SuSE 9.1 Professional
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Hey stodge, I'm in the same position as you atm, choosing between NVidia and ATi for a new graphics card. I have minimal Linux experience so I can't comment on the drivers for ATi cards, but I have a couple of things up my sleeve that may help:

1) NVidia cards are known to perform significantly better in OpenGL than ATi ones (under Windows this is). This is from various Tom's Hardware/Anandtech articles, where there is a noticeable difference. (Look for articles comparing the two new generation series of cards). As Linux uses OpenGL for graphics, this obviously gives NVidia hardware a bit of an advantage over ATi (assuming that this phenomenon occurs on Linux as well as on Windows... I'm not a graphics expert so I don't know for sure whether it would still apply or not).

2) The NVidia cards aren't neccessarily going to be that noisy, it depends on what cooling solutions the individual vendors come up with. One vendor does a single slot cooling solution for example, which frees up the extra PCI slot but makes the card run a bit hotter. The original GF5 card cooler was a hoover (I've heard the sound samples, lol!) but the same may not apply for the 6800s. Hopefully the vendors will come up with some nice, quiet (relatively) cooling solutions for them.

There's no getting round the extra Molex power connecter on the 6800s though, lol.

Last edited by Foxy; 07-22-2004 at 09:30 AM.
Old 07-22-2004, 01:08 PM   #4
LQ Guru
Registered: Jul 2003
Distribution: Gentoo 2004.2: Who needs exmmpkg when you have emerge?
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If you're a gamer, do NOT take ATi for Linux. Their support is unstable and pretty primitive, even in Windows. Go with nVidia, they have very good drivers. As for a card, I don't think a GeForce 5700 (my card ) is enough anymore, try a 5950, or, if you have the cash, get a 6800 GT or Ultra.
Old 07-23-2004, 07:41 PM   #5
Registered: Jan 2002
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Cool - thanks folks.
Old 08-18-2004, 06:46 PM   #6
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Registered: May 2003
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IMHO, the are TOTALLY CRAP. I have Gentoo + 2.6.7 kernel + Radeon 9600 with v. 3.9.0 of the driver so it is not a totally standard setup but whatever. The kernel crash when it tries to unload the driver (it always tries to do that when you shutdown) and when I do strange things with OpenGL which, with other cards, would only have resulted in a segfault. It wasn't like this with nVIDIA. Their driver were also hard to install but atleast when you got it right you had it right.
Old 08-18-2004, 07:48 PM   #7
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Registered: Aug 2004
Distribution: Fedora Core 2
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Wish I had known how little support ATi had for Fedora before I installed it.
Anyone know of some open-source drivers that I can use while waiting for 2.6 kernel support?


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