My 3Dyssey

I have finally managed to make the display drivers on my girlfriend’s laptop (Dell Inspiron 6400) work with the propriertary ATI drivers.

It took me about a week and a lot of research but I finally managed to make it work. To make a long story short, the problem was that before I tried to install the propriertary drivers, I had installed the xserver-xgl package as it is necessary to have 3d acceleration with Ubuntu’s restricted drivers. Unfortunately, as the propriertary drivers can finally work with AIGLX, XGL is not needed anymore. Also unfortunately, this is not mentioned anywhere and not are you warned about it at all. As a result, I didn’t even think of that this might be the cause.

Furthemore, the ATI installation wiki, does not even mention this in the verification section either. I have now added it just to save other the same frustration I went through.

Hopefully, once I uninstalled the xserver-xgl driver, ATI became the default renderer. Unfortunately since compiz is used to work with XGL, it refused to activate. Fortunately the envy script is setup to configure compiz to use AIGLX so all I needed to do to fix this was run the script and have it reinstall the ATI drivers.

Finally I have normal 2D and 3D Capabilities. I especially hated not being able to see a fullscreen movie.

Lesson for the future learned: Ignore manual installations and just run the goddamn Envy

Now, all I need to do is figure out why power management is not working :-/

Just one more distro change

Every time that I change a GNU/Linux distro I claim that I’m going to keep it for a while but for some reason as soon as some thing start to break down things always start to look brighter on the other side. So this is how I ended up looking toward Ubuntu once more.

For those that do not follow my distro jumping story (and I blame you not), last thing I was trying out was Sabayon Linux, after getting totally pissed off with my Ubuntu 6.10 installation where the system was hanging all the time without reason. Sabayon’s initial install seemed more stable and I thought to install it. (never mind the fact that the true culprit was Nvidia crappy drivers)

Unfortunately for me, Sabayon was much less stable than it seemed initially. I blame it on the absolute bloatware format of the distro. It just includes so many applications for the same purpose, along with 4 different desktop environment and generally every conceivable package that you could think of that it seems inevitable that something will break as soon as you start upgrading things. If only they had an install option to install a more minimal system…

At some point I had gotten fed up with my CD drives disappearing, Kopete crashing (I eventually used Pidgin which is very very nice), randomly failing HDD (OK that still happens) and having to use legacy nvidia drivers in order to have beryl without system halts, I found myself buying a new external HDD (about time and I thought to myself,

Why not buy a cheap VGA to see if that will stop the system halting with newer Nvidia drivers? If nothing else, you can keep your old one to finally setup the extra server you wanted.

And so I did. I grabbed a Geforce 8500 for 90€ who I mistakenly assumed would be better than my 2.5 year old Geforce 6600 GT AGP. When I reached my place, it occurred to me that if I’m going to go to all the trouble of setting up a new VGA, I might as well go all the way and install Kubuntu Feisty 7.04 which will give me a chance to check out the new Compiz-Beryl Fusion as well. Who knows, maybe the new, “Better and more Stable” version would not overheat my Geforce 6600.

S’yeah, right. The first installation failed because I wanted to keep Sabayon as a second OS but the damn Kubuntu installer did not have support for LVM and insisted on formatting my old boot partition if I were to use it. I couldn’t be bothered at that point to play with Grub so I installed the system in my old 80Gb HDD after freeing up my old 25gb “Storage Space” (Hah!) but no luck. Since the primary HDD is the SATA one, installing it on the ATA drive did not make the system boot the new boot loader as the MBR kubuntu wrote on resided in the inactive drive.
So I bit the bullet and after backing up crucial files (Porn), critical settings (Porn playlists) and other stuff I did not want to lose (Porn links) from the home directory I deleted the Sabayon LVM and installed Kubuntu on the freed partition while formatting the boot sector and keeping my home directory intact. I assumed that K[tag]ubunt[/tag]u would just use my old KDE/Firefox settings and I was mostly right. Unfortunately there were quite a lot of setting that did not work “just right” so I ended up resetting the KDE settings (read: rename the .kde dir) and pasting the app setting I wanted to keep in it afterwards.

The initial problem was that I could not install the propriertary nvidia drivers as in the official documentation as Kubuntu does not include the necessary restricted-manager script. No problem, I fired up the package manager and requested the installation. As it was not installed on the menu, I had to use it from the console but no biggie.
I then installed [tag]compiz[/tag]-fusion and used my gf6000 to see how it went. As expected, it halted the system just as I finished setting it up. No problem then, I opened the box, installed the new VGA and tried to use it. Well I was quite surprised when the restricted-manager told me that I do not have a restricted card, the system recognized it as VESA and no matter what I did, Kubuntu just refused to acknowledge that I had a damn nvidia card inside. Checking on the compatibility list, I discovered that my card was not supported by Ubuntu. *Groan*. Now I had to find out another way to install the driver. I did not want to use Envy as it was supposedly not compatible with the official way, but in the end I gave up and used it because nothing else seemed to work.

Fortunately that helped and my new card started using acceleration. Woe to me when I discovered that it was actually much worse, performance-wise, than my old card 🙁
It was at this point that I swore and decided to just buy a good card. Shallow? Quite. But at least I had

an excuse to get myself a present for my good job performance and after all it might allow me to play a newer game. So, I returned the card, became 200€ poorer and got me a Geforce 8800 GTS who I knew was supported this time.

I took me a while to install it because I did not realize it required extra power but I happened to see the appropriate holes as I was getting “hammer and saw” thoughts.

new vgaOne envy run later (no restricted-manager still said I did not have a restricted card) I got my acceleration going. I set it up and playtested it for a while. Fortunately it did not hang the system anymore.

Now there are a few more details to iron out (like the system not booting up at 1280×1024 even though I put it in the or allowing me finally to change languages with double-shift (which does not work, again) and stuff like that but from initial experience I believe that, other than a strange slowness issue, Kubuntu is much much more stable than his predecessors and surely more stable than Sabayon 3.3. Time will tell if this will continue. For now I am contect to play around with my new accelerated desktop.

[coolplayer width=”355″ height=”288″ autoplay=”0″ loop=”0″ charset=”utf-8″ download=”1″ mediatype=””]
Compiz-Fusion Rulz

I’m thinking of making a nice video with the new version but I need an editing software that is not too hard to use. i tried Cinerella but it seems to like to crash so I don’t know how much I can use it. If anyone can propose a good screen capture setup (so that it doesn’t start to flicker when too many 3d stuff are drawn) and video editing for [tag]linux[/tag], I’d love to hear it.