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Google Won't Enable Chrome Video Acceleration Because of Linux GPU Bugs 295

An anonymous reader writes "Citing 'code we consider to be permanently "experimental" or "beta,"' Google Chrome engineers have no plans on enabling video acceleration in the Chrome/Chromium web browser. Code has been written but is permanently disabled by default because 'supporting GPU features on Linux is a nightmare' due to the reported sub-par quality of Linux GPU drivers and many different Linux distributions. Even coming up with a Linux GPU video acceleration white-list has been shot down over fear of the Linux video acceleration code causing stability issues and problems for Chrome developers. What have been your recent experiences with Linux GPU drivers?"
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Google Won't Enable Chrome Video Acceleration Because of Linux GPU Bugs

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  • Permenant Beta (Score:4, Informative)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:32PM (#46400547)

    You mean like Google Maps??

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ficuscr ( 1585141 )
      or Google Nose? []
    • They obviously mean "beta" quality. Google Maps is hardly beta quality, regardless of what they label it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:40PM (#46400673)

      What's not to like? Now I get new Google Maps that take several seconds to load in Chrome. That's progress compared with the instant loading that plagued the tile-map version...

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        The worst part is the Android app. It used to be pretty much perfect. Now it is badly broken.

        I used it a lot in the car. There used to be zoom icons but now you can only pinch to zoom. Worse still when you pinch the map stops following your location and sticks to the centre of the pinch, meaning it is impossible to zoom while following yourself.

        They got rid of navigation without setting a destination too. Most apps let you just drive around and use the map for speed camera warnings or seeing traffic conditi

    • I think Maps has been out of beta for years.

      • by GNious ( 953874 )

        There was (is?) specifically a plugin for Google Maps to put a Beta logo on it, for those that miss the days it was in Beta.....

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LifesABeach ( 234436 )
      Google can't solve this problem? Given the harvested, or hired, global super hero underware wearing scary talent, and all of its billions? I ask, "It sucks to suck?"
    • Re:Permenant Beta (Score:5, Interesting)

      by joaommp ( 685612 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @05:06PM (#46401039) Homepage Journal

      to me this all sounds like a lame excuse for the lack of quality of their own software. I mean it's true that there are bugs in the kernel and everywhere on X and alike, but all other apps play nice. only chrome is playing the "poor little guy" part. all other software rants and complains when they find a bug, but they still manage to work it out and to help everything get better. Linux is not the only platform having frustrating bugs that can cripple any piece of software. but it's the easy prey for anyone preparing to become a competitor.
      this is the typical tactic of making people "dependent" on their software, then complaining that some of the platforms it runs on doesn't have as much quality to be excused for a poor performance so they can make it work worse and then they have another excuse to impose a bit more of their own platform like the one running on chromebooks or something else about to be launched.

  • ChromeOS, GPU acceleration always! Same hardware and drivers but not horribly tied to the Google Cloud? Nope.
    • ChromeOS, GPU acceleration always! Same hardware and drivers but not horribly tied to the Google Cloud? Nope.

      Ensuring stability with their own certified hardware to looking at the whole entire Linux ecosystem is like comparing a mouse to an elephant.

    • they'd remove the blacklist completely --- and all the driver vendors would quickly fix the bugs (if there even are any).

      As it is, no-one fixes the drivers because there aren't that many test cases showing the hypothetical bugs. And a good way to get those test cases would be with a frequently used app like Chromium.

      By keeping the blacklist, it means those bugs they think are there will likely never be found and fixed.

      • by jopsen ( 885607 )

        they'd remove the blacklist completely --- and all the driver vendors would quickly fix the bugs (if there even are any).

        Yeah, good luck with that... nVidia doesn't care about linux users, Unity is currently super buggy because of poor drivers.nVidia only recently started working on optimus support.
        And using a laptop with an nVidia card is a nightmare, I constantly have artifacts, crashes, and things that misbehave.

        On my work laptop I've disabled the nVidia card in BIOS, because I wouldn't get anything done using it... The result is that I can't use external displays etc.

        The only graphics drivers that works on Linux is

        • by sfcat ( 872532 )
          Yea, I used to have the worst problems with the nVidia drivers on laptop (Quadro 3000M, hell yea) until I realized that the problems were all caused by my weird dev configurations I was using. When I switched back to the lastest gcc version everything magically worked again. I think the drivers are using some weird configuration of the linker or something (maybe caused by the new linker version released a couple of years ago). So some of the driver problems are caused by the fact that we developers tinke
        • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @07:17PM (#46402717)

          I don't get this nVidia doesn't work on linux stuff. It's the only video card I've ever gotten to work, well not counting Intel which had until recently abysmal 3D performance. Two ATI cards returned because they just killed the machine but 9 years running Nvidia on linux. I think the problem with Nvidia on Unity is more because of Unity which is still pretty buggy.

    • ChromeOS is their OS on a hardware thay approved beforehand. Nothing to do with a random Linux machine out there.

  • by abednegoyulo ( 1797602 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:37PM (#46400631)

    Using intel i3 graphics with default driver that comes with RHEL6/CentOS6. I startup chromium with --ignore-gpu-blacklist. It has been more than a year now and so far so good.

  • I remember these types of problems in the early days of Linux, only then it was audio drivers. Getting audio to work was a disaster. Video typically worked ok but that was before nVidia and AMD were the major players. Now the tides have turned and audio works like a dream and video is what sucks ass.

    I swear I've had more issues with video this last year than I did in the last 15 combined.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:45PM (#46400773) Homepage

      No. Video does not "suck ass". Google is just a bunch of whining crybabies.

      Many of us have been happy as clams taking advantage of these features for years now on Linux. At least for Nvidia kit, it's pretty old news at this point.

      The Intel and AMD variants may not be up to snuff yet but progress is being made. Google could certainly "white list" Nvidia without trouble.

      As for the rest, they could allow it to be enabled for those that are really determined to take the risk. That might even help improve the quality of those other offerings.

      They can't be stressing things any harder than Valve.

      • My experience maintaining a dual-seat Linux setup (with two NVidia cards) over the course of several years is that I absolutely avoid upgrading at almost all cost, because it ALWAYS breaks. And when I have to reboot, it is always video, or USB getting into some funky state.
      • When MS was developing their GPU acceleration for IE, it was a complete shitshow. Tons of very common drivers (the current ones for about half of the at-the-time dominant GeForce 8x00 series, if I remember the story right) were buggy, and would either cause glitches or just not render anything at all. A few others failed in other interesting ways, including crashing the browser.

        They were able to get on NVidia's case and demand updated drivers that weren't shit, at least for that particular application. Goog

    • but that was before nVidia and AMD were the major players.

      Who were the major players?

    • by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @06:01PM (#46401791)

      In other news. Twitch Plays Pokemon beat the game in 18 days. Meanwhile Linux GPU driver support is still shit.

  • Is this really something that's best fixed by expecting Nvidia/ATI/Intel to release higher quality drivers for every distro? Or is this a distro problem, where LInux will simply never have ability to handle acceleration very well because it's a constantly-moving target?

    It's an honest question. I'm curious to see what people involved with either Linux or GPU drivers thinks.

    • by Freshly Exhumed ( 105597 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:45PM (#46400781) Homepage

      AFAIK the Mozilla folks have not had the same complaints about Linux graphics drivers, have they?

      The solution is to avoid using the Google Chrome browser, unless you like being spied on all the time by Google. Load up Firefox with a completely fascist set of add ons and do your best to browse safely.

      • This is the correct solution. Been on FF since Opera abandoned the Linux community last year (saw the writing on the wall with the yet-to-be-released Linux version of their Blink browser -- not that it even matters since all functionality that I loved Opera for died (or will die) with 12.x). Anyways, I was pleasantly surprised with how fast it's become vs. the last time I used it [on linux], which was around 2009/2010. Still not as fast as Chromium or Opera, but fast enough to do the job without wonderin

      • I really just don't see why anyone would use Chrome. I never did get it. IE comes default with windows... so you use it if you're too lazy or don't know what you're doing you leave it on there... Opera has some neat, unique features... so ok... But Chrome? Really? What positive purpose does it serve? Firefox has had its issues over the years but time and again it's proven to be the most stable, most user friendly browser over the long term.

        • In my experience it's faster WRT opening, new tabs, etc. Also FF was hogging memory pretty badly for me. Keeping FF open for a few weeks would invariably result in it using more and more memory, and eventually need to be restarted.

        • Firefox has had its issues over the years but time and again it's proven to be the most stable, most user friendly browser over the long term.

          I think I switched from Firefox to Chrome at around 2010. At that time, Firefox was definitely not the most stable or the fastest browser out there, chrome was.

          Switching back hasn't really been something that I'm willing to invest the time in at the moment, as it's easy to just download chrome, log in, and then have all your extensions, bookmarks, etc. come back to you.

          I understand Firefox does that now, but it still requires me to find extension equivalents and migrate the data which frankly isn't worth th

        • Why did I chose Chrome over Firefox? Because I got sick of the memory leak problems under firefox. When I browse, I use a shit-ton of tabs. After about 3 days, firefox is consuming over 1GB of memory even after I close every single tab. If I let it go about a week, it's up to nearly 2 GB. Once the memory hits about 800MB, it starts to hiccup/pause all the time. When it gets to its worst, I can't even watch a video on youtube without it pausing for 1/2 second every 5 seconds. I went through year after year o

    • by smash ( 1351 )
      Linux needs to provide a stable ABI. Other platforms can do it, Linux refusing to do so is just a cop out, and laziness. "We want to be able to change" = write a fucking shim like everyone else.
  • I must admit, I don't do gaming on my Linux rig, but ... aren't there major 3D games being published for Linux via Humble Bundles, Steam, GoG, and no doubt others as well? Is this a support nightmare for those companies? And if not, how is it that they can work with GPUs in Linux, but the living gods of code over at Google can't hack it? I'm at work and can't be bothered to look up compelling examples, but I'm pretty sure The Witcher 2 runs on Linux, and that's a pretty GPU-intensive title. When somethi
  • Bullshit! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Martyn Hare ( 3546791 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:49PM (#46400815)

    Simply enable it for NVIDIA users by default. It works the same across every distribution, and in fact, every OS. Google are just as cowardly as Adobe were.

    For those who want faster flash and faster Chrome, try this:

    * Go to chrome://flags

    * Override software rendering list -> Enable

    Welcome to a faster Flash and faster Chrome :)

    • by pouar ( 2629833 )
      Agreed, I've been running Chrome with graphics acceleration enabled for a long time and I never ran into any issues.
    • This is what we get when the journalists get ahold of some technical info and start waving it around with the safety off. I assumed from reading the summary that even if the functionality was "permanently disabled", if the code was already built into the browser, you would just have to find the right bits to twaddle in the binary to enable it. Although I guess that is indeed "permanent" for the vast majority of users.

    • by ewhac ( 5844 )
      Mmmm, nope. I'm still seeing ludicrously sluggish behavior on some pages (some of Jira's pages, and on some of Freescale's discussion fora).

      Browser: Chrome 33.0.1750.146
      OS: Linux Mint 15 ("Olivia"), kernel 3.8.x
      GPU: Intel i965
      OpenGL Version: 3.0 Mesa 9.1.7

      Mind you, if I only turn on HW acceleration in the advanced settings panel, GMail runs sluggishly. If I also then enable your software rendering override, then GMail appears to run normally, but in both cases I still get the sluggish Jira pages. I'

    • Then you take off your Linux Zealot glasses and compare it to OS X or windows, you find that Google is probably right to not release GPU acceleration. I have found off and on that we get a lot of silly glitches happens with GPU acceleration, artifacts are common, values not moving at the right speed... For the advanced user, we know how to deal with it, move a component etc... but for an end user it could be a major issue, and turn people off to the product, and it is better off going without until it works

  • If only... (Score:5, Funny)

    by fph il quozientatore ( 971015 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @04:50PM (#46400831)
    Oh, if only a large company like, say, Google would adopt the drivers and support their development...
    • Why should a company that uses Linux as a server OS adopt and support the development of GPU drivers that are not useful in their business context? The only companies who have a vested interest in doing something like that are game companies, specifically Valve.
  • In 2 words: THEY SUCK.

    I had to abort a windows to linux port because the intel linux graphics driver is BROKEN (Intel Atom N455). I spent weeks convincing a customer he was better off moving his code base to linux, and when I finally got the OK to build a prototype, the UI was unusable. I really wish the GPU manufacturers would provide enough documentation so the Open source ppl could come in and fix it.

    • by ichthus ( 72442 )
      Maybe they do suck, but "broken"? Impossible to get working? Tell that to the teams at VLC and XBMC, who have been providing accelerated video on Linux for years.

      Other commenters are right: This is not about stability. It's more likely about DRM.
  • by melting_clock ( 659274 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @05:11PM (#46401103)

    I've been using Linux as my primary OS for 10 years. My desktop PC does dual boot into windows for a few games but spends 95% of the time in Linux. I've done a bit of gaming and other graphics intensive applications under Linux without any problems. As a part time gaming machine, there is a mid range NVIDIA card hiding inside and I've always used the proprietary NVIDIA drivers which are as good as those on windows. There was a time when installing those drivers was a bit of a pain, due to other developers trying to to force their extremist political views on users, but it is a very simple process now.

    Some drivers might have problems but there is no reason they couldn't take the same approach as Firefox developers: provide a user controlled, easily accessible, option to enable hardware acceleration... Maybe that last point shows why I don't care what Google does with Chrome on Linux or any other platform... Firefox works for me on Linux, Windows and Android.

    • Agreed. I've been using Linux on the desktop since 2008-ish, drivers have been solid since right around 2010 in my case, though I can only speak for NVIDIA since that's been all that I've run in that span.

    • You mean like this? []

      I've used FF/Chrome side by side on Linux... you FF people are fooling yourselves. It is by far the clunkiest, slowest, least responsive browser out of the big 3.
  • by Maltheus ( 248271 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @05:13PM (#46401127)

    Not having flash in chromium was one of the many straws. This doesn't help.

    I used to use a Chrome/Firefox combo to segregate my browsing/cookies. Just switched to multiple firefox profiles and added a "Close Tabs to the Right" plugin (to restore the one thing I missed about chrome). Much happier and I doubt I'll ever go back.

  • by jerryjnormandin ( 1942378 ) on Tuesday March 04, 2014 @05:17PM (#46401195)
    It's obvious that the google gui programmers just use windows or mac gui APIs and don't know how to code. Linux GPU code has been extremely stable. Maybe they can learn how to program from the folks at Steam ? LMAO The new Steam Appliance runs Linux. I use a GTX 560 in a MacPro 2,1 running linux on bare metal with NO ISSUES.
    • by Coop ( 9778 )

      Why did Steam need their own distro?

  • What's the saying any problem can be solved by adding another layer of indirection. Guess they can't figure out how to monitize contributing coding resources to address the issue.

  • I've a fresh install of Mint 16 here on a Thinkpad with an AMD RV710 and the Mesa driver seems to be working fine. Steam games & Netflix work a treat. I haven't installed Chrome, though, it's performance my suck but Chrome is easily avoidable.

  • I understand that drivers == performance == competitive advantage, so the vendors want to keep SOMETHING secret, but hasn't the state of the art advanced quite a bit beyond what the vast majority of people need? Can't the vendors just release a plain-vanilla, rock-solid, super-basic driver that offers 90% of the performance? Or hell, even 50%? I mean, if I somehow managed to run Linux on a 75 MHz Pentium with 1 MB onboard VRAM in 1998, surely I should be able to expect *some* acceptable level of performance

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

      especially with how Windows 8 is doing.

      You do realize that Windows 8's failure doesn't really change anything for Linux, right? As usual, Microsoft is fighting against its own past: people are choosing between sticking to 7 or moving to 8, Linux almost never enters into the equation.

  • If Google is so confident that it is driver bugs causing issues, then I'm sure they can put together test code to test for and expose the bugs. In other words, instead of complaining, give the vendors code that will show them the issues and allow them to resolve them. You don't have to cover every issue - just share the code you intend to use and let the vendors fix their drivers - OR - show you where your own code is responsible.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      Pretty much every successful video game developers do just that... The bugs get fixed...sometimes....someday....maybe....if the stars are aligned...

      Realistically, coding against video drivers (regardless of platforms) feel like web development, where you have to fight over countless (well documented ) bugs on each implementation until you're blue in the face, and if you're lucky, 5 years down the road, it will get fixed.

  • This is all part of a cunning plan to have Android and/or Chromium enter the desktop/laptop market. Start by denigrating your target.

  • geez, as if google wouldnt have the engineering power ...

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