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Graphics Open Source Linux Games

Testing 65 Different GPUs On Linux With Open Source Drivers 134

An anonymous reader writes "How good are open source graphics drivers in 2014 given all the Linux gaming and desktop attention? Phoronix has tested 65 different GPUs using the latest open source drivers covering Intel HD Graphics, NVIDIA GeForce, AMD Radeon, and AMD FirePro hardware. Of the 65 GPUs tested, only 50 of them had good enough open source driver support for running OpenGL games and benchmarks. Across the NVIDIA and AMD hardware were several pages of caveats with different driver issues encountered on Linux 3.15 and Mesa 10.3 loaded on Ubuntu 14.04. Intel graphics on Linux were reliable but slow while AMD's open-source Linux support was recommended over the NVIDIA support that doesn't currently allow for suitable graphics card re-clocking. Similar tests are now being done with the proprietary Linux drivers."
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Testing 65 Different GPUs On Linux With Open Source Drivers

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Right now, there are practically no reasons to focus on video drivers and graphics acceleration for Linux. DVDs and GNOME 3 are barely enough to scratch the surface. Once games come in and improve the driver landscape, there are all sorts of things that will benefit from access to the video cards' power.

    • Interestingly Valve doesn't merly influence the market by their game being a reason.
      They actually do directly help progress with actual code.

      See reports on the same Phoronix website of various OpenGL 4.x extension being added to Mesa by Valve.

      One day, when the Mesa finally achieves full opengl 4x compliance, you'll know it's partly due to developer on Valve's payroll (in addition to those on Intel's and AMD's payrolls, and the independent volunteers in Nouveau project, and the thousands of other contributor

  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @03:08PM (#47166575) Journal

    I recently updated my Mint install and discovered that the newer AMD/FGLRX drivers have a big issue with the backlight on various laptops (mainly, that they turn it off or down to zero).
    At first I thought I had no display, but later noticed that if there is some front-light I could vaguely see the login window.

    As it's an older model, it seems to get less attention from AMD (Nvidia is much the same). However, I was happy to see how much better the FOSS driver seems to work these days, so for now I'm back to using that. Backlight works, and video seems reasonably fast. I haven't tried any 3d/gaming yet but it will be interesting to see how that stacks up.

    • by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @03:34PM (#47166767)
      My experience is that the open source Radeon driver has been getting much better in 3D performance lately.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rcht148 ( 2872453 )

        I second this.
        I installed Linux Mint 17 recently and first went with the AMD proprietary fglrx drivers.
        Overall any video (file playback or gaming) would always be choppy and jittery.

        I decided to give the open source radeon drivers a shot. The performance is much better. All the choppiness/jittery is gone.
        I may have lost some fps but it was completely worth it.

      • by qubezz ( 520511 )

        The open source driver needs to be good; the latest version of the ATI proprietary driver has dropped support for relatively new cards - anything before HD 5000 series. This means that cards that include very good h.264 decoding engines such as the AMD Radeon HD 3850 256MB reviewed can no longer use the latest driver. In Ubuntu 14.04 this also means that trying the older last-supporting driver version no longer works, one would need to downgrade the x server version used in the distro.

        This is one of the few

    • by s.petry ( 762400 )

      Honest question. Outside of certain Linux packages/distros and kernels pissing and moaning about loading proprietary drivers why not use them? If you are simply "using" the graphics card there is nothing against this that I can tell, just not recommended by Linux developers because it's anti GPL by nature.

      I developed several (3) VR centers for a company which used professional nVidia cards and proprietary Linux drivers. Using Open source drivers was not even an option, because multi-pipe graphics require

      • by spitzak ( 4019 )

        The GP *was* using the proprietary drivers. He was complaining that they were broken, and to his surprise the FOSS driver worked better.

        I agree that the open source versions are nowhere near the nVidia proprietary drivers, though.

        • by s.petry ( 762400 )
          Thanks for clarifying, I didn't get that from their post.
          • by phorm ( 591458 )

            Yeah, to be specific, fglrx (proprietary) worked very nicely until an update (I believe a combination of new backlight functionality in a recent kernel and/or updated fglrx) caused it disable the backlight in X11.

            I went back to using the GPL driver, which is working much nicer than it was the last time I used it. This is good because otherwise I'd have to choose between slow unaccelerated video (suck) or dim barely visible video (more suck).

            • by s.petry ( 762400 )

              I think my bigger concern is when people make a stink about performance while using the open source driver. The open source driver is not a performance driver and never has been, it's a compatibility driver. If you want performance, you are not running older hardware and not running with older drivers.

              I can see running the benchmarks to find out what works, but people will complain about and ridicule the benchmarks as given. That Windows can't run worth shit without proprietary drivers does not make a di

      • For me (a relative non-techie for this site) I find the more open-source I have on my computer, the easier it is to update the system without things breaking. I can just go to synaptic and check all updates and let it run. A lot of proprietary drivers don't play nicely with the package management, or require a manual install. Aside from that I also find them a bit glitchy, although there's no denying that if you need fps then there is no alternative.

        So in summary, I find if you're not needing them for ga

    • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @06:58AM (#47170501) Homepage

      And that's AMD official stance:
      - once the opensource drivers get good enough, support for older cards gets removed from catalyst, and radeon is pointed as the official go-to solution for older cards.
      - so catalyst = drivers for the current generation of cards (unless you want to beta test the bleeding-edge development) and radeon = drivers for all the previous generation (unless you want specifically a card that still isn't phased out yet, probably because the current openCL support is better in catalyst).
      - that's also part of the reason why AMD has opensource driver developers on their payroll.

      • by phorm ( 591458 )

        And that's totally fine by me, so long as the FOSS drivers are relatively within the performance/feature threshold of the proprietary ones by the time the hardware is no-long supported by Catalyst.

        In my case the hardware is effectively supported by the fglrx/catalyst drivers in the aspect that they still detect it and install, it's just that there's a new bug introduced. I've seen various other laptops that also seem to be bitten by this (mainly Asus and I think some Acer) so it may be that it'll be fixed b

  • AMD Open Source (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slacka ( 713188 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @03:14PM (#47166615)

    I have an old Radeon X1950PRO in guest/spare PC. While it's getting long in the tooth it's still good enough for some Star Craft 2 and Dota 2 action with friends. Unfortunately I have to boot to windows 7 to get decent performance. The kernel devs are always changing the driver interface, so the last time I was able to use the proprietary drivers was around Ubuntu 6. Now in Linux my only option are buggy, glitch drivers like Phoronix described in their drivers or booting to Windows. The hardware specs were released. Now if after 8 year, the open source drivers are still buggy and slow, they will never be as good as the proprietary. What Linux needs a stable driver interface like Windows has.

    • Re:AMD Open Source (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @03:40PM (#47166803)

      What Linux needs a stable driver interface like Windows has.

      Windows does not have a stable driver interface. What windows does have is the market share necessary to not suffer too much when the interface changes.

      In any event its inexcusable in both cases to ever undergo more than 1 driver interface change per architecture. I get it.. at first you do something that works but later the design proves inadequate, so the second time around it should be designed right. Pick an ABI and stick with it, and design to be extensible.

      • Yes it does (Score:5, Informative)

        by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:14PM (#47167077)

        Their interface is stable per version of Windows. They freeze the ABI and it is set until the next one. They don't change it much usually anyhow, Vista being a notable exception. Now of course when new DX features come out you have to update your drivers to support it if you want those features, but it isn't necessary to make your driver work, the old driver continues to work.

        It does not get updated with every kernel patch, ala Linux.

      • Re:AMD Open Source (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:16PM (#47167089) Homepage

        Windows does not have a stable driver interface. What windows does have is the market share necessary to not suffer too much when the interface changes.

        In recent history there was WDDM 1.0 (Vista, 2006) 1.1 (Win7, 2009) 1.2 (Win8, 2012) and 1.3 (Win8.1, 2013) and as far as I can tell they're backwards compatible - if your graphics card has a WDDM 1.0 driver you can still run Win8.1, however it'll also cap your DirectX level. Unless I'm mistaken that's 8 years of a stable (but expanding) ABI, it seems like DirectX 12 will require WDDM 2.0 which may be the next clean break but we won't know until Win9 is out. But I agree that the market share helps Microsoft a lot, particularly the market share of gamers despite Steam now being on Linux - according to their May 2014 survey 95.5% run Steam on Windows. Also for all those pointing to Distrowatch, at least 0.64% of the 1.10% running Linux use Ubuntu with only 0.08% verified as Mint...

        • Going with distrowatch numbers is complicated, as it seems to be promoting/pushing not so good distros, and then either all the users are retarded, or something smells fishy, either the statistics are damned lies, or even the users might smell fishy, as in conspiracy and stuff, ya know.
        • And one day, once Mesa and DRI/Gallium etc. mature enough you'll probably going to have a similar landscape in Linux.
          For now, it's "work in progress" zone.

      • Windows XP still has ~25% market share. If Linux users were still running whatever version of Red Hat came out in 2001, it'd probably have good driver support by now.
    • I have an ancient X1650 card with my main monitor on the analog VGA and TV on the DVI. Every Linux distro ignores my X config and makes the monitor some miniscule resolution like 320x240. However if I unplug the TV its fine. This happens even with the TV powered off.

  • Phoronix Rocks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @03:39PM (#47166793)

    I just wanted to say that Phoronix is an undervalued gem. These guys (I think just one guy actually) puts in the grunt work to get us hard performance numbers. He's developed a fully automated testing system that makes it easy to bisect kernel patches to identify the source of kernel regressions. I get the impression he runs on a shoestring budget out of his house but the work he does is the kind of thing that OS vendors of old used to dedicate entire teams too. He really ought to be fully funded by some group like the Linux Foundation because his work is invaluable in that nitty-gritty unsexy way that really helps out more visible engineering.

    • Re:Phoronix Rocks (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gigne ( 990887 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:24PM (#47167539) Homepage Journal

      Yeah i'm going to have to second that.

      Not only do they have great perf tests, but there is also a great depth of kernel news, x/wayland/mir and other general good to know linux news

      If only those popup ads were destroyed. On my mobile it can be hard to get rid of them.

      I'm going to head over there right now and pay for a subscription

    • The interesting part, is that the guy is building a test-farm infrastructure.

      The kernel benchmarking/bissecting stuff could be automated and could become part of the normal development project.
      (Having the test farm continuously benchmark key linux project (llike kernel, mesa, etc.) while they are developed).

      That is going to be:
      - a very valuable ressource for linux development
      - a service that can be sold or that can be sponsored by big player (Valve co-financing the mesa/gallium continuous benchmarking ?)

    • by rdnetto ( 955205 )

      I'll second this. I got a paid subscription to them after the picked up a kernel performance regression bug that no one else had noticed. They also regularly do file system benchmarks, which are really useful if you're interested in that.

    • Are you kidding? More like Moronix. Endless bar charts, dissimilar scales, graphs without Y intercepts. It's like Tom from Tom's Hardware and Eugenia from OSNews had a retarded baby.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @03:46PM (#47166853)

    The real trick for Linux compatibility is the ability to go to a box store, buy a new graphics card (or any device) Plug it in into your PC and see if it works, works without having to spend hours finding the driver for your common distribution, and works well.

    That has been my biggest problem with Linux support.
    It is a case where a particular component failed on my computer, and I need a new one right away. Being that your computer is down, you are unable to research what you should get. So you go to the store look around and find something that would seem to work with your computer. A name that you recognize, and specs that are probably better then your old one.

    • It is quite funny how the experience is usually the reverse for everything except video cards. I still need to get my wifi drivers using a USB flashdrive when setting up a Windows box. In linux my wifi just works out of the box. I had similar situations with ethernet drivers and webcams in some machines.

      Of course the stuff that don't work out of the box in linux it is usually better to not even try to get working.

    • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:53PM (#47167359)

      Being that your computer is down, you are unable to research what you should get

      This was true for me in the 90s In 2014 I probably have 10 different internet devices in the house between consoles, phones, tablets, laptops, etc. Sure I'm on the high side of things, but even my parents on both sides have at least 4-5 devices each. My 80 year old grandmother I think might have just one... but she's not going to be researching hardware for her linux desktop build by herself either.

      Who today is a linux enthusiast and would really not have any internet access if their computer went down because they only have one device that can browse the internet?

    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @08:41PM (#47168543)
      Just pass the test the same way you could in 2000 and download the NVIDIA or AMD driver from their websites. If you want a dead simple answer without artificial restrictions that's all you have to do - instead of whining about how your artificial restriction is making things hard.
      In fact such a post makes you look so stupid that I strongly suspect you have an agenda to push and do not care if you look stupid to many so long as you manage to fool the naive. Is that what is going on here?
    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      I've never had any problems with any/all nvidia cards under linux.
      Its just plug and play. Just make sure you use nVidia's own driver not Nouveau.

      My biggest gripe with Mint is that a few versions ago they removed the option to do a non-graphical install, and also switched to using Nouveau by default, which for some reason locks up after a few seconds on my laptop, meaning I have all sorts of issues trying to install Mint on it.

  • As far as I know the only way to get good gaming performance on Linux is by using the proprietary drivers on a NVidia card.
    Has anything changed lately?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you favor open-source games, the Radeon drivers, especially on 6000-series cards, have been absolutely excellent. The GCN architecture change certainly stalled progress, as well as the need to shoehorn GLAMOR onto the stack (no 2D acceleration hardware on GCN cards). Performance is definitely getting close, though, and Intel is even putting work into GLAMOR now, allegedly because it shows more promise than even SNA as an EXA alternative.

      • The open source Gallium3D driver for Southern Island Radeon GPUs has come a LONG way in the recent months. Given a 3.14+ kernel and the soon-to-be-released 10.2 Mesa libs, you can expect performance within 80% of that of the Catalyst driver, and it only keeps getting better. The stability is also pretty good. I love being able to flip smoothly between a full screen game and a chat window or a Web browser.

        • by Torp ( 199297 )

          I favour commercial games under wine. With the NVidia binary drivers, a lot of them work well. Anecdotically, back when I was playing World of Warcraft I had better performance on Linux with Wine than on Windows :)
          Open source games are unfortunately just NES-era clones and multiplayer-only shooters. Open source can do much better than commercial at infrastructure type software, but the same doesn't go when making a coherent entertainment experience...

    • I think the better (and more common way) is to simply boot into Windows to play your games.

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        I think the better (and more common way) is to simply boot into Windows to play your games.

        If I only had to boot into Windows in order to run my games (of which I have none, because of what comes after "only") then I would surely do so. What I'm not willing to do is boot into the Windows EULA and revenue collection racket—please inform me on how to do one without the other if you know how—after its ape-like thumb collapsed the trachea on any vestige of consumer choice worthy of so much as a sol

        • Sorry, I was being snarky. Primarily the lack of AAA games for Linux. (Yes, there's a token number of them out there, cherry picking a few titles only reinforces my point: The general dearth of linux compatible games.)

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            That's not going to happen so long as Microsoft has a lot of pull in the game industry. It's a market dominance and agenda thing and not a technical thing.
  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @03:50PM (#47166891)

    I bought a 6870 as an upgrade to my Mac Pro, mainly because it was highly compatible with OS X (it only fails to show the grey apple screen during boot) and is far cheaper than officially-supported cards. It's also a good mid-tier card on Windows.

    And according to this, the 6870 is also basically the best card for use under Linux using open-source drivers, so I guess it's just a very good card in general. When I do a new from-scratch build, I might put Linux on the old Mac so I can play around with Linux gaming more.

  • It's the best game ever. The GPU can handle it -- believe me.

  • Since we're on this subject and I'm too damned lazy to research, I'd welcome any suggestions for cards that play nicely with 4k monitors, preferably at 60Hz, on Ubuntu derivatives, especially Mint.
  • These people would do as well to stand on a soap box on a public street corner to engage in gifted oration, then hand out leaflets to the crowd suggesting that people express their support and appreciation by signing up for a no-cost-to-your-pocket-book alcohol tolerance study at the local university (to more precisely characterize the vomit threshold for the advancement of medical science) , for which the orator himself receives a small referral fee.

    Advertising, much like alcohol, is hardly known as a toni

  • You could conceivably say that of the 65 tested, "only" 15 did not have good enough OpenGL support. This...other...usage of the word "only"...I do not think it means what you appear to think it means...

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham