No graphics acceleration?
I have been using Trisquel for about two months now, and I have some issues with performance. I know that with all-free software I cannot expect to run everything as fast as with proprietary software, but I wonder whether the behavior of my system is normal:
- YouTube videos work (only when viewed in seperate window) but when playing a video, the fan speed goes up and cpu usage goes up from 5% to about 80% for both cores. This also happens when running 'glxgears', only then one cpu core at a time is used. Same goes for playing games like scorched3D which run too slow. I have the open ati driver installed (from Mesa).
- Desktop effects don't work even though I have Compiz installed. It thought this might have something to do with it.
My system specs:
Asus A6je laptop
Intel Core 2 duo T5600 @1.83GHz
2 GB RAM
120 GB harddisk
ATI Mobility Radeon X1450 ("RV515")
It says on the ubuntuforums (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RadeonDriver) that the R520 series, on which the RV515 is based (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radeon_R520), is supported by the free ati driver. Doesn't that mean that things like glxgears and games should at least partly run with hardware acceleration? I really want to use free software as much as possible, so if anyone knows how to fix these issues, I would be grateful.
Hello, it's Gnoob again,
I found out some things about what is needed to allow 3D hardware acceleration and Trisquel 3.0 lacks the DRI kernel modules. The directory /lib/modules/2.6.28-xx-generic/kernel/drivers/char has no 'drm' folder with those modules in it.
This can be checked in bash with 'dmesg | grep drm', which shows whether the DRM is loaded into the kernel (http://dri.freedesktop.org/wiki/DriTroubleshooting). On my system, it is not, so I guess it's not in Trisquel at all? I read that the DRM is specific for any kernel version (same page) and requires you to recompile the kernel. I am not really up to that.
Is the Trisquel-team planning on adding this to the next release, because I don't think those modules are non-free, or are they? I don't think recompiling your kernel is something for inexperienced linux-users like myself, so adding the DRM to the kernel in the next release would be nice.
I don't think it's fair to say that free software could not preform as fast as proprietary software. From my experience, there is no overall performance advantage between free or proprietary software.
The reason why glxgears is maxing-out your CPU usage is because glxgears is a performance test and this is what it is supposed to do.
Glxgears is using your CPU instead of your GPU because your system is unable to utilize 3D graphics acceleration. This is also why the desktop effects aren't working.
As far as I know, there really aren't any truly free Radeon drivers that come with 3D acceleration. The drivers considered free by Ubuntu and some other non-free GNU/Linux distributions, contain some binary blob firmware for which there is no source code disclosed.
According to an AMD's employee words, they do not want to disclose the source code for this binary, because that would make their DRM (Digital Restriction Management) implementation easier to deal with.
You can read a discussion between this AMD employee and a user asking about the binary blob here (from post #627 till #638):
I do not know why Youtube's Flash videos consume so much resources. I guess it is due to the reverse engineering needed to develop a free Flash player. There are various browser plugins that will enable you to download or watch directly non-flash versions of Youtube videos — this should clear the performance issue.
I agree free software can perform as fast as prop software, but I was talking about the 3d performance in particular, because non-free drivers are obviously 100% compatible with the hardware they enable and 'free' drivers have to be reverse engineered, isn't that right?
Glxgears maxing out my cpu makes sense. But the 'radeondriver' shows up in my package manager, so doesn't that mean that it's free software? Because I have no non-free repositories enabled.
I read that discussion on phoronix and that employee seems to say that you can hardly call the blob non-free code, because it is firmware and it is never executed by the cpu. Moreover, because of competition between hardware manufacturers, they strictly apply DRM to the microcode, which the FSF is clearly campaigning against (at least in music, video and the like). Does this mean that in order to get 3d acceleration on free distributions, the free software community has to: 1) convince these hardware vendors to give up DRM, or 2) develop their own 3d hardware?? And does this also apply for the Intel integrated graphics, because I read somewhere that getting 3D to work with Intel is easier somehow.
Thanks for the info!
Not all GPU drivers are written by reverse engineering. As far as I know, most Intel GPUs do have all their specification disclosed and there are fully functional free drivers for them. Those Intel GPUs should run without any problems on Trisquel.
There are free Radeon drivers, they just do not support 3D acceleration and some other features.
I can't sympathize with that AMD employee.
There is a free 3D hardware project that is under development which certainly is good thing and should be supported: http://www.opengraphics.org/
To ensure future hardware support for free software, what people should do is, they should buy only hardware that they can run on their free operating system and not compromise with anything less. They should also make effort to express their opinions widely.