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Fedora 21 Drops Support For A Bunch Of Old GPUs

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  • #16
    Originally posted by mrugiero View Post
    Running an x86 emulator for an already non-accelerated driver doesn't sound like a decent performing solution, anyway.
    The only saving grace is that IIRC the BIOS calls (and hence the emulation overhead) would only apply to startup and mode switches. The performance critical bits (eg blitting from shadowfb to display memory) would run on the real CPU anyways.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by bridgman View Post
      The only saving grace is that IIRC the BIOS calls (and hence the emulation overhead) would only apply to startup and mode switches. The performance critical bits (eg blitting from shadowfb to display memory) would run on the real CPU anyways.
      Which is great. But there's a bit of a problem here...

      If you have a new CPU, then the drivers for the GPU are solid and available thanks to AMD and Intel's work.
      If you have an old CPU that doesn't have integrated graphics, and an old graphics card you are trying to run wherein you would need KMS VESA... your CPU probably cant handle doing everything it needs to AND all the stuff the GPU cant.

      So the CPU's that CAN handle doing everything themselves, dont NEED TO. And the CPU's that NEED TO, CANT.

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      • #18
        While i'm generally against pulling out drivers for hardware, no matter how old, I think it's justified in this case. I don't know about Fedora, but at least with RHEL, it requires a PAE-enabled machine to install on. That means Pentium Pro and later. And that means you've got PCI bus at a minimum. Nobody uses VGA these days, everything is DVI (and HDMI) so it makes sense to drop support for cards that never came equipped with DVI ports. Radeon 7000, or Riva TNT2, or others from the late 90's all had DVI ports. So I can't imagine that dropping support for these crufty old non-DVI equipped chip sets is going to affect anyone. If you are using a Matrox Millenium, or Trident, or S3, it's time to toss it and replace with a $5 Radeon 7000 from ebay.

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        • #19
          Fedora is not kind of distro that runs everywhere for example on AMD C-70 Fedora 19 would not boot but Kubuntu worked OOTB

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          • #20
            Not about to discard 1080p monitor because it only has VGA input

            Originally posted by torsionbar28 View Post
            While i'm generally against pulling out drivers for hardware, no matter how old, I think it's justified in this case. I don't know about Fedora, but at least with RHEL, it requires a PAE-enabled machine to install on. That means Pentium Pro and later. And that means you've got PCI bus at a minimum. Nobody uses VGA these days, everything is DVI (and HDMI) so it makes sense to drop support for cards that never came equipped with DVI ports. Radeon 7000, or Riva TNT2, or others from the late 90's all had DVI ports. So I can't imagine that dropping support for these crufty old non-DVI equipped chip sets is going to affect anyone. If you are using a Matrox Millenium, or Trident, or S3, it's time to toss it and replace with a $5 Radeon 7000 from ebay.
            No way in hell I am going to buy new monitors over the VGA port issue. I have the resolution I need, and I don't need a touchscreen or watch 3d movies. I've got two monitors on my AMD FX-8120/Radeon 6750 primary machine: One is a full 1080p primary monitor, one an older 1280 x 1024 secondary monitor. Both have only VGA inputs. One (the 1080p) is run with a DVI to VGA adapter..

            I have found that to run gnome-shell or Cinnamon and get the menu to work right(on either) requires the power of at least a Radeon 4350 on the current Mesa driver. I dropped one of those into a board holding an old Athlon 64 at 2.3 GHZ. With Linux 3.12, Xorg-edgers, and Cinnamon over Ubuntu 3.10, that machine has a snappy desktop, just slightly slow menus-and thanks to UVD support can play a full 1080p video at 40% CPU. Yes, old junk with one core can be made to play 1080p video, I have finally answered that one.

            For a Pentium 4 2GHZ machine that in 2008 was snappy with GNOME2, the best AMD card I could personally find for its AGP slot was a Radeon X1650. This could ALMOST run Cinnamon, but the menus were very slow and it could not run any composited desktop and play a 720p video at the same time. I don't have any old AGP cards in r600 or later architectures. As a result, it seems to me that you need a PCI-E slot or good on-chip graphics, not just a PCI slot to get good results with fat modern desktops.

            As for video cards in legacy PCI, that requires a lot of extra CPU for the memory copy operations to copy from system ram to video ram. In an extreme case I saw Xorg using 50% CPU while playing a 640x480 video on a 450MHX Pentium 3, not leaving enough for the video to keep up. Remove the PCI video card card (an old one using the Mach64 driver) and run the onboard video, (which also used the Mach64 diver but had only 4MB of side-channel RAM), and the video would almost keep up, with Xorg using about 35% CPU or less and the video the rest. That was 15% of a 450 MHZ CPU as the additional load to handle the extra memory copy operations required by a PCI video card when loaded by video in XV.

            My conclusion is this: If the old drivers are to be dropped by distros, and especially if the "mega-driver" format coming for Mesa is to follow suit, some way to install them needs to be kept around, even if it means custom-compiling mesa and dumping the whole mess into /usr/local. I would not want to see first Red Hat, then other distros not only drop older drivers but then configure Xorg/other display servers in such a way that they cannot be reinstalled. At the very least, current distros targetting older machines such as Mint/MATE need to be able to pull in drivers for older chipsets. Remember, there are people using all kinds of old junk-even Pentium 3's-as everything from file servers to print servers to public Internet access computers. Not all computers are gamers or workstations, and not everyone has an Ebay account.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by cjcox View Post
              Some of these are the embedded video on servers. And given "Red Hat" (yes, I know, Red Hat is *not* Fedora) propensity for *graphical only* administration tools, this could be a mistake (??).

              I know even contemporary cards made by vendors with supposed KMS support do not work with KMS, even though some people think they should (particular contemporary Nvidia's come to mind).

              I will certainly be watching this one...
              Getting accelerated graphics working on servers with integrated graphics was often difficult, plus Dell would sometimes lock the BIOS so you couldn't put in an external graphics card. The easiest thing to do with those servers was to run them without an X server, and if you need any GUI admin stuff just do it through SSH. In fact, that's the easiest way to run any server.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by torsionbar28 View Post
                While i'm generally against pulling out drivers for hardware, no matter how old, I think it's justified in this case. I don't know about Fedora, but at least with RHEL, it requires a PAE-enabled machine to install on. That means Pentium Pro and later. And that means you've got PCI bus at a minimum. Nobody uses VGA these days, everything is DVI (and HDMI) so it makes sense to drop support for cards that never came equipped with DVI ports. Radeon 7000, or Riva TNT2, or others from the late 90's all had DVI ports. So I can't imagine that dropping support for these crufty old non-DVI equipped chip sets is going to affect anyone. If you are using a Matrox Millenium, or Trident, or S3, it's time to toss it and replace with a $5 Radeon 7000 from ebay.
                You've invalidated youself with the claim 'nobody uses VGA'. VGA is still being shipped to this day on quite a lot of equipment. It's saved my arse more times than I can count because of stupid hardware issues like rubbish DVI/HDMI adapters failing, ill-configured hardware and VGA just simply works. Or because people simply upgrade an item and then find out they need an adaptor and it can cause issues there. Rarely seen VGA fail, despite being an analogue item and requiring DAC, an extra step.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by bridgman View Post
                  IIRC the problem with KMS VESA is that with a straightforward implementation you end up having to execute real mode BIOS code in the kernel.

                  It would presumaly be possible to create a sufficiently robust "sandboxed" x86 emulator (and maybe something like QEMU is there today) for this to be considered safe but I haven't heard about anyone looking into it.
                  There is already a kernel driver which does execute real mode BIOS code, namely uvesafb. It uses v86d.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by devius View Post
                    Trident sucks!! Matrox G200 kicks its ass big time!!
                    True, the G200 was a great card - at least, for fifteen years ago. Not the best on the market, but if I recall correctly, one of the first to have hardware-acceleration support on Linux.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by chithanh View Post
                      There is already a kernel driver which does execute real mode BIOS code, namely uvesafb. It uses v86d.
                      Yes, but v86d is a userspace daemon so the BIOS code is actually executed in userspace -- presumably after being given direct access to the graphics hardware.

                      I don't know if reliance on a userspace daemon is sufficient reason not to use the approach for KMS -- last time I asked I believe the answer was "yes" but I don't remember the exact rationale.

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                      • #26
                        Well the old vesafb has the limit of no modesetting after boot. Was that too ruled not possible for KMS vesa?

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                        • #27
                          Mode switch is essentially only possible if the driver gets the possibility to execute real mode BIOS code (like uvesafb through the v86d userspace helper, or vesafb during kernel initialization).

                          Another possibility is to use vm86 calls like the old vesafb-tng did, which will only work on 32 bit kernels. But systems with such old graphics cards are rarely 64 bit anyway.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Luke View Post
                            Remember, there are people using all kinds of old junk-even Pentium 3's-as everything from file servers to print servers to public Internet access computers. Not all computers are gamers or workstations, and not everyone has an Ebay account.
                            But do those really need the latest and greatest Linux installed on them though? Or at the very least, do they need accelerated graphics support?

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                            • #29
                              Old repurposed machines and new distros

                              Originally posted by Hamish Wilson View Post
                              But do those really need the latest and greatest Linux installed on them though? Or at the very least, do they need accelerated graphics support?
                              Older distros work better on older machines, but over time become hard to find or hard to get packages for. Ubuntu Jaunty, for instance, was one of the best that can simultaniously support an old Pentium II laptop and a circa 2009 wireless card. Now the repos for it don't work anymore, so to use it you need to have all desired packages locally. DSL is better yet for those machines-but only if all the hardware is old and there is no new wireless card or other accessory to support.

                              As a result, those current distros that target older machines need to be able to get upstream versions of the graphics stack that can be built against and run on old drivers for the older chipsets, or a generic driver that will give the same 2d performance these machines ever had without loading down the CPU. I would not worry about 3d, none of those old graphics had enough video ram to run modern DE's anyway. They do need to be able to do things like set the screen resolution and depth, and be no worse for video playback than these machines were in the old days.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Hamish Wilson View Post
                                But do those really need the latest and greatest Linux installed on them though?
                                Yes they do.
                                Quoting myself from the previous thread on the topic:
                                Originally posted by chithanh View Post
                                Old distros often have old kernels, so you can't use modern filesystems, they don't have support for modern peripherals, and often no security support, etc.
                                Originally posted by Hamish Wilson View Post
                                Or at the very least, do they need accelerated graphics support?
                                Probably not, but driving a laptop panel at its native resolution, or being able to configure an external monitor would be a start.

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