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0 - Introduction

Some year ago I wrote a guide on Installing latest Open Source ATI drivers under Ubuntu to provide the new - at the time - Radeon R500 support with free drivers.

Now Ubuntu 11.04 (natty) just get released shipping latest official mesa release 7.10.2. However current mesa snapshots have a huge amount of new features which make feel old this official release. Ubuntu 10.10 (maverick) ships an older pre-release snapshot of mesa 7.9.

So I am now providing a PPA with updated mesa and X drivers as an easy way for users to try all the new features developed in the past months and early detect eventual bugs to report to developers. This is somewhat inspired by the xorg-edgers PPA but it only provides graphics drivers to lower the risk of breakage. Also I want to provide some packaging improvements and possibly new features (e.g. integrate testing branches like glsl-130 or pipe-video) when they'll be sufficient stable.

Supported Ubuntu versions: 10.10 (maverick) and 11.04 (natty).

1 - Improvements

Mesa improvements:

Note that being snapshots they may also have new bugs.

Mesa packaging improvements:
  • support for S3TC texture compression* (Recommends included libtxc-dxtn)
  • support for floating-point textures*
  • llvm support (for faster gallium drivers)
  • gallium llvmpipe as the default software renderer rather than classic swrast
  • i915 and nouveau gallium drivers in the experimental package
  • --enable-debug flag (to better debug mesa and games bugs)
  • better package compression with 50% binary size reduction (for faster download)
  • custom OpenGL version string to make sure you are running drivers from this PPA

*these are patented features that can be used after agreeing the related IP: ARB_texture_float and EXT_texture_compression_s3tc. They are provided here for testing purpose only, anyway.

For more details check the changelog.

Updated drivers and libdrm from git:

Only free drivers will be provided. No binary fglrx and nvidia drivers.

2 - Installing
Just type this in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Alternatively, add:
to your system's Software Sources and update the package from here.

If all goes well, and if glxinfo is installed, typing in a shell:
glxinfo | grep OpenGL
will print the driver type and version with the PPA custom string.

3 - Using alternative drivers
Examples on how to run your OpenGL program (in this case glxgears -info) with non default drivers.

To force the use of gallium llvmpipe software render:
LIBGL_ALWAYS_SOFTWARE=1 glxgears -info
To force the use of old non-gallium software render:
LIBGL_ALWAYS_SOFTWARE=1 LIBGL_DRIVERS_PATH=/usr/lib/dri-alternates glxgears -info
To force the use of old non-gallium r300/r600 radeon drivers:
LIBGL_DRIVERS_PATH=/usr/lib/dri-alternates glxgears -info
Experimental drivers:
If you want to use the gallium nouveau or i915 driver install also the experimental package:
sudo apt-get install libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental
The gallium nouveau driver will then be used by default rather than using llvmpipe.

To force the use of gallium i915 driver (classic driver will still be the default):
LIBGL_DRIVERS_PATH=/usr/lib/dri-alternates glxgears -info
4 - Debugging and reporting problems

If you have some problem with the drivers try running the application from the command line and see if there are any graphics related warnings (note that mesa is built with --enable-debug which can provide useful debug informations). Also type dmesg to see if there are other related informations here. If you get crashes install the relevant -dbg pacakges (libgl1-mesa-dri-dbg or libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental-dbg for 3D drivers and xserver-xorg-video-intel-dbg , xserver-xorg-video-nouveau-dbg or xserver-xorg-video-radeon-dbg for X drivers) and reproduce the crash with gdb. Example:
$ gdb glxgears
[...make your application crash and then get a backtrace with:]
(gdb) bt
If crashes look at /var/log/Xorg.0.log (or /var/log/Xorg.0.log.old when a new X session is started after the crash).

With the gathered informations try querying freedesktop bugzilla for similar bugs (also try with google). If no bugs were already reported, you may want to report a new one:

5 - Revert to original drivers
To revert to standard Ubuntu drivers (strongly suggested before an Ubuntu release upgrade) type the following in a prompt shell:
sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers
6 - Requests and suggestions
Feel free to request new features or propose any suggestions here!

7 - Support this graphic archive
If you want to support this drivers archive consider making a donation: