June 08, 2009 -- Kernel mode-setting for Intel graphics hardware can already be found in the mainline Linux kernel and will be included by default in the release of Ubuntu 9.10 later this year. While Intel's kernel mode-setting support has been maturing in a steadfast manner, this support has not been moving along quite as fast for ATI and NVIDIA hardware. It is possible we will see ATI/AMD kernel mode-setting along with the necessary memory management support enter the Linux 2.6.31 kernel and potentially see this feature appear in Ubuntu 9.10 as an end-user option, but currently this support is still deemed under development. For those with ATI Radeon hardware looking to test out kernel mode-setting, there is now a Launchpad PPA and a LiveCD available for testing out these mode-setting capabilities atop Ubuntu.
May 13, 2009 -- For as long as I can recall, ATI/AMD video cards have typically had decent support in Linux. It's not hard to pick out points in time where drivers were slow to come (R300 sticks out in my mind), but that was not due to the lack of effort by the open-source community as it was the difficulty reverse engineering a chip with no documentation. Intel seems to be the one getting most of the press these days regarding their open-source graphics support, but AMD is putting forth its own notable effort as well. They have multiple full time employees working on open-source support and have released specifications and programming documentation for their entire range of chips. The past few months have seen a flurry of activity in graphics related development, and a fair amount of this is centered around AMD hardware.
May 07, 2009 -- AMD ended out last year by releasing basic R600/700 3D code that allowed the rendering of open-source triangles, but not much in the way of usable OpenGL acceleration for end-users. Just last month AMD had then pushed out new R600/700 code that plugged into the Mesa stack and is being used as the groundwork for the providing open-source OpenGL acceleration on the Linux desktop with newer ATI graphics processors. In between December and April, AMD had also released extensive documentation covering the 3D engines on the R600 and R700 graphics processors along with the R700 instruction set architecture. While the open-source 3D support is still emerging for the Radeon HD 2000, 3000, and 4000 series, AMD has released some more documentation. This time around they have a programming guide for those developers interested in understanding the latest ATI GPUs.
May 07, 2009 -- We began talking about Intel graphics regressions in Ubuntu 9.04 back in January but for the most part that went under the radar at Canonical up until Ubuntu 9.04 was nearing release. At that point it was then explored whether greedy migration heuristics improved performance as the UXA acceleration architecture was still too problematic to enable by default. We had found that using some of the latest kernel code had improved the performance some, but still there were major regressions within Intel's new Linux driver stack.
April 24, 2009 -- As we reported in December, the Nouveau driver is available in Ubuntu 9.04. Unlike Fedora 11 where the Nouveau driver is being enabled by default on NVIDIA hardware, the Nouveau driver will be an after-installation option to Ubuntu users. In this article are the simple steps on how to enabled the Nouveau driver in Ubuntu and what you can expect from this open-source, community-spawned graphics driver.
April 18, 2009 -- In late December AMD had published open-source R600/700 3D code that also allowed for 2D and X-Video acceleration, but was not of use to end-users interested in full OpenGL acceleration. AMD had then released the R600/700 3D documentation a month later and then the R700 ISA documentation just a few weeks back. Today, however, AMD is finally pushing some workable code into a public code repository.
April 17, 2009 -- X Server 1.6 was released back in February, and there have been test releases for it going back to the end of last year, but today AMD has finally delivered support for this new X.Org server in their proprietary Linux graphics driver. Like last month with the Catalyst 9.3 release, the Linux version was not released on the same day as the Windows build, which ended up being a one-week delay. Besides X Server 1.6 support there are also a few other changes in Catalyst 9.4 worth reporting.
April 15, 2009 -- While Intel has long backed an open-source graphics driver for their integrated graphics driver, it was not up until last year when Intel released the i965/G35 documentation that there was public, NDA-free documentation concerning their newer IGPs. Later that year they then released the GMA X4500HD series and since then we have been waiting for them to push out public documentation concerning their G45 chipset. Well, Intel has finally come to the table with this documentation and it is very extensive. This documentation drop today is split into several volumes and makes up well over 1,000 pages of Intel hardware documentation and register descriptions that are available under the Creative Common Attribution, No Derivative Works license.
April 15, 2009 -- As we have outlined before and shared benchmarks of in the past, the Intel graphics driver stack has been going through some significant changes. The Intel graphics driver now has a proper memory manager in the form of the Graphics Execution Manager, there is upstream kernel mode-setting support, and a new 3D component is coming soon in the form of Gallium3D. With all of this invasive work going on, regressions are currently prevalent from stability problems to graphical corruption to slower 2D performance. While these are problems users will face with the new distribution updates in H1'09, some have been trying out different driver configurations in order to circumvent the situation. Canonical, for example, had been toying with the idea of enabling greedy migration heuristics by default.
March 27, 2009 -- While the Catalyst driver for Windows was released a number of days ago, the Catalyst Linux driver was missing. It has, however, been released today. AMD's Linux engineers ended up delaying the Catalyst 9.3 release so they could spend additional time tuning this driver, since it will be the last release that supports the R300 through R500 series as the support is being dropped. The significant feature that was pushed back into the Catalyst 9.3 Linux driver is improved Composite support.