Linux Isn't Alone With OpenGL Driver Issues
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 31 July 2012 at 12:49 PM EDT. 8 Comments
While the open-source Linux graphics drivers may not be up to scratch with the proprietary Linux graphics drivers from NVIDIA and AMD in terms of features, power efficiency, and performance, Linux isn't the only operating system with less than desirable OpenGL drivers. I've been surprised by the OpenGL issues under OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion" with the Retina MacBook Pro.

As mentioned last night Apple's Retina MacBook Pro Causes Linux Woes (full details coming in an article on Phoronix in August), but OS X Mountain Lion isn't perfect on this newest Apple hardware either. The Retina MacBook Pro with its 2880 x 1800 display and Intel HD 4000 "Ivy Bridge" and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M "Kepler" switchable/hybrid graphics have had a few problems of their own surprisingly in the tests and benchmarks I have been running.

Apple isn't known for having the best OpenGL stack and it wasn't until Valve brought Steam and the Source Engine to OS X that Apple became serious about advancing their GL3+ support and delivering better performance out of their OS X graphics drivers. See Apple's Enhanced OpenGL Stack Versus Linux, Mac OS X Intel Graphics Still Outperform Linux, and the other Phoronix OS X articles for more details.

With Apple's latest hardware and software it's still not a trouble-free experience. Embedded below are a few examples of OpenGL problems I've encountered recently on OS X Mountain Lion from the rMBP.

It's not exactly a polished gaming experience...

In addition, I've discovered that the OS X Mountain Lion lock-screen isn't too secure (but then again, there's been security issues with X.Org on Linux for its screensavers / lock-screens). I discovered inadvertently that the Apple's lock-screen can be overrode after some OpenGL benchmarks were running via the Phoronix Test Suite and the display had attempted to sleep and was put into the lock mode, but OpenGL games were still able to run atop the lock-screen.

I tried doing a similar configuration to launch Apple's Safari (e.g. sleep the process and then launch) after the lock-screen was active, but that didn't work. Based upon the tests I did, it appears to be related to creating an OpenGL context and/or SDL that you can launch an application/game over the OS X Mountain Lion lock-screen. However, I unfortunately have more pressing things to do with my time than investigate further this likely OS X security issue.

Stay tuned for the Linux on MacBook Pro Retina and OS X 10.8 vs. Linux benchmarks in August. You can support this testing by subscribing to Phoronix Premium.

About The Author
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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