Intel Linux Driver Kills The Netbook Experience
As I alluded to earlier, I am out of the office this week. With me to Italy I took a Samsung NC10 that is loaded with an Intel Atom processor, Intel integrated graphics, an OCZ solid-state drive, and 2GB of DDR2 RAM. Prior to leaving I loaded it up with a clean install of the Ubuntu 9.04 release candidate, but what a mistake that was. As was pointed out in the days prior to that, there are a number of regressions present within the Intel Linux graphics stack due to the switch to the Graphics Execution Manager, DRI2, and other work. While the benchmarks showed there is indeed a drop (a large drop in some), this performance drop nearly renders the system useless.
Using this Intel Atom netbook with Ubuntu 9.04 RC with X Server 1.6 and xf86-video-intel 2.6.3, I would have rather just brought a bulky notebook with ATI or NVIDIA graphics than to put up with this graphics mess (or just downgraded to Ubuntu 8.10). I generally just use Firefox, Thunderbird, and Pidgin while away on business, but with Ubuntu 9.04 RC the Intel netbook experience is ridiculous. Among the issues are the system becoming unresponsive when opening up a large email or web-page and when typing there is quite the delay at times before the text appears on the screen. Sadly, there is no proper fix in time for Ubuntu 9.04. Enabling greedy migration heuristics and some other driver options can help alleviate the situation for some, but the default experience is far from pleasant and telling a novice Linux user to edit their xorg.conf is not friendly either.
This Intel Linux graphics driver situation should be settled in time for Ubuntu 9.10, but for now this really will hamper the "out of the box" experience with those installing a brand new Linux distribution to their Intel-powered netbooks.
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