Nouveau Gallium3D, LLVMpipe In Ubuntu 11.10?
Written by Michael Larabel in X.Org on 12 May 2011 at 10:44 AM EDT. 9 Comments
Here's the next chapter of the X.Org / Mesa plans for Ubuntu 11.10, in continuation of the earlier X.Org / Mesa talks at UDS Budapest.

My key comments from the meeting that just ended include:

- Nouveau Gallium3D will finally be enabled by default, hopefully. For the past few releases it's been optional in the package repository, but now it's finally ready to enter the limelight. Why? Largely because upstream Nouveau developers are willing to look at Gallium3D bug reports, according to Canonical. There's still some concerns by the Ubuntu X developers over the state of the OpenGL driver, but following my comments -- and noting that the Nouveau support can be like a game of Russian Roulette depending upon the kernels -- they'll still likely move forward. In enabling this open-source NVIDIA driver, users could then use the new Unity (3D) desktop without the NVIDIA binary driver. The enabling will likely occur soon for Oneiric but if there's too much fall-out around the time of Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 3, the feature could be reverted.
- Updates to the proprietary AMD Catalyst and NVIDIA drivers post-release will finally be available! No longer will you be bound to the latest NVIDIA / AMD driver release at the time of the distribution's release. Canonical is looking to provide optional packages via Jockey that user's can opt-in to using that would enable using the latest monthly / stable blobs. This though isn't for open-source driver users since those are harder to update in a sane manner, but there is also xorg-edgers for that as well.
- Mesa 7.11 will be the targeted version for Ubuntu 11.10.
- X.Org Server 1.10 will be used in Ubuntu 11.10, just like in Ubuntu 11.04. Canonical's just being conservative and concerned about the time that it takes NVIDIA and AMD (but particularly the latter) to provide updated xorg-server support if they were to go with the 1.11 release. Granted, updating to the Linux 2.6.40 kernel in the Ubuntu 11.10 driver will likely hose the proprietary driver support anyways. Canonical plans to back-port some bug-fixes and features (e.g. pointer barriers) from 1.11 to their 1.10.x package.
- "Testing days" is being discussed as a possibility for the Ubuntu Oneiric drivers in a similar manner to the Fedora Graphics Test Week. [Granted, upstream may be less interest considering Ubuntu's graphics stack will be out-of-date in relation.]
- I brought forward the matter of replacing Mesa's classic software rasterizer with the LLVMpipe driver. Canonical's position on the matter of using this Low-Level Virtual Machine optimized CPU software driver is to see what other distributions are doing and how it's handled. Red Hat is using LLVMpipe with Fedora 15, and if the Red Hat engineers fix up any outstanding issues in time, Canonical may enable LLVMpipe for Ubuntu 11.10. Otherwise it's still with the (largely useless) Mesa swrast.
- I also brought up whether the Poulsbo KMS driver will be enabled in Ubuntu 11.10. They're waiting to see whether it leaves staging in Linux 2.6.40 kernel and if they have any commercial deployment contracts on Poulsbo, which would use the proprietary driver.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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