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Northern Islands & Fermi Busted On Open-Source

X.Org

Published on 25 May 2011 03:01 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in X.Org
22 Comments

Even with the likely release of the Linux 3.0 kernel, open-source graphics drivers continue to be a big problem for the Linux desktop. While they have improved a lot in recent years, for many Linux users they can cause horrific headaches. Recently it was mentioned on Phoronix that Intel Sandy Bridge is in bad shape for Ubuntu 11.04 and that it even broke upstream in Linux 2.6.39, but Intel's far from being the only driver experiencing a choppy boat ride.

For those that don't follow my Twitter feed, there were going to be another round of AMD and NVIDIA tests in the next couple of days based upon recent advancements in their respective open-source drivers, but there's show-stopping bugs. Tests were planned of the Radeon HD 6000 "Northern Islands" support using the very latest Linux kernel Radeon DRM from the Linus tree, which includes the Gardenshed DRM pull request, and also Git of the xf86-video-ati DDX and Mesa. However, that support continues to be badly broken.


As you can see from the above video, compositing works, but when running any OpenGL program, there's soft lock-ups. This has been broken for months on my end, including today's Git and the Linux 2.6.39 stable kernel. There's this bug report I've written previously for this troubling Northern Islands support, but it's been to no avail. The same problem occurs with both of the Radeon HD 6000 series GPUs I've been testing. Granted, even if the OpenGL acceleration was fully working, the fan on the Radeon HD 6870 is still screaming constantly under the open-source driver. At least there is the AMD Catalyst proprietary driver support and it's in good shape.


When testing out the Nouveau kernel tree for its brand new Fermi FUC microcode replacement, that too was bugged up. As of this morning, on the GeForce GTX 460 it's not working right and there's just lots of PRUNK140 messages being emitted. For better or worse, at least this Nouveau code isn't being primed until the Linux 2.6.41/3.1 release.

What shall attempted to be tested next?

More stories from the Phoronix testing adventures to continue on my Twitter feed.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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