Early Adopters Already Hit By Fedora Dropping Old Linux GPU Drivers
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 24 September 2014 at 02:51 AM EDT. 44 Comments
HARDWARE --
While it's been known since last year that Fedora wants to get rid of old GPU drivers that don't have DRM/KMS support and their plans moved forward months ago to rid the system of old GPU drivers, some Linux enthusiasts running against the latest Fedora development code are surprised their GPU driver vanished.

Those tracking the Rawhide/development versions of their operating system would likely be enthusiasts and other stakeholders keeping up with news pertaining to their OS, but that doesn't always seem to be the case. For months it's been known that Fedora wants to rid their archive of the Linux GPU drivers from the likes of APM, Cirrus, Glint, i128, i740, Mach64, MGA, Neomagic, R128, Rendition, S3virge, Savage, SiliconMotion, SiS, Tdfx, and Trident.

These old GPU drivers are seldom updated for new functionality and/or often go broken for periods of time within their Git repository when changes occur within the X.Org code-base or other alterations happen. If they are not primarily depending upon a DRM/KMS kernel driver for support, Fedora developers are understandably using interest as lots of this hardware is approaching a decade in age or older.


There's still people running on XGI hardware.


A recent example is this mailing list thread with the SiS driver having disappeared. "xorg-x11-drv-sis seems to have disappeared. Did that happen on purpose? It still exists as a selection in Bugzilla. Xorg is looking for sis module but cannot find it. Gfxchip here is Z7/Z9 (XG20 core). Is it now supposed to be using some other (not installed) driver? Before today's upgrade, X still worked."


Long story short, in the case mentioned above, the SiS driver works much better than the generic xf86-video-vesa and xf86-video-fbdev generic drivers and now this user running their aging system on the latest Fedora Linux development code is left without the dedicated DDX. In that case, the user discovered that Mageia's SiS DDX driver that's packaged happens to be ABI compatible with the Fedora X Server (at least temporarily), so he's back to using his preferred driver without burdening the Fedora developers in supporting an out-of-date, open-source GPU driver.

While Linux is commonly referred to as being able to run on almost anything, especially aging PCs, more Linux developers are realizing the burden in trying to maintain support and compatibility for older hardware; in some cases there's just regressions while in other instances the latest code can be completely broken for months until a user notices. What's your views on Linux maintaining support for old hardware? Let us know in the forums.
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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 20,000 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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