Ubuntu 17.04 Drops DRM Support For Old VIA, SiS, R128 GPUs
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 11 April 2017 at 06:03 AM EDT. 21 Comments
UBUNTU --
The stock kernel of Ubuntu 17.04 is doing away with Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) support for a number of ancient graphics processors.

A user initially filed a bug report over his VIA S3 UniChrome Pro no longer having DRM support. He commented, "This will make me and other Ubuntu 17.04 users with Via hardware sad (I'm guessing there's at least five of us). Makes for an annoying Ubuntu experience when browsing the web at nearly slide-show speeds while trying to find the correct drivers for our Nvidia and AMD cards."

Ubuntu developer Seth Forshee then confirmed that a handful of DRM drivers are now disabled. This was done because they expose insecure APIs to user-space. The developer wrote, "This and a handful of other DRM drivers got disabled because they present insecure APIs to userspace. The recommendation provided from upstream developers is "to use the safe modeset-only drivers instead, and perform 3D emulation in user-space." If that isn't practical for some reason we might be able to re-enable the drivers. However we probably need at minimum to exclude these from module signing, and perhaps even blacklist those modules by default."


Using 3D emulation in user-space via e.g. LLVMpipe sounds equally painful when those with these outdated graphics processors tend to have old, crippled CPUs too. So you're probably best not upgrading to Ubuntu 17.04, spin your own kernel with the drivers enabled, or just put the hardware out of its misery. Forshee later followed-up to confirm that the DRM support has been disabled for TDFX with the 3Dfx Banshee/Voodoo3+, ATI Rage 128, Matrox G200/G400, SIS, VIA, and Savage hardware. Details via this bug report.
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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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