Nouveau: The Libré nVidia Drivers

Kasım 6, 2009 at 11:00 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The latest nVidia driver update (IIRC 190.42) came with a plethora of problems (at least for me). I have an nVidia GeForce 9200M GS graphics card and we were getting along quite well until the aformentioned update. X started crashing every minute. This led me to try something new: Nouveau.

The nouveau project aims to build high-quality, open source drivers for nVidia cards.

Since I always root for replacing proprietary stuff with their F/LOSS alternatives, this was the perfect chance for me. ArchWiki describes how to install and set the driver to load with kernel (i.e. KMS).

There were a couple of features I was looking for and here’s how everything turned out:

  • First I started with the video playback. Under SMPlayer’s preferences I found a new output driver: xv (0 – Nouveau GeForce 8/9 Textured Video). This is what worked for me. Now that I had image, let’s get a little rough: I opened Sita Sings the Blues, and mind you this video has 1920×1080 pixels (1080p for short). VLC did a great job playing the file (SMPlayer couldn’t play this one with nVidia drivers, either). So, check!

  • The chronological first step is KMS, of course. KMS stands for kernel modesetting:

Currently, most graphics modes are initialized during the X server startup. Kernel Modesetting (referred to as KMS hereafter) moves this process from the X server’s DDX drivers to the kernel.

This means a seamless transition between console and X server, and also a seamless transition between virtual terminals. The Fedora page also indicates that KMS means graphical error messages and a prettier graphical boot but those don’t interest me. I set up KMS following the wiki and with a reboot I had a pretty console and seamless transitions. So, check!

  • Another important thing for me is XMoto. I love it, I play it all the time. Lucky for me the game is based on SDL and it doesn’t need 3D graphics. The game mostly works well, but for a couple of levels the graphics slow down. This is not a very big issue since there is the “Ugly Mode” for those occasions 🙂 So, check!

  • Every now and then I do presentations so external devices must work. Since I don’t own a projector, I tried it with my old 15″ monitor. As soon as I plugged in the device I could see it on display settings under KDE’s System Settings. I configured the resolution, the color depth and I was good to go. So, check!
  • The last thing was, and this was a bonus for me, power consumption. I haven’t timed the drivers yet but there’s something that can give you a clue. With nVidia drivers, my battery never reaches %100, it’s charged to %97-98 and stays there. With Nouveau drivers the battery can be fully charged and stays that way. So, bonus check!

All in all, it’s been a great experience so far. Since I don’t use any composite managers (like Compiz or KWin), I don’t need the card’s 3D capabilities. And as far as the 2D performance goes, it’s working perfectly. Great job Nouveau developers and keep it coming!

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Gnash Has Come a Long Way

Ekim 25, 2009 at 10:24 AM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Gnash is a F/LOSS replacement for Adobe’s infamous Flash plugin. I’ve been following the development of Gnash for some time now and I must say, with every new release it’s becoming more and more a good alternative for Flash.

The new version (0.8.6) hit the Arch Linux repos today and I was eager to try it out. First I removed the Flash plugin and then installed Gnash:

pacman -R flashplugin

pacman -S gnash-gtk

Since Gnash supports most of the stuff other than videos very well, the next step for me was to test a couple of video sharing sites. Youtube works well and so does Google Videos, and Mojoflix. However Vimeo doesn’t work, since I use it a lot that’s a bummer for me (and if I’m not mistaken, it used to work but I think the Vimeo guys changed something with the player). Grooveshark doesn’t work, either. There are a lot of websites out there using Flash but the ones I use are limited with these, so I’ll leave the rest to other users.

All in all, Gnash is certainly getting better with every release and I think, in a very near future, people will start seriously using it. Me? I have already ditched the Flash plugin. Sure I won’t be able to view a couple of videos on BlenderNation but I will be using Free Software.

Great job Gnash developers and I surely appreciate the hard work you’ve been putting on.

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Canon MP190 on Arch Linux

Ekim 16, 2009 at 11:27 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I recently bought a Canon PIXMA MP190 and it’s working without a glitch.

Prior to buying I did a little research, of course. On Open Printing Database, there was just one comment and it suggested that the printer is working perfectly. Because the printer was like $50, I thought “What the hey, it’s worth a shot”. I followed the wiki and got the printer working in 5 minutes with these steps:

  • Installed CUPS
  • Installed the driver (cups-canon-3.00 from the AUR)
  • Added the module (modprobe usblp) and the daemon (/etc/rc.d/cups start) to the rc.conf

After these 3 quick steps, I was printing (from e.g., scanning (through XSane) and photo-copying. All in all, I’m very happy with the printer. It’s easy to install and use. I can recommend MP190 to anyone looking for a cheap and all-in-one printer.

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