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Old 12-17-2010, 02:35 PM   #1
SameOldStory
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Computer solutions, OS, A/V, & other stuff

There seems to be enough people interested in computer "tech" stuff to see what might develop here.

Hopefully anyone with any questions, problems, or just comments will be welcomed here.

So here goes ....


Some time back there was a thread where everyone was saying how happy they were with Linux. Back in the early 90s I tried Redhat Linux but it didn't seem to offer me very much.

So I thought that I'd try Linux again after reading all the glowing reports.

I had what was then a new system that I had put together with 2 large monitors and running Windows 7 Professional.

I temporarily replaced the Windows HD with a spare 80gig HD & did a clean install of Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu found drivers for everything and set it up without difficulty.

The biggest problem was the speed. It had slowed down tremendously! Screen redraws/updates were horrible.

I checked for better NVIDIA drivers but it looked as if Ubuntu had picked out the most current driver.

So I turned off and unplugged the second monitor and things got a little better. Not good, just better.

Long story short, I have some non-hot swappable hard drive caddies and could try it again with the possibility of dual booting. The only problem is I don't want to buy another GPU just so I can play with Linux. The current graphics card works very, very well under Windows 7 running two large screens (3 feet diagonal effectively).

My guess is that most versions of Linux will use the same NVIDIA drivers. Am wrong?

Would another Linux be better for speed?
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:39 PM   #2
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My guess is that most versions of Linux will use the same NVIDIA drivers. Am wrong?

Would another Linux be better for speed?
Yes and no. It sounds like your complaint is slow screen refresh.

Most drivers are originally written for Windows, since the vast majority of systems run Windows, and the hardware manufacturers want to optimize performance on those systems. Video is a particularly thorny problem, as not all graphics card vendors offer Linux drivers. There are usually open source drivers that work, but won't have the performance of dedicated drivers written for Windows.

There are a couple of things you can look at.

First, install the most recent (10.10) version of Ubuntu. Next, Ubuntu offer the option of using "non-free" software (which does not have source available). There may be Nvidia supplied drivers which aren't open source that will do a better job.

If those fail, look at ndiswrapper. Ndiswrapper allows you to use Windows drivers with Linux, and may let you use the drivers provided with Win7 on your Linux installation.
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:44 PM   #3
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you might light aptosid (formerly sidux)
uses debian sid but helps with the install off all the "nonpure" (OSS) stuff like gpu wlan and similar drivers and firmware. be careful when trying on a win 7 box which has no real win install media but the crappy recovery stuff - you might ruin your MBR and thereby cut yourself away from the windows install data.

(actually thre only thing I hate on the actual Acer NB i got gifted)
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Old 12-17-2010, 10:45 PM   #4
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" you might ruin your MBR and thereby cut yourself away from the windows install data."

Not a problem. As I said, I still have my old 80gig hard drive (blank). That's what I used last time so the Linux install would be a "clean" install. If I were to keep it I'd use both OS’s on different drives.


Are there any graphic cards that are highly rated for large multiscreen setups, but that don't cost a lot? I paid enough for the one I have now. It may not be a high end gaming card, but it's more than fast enough for anything that I do.

Right now both monitors are side by side sharing the same dual monitor background and acting as a single desktop. A movie spread across both screens shows with no problems, hesitations, or artifacts.
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Old 12-19-2010, 04:04 PM   #5
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afaik you have still the best chances with nvidia and their own (nonfree) drivers.
having one in thebox is one of my personal criteria for a linux box.
what i avoid now are e.g. asus notebooks (apart from the 'old' first eepc's)
not only went my asus NB completely belly-up (mainboard died) what went on my nerves was a very screved way the additional buttons were made working:
entirely non-consistent screwd up setup: part of them as keycode senders, and the rest worked via ACPI-events.
you could just engrave "hard-coded obfuscation" on that paper-weight

P.S.: never used highend GPUs either IMHO t was always been only for fishing out the last buck from the gamerkids' pockets.
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:22 PM   #6
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afaik you have still the best chances with nvidia and their own (nonfree) drivers.


P.S.: never used highend GPUs either IMHO t was always been only for fishing out the last buck from the gamerkids' pockets.
I'll look into the NVIDIA drivers soon. When I did my test I used whatever Ubuntu installed, figuring that that would be the best.


" never used highend GPUs"

I stopped playing most games a long time ago. Unfortunately I keep reading that any gaming card will give fast 2D results. So far I haven't seen that on cards that cost less than $200. If someone has a real solid recommendation I might go as high as $130 for a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot. But it has to handle dual monitors.


I keep seeing "(nonfree) drivers". Is there something undesirable about them, or is it just an ideological thing?


I just spent half an hour looking online & it looks like there's no consensus on a good card. What one likes, the other says has problems.
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Old 12-20-2010, 06:32 AM   #7
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I keep seeing "(nonfree) drivers". Is there something undesirable about them, or is it just an ideological thing?
Anything that is not open source is considered "non free" by Ubuntu, even if it is "free of charge". Anyway, nothing prevents you from using "non free" drivers, it's just that they like to keep them in a separate category.
You could use an Ubuntu generic driver, but some features of your hardware may not be available.
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Old 12-20-2010, 12:11 PM   #8
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Anything that is not open source is considered "non free" by Ubuntu, even if it is "free of charge". Anyway, nothing prevents you from using "non free" drivers, it's just that they like to keep them in a separate category.
You could use an Ubuntu generic driver, but some features of your hardware may not be available.
That must be what happened the last time that I installed Ubuntu. I didn't change any of it's setup.
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Old 12-20-2010, 12:31 PM   #9
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I'll look into the NVIDIA drivers soon. When I did my test I used whatever Ubuntu installed, figuring that that would be the best.
Well, Ubuntu does it's best to emulate Windows install. It tries to figure out what kit you have and set itself up so things Just Work without requiring special knowledge on the part of the user. It does so pretty well, and things generally do work, but may not work as well as possible, since the default is all open source.

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I stopped playing most games a long time ago. Unfortunately I keep reading that any gaming card will give fast 2D results. So far I haven't seen that on cards that cost less than $200. If someone has a real solid recommendation I might go as high as $130 for a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot. But it has to handle dual monitors.
What sort of fast 2D do you need? Gaming cards all concentrate on fast 3D results, and 2D comes along for the ride.

I used to run a Matrox G450 AGP card, precisely because it had dual monitor support. It didn't do hardware accelerated 3D, but I didn't care, as I wasn't playing games. Matrox has a model that supports 3 monitors, beloved of people like stock traders who can have email/IM on one monitor, real time stock price feeds on another, and Excel for analysis on a third.

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I keep seeing "(nonfree) drivers". Is there something undesirable about them, or is it just an ideological thing?
Ideological. "Non-free" software does not have source code available. For some folks that's a show stopper, so Ubuntu segregates it in a separate category, and makes it an opt-in install.

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I just spent half an hour looking online & it looks like there's no consensus on a good card. What one likes, the other says has problems.
Holy War.

For practical purposes, there are two brands of gaming video cards: ATI (part of AMD these days) and Nvidia. There are fanatical supporters of each.

There are an assortment of other video cards out there not aimed at gamers, and a number of machines come with onboard video on the motherboard as default. (My desktop has embedded S3 graphics, which is adequate for what I do.)
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