[techtalk] video cards

Nicole Zimmerman colby at wsu.edu
Wed Jan 17 11:13:18 EST 2001

I have put this question in a few forums but totally forgot about this
one, DUH. It seems I am terribly slow as of late, something to do with not
enough sleep and 18 credits.

Anyway, we (DH and I) are shopping for a new system (YAY!) for me that
will exclusively be running debian. The system will be an AMD Duron 750 or
800 on likely the Asus A7V with 128 (or 256) MB of RAM. 

We are thinking of getting a new SBLive platinum for the DVD-running box
and using the old SBLive (mp3? I forget) for my new box. My husband has
successfully used this card in linux, so I'm not worried there. 

The big deal comes with the video card. AHH! It's easy to find reviews of
performance, but those reviews don't touch on other issues and are often
out of date.

Courtesy my mac habits, I went to ATI first. The radeon (64 MB DDR) looks
super-sweet and seems to perform really well at high resolutions and
detail, also decently priced. 

I asked around, though, and a LOT of people had experience with nVidia
cards. I have a big problem with nVidia cards, despite my non-rmsian
tendencies: the binary kernel module. I don't think I have the patience to
wait around for nVidia to decide they're ready to support a new kernel,
new version of X, etc... I had this experience with windows. I know for
sure nVidia is already behind with X 4.0.2 and kernel 2.4.0. What does
this mean for the future? WHY is there a binary kernel module to begin
with (someone mentioned NDAs with SGI on debian-user) when there have been
open-source drivers before (utah GLX, I believe)? In some ways, I can't
explain the binary kernel module problem with myself. I know my system is
not 100% free (I do apt-get from non-free) but the idea of a binary kernel
module like that makes me feel... dirty, in some way.

I know radeon support is lacking, but ATI is supporting open source driver
development (afaik). I think it will be much like running the g400 right
after it came out, beta drivers, incomplete support, bleeding edge, etc.

Does anyone have experience with the radeon or other non-nVidia cards? Are
the nVidia cards worth the binary kernel module?

I am not expecting it to "just work", I know I will have to do some work
on my own to get the sucker to work no matter what it is (if it's fairly
new, anyway), just like a million other things in linux. 

Opinions welcome.

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