Linux experience worsening for me

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Linux experience worsening for me

Postby Fitzcarraldo » Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:49

This post is just to have a bit of a moan after seeing the poor quality of video playback on my installation of SL 4.2 using the open-source Radeon driver. Videos are grainy, audio-video sync is out, there is some screen tearing at times, and it just looks like the sort of thing you would have experienced on Windows 3.1.

I'm feeling a little fed up with Linux at the moment: I can no longer use the fglrx driver and no longer have 3D graphics, so no more Compiz-Fusion and no more beautifully-rendered desktop cube and skydome that I used to proudly show to people. Overall the graphics is not as crisp on my laptop now. I have tried without success to regress to earlier versions of the fglrx driver that worked for me in the past, but I think that the problem is the 2.6.29 kernel and/or X.Org: it does not seem to work with the earlier driver versions.

The functionality and reliability of the KDE 4.2.4 tray icon for networking is poor in comparison to KNetworkManager. It crashed on me today for no good reason, never to return. I decided to install wicd so that I could at least control and monitor my wired and wireless network access. Whilst wicd works with both my wired and my WPA-encoded wireless network, it does not work as well as NetworkManager and KNetworkManager on my laptop. I know many people report good results with wicd, but in my case KNetworkManager/NetworkManager were solid. Wicd has trouble recognising my wireless network and, for some strange reason, either lists it twice (once by name and once as "<hidden>") or just lists it as "<hidden>" or not at all. So my network connection GUI is now kludgy as opposed to the reliable performance I was experiencing previously.

The superseding of net-wireless/bluez-libs and net-wireless/bluez-utils by net-wireless/bluez has also broken Bluetooth on my laptop (and for other SL users too, as threads in the SL forums attest). So, whereas previously I had a functioning, reliable Bluetooth connection between my mobile phone and my laptop, now it is useless.

KDE 4.2.4 is a bit of a curate's egg, although I recognise that it is much better than KDE 4.1 and is a work in progress (things crash occasionally, just to give one example).

Eventually I was forced to install SL from the SL 4.1 LiveDVD and overwrite my combined KDE 3.5.10 and KDE 4.2.4 installation (on an updated SL 4.0-r1 installation) because, despite being slotted, the two KDE versions were somehow not coexisting totally independently and I found that installing or upgrading some packages was breaking things (I suspect due to badly-written ebuilds).

The only way I can boot the KDE 4.1 LiveDVD is to use the xdriver=radeon boot parameter. The latest incarnation of the ati-drivers-8.593-r10 driver does not work on my laptop despite the AMD Catalyst 9.3 driver working for my GPU and having had the previous version of ati-drivers-8.593-r10 working with a genkernel-generated 2.6.29 kernel on my updated SL 4.0-r1 installation. After installing SL 4.1 I tried using Portage to re-install the 2.6.29 kernel and ati-drivers-8.593-r10, but still ended up with a KDE installation that either resulted in a blank screen or kept logging out (Yes, I did everything correctly: eselect etc.). Then I tried using only Entropy to re-install the 2.6.29 kernel and the ati-drivers-8.593-r10 driver, but the result was the same.

So here I am with a fully Entropy world-updated SL 4.2 installation having mediocre graphics quality in comparison to earlier versions of SL, no 3D/Compiz any more, poor video playback, worse network control and worse wireless access than I used to have, no Bluetooth, and the latest version of KDE that, despite being much better than KDE 4.1, is still less efficient and reliable than KDE 3.5.10 was.

To make matters worse, the Python 2.5/2.6 issue causes problems if you install some packages from Portage that are not in Entropy and try to pull in Python 2.6 dependencies. This even broke Entropy and Portage on my laptop at one point. Fortunately I am experienced enough to know how to solve it, but that does not mean that it was not a waste of my time and a PITA. Heaven help newcomers to Linux: they wouldn't stand a chance.

It's just annoying wasting so much time messing with an OS that is supposedly so much better than Windows. I've lost count of the number of broken installations just from updating or installing a package. I think sometimes we need to take a reality check. There may be many good aspects to Linux, but there are some really bad ones too. Perfect, it certainly ain't. For me, at least, it's getting worse, not better. Linux is nowhere near ready for the mainstream.

Anyway, end of rant; I just needed to vent my frustration.
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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby joost » Sun Jun 28, 2009 12:00

Maybe hop into branch 5?
There still are some migration tools to be written but i can guide you through. Its pretty simple.

Video on branch 5 using the opensource "ati" driver on xorg-server 1.6 is very good on kde4 using just a radeon 9200.

Well if not want to go through the trouble migrating to branch 5, its still under development, might want to wait for Sabayon 5.

P.S. some things have been fixed and 4.2 will have it fixed.
http://bugs.gentoo.org/274959
Also try the "ati" driver instead of the radeonhd driver?
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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby genfool » Sun Jun 28, 2009 15:04

I feel your pain, I have a couple older dells, 3d works perfect with the .27 kernel with .29 cant get x at all.
With one of the dells I installed a .30 kernel and all the problems went away.
Linux made a leap with the .29 kernel and will take time for the drivers to catch up, is frustrating. The good news is, The problem is being corrected and .30 is available. Not in SL repos at this time, but is working it's way downstream.
I am not usually excited about a kernel release, .3o is worth getting excited about. :D
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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby Fitzcarraldo » Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:48

joost wrote:Also try the "ati" driver instead of the radeonhd driver?

Thanks for the reply, joost. I am using the "ati" driver. That's the Radeon driver (x11-drivers/xf86-video-ati). The RadeonHD driver is x11-drivers/xf86-video-radeonhd. I could not get the SL 4.1 LiveDVD to boot with the RadeonHD driver so the Radeon ("ati") driver was the only viable solution.

genfool wrote:I feel your pain, I have a couple older dells, 3d works perfect with the .27 kernel with .29 cant get x at all.
With one of the dells I installed a .30 kernel and all the problems went away.
Linux made a leap with the .29 kernel and will take time for the drivers to catch up, is frustrating. The good news is, The problem is being corrected and .30 is available. Not in SL repos at this time, but is working it's way downstream.
I am not usually excited about a kernel release, .3o is worth getting excited about. :D

Thanks also for your reply, genfool. I even debated downgrading to the 2.6.28 or 2.6.27 kernel which worked nicely with Compiz and earlier fglrx drivers on my laptop. But I decided against it as I have found that trying to run superseded software always comes back to bite me in the end: I install or upgrade some package or other and something breaks. Normally I'd already have built the 2.6.30 kernel (I see the ebuild for the kernel source is already in the SL overlay) but I can't get up the enthusiasm at the moment.


Regarding the other problems I mentioned, I have been further frustrated by wicd. It would not connect to a public non-encrypted network (with a very good signal) in the hotel I'm currently staying in, so I have given up on wicd and un-installed it. I notice that the version of wicd in the Entropy repository is 0.6.0 but in Portage there is a version 0.6.1 ebuild so I assume 0.6.0 is buggy. I could merge the newer version I suppose, but I'm not going to waste any more time with wicd. I re-installed kde-misc/plasma-widget-network-manager to the Panel and it seems to be holding up better this time and does connect to the public unencrypted network here in the hotel. I'll just have to hope that it works with my WPA-encrypted network at home when I am back there. I'm not holding my breath.
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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby Thev00d00 » Mon Jun 29, 2009 8:07

*sigh*

Its unlucky really, you have a pita card especially since AMD dropped support for it, shame to hear that you are going through it at the moment :(, as joost mentioned the 5 branch is very testing but has the newer ati stack so may help you there.

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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby Fitzcarraldo » Wed Jul 01, 2009 12:12

Thanks, Thev00doo. The open-source ATI drivers are only one of several problems with Linux at the moment. Let's also hope that the KDE developers can improve plasma-widget-network-manager and indeed the rest of KDE 4 that is still flaky or incomplete as quickly as possible. Let's also hope that the developers of the other packages I mentioned (BlueZ and wicd) can do the same, so that Linux becomes enjoyable to use again for me.
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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby joost » Wed Jul 01, 2009 19:33

Forget about the branch 5 thing, since you say you are in hotels and such, bad idea. :D
With "ati" i ment loading the "ati" driver in xorg.conf. Ofcourse, as a forced ati user I know what package provides what drivers.

Anyway I hope that things turn into a better experience for you soon.
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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby Fitzcarraldo » Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:46

Good news: I've just discovered how to get Compiz working with the open-source Radeon driver. I found out in the Compiz Forums. I needed to add the line Option "XAANoOffScreenPixmaps" "true" to the "Device" section in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. That's it. Oh, and I also did:

Code: Select all
# aiglx-setup enable     
Working...                               
Enabling AIGLX system wide...
Done
# exit
exit
$ fusion-icon &

and selected Compiz as the window manager.

Video is better under Compiz than without it.

So I'm happier with the open-source Radeon driver now, even if the performance is not a good as with the closed-source fglrx driver.

EDIT: I'm discovering more parameters to add to xorg.conf that are making performance with the Radeon driver much better. I'll post details in the thread viewtopic.php?f=56&t=17727&p=101983#p101983 to avoid further double posting. I'm getting happier by the minute.
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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby sproot » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:09

That's really good to know , I've got an Acer 8215 too - almost the same spec as yours, I was planning to move that to SL 4.2 after I've completed my desktop. I saw your sig and was planning to pick your brains about kernel versions and graphics drivers :wink:
It's currently running Kubuntu 8.04 (I'm not a long time Linux'er, Kubuntu is good for the inexperienced :oops: ), with the fglrx driver, because of the removal of support for the X1600 from fglrx I've been unable to update it.

I keep reading how the OSS drivers are improving all the time, I've been hoping they'd mature to the point of usefulness before 8.04 became unsupported, it looks like that might be the case now :D

Referring to your original post, my work PC is still running Kubuntu Gutsy, with KDE 3.5. It's too important to play about with so until KDE 4, and the apps I use are stable it won't be changing. It's frustrating sometimes to be missing out on the latest and greatest software, but it isn't strictly necessary if what you have works.

It isn't called the bleeding edge for nothing :lol:
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Re: Linux experience worsening for me

Postby WarraWarra » Wed Aug 05, 2009 0:05

ATI drivers for HD Ati cards are suffering and radeonHD guy's are pushing tin at this stage + fixing a lot of bugs that Ati has put on the back burner for the HD dvi part of the drivers. Same with windows HD dvi and overscan issues / limited resolution for dvi HD side.
I was seriously considering sending my ati card back so that ati can use it to clean where the sun don't shine and get a nvidia card for both win / lin usage dew to this driver issues. Ati plays ubuntu instead of getting gentoo based onboard to help get Ati back to linux again.

End of august or middle sept 2009 most stabilized fixes should be out of beta and available for most of us. Ati Stream is holding them back and they rather jump several beta fixes and related issues to get a better product out = we suffer in the mean time.

Fritz you might want to look at a side project of funtoo as this is where gentoo SL funtoo future will be.
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