Getting 3D to work under Linux can be a real pain at times. I think
it is the greatest thing in the world - one day hopefully XFree86
will be written to be purely accelerated OpenGL calls via DRI. Many
people have 3D hardware but don't know how to configure it or even
realise if it is working!
My 3D hardware of choice is Nvidia. They have the best drivers
and they just always work. I've been using Nvidia hardware ever
since Dell brought out the awesome Inspiron 8100 laptop series,
and I've never ever had a problem with the drivers crashing or acting
unexpectedly. The nice part is that the drivers work on all Nvidia
hardware from TNT2 upwards, and they use the same config files.
So I have one XF86Config-4 which I share between all my systems,
and use xchanger which is described below. Just for the record in
case anyone is googling for info, the Nvidia drivers do not compile
properly with kernel 2.6.4 - it seems like the kbuild script has
some kind of wierd dependency issue. The Nvidia 6111 series driver
works well with 2.6.8 kernel, so if you are having problems with
compilation at least try that! Nowadays Ubuntu includes all the Nvidia
drivers so you don't have to compile anything, I would recommend this
option as being the easiest.
I have a Radeon 9000 in my IBM Thinkpad T40p right now, and this
works straight out of the box running Knoppix with no changes required
- I was very impressed. The Radeon DRI driver is not as good as
the Nvidia one, I have been able to crash it quite easily when playing
with resolutions and settings in my XF86Config-4 file, which was
quite annoying. The driver also doesn't support dual head at the
same time as 3D acceleration! We have also used the ATI binary drivers on
another laptop and had no end of problems with them as well. For now I've got the
DRI stuff working but it was a bit of a pain and I don't want to
keep messing around with this. For those googling for info on Radeon
DRI problems, you must make sure you are not running the frame buffer
modules! So make sure radeonfb.o and anything else with fb on it
is not running. I haven't worked out how to disable modules from
running, so make sure you either delete the module file or recompile
your kernel so there is no FB support at all. The FB and DRI support
do not mix!
But in summary, if you want to do really high end 3D on Linux, the Nvidia
driver is the only way to go. We refuse to buy ATI hardware in the lab any
more, the drivers just don't work.