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Linux Needs Better Video Testing and Tools

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supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17

Editorial:

If the top 10 Linux distros are serious about the desktop initiative, then one area I think they are not working anywhere near hard enough is in the area of video testing and tools.

Many people want to set up multiple screen Xinerama mode in a variety of ways. In fact, Linux should encourage that as way to say that it's easier to set up and better than Windows. Unfortunately, Xinerama mode is not so easy and requires hacking the XF86Config or xorg.conf files (depending on how old your distro is). When I have to start doing this to get the video working right, it scares off any Windows user looking over my shoulder. And I don't say that figuratively -- I really mean that this has happened to me 3 times.

They need to also not assume I'm using a dual head card. Instead, I'm using two separate video cards at my office because that's all I could get. And, likewise, they need to also assume two or more, different monitor sizes.

Moreover, when the video resolution or color depth is not ideal, but could stand to be experimented with, one should be able to use a GUI as well as text-based TUI (in case video knocks out during testing) to change this.

I have found that there's a GUI to configure this, but it doesn't work in my case of using Xinerama with two separate video cards.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

I never used Xinerama as I don't have the necessary hardware for it. I do have an extra monitor here, but I lack an extra video card. However, if I buy a new video card at some point I could have this by plugging one monitor on the video card and another on the onboard video out.

Since I never used it though I can't judge on how hard it is to set it up. I definitely agree though this is the field for which it would be beneficial if it would be easy to set up.

"supermike" wrote:

They need to also not assume I'm using a dual head card. Instead, I'm using two separate video cards at my office because that's all I could get. And, likewise, they need to also assume two or more, different monitor sizes.

I think most people would actually use two cards instead of the dual one anyway. Most computers come with an onboard graphics system, so all you need is buy an extra AGP card and you have what you need (aside from an extra monitor).

Thanks

free-zombie's picture
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Joined: 2006-03-08

hmmm.... should I go for PCI graphix card+Xinerama or nVidia dual head ?

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

Don't go with nvidia if you can't get free drivers for them. I'd go for ATI R200 to R300 (I think that was it) instead for which there are free drivers, especially if you don't need the bleeding edge graphics stuff.

dylunio's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20

On SuSE when I used it there was an app nameb SaX2 which configured X _very_ well, you selected the monitor type, clicked testing to see if it was working, and 9/10 times it did. SaX2 even had a thing for dual monitors, but since I don't have dual monitors I don't realy know if it's any good at them. I think SaX2 is free software since both Yoper and SuSE have used it, but I'm not sure how free it is.

a thing's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20
"libervisco" wrote:

R200 to R300

R300 drivers are exparimental.

supermike's picture
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Joined: 2006-02-17

I'm thinking about trying to get more widespread Linux acceptance with noobs. What I'm thinking about here is for the new Portland Project movement, but I didn't say that. (Shame on me.)

I think that when you install Linux on a workstation, most Linuxes should try to use a common standard that looks fantastic. It will require a lot of thought to work this out, but it should try to give the user to choose from an optimal variety of settings based on detected hardware and attempt to use that. If it fails, it either goes back to TUI or GUI control panel (whichever works) and lets the user choose something else until it finally works. Unfortunately some versions I've seen of this end up getting both to work but then drop the video res in favor of the color depth. In my opinion, I would rather go from 32 bit color to 16 bit just so that I could get the resolution I need. The human eye can almost not tell the difference between thousands of colors and millions of colors. But sure, if I could get the resolution AND 32 bit color, and the thing could run tolerably fast, then yeah, I'd like that instead too.

free-zombie's picture
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