Monitor help

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Monitor help

Postby dan2 » 2012-07-16 14:44

I have decided to switch my work desktop to Debian from Windows. I have some Linux desktop experience, but its bit outdated. I am attempting to configure a 3-monitor setup. My computer has two identical video cards -- Radeon HD 4670s. My goal is to have one desktop, spanning all 3 displays.

I've currently got this working with fglrx using Xinerama. However, fglrx is buggy on my system for some reason. When I try to launch Excel in Crossover Office, for instance, X crashses. And I occasionally get some weird graphics glitches in Google Chrome. Also, X will crash when I open some PDF files in Acrobat Pro (also via Crossover). I have verified that these issues do not happen with the open source "radeon" driver. However, I am unable to get my one-desktop-across-3-displays setup working with the radeon driver.

Before I get into the technical aspects of exactly how to do things, I just want to get some concepts straight. From my reading, it sounds to me that Xinerama is generally considered to be outdated because of xrandr. Using the Catalyst control panel with fglrx, the only way to get the effect I want (i.e. one desktop across 3 monitors) is with Xinerama. With the standard setup (using xrandr, I assume), it insists on having at least two desktops. It's like it doesn't want me to have one desktop spanning multiple video cards. Is this a limitation of xrandr? Or maybe just a bug in the Catalyst control panel?

Does anybody have any suggestions for me? Is there maybe some setting in fgrlx that might make it less glitchy? Should I try the radeon driver? If so, should I use Xinerama or xrandr?
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Re: Monitor help

Postby bpaterni » 2012-07-16 15:26

AFAIK (though I've never attempted it myself), the FOSS radeon driver is not capable of providing multi-gpu X. (Although work is being done to change that in the future) So you might have to settle for dual display if you decide to go with radeon -- which is well supported on my 4850. That, or shell out a few $ for a newer, eyefinity marketed gpu with >= 3 outputs.
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Re: Monitor help

Postby dan2 » 2012-07-16 17:09

bpaterni wrote:AFAIK (though I've never attempted it myself), the FOSS radeon driver is not capable of providing multi-gpu X. (Although work is being done to change that in the future) So you might have to settle for dual display if you decide to go with radeon -- which is well supported on my 4850. That, or shell out a few $ for a newer, eyefinity marketed gpu with >= 3 outputs.


What about getting fglrx to be more stable? Are there any settings I could play with?

I assume fglrx isn't usually this glitchy...?
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Re: Monitor help

Postby bpaterni » 2012-07-16 17:20

dan2 wrote:What about getting fglrx to be more stable? Are there any settings I could play with?

I assume fglrx isn't usually this glitchy...?

I'm not for sure there. As a FOSS purist, I tend to stay away from the blob. Though I do have one short-lived experiece with fglrx when its 2d acceleration was absolute crap and iceweasel took 30 seconds to scroll one line. Since then I've been been told the blob has stabilized over the years, but I have never taken the time to confirm this.
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Re: Monitor help

Postby dan2 » 2012-07-16 19:53

bpaterni wrote:I'm not for sure there. As a FOSS purist, I tend to stay away from the blob. Though I do have one short-lived experiece with fglrx when its 2d acceleration was absolute crap and iceweasel took 30 seconds to scroll one line. Since then I've been been told the blob has stabilized over the years, but I have never taken the time to confirm this.


I prefer to avoid blobs also. However, since this is my work machine and my boss would look at me like I'm from Mars if I said "open source," I need to find a solution that works.

So, my options, it seems, are to look into getting a triple-head, single-gpu ATI card or to look over at the NVidia side of things. Does the nouveau driver support multi-gpu X?
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Re: Monitor help

Postby bpaterni » 2012-07-16 20:27

dan2 wrote:Does the nouveau driver support multi-gpu X?

I don't believe they do either. While the radeon guys are fortunate enought to have support from AMD (documentation + a few devs) and the nouveau camp is forced to reverse engineer, both drivers provide roughly the same performance and features. If multi-gpu was supported on nouveau, it would be available on radeon in short time as well and vice-versa.
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Re: Monitor help

Postby dan2 » 2012-07-16 20:46

OK -- made my decision. I looked on newegg, and the eyefinity cards aren't expensive at all. Just ordered a Radon HD 7770.

Looking forward to running my system without any binary blobs!
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Re: Monitor help

Postby bpaterni » 2012-07-16 20:59

Going with the latest and greatest from AMD might not be the wisest choice either since development on the open source drivers tends to lag behind current generation hardware a bit. In fact, support for 7xxx chips may not even be in the kernel yet and if it is, it is probably in 3.4 or 3.5 (more recent than either squeeze or wheezy). I would go with a 5xxx or 6xxx generation card, or you might be stuck compile kernels for the next year+.
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Re: Monitor help

Postby dan2 » 2012-07-16 21:04

ugh -- I thought that MS Word was working in Crossover, but it just crashed X too. Fglrx will let you configure multiple GPUs, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that it supports it.
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Re: Monitor help

Postby dan2 » 2012-07-16 21:05

bpaterni wrote:Going with the latest and greatest from AMD might not be the wisest choice either since development on the open source drivers tends to lag behind current generation hardware a bit. In fact, support for 7xxx chips may not even be in the kernel yet and if it is, it is probably in 3.4 or 3.5 (more recent than either squeeze or wheezy). I would go with a 5xxx or 6xxx generation card, or you might be stuck compile kernels for the next year+.


Ah -- I hadn't considered that. Good point.
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Re: Monitor help

Postby Sampuli » 2012-07-17 02:11

dan2 wrote:ugh -- I thought that MS Word was working in Crossover, but it just crashed X too.

Libre/OpenOffice, anyone? Widely used and compatible . If you install the fonts your boss will not even notice that the work has been done with Open/LibreOffice.
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Re: Monitor help

Postby dan2 » 2012-07-17 14:32

Sampuli wrote:Libre/OpenOffice, anyone? Widely used and compatible . If you install the fonts your boss will not even notice that the work has been done with Open/LibreOffice.


I've had every version of LibreOffice on my machine since the Document Foundation was formed. I ended up finishing that project yesterday with LibreOffice. Look -- LibreOffice is very good and it's getting better, but it's just not as good as MS Office -- especially when it comes to Calc/Excel and Impress/PowerPoint. I wouldn't have used Word yesterday except that Crossover decided to make Word the default editor for .doc files, so it just opened.
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Re: Monitor help

Postby CwF » 2021-02-11 15:08

bpaterni wrote:Going with the latest and greatest from AMD might not be the wisest choice either since development on the open source drivers tends to lag behind current generation hardware a bit. In fact, support for 7xxx chips may not even be in the kernel yet

Oh ye of little faith, have patience!

Wow, still relevant. Actually I'm happy that the old stuff gets better with every Debian generation. For the HD7X we're almost there!
There is so much potential still untapped functionality. I was browsing around for xorg-xrandr offloadsink mentions and found this old current comment...
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Re: Monitor help

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2021-02-11 15:32

Holy necrobump Batman! :mrgreen:

The situation with AMD is much better these days because they contribute directly to the open source graphics stack. Hardware support is usually added to the kernel before the hardware is released, which is nice.
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