X11 in a jail with NVidia hard­ware

Just before christ­mas I decid­ed I will spend the “immense” amount of 40 EUR for a graph­ic card for a sys­tem which was with­out one. The sys­tem is sup­posed to replace my dying home-server. I already moved every­thing, except my Desktop-in-a-Jail (actu­al­ly it is my home-cinema-jail).

The old sys­tem had a Radeon 9200SE, and it was enough for what I used it for. Now… for a few bucks you can get a lot more horse­pow­er today. After look­ing around a lit­tle bit I decid­ed to buy a NVidia card. I made this deci­sion because it looks like I can get bet­ter dri­ver sup­port for it. So I got a GeForce GT 520 with 1 GB of RAM (I doubt I will be able to use that much RAM) and with­out a fan.

With the Radeon 9200SE I was not able to get the 3D stuff acti­vat­ed (at least in the jail, I did not try with­out), Xorg com­plains about a miss­ing agp­gart mod­ule but I have AGP in the ker­nel (no /dev/agpgart out­side the jail). I did not spend time to inves­ti­gate this, as the main pur­pose – play­ing movies – worked. Now with the NVidia card I decid­ed to give the 3D part a try again.

After adding the NVidia device entries to the jail, and a lit­tle bit of fight­ing with the Xorg-HAL inter­ac­tion, I got a work­ing desk­top. The biggest prob­lem to ver­i­fy that 3D is work­ing was, that I did not had xdri­in­fo installed. After installing it, I noticed that it does not work with the NVidia dri­ver.  🙁  Next stop nvidia-settings: runs great, dis­plays a nice FreeB­SD+NVidia logo, and … tells me that OpenGL is con­fig­ured. Hmmm… OK, but I want to see it!

As I decid­ed to switch from Gnome to KDE 4 at  the same time (I was using KDE when it was at V 0.x, switched to Gnome as it looked nicer to me, and now I switch back after read­ing all the stuff in the net that KDE 4 is “bet­ter” than Gnome 3), I was a lit­tle bit out of knowl­edge how to see the 3D stuff in action. So I quick­ly went to the set­tings and searched for some­thing which looks like it may use 3D. To my sur­prise, it was already using 3D stuff. Nice. I ful­ly real­ized how nice, when play­ing a video and using Alt-Tab to switch win­dows: the video was play­ing full speed scaled down in the window-switcher-thumbnail-view.

That was too easy. I am hap­py about it.

Now that I have a work­ing set­up of X11-in-a-jail for Radeon and GeForce cards, I want to cleanup my changes to the ker­nel and the con­fig files (devfs.rules) and have a look to get this com­mit­ted. A big part of this work is prob­a­bly writ­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion (most prob­a­bly in the wiki).

I still want to see some fan­cy 3D stuff now. I tried to install x11-clocks/glclock, but the build fails with an unde­fined ref­er­ence to ‘glPoly­gonOff­se­tEXT’. 🙁 Any rec­om­men­da­tion for a fan­cy 3D dis­play? My pri­or­i­ty is on “fancy/nice” with as less vio­lence as pos­si­ble. Most prob­a­bly I will look at it once and then dein­stall it again, so it should be avail­able in the Ports Col­lec­tion (or includ­ed in KDE 4).

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Solaris 10 update 9: the not so nice things about it

I updat­ed some work­sta­tions of the client to Solaris 10 update 9. Upon installing my xorg.conf (dual-screen set­up) I had to notice that it does not work any­more. The prob­lem is, that the NVidia dri­ver does not con­tain sup­port for the graph­ic card we use.

Nor­mal­ly this is not a big deal, this can hap­pen… but in this case this is about SUN Ultra 20 work­sta­tions with SUN pro­vid­ed NVidia Quat­tro FX (NV37GL) cards. Ok, they are not the most recent ones, they where bought 4 – 5 years ago, but still, they just work as need­ed here and the cur­rent Solaris release has no out-of-the-box sup­port for them. I would expect this to work already in a fresh install (yes, I was not able to get the nv dri­ver to work with two screens on this graph­ic card, it seems the nv dri­ver has not sup­port for this).

Solu­tion for me: down­load the old dri­ver from NVidia and inte­grate it into Jump­start (but still, some hours are lost because of first try­ing to get a work­ing dual-screen set­up with the nv dri­ver before tak­ing an old NVidia dri­ver and using it like before in xorg.conf).

Anoth­er glitch a co-worker dis­cov­ered is that StarOf­fice is not includ­ed any­more. That is again some­thing which will cause some loss of time. I will have to have a look how to han­dle it. Prob­a­bly it is best to install it on the serv­er and mount it via NFS on the work­sta­tions. I will see soon if this is can be done (instal­la­tion of OO into a spe­cif­ic place which can be shared) or not.

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