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15 February 2010, 11:42

Nouveau offers experimental 3D support in Fedora 13

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Zoom Nouveau driver with 3D acceleration on a GeForce 9600 GT
Red Hat employee Adam Williamson reports in his his blog that the "Rawhide" development branch of Fedora has recently started to offer basic and experimental 3D support for various NVIDIA graphics chips via the "Nouveau" open source graphics driver recently integrated into the Linux kernel's main development branch. Williamson is responsible for Fedora's quality assurance.

Like the also experimental 3D support for Radeon's series 2000, 3000 and 4000 graphics hardware, the driver software is contained in the mesa-dri-drivers-experimental package, which is not installed by default. This is also where the driver is expected to be found in Fedora 13, which is scheduled for release in early May. According to Williamson, the shell intended for GNOME 3 is not functional yet; but the developer says he successfully managed to run Compiz, Foobillard, Neverball, Quake 3 and Spring. At present the 3D support is apparently far from fast and whether it works appears to be very dependent on the hardware used. Williamson ran his trials on a GeForce 9400 GT but does not mention which NVIDIA GPU generations are supported by the 3D driver software.

When tested briefly by The H's associates in the c't test lab Compiz worked fine with Fedora Rawhide and a GeForce 9600 GT. The Extreme Tuxracer game also worked smoothly and without display problems. However, the Nouveau driver did not activate the ASUS graphic card's fan control – so the card's fan ran constantly at full speed, causing considerable noise.


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