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23 December 2008, 16:20

Phoronix surveys Linux graphics

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The Linux site Phoronix has published the results from its 2008 Linux Graphics Survey. The survey of 14,000 Linux users asked questions about versions, graphics cards, drivers and applications used. More than half the respondents use 7.4, which was released in late September and is part of the current releases of Ubuntu, Fedora and OpenSuse. Over a quarter, 27.5 per cent, rely on the previous 7.3. Nearly forty per cent of respondents say they use their system as a video player, while a little over twenty two per cent say gaming.

Among the hardware, the Linux users favourite brand is Nvidia (41 per cent), followed by ATI/AMD (32.24 per cent) and Intel (21.88 per cent) with Matrox, Via and SIS/XGI picking up the remaining 6 per cent. A majority of those surveyed, over 60 per cent, got their graphics drivers from their distributions repositories, while a quarter of them went directly to the manufacturers web site. A compositing window manager was used by over half the users, with Compiz/Compiz Fusion being used by 43 per cent and 15 per cent using KWin, but over a third of users don't use the 3D effects.

When asked about the developments that most interested them in, a majority of users were interested in Kernel Based Mode Setting (KMS), a technique in which the kernel takes control of the video system early in the boot process, setting an appropriate screen resolution and taking over work which would normally be done by drivers. KMS support is included in the main development branch, at least for Intel hardware, and planned for Linux 2.6.29 with KMS support for ATI/AMD and Nvidia graphics (via the Nouveau driver) being introduced later.

Many of the survey participants look forward to improvements in playing video files. Beyond open source developments such as XvMC, X-Video Motion Compensation which is not supported by all X.orf drivers, the users are looking to proprietary drivers. Nvidia have introduced their HD video acceleration API, VDPAU, (Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix) while ATI/AMD have their alternative XvBA (X-video Bitstream Acceleration). In third place for interest, with twenty per cent, was DRI2 which was due to appear in X Server 1.5/ 7.4, but has been deferred to X Server 1.6, due next month.

Over forty per cent of users were hands on and used a text editor to edit the xorg.conf configuration file, while a third use a graphical tool such as nvidia-settings or system-config-display. Almost fifteen per cent use the RandR configuration mechanisms. Most important features for the surveyed users were multi-monitor support, TV-Out and GPU power saving modes. For eleven per cent of the users, it was important that the driver used was open source.


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