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Graphics Be Open Source Software Upgrades X Hardware BSD Linux

Linux Support Fades For 3Dfx Voodoo, Rage 128, VIA 330

Posted by timothy
from the this-way-to-the-ice-floe-folks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The developers behind the Mesa 3D graphics library, which provides the default graphics driver support for most hardware on Linux (and BSD/Solaris), has ended their support for older hardware. Being removed from Mesa (and therefore versions of Linux distributions) is support for hardware like the 3Dfx Voodoo, Intel i810, ATI Rage, and S3 Savage graphics processors. Also drivers being dropped were for Matrox and VIA graphics. Mesa developers also decided it's time to end support for the BeOS operating system. Dropping this code lowered the developers' responsibility by some 100k L.O.C., so maybe we will see GL3 support and OpenCL in Linux a bit sooner."
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Linux Support Fades For 3Dfx Voodoo, Rage 128, VIA

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  • by hendrikboom (1001110) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:38AM (#37227722)

    Sounds like it's time for a legacy fork for old machines. Or maybe just keeping old versions alive, the way Linux distros do with other libraries.

    -- hendrik
     

    • by Hatta (162192)

      That would be nice. This hardware is still common, easily available, and has life in it yet if there is software support. It doesn't take much to run Open Arena.

      • OTOH, if you're still running a 3DFX VooDoo 2, you're probably not using it for gaming. It still works in VESA modes, and still works as a video card for 2D applications, it's just 3D accelerated modes that won't be supported any more. I have a server that still has an ATi Mach32 in it, and it works no problem, even though it's a much older card than the lot that's being dropped now.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The Voodoo 2 was exclusively for 3D acceleration and had to be used in conjunction with a separate 2D graphics card. It's only use was gaming/3D rendering so it most defiantly won't work as a video card for 2D applications.

          • Are you sure? I distinctly remember plugging voodoo 1 into my matrox card with a pass-through cable to play Lara Croft, but I thought they move on from this scheme in subsequent models.
    • by Aspen (70029) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:53AM (#37227832) Homepage

      Not sure that makes sense...from the article: "Code that was mostly unmaintained and didn't receive new feature support work in years." The volunteers already quit working on it years ago: this is just being honest about it.

      Want to keep using the hardware? Just keep using the 7.11 release.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @12:06PM (#37227924) Homepage

      I agree, but I'd love to see someone (with time, experience, and more knowledge than I) take it a step further: A Linux distro to work on ancient machines, with the latest feasible versions of software.

      When I volunteered in Africa in 2009, one of my projects was to set up a computer lab, populated with donated machines. These computers were old. The newest one was manufactured in 2003. The oldest was 1997. I ended up installing Ubuntu and Edubuntu, then stripped down the core as much as I could while still keeping things clean. The machines still take several minutes to boot fully.

      What I'd love would be a distro designed for just such situations. On install, it would determine what kind of hardware you have available, and only install things that will work well. Support for really old hardware would be patched in for the distro, probably with only major bugs receiving repair attention. If a package isn't likely to run well on your system, it will alert you before installing.

      • was the problem with the new software that it used too much RAM and CPU?

        or was the problem that it didnt support old hardware graphics drivers?

        those are two massively different problems.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)
          Both. We had one machine whose video card was entirely unsupported, and had to run the bare-minimum vesa driver. It ended up being used for parts to upgrade other machines so they could boot.
      • Ubuntu was a poor choice of distribution; it wants to install a default desktop and to simplify installation by making assumptions (including assuming you have a relatively modern machine). Debian would've been a better choice. You could've started with a very stripped down package selection (including passing on having an X server) without much difficulty.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)
          I chose Ubuntu mainly because of the Edubuntu package, and ease of installation. This was a school in rural Africa, and I was the first volunteer they'd had with a significant technology background. The nearest "computer repair technician" was a 2-hour ride away in a shared taxi, and he only knew Windows. I needed something that, if something went badly wrong, American volunteers could reinstall if needed, following a set of instructions I left. Drop in an Ubuntu disk and install, then drop in an Edubuntu d
        • Peppermint or Puppy would also have been good choices. They aim (especially Puppy) to be a simple, but very lightweight distros. Puppy feels a little foreign because of the WM it uses, but Peppermint feels natural to this Gnome user even tho its not using Gnome. Everything feels intuitive, and very fast.

      • by tqk (413719)

        I ended up installing Ubuntu and Edubuntu, then stripped down the core as much as I could while still keeping things clean. The machines still take several minutes to boot fully.

        In my experience, it's not the speed of the processor that makes an old machine feel old. It's more a combination of not enough RAM and/or slow disk. Beef those up and do a minimal install, then apt-get install everything you want. Regardless of cpu (within reason :-), it'll be more than capable of keeping up.

        I just abandoned an old Sun U30 (ca. '99), not because it wasn't fast enough, but because it weighed a ton. It was perfectly capable of running Linux and OpenBSD.

        As for forks for old machines, there

        • by Sarten-X (1102295)
          If Lubuntu had existed as a standalone disk when I'd gone over, I'd have used that. One of the project requirements was that the system look & act as much like Windows as possible (I blame the government, but that's a rather long rant in itself that I'll only go into by request), so Xfce was out of the question. I had planned on using Kubuntu, but that didn't work for some reason (which I now forget), so I ended up running GNOME, with the panels customized to look like Windows. It sucked, but it was the
      • For REALLY old machines (2003 and prior), Puppy linux works wonders. Entire distro is under 100m, and the OS boots entirely to RAM even on a machine with under 100MB of ram.

        Someone tasked me with getting a 98-2000 (i think) laptop set up and useable, so I put puppy on there and installed Opera browser (with is also wonderful for such old, crappy machines). The thing worked pretty darn good for 96MB of ram and a Pentium 2 (or whever awful processor it had). The alternative, of course-- Windows ME (what it

      • by Aighearach (97333)

        Normally I run fedora, but when I was turning a 90s comp into a router a couple years ago I dropped a new-ish debian on it, and everything worked just great. It's a fake problem. The problem is choosing distros like Ubuntu when you should be choosing a more... server oriented distro for old comps.

    • Sounds like it's time for a legacy fork for old machines. Or maybe just keeping old versions alive, the way Linux distros do with other libraries.

      Or you can just run Debian Stable

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Plombo (1914028)
      There's no need for a fork. If anyone shows an interest in making one of the old drivers compatible with the current driver interface (there were some recent driver API changes in texture mapping) and maintain it, then it will be added back to the Mesa tree as long as it's maintained and doesn't stay broken.
  • by Megaweapon (25185) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:40AM (#37227740) Homepage

    This is news? Trimming out old cruft from a source code tree isn't a big deal.

    • by 3vi1 (544505)

      Seriously. If your using 13-year old cards in your system, you're probably not running the latest software anyway.

      And, since it's open source - you're free to keep compiling in support on your own. It's not like it's Windows where you would be SOL when a manufacturer doesn't release a driver compiled for the latest x-bit version processor.

      • Re:...And? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by canajin56 (660655) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @12:07PM (#37227930)
        Not running the latest software? Doom 3 running on a Voodoo 2 [3dfxzone.it] ;)
        • That's actually pretty damned cool! However, Doom 3 still doesn't count as "latest software". Still neat to see someone got a very stripped down version of the game running on a Voodoo2 though.
        • It was released in 2004, 7 years ago. If that's the most recent thing you can show running (never mind the really nasty hacks necessary to make it run) well that just furthers his point: You aren't running modern software.

      • by timeOday (582209)

        Seriously. If your using 13-year old cards in your system, you're probably not running the latest software anyway.

        In today's networked world there unfortunately isn't much choice but to stay on the software upgrade treadmill. I could imagine using an unpatched box as an X terminal with no direct link to the internet (not even running a browser locally), but nothing more.

        As for maintaining your own graphics driver, keeping up with the evolution of Xorg and OpenGL and the kernel, good luck with that. (W

        • In today's networked world there unfortunately isn't much choice but to stay on the software upgrade treadmill/quote?
          Explain to me why Win2k with Opera 10.5 would be insufficient to browse the web?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kylemonger (686302)

            Explain to me why Win2k with Opera 10.5 would be insufficient to browse the web?

            It would become part of a botnet within hours, that's why. Once your OS and web browser stop getting security updates, the clock starts ticking on the bad guys finding some unpatched vulnerability and your wandering into some trap they've set for you on the net.

      • I actually have a high-end server, built in the last year, that's using an ATi Mach32 video card. That's a 20-year old video card in a system that's less than a year old. It works great in text mode... if I *wanted* to run it in graphics mode/X I would be able to, as the card supports VESA. You don't need a dedicated driver to use VESA, as VESA is itself a standardised driver that is not being removed from Linux any time soon.

      • by Lanteran (1883836)

        Wrong. I've got a Pentium III machine with a R128, with the latest version of gentoo installed. Which of course, as you pointed out, will mean I just compile in support, it's no big deal, but people are still running old hardware with modern distributions.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        If your using 13-year old cards in your system, you're probably not running the latest software anyway.

        The complete wrongness of your absolutely foolish assertion is demonstrated by the fact that I run up-to-date Lubuntu on an 8 year old Sharp Actius AV18 (laptop w/ 768MB RAM and ProSavage8 video). Chrome and AbiWord are very responsive.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Well, to be fair, how often does a project cut 100k Libraries of Congress out of their product.

    • by chill (34294)

      I just bought a brand new Matrox graphics card last month to handle 4-8 simultaneous displays.

      I need to see if the support is provided by the MGA driver they are now dropping, or there is a newer driver with a different name.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:42AM (#37227754) Homepage Journal

    Matrox!?!

    I still use this card for dual- head support on my P100.

    Maybe the resources freed by the team can be used in providing support for Elite/Impact framebuffers on classic SGI Indigo?

    I will consider that an exchange worth making.

  • Only 3D (Score:5, Informative)

    by Randle_Revar (229304) <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:46AM (#37227782) Homepage Journal

    Xorg support for these cards isn't going away anytime soon though.

  • Mesa developers also decided it's time to end support for the BeOS operating system.

    One of Adam Jackson's fixes to X was "glx: unifdef BEOS_THREADS"

  • Nope, not using any machine with such graphics cards anymore.

    I'm replaying some games from that era though. With wine and my modern NVidia card. These games work better in wine than Win7 can run them, if I have to believe the info about these games online.

  • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @11:58AM (#37227864) Homepage

    OpenCL in Linux

    I do believe that support for OpenCL in Linux is in the best interest of the GPGPU manufacturers(AMD, nVidia). Because Linux based HPC systems dominate the market and Windows ain't going to unseat Linux anytime soon. Thus you might not have all the features of the 3D stack, however OpenCL is definitely something fully implemented by AMD and nVidia.

  • it's cheaper to just buy a new machine to use for a home server than pay for the electricity hogged up by old hardware

    • Why would you need 3D graphics support for a home server?

      Then again, why would you use an OS that required X at all for a home server? Just avoid the 'Windows Tailpipe Fume Chasing' options that insist that configuration has to be done using X11. NetBSD is a good option, for instance.

      • Just avoid the 'Windows Tailpipe Fume Chasing' options that insist that configuration has to be done using X11.

        Generally I agree with the idea that bash is better (I wince when IBM devs tell me I need to fire up the AIX GUI to run configuration; I'll take smitty, thanks); but there ARE things that are done far better through a GUI, or are much easier at 2 in the morning when you just for example want to create a new user in Active directory and you dont want to have to type out the full AD path to the OU where you want the user.

        Whats that old saying about hammers and seeing everything as a nail?

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @12:29PM (#37228072) Homepage

      My home server, built in 1999, runs at a maximum of 80W. That means it takes 2 kW (about $0.20) per day, at most. For about $500 I could build a machine [kampmeier.com] that draws 20W, for a monetary savings of about $0.15 per day. In about 10 years, I could break even on what I spent on the new server, but by then, the hardware would be 10 years old again. What I have serves my purposes.

      • And 10 years from now, you'll have a machine 10 yrs old instead of 20 years old for the same price. I don't know why you think keeping that old hardware (10 yrs less reliable and less in performance for future upscaling of your needs) makes sense.
        • by Sarten-X (1102295)
          My needs (mostly just SSH and a web server) haven't upscaled in 5 years. I doubt they will in another 5, and if I want to get something bigger then, I can. Until then, my $500 is sitting in a bank account earning interest that nearly offsets the cost of electricity itself. As for reliability, every moving part in the case (except the hard drive) is original, and in near-perfect condition. Non-moving parts don't really wear out. I don't know why you think replacing something just because it's old makes sense
      • Yes, but it's absurd to spend $500 on that. VIA is an expensive brand, and if a '99 drive is enough for you, why go for an SSD?

        This /. thread [slashdot.org] has some great suggestions, many of them much cheaper than that.

        Oh, and have you accounted for electricity price hikes? I don't know about yours, but here it climbs steadily over the years.

    • by metamatic (202216)

      Except they're dropping support for VIA Unichrome, such as the low power VIA EPIA series. My M10000 only uses 10W of power.

    • by cpghost (719344)

      it's cheaper to just buy a new machine to use for a home server than pay for the electricity hogged up by old hardware

      Tell that people who run non-x86 architectures (like, say, SPARC, PowerPC, etc...) for all kinds of reasons. And before you ask why we don't just migrate to x86, remember that quality OSS software also depends on us testing it on non mainstream arches, uncovering a lot of obscure bugs that you x86-only guys won't trigger at all, but that are still there, lurking.

  • Mozilla syndrome? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Compuser (14899)

    This does not seem like a healthy trend.

    • by wagnerrp (1305589)
      Removing 3D support for cards last manufactured before Mozilla even existed is unhealthy?
    • What the heck is Mozilla syndrome? What does Mozillas new software development model even have to do with a decision in Linux not to support ancient hardware?

  • Already broken (Score:3, Informative)

    by Plombo (1914028) on Saturday August 27, 2011 @12:43PM (#37228158)
    Most or all of these drivers were already broken because no one cared enough to maintain them or even test them from time to time. Anyone who needs the old drivers can compile out an older version of Mesa from git and run that. Which they already had to do.

    It was also said that if someone comes along who is actually interested in maintaining one of the removed drivers, that the driver would be restored to the source tree.

    Nothing to see here, move along.
  • I remember buying my first "real" 3d card. It was an ATI Rage Fury 128. It had a whopping 32 megs of memory. And shitty ass drivers. Good times, good times...

    • by djlemma (1053860)
      I got you beat. I bought a Diamond Edge 3D card for the first computer I ever assembled. It turned out to be a colossally bad idea, never realized how bad lack of drivers could be.

      I don't even know how much memory the thing had, I think maybe 2MB, which was a lot at the time. And now, I feel old.
  • by jimicus (737525)

    I've thought for some time that the "you can run it on ancient hardware that Windows doesn't support" is a terrible argument in favour of Linux (and F/OSS in general) for a couple of reasons:

    1. Software that needs to care about the hardware (such as the Linux kernel or the Mesa library) is not exempt from this being a fast-moving industry, and updating drivers is not without cost in terms of effort. Effort that could be better spent elsewhere.
    2. I think it hurts credibility to say "Support for more hardware

  • The i810 was used in systems and cards much more recently than the 3dfx cards mentioned, for that matter 3dfx ceased to exist prior to many of the cards and systems that came out with i810 chips.

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