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GNOME GUI Graphics Red Hat Software Hardware Technology

GNOME Shell No Longer Requires GPU Acceleration 237

Posted by timothy
from the mutter-mutter-mutter-harumph dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The GNOME 3.0 Shell with the Mutter window manager no longer requires GPU acceleration to work, while still retaining the compositing window manager and OpenGL support. GNOME Shell can now work entirely on the CPU using the LLVM compiler via the Gallium3D LLVMpipe driver. This will be another change to Fedora 17 to no longer depend upon the GNOME3 fall-back, which is expected to eventually be deprecated and further anger GNOME2 fans."
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GNOME Shell No Longer Requires GPU Acceleration

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  • by masternerdguy (2468142) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @03:33PM (#37967378)
    Is slow. I'm not sure that this is an advantage.
    • by stms (1132653)

      The advantage is if your GPU is unsupported by your distro, not on the live disk or, otherwise not working you can get video acceleration working without having to muck about in the command line.

    • by TD-Linux (1295697) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @04:35PM (#37967876)
      Meh, the compositor has to draw the pixels, one way or another. KDE has two backends, XRender and OpenGL. If acceleration isn't available, the XRender backend can still run in software, and is pretty fast. KDE also supports no compositing at all, but with software compositing it's becoming irrelevant.

      Note that compositing != GPU acceleration. Mac OS X has always used compositing, but it was entirely software. There are still good reasons to do so. I'll compare for you:

      No compositing, one frontbuffer: You don't get your own pixmap to draw onto. You have to send drawing commands to the display server to draw on your behalf, to prevent you from drawing wherever you want on the frontbuffer. Unfortunately, if you have something complicated to draw, the user gets to watch as the drawing happens. When drawing a new object, generally the algorithm used is to draw the background, and then draw the objects in order from back to front. This means whenever the screen is updated, the user will see flicker whenever any objects are updated because they may briefly flicker to the background color. To work around this most modern toolkits (Qt 4, GTK 3) render to a pixmap, and then just tell X to draw their pixmap when they are done. This avoids the flicker but uses a bit more RAM.

      With a compositor, the application still draws to the pixmap, but instead of requesting the X server to immediately draw their pixmap to the screen, they pass it a handle to the pixmap and the display server can draw it whenever. This makes a lot of things easier, like vertical sync and effects, as well as things like color format and color space conversion.

      Drawing the pixmap on the screen is really the same operations, no matter if compositing is on or off. And the API your compositor uses shouldn't matter too much either if the underlying implementation is optimized. The highly optimized Gallium3D blitter is going to just as good as the traditional X blitter, if not better. The only thing slowing it down in this case is the fact that OpenGL API is rather overkill for blitting, but hopefully the llvmpipe backend is optimized for this use case. And it's probably not worth it to make the compositor support two drawing APIs, like KDE, as they both end up doing the same thing anyway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No compositing, one frontbuffer: You don't get your own pixmap to draw onto. You have to send drawing commands to the display server to draw on your behalf, to prevent you from drawing wherever you want on the frontbuffer. Unfortunately, if you have something complicated to draw, the user gets to watch as the drawing happens. When drawing a new object, generally the algorithm used is to draw the background, and then draw the objects in order from back to front. This means whenever the screen is updated, the user will see flicker whenever any objects are updated because they may briefly flicker to the background color. To work around this most modern toolkits (Qt 4, GTK 3) render to a pixmap, and then just tell X to draw their pixmap when they are done. This avoids the flicker but uses a bit more RAM.

        This is a bullshit way to look at it. You are confusing compositing, backingstores and backbuffers.

        Compositing means to have a procedural transformation from a window pixel to a screen pixel, and allows you to do such things as transparency and 3D windows, it implies nothing of whether or not the window pixels are cached (Backing store). Basically anything besides 1->1 blitting of pixels from window coordinates to screen coordinates is compositing.

        Backing stores, enabled in X11 with the +bs option and ma

    • by Waccoon (1186667)

      Sometimes it just has to work, and you don't care how fast it is. You might as well insist that Linux must have a swap partition instead of a swap file.

      I wish Microsoft had put a DOS emulator into Windows a long time ago. Then we would have never gotten ME, and we wouldn't have XP Mode today.

  • by LizardKing (5245) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @03:42PM (#37967456)
    Oh for fucks sake. I've just switched the wife's laptop from Ubuntu 11.10 to the beta of Fedora 16, since unlike that Unity bollocks at least the GNOME shell has the "fallback" mode that turns it back into something usable.
    • Why didn't you just install a replacement instead? Oh well, it's your time. But if you know how to install two different distros, I don't see why you can't just install another DE in a fraction of the time.

      I am wondering how much of the Unity bashing is actually real.

    • by pavon (30274) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @03:59PM (#37967598)

      The summary is a troll (as is typical for slashdot). Gnome 2 is still included in Fedora 17. The only difference is that if you have selected Gnome 3 for your desktop (which is default), and GPU acceleration isn't working, it will now fallback to unaccelerated Gnome 3 rather than Gnome 2. Regardless of your opinion of Gnome 3, this just makes sense; it would be much more confusing to get a completely different desktop than you were expecting just because your video drivers got borked. Not to mention it is wasteful to have to install Gnome 2 as a fallback if you want to use Gnome 3.

    • by joe_cot (1011355)
      So does Ubuntu, it's just hidden. "sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback", then choose Ubuntu classic from the login menu.
  • by nadaou (535365) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @04:00PM (#37967606) Homepage

    thank goodness for xubuntu and lubuntu! kubuntu too... the linux-for-OS-refugees world still has some shining lights.

    • by houghi (78078)

      I use openSUSE where I install XFCE from the DVD. I still use various GNOME and KDE programs as well as others.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        That's something I wish somebody would deal with. I always, always, always end up with at least one Gnome app on a KDE install or 1 KDE app on a Gnome install requiring me to have a lot of libraries installed for just one app.

        • by fnj (64210)

          So fucking what? What harm does that do? It's not like the code path is ever going to get exercised except in the cases where you need it.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            You mean aside from bloating up the system and being that much more code that I have to recompile when I'm recompiling my software packages? It also happens to be that many more lines of code where there can be a potential vulnerability hiding. Not that I think it's particularly likely, but you never know.

  • this would be nice (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tyrannosaur (2485772) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @04:16PM (#37967732)
    if gnome shell were actually nice. I'm with Torvalds; switched to XFCE
    • by EasyTarget (43516) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @04:25PM (#37967800) Journal

      It's the way the Gnome3 devs are all working against each other that really sucks.

      You have a half-incomplete tablet UI allied to a half-incomplete laptop UI both of which get on the tits of desktop users;
      - and my feeling of 'at least they are going somewhere different and interesting' has evaporated now I see Gnome 3.2 is identical to 3,0 in every single cockup. Only one of the real UI problems has been addressed; and more ill-considered and contradictory decisions have been imposed on us.

  • This is great news! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Etherized (1038092) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @04:19PM (#37967750)

    I know there's a lot of resistance to GNOME Shell, but it's clearly the future of GNOME (like it or not) and the weird non-3d degraded mode that you get with GNOME 3 + no 3d is something that's not really fit for anybody.

    Personally, I really like GNOME Shell and I'm glad to see that it will be supported on older hardware. I always found the decision to completely ignore this hardware to be questionable and damaging to Shell's adoption rate (as if it wasn't going to have a hard enough time to begin with). Surely they could have provided a similar UX without the eye candy for older systems - at least now we have a workaround!

    • I'm curious, because I guess I don't understand Slashdot's moderation system, why did I get moderated -1 troll? I was not intending to troll anybody.

  • by Jack Malmostoso (899729) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @04:23PM (#37967782)

    Debian Sid introduced Gnome 3 a couple of weeks ago and I had a bit of a tough time to come to terms with it, but now I have reached a good compromise by installing tint2 and the alternate menu extension (which basically brings back the switch off menu item).
    I'm rather pleased with this setup and the only thing I am really missing are a couple of applets, but nothing major.

    Or, as other have said, XFCE is a great alternative, especially if you NEED external outputs (which gnome-shell still miserably fails to manage properly).

  • It's about time... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zephiris (788562) on Sunday November 06, 2011 @04:46PM (#37967964)

    It's about time Slashdot stops accepting 'blogspam' links, such as Phoronix, instead of attributing the actual source itself. Phoronix didn't solve this, a developer did.
    A badly written Slash summary (and 'article') which just links twice to the same braindead Phoronix article (which itself is a several day old duplicate) is bad. Very bad.

    Dredged from the bottom of Phoronix:
    Mailing list post: http://lists.fedoraproject.org/pipermail/devel/2011-November/158976.html [fedoraproject.org]
    Fedora 17 feature point: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Features/Gnome_shell_software_rendering [fedoraproject.org]

    Personally, I have little doubt that the "anonymous reader" is Michael Larabel himself.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      Yeah, it's hard to stay "anonymous" when his stilted writing style sticks out like a baboon's arse.

  • by msevior (145103) on Monday November 07, 2011 @01:07AM (#37970684)

    There is a hell of a lot of whining about GNOME 3 here. I'm a free software developer of desktop software (AbiWord). I personally like GNOME 3 and its approach to do a new take on how best to present a computer interface to users. I also maintain systems for my mother and daughter who are definitely not computer geeks. They're both impressed and comfortable with GNOME 3.

    So my extremely small sample imply that GNOME 3 is a good step. For the computers geeks out there there a plenty of alternatives. Find the one that works for you.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      there was a time when the average user (not geek) could handle a windows 95 esque desktop without a problem.. this further dumbing down into desktop-lite/tablet non-functionality is not helping anyone, geek or not. it just makes everyone more dependent on the nascent multivendor closed garden takover of the internet.

  • I'm still in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. I fear this thing called Gnome 3 that I'm going to have to install in the LTS. Can any either write up or point me towards a good informative write-up what exactly the biggest differences are which a Gnome 2 user might find confusing or annoying?

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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