My home workplace is slowly and steadily mutating into a never ending story. I do not remember blogging every aspect of it, but after three graphics cards, an even older mainboard and two DVB-S-Cards, my home workplace PC currently does what I expect it to do: Run Debian unstable, drive two 20 inch DVI TFT monitors with 1600x1200 pixels each and receiving DVB-S transmissions. I do not think that these are exaggerated expectations, but it took over three months to find a combination of hardware which will actually do what I want.
The hardest part was finding a AGP graphics card which can drive two DVI monitors with 1600x1200 pixels each. After failing with two different Matrox cards (the G550 not being able to do 1600x1200 pixels if the monitors are connected via DVI), I finally settled on a used GeForce FX 5200. In the beginning, the binary nVidia module didn't hurt as much as I expected. Unfortunately, this rapidly changed with the 2.6.27 Linux kernel.
Unfortunately, the Linux kernel changed its interface with 2.6.27, which stopped the nvidia-kernel-source 173.14.09 from sid from compiling. Contrary to what is told in #500285, the driver doesn't compile on my system even when I clean out /usr/src/modules/nvidia-kernel prior to unpacking the driver .tar.gz.
I already thought that my problem was solved when I noticed nvidia-kernel-source 177.80 in Experimental. The module compiles just fine against kernel 2.6.27, but...
Don't closed source binary-only drivers just suck? I mean, granted, the FX 5200 is a five year old design, but it does its basic office job just fine. So I currently can choose to stick with a legacy kernel of the 2.6.26 series to be able to run the legacy nVidia driver, or can shell out money for a new graphics card and a new mainboard, a new CPU and new memory (since current graphics cards aren't available for AGP any more). Just fine. Sucks.Nov 21 17:30:53 weave kernel: NVRM: The NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 GPU installed in this system is Nov 21 17:30:53 weave kernel: NVRM: supported through the NVIDIA 173.14.xx Legacy drivers. Please Nov 21 17:30:53 weave kernel: NVRM: visit http://www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html for more Nov 21 17:30:53 weave kernel: NVRM: information. The 177.80 NVIDIA driver will ignore Nov 21 17:30:53 weave kernel: NVRM: this GPU. Continuing probe... Nov 21 17:30:53 weave kernel: NVRM: No NVIDIA graphics adapter found!
If I get around to buying a new box, which graphics card manufacturer is to be trusted these days? nVidia is out of the question after my current experiences, Intel doesn't make graphics cards as far as I know, and ATI/AMD? I hear that they have recently seen the light, but are their open source drivers mature enough so that ATI/AMD products can already drive high resolution dual DVI setup? I currently do not care about 3D performance, I just want to push around windows on a flat KDE desktop and to some serious work. All I want is screen real estate and a picture of decent quality. I'd appreciate any hints and comments, and surely hope that there will be some kind of upstream support for the 2.6.26 kernels until I have refitted my home workplace hardware.