A clarification about (Linux) Mesa / Nouveau Drivers

Two of the subjects which I like to blog about, are direct-rendering and Linux graphics drivers.

Well in This Earlier Posting, I had essentially written, that on the Debian 9 , Debian /Stretch computer I name ‘Plato’, I have the ‘Mesa’ Drivers installed, and that therefore, that computer cannot benefit from OpenCL, massively-parallel GPU-computing.

What may confuse some readers about this is the fact that elsewhere on the Internet, there is speak about ‘Nouveau’ Drivers, but less so about Mesa Drivers.

‘Mesa’, which I referred to, is a Debian set of meta-packages, that is all open-source. It installs several drivers, and selects the drivers based on which graphics hardware we may have. But, because ‘Plato’ does in fact have an nVidia graphics card, the Mesa package automatically selects the Nouveau drivers, which is one of the drivers it contains. Hence, when I wrote about using the Mesa Drivers, I was in fact writing about the Nouveau Drivers.

One of the reasons I have to keep using these Nouveau Drivers, is the fact that presently, ‘Plato’ is extremely stable. There would be some performance-improvements if I was to switch to the proprietary drivers, but making the transition can be a nightmare. It involves black-lists, etc..

Another reason for me to keep using the Nouveau Drivers, is the fact that unlike how it was years ago, today, those drivers support real OpenGL 3, hardware-rendering. Therefore, I’m already getting partial benefit from the hardware-rendering which the graphics card has, while using the open-source driver.

The only two things which I do not get, is OpenCL or CUDA computing capabilities, as Nouveau does not support that. Therefore, anything which I write about that subject, will have to remain theoretical for now.

I suppose that on my laptop ‘Klystron’, because I have the AMD chip-set more-correctly installed, I could be using OpenCL…

Also, ‘Plato’ is not fully a ‘Kanotix’ system. When I installed ‘Plato’, I borrowed a core system from Kanotix, before Kanotix was ready for Debian / Stretch. This means that certain features which Kanotix would normally have, which make it easier to switch between graphics drivers, are not installed on ‘Plato’. And that really makes the idea daunting, to try to switch…



Another Reason, for me Not To Set Up JACK as the Back-End For PulseAudio

According to This Posting, I had written that hypothetically, it might make some sense for me to set up ‘JACK‘ as the back-end, by which ‘PulseAudio‘ sends its sound output, full-time. As opposed to the notion not making sense, to allow a few scripts to do so temporarily, that are being run by the ‘QJackCtl‘ GUI.

Well there is still a reason, why this might not be so. Doing so would be consistent, with setting up a Debian system completely according to our own preferences, and then if something does not work, we are up to our own devices to fix it.

My laptop ‘Klystron’ is a Kanotix / Spitfire system, which is also Debian-based, but in which the exact configuration has been done for me, by the Kanotix team, from their Live Disk (which can actually be written onto a USB-Key). This means that there is an advantage to me, in keeping certain configuration details conform to what the Kanotix people prescribed. If I did run into trouble with it, they would have some chance of maybe suggesting solutions, but only on the assumption that mine is still functioning within their parameters.

The way those parameters are, the current back-end to the PulseAudio sound server is displayed in the GUI as being “gstreamer“, and yet good compatibility with all things ALSA is maintained…

If I was to reconfigure my computers completely, for example because I wanted to change them to use the ‘GNOME desktop manager’ for instance, instead of ‘KDE‘, then the Kanotix team would say ‘Sorry, we are not familiar with the details of your system anymore. Therefore, we cannot help you.’

Yet, more generally, Debian allows deep changes to a configuration.


Continue reading Another Reason, for me Not To Set Up JACK as the Back-End For PulseAudio

Klystron Kernel Update

My Linux laptop named ‘Klystron‘ is still fully subscribed to the “Kanotix” repositories. As the reader may recall, Kanotix is a slightly customized version of Debian Linux, that is KDE-based, and that is maintained by a group of developer-experts who I trust implicitly.

Being subscribed to their specific repositories and configuration details has as one advantage, that periodic kernel updates are fed to me, via package manager.

As I came home from camping yesterday, on July 7, I also rebooted this laptop, and saw that indeed, a kernel update was being offered, which I immediately installed. So that laptop now has kernel version ‘4.4.0-30-generic‘, or so my /boot directory would seem to say.

One problem that I was experiencing with that laptop since before camping, was some subtle WiFi issue which I could no longer pinpoint. I had written, that its ability to use the hardware encryption offered by the (kernel module ‘RTL8723BE’) chip-set seemed to work fine. But there were some other problems with the WiFi.

I would like to be able to report, when and if that issue has been resolved completely. But since Klystron has only been running on kernel version 4.4.0-30-generic for one day, it is still far too soon to call out a victory. I will continue to observe the behavior of that laptop for the next little while, and give further comment on it later. So far its behavior looks good.



One main reason for Choosing Kanotix

A question which many people have asked me, was ‘What is the advantage of choosing Kanotix, over choosing just any generic Debian / Linux OS?’

And an important area in Linux, is hardware recognition. We tend to appreciate it, if we can install a Linux system with little or no mess. And Kanotix users are of the variety, who want to be able to plug in all the latest hardware, and just have it play.

Kanotix does not always ship with the generic, stock Debian kernel, but with a special Kanotix kernel build, that has all the latest drivers in-tree. And it is a bit of a joke which we sometimes make, that even though Windows introduced the concept first, in many cases, Linux can be more plug-and-play than Windows is.

This is especially true for Kanotix.