Graphics cards

This page contains information about graphics cards and Linux.
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Matrox G400 Max

Drivers

The G400 Max (32MB AGP x4) is a faster version of the G400. The card has dual VGA ports, so you can attach two monitors, or a monitor and a TV.

I use Matrox's own drivers. They are very easy to install. Either use the supplied install script, or just enter the directory corresponding to your version of XFree86/X.org, copy mga_drv.o and mga_hal_drv.o to /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/ and mga_dri.so to /usr/X11R6/lib/modules/dri/. Remember to backup the original files!.

Get my X configuration file: xorg.conf config or the old XF86Config-4 config.

For more information:

Console / Framebuffer

If you would like a console that is large than 640x480, let's say 1600x1200@16bit, or a console on both heads, you need to enable the mga framebuffer driver in the kernel. It can also be used for TV out.

Settings to enable matrox framebuffer console in a 2.6.x kernel:

Device Drivers  --->
    Graphics support  --->
        [*] Support for frame buffer devices
	<*>   Matrox acceleration
	[*]     G100/G200/G400/G450/G550 support
	<M>     Matrox I2C support
	<M>       G400 second head support
	Console display driver support  --->
	    <*> Framebuffer Console support
Code listing 2.1
Then add this to your bootloader config, example for lilo: /etc/lilo.config:
append="video=matroxfb:vesa:0x11C"
# Use matrox instead of matroxfb if you are using a 2.4.x kernel 
Code listing 2.2
This will enable a 1600x1200 16bit color console. Remember to run /sbin/lilo -v

For more information:

  • /usr/src/linux/Documentation/fb/matroxfb.txt for a full list of supported framebuffer modes.
  • What is a framebuffer device?: Framebuffer HOWTO

TV out

There are 3 ways to achieve TV out on the Matrox G400 Max: The two first options gives the best result. You will get accelerated video output and a picture that fills the entire TV screen. To get this working follow these steps:

First configure the kernel to support the Matrox framebuffer, as described above. Connect your TV to the second head, using the VGA to S-Video/composite adaptor that came with the G400Max.

I have created a small script which loads the modules, configures TV out for the second head, and sets the resolution to 720x576. See below for links to matroxset and fbset.
#!/bin/bash
modprobe i2c-matroxfb
#modprobe matroxfb_proc # only needed for kernel 2.4.x
#modprobe matroxfb_crtc2 # only needed for kernel 2.4.x
modprobe matroxfb_maven

matroxset -f /dev/fb1 -m 0
matroxset -f /dev/fb0 -m 0
matroxset -f /dev/fb0 -m 3

matroxset -o 1 1 # Sets the output to pal, ntsc users should use -o 1 2

# Set the resolution to 720x576
fbset -fb /dev/fb0 -left 18 -right 0 -upper 39 -lower 10 -hslen 46 \ 
-vslen 4 -xres 720 -yres 576 -vxres 720 -vyres 576 -depth 32 \ 
-laced false -bcast true
Code listing 2.3
You might have trouble with the image not fitting the screen, read man fbset, and try fbset -move right or left/down/up.

If you get a corrupted / messed up image, try to switch console (Alt+F2) and back again (Alt+F1). It helped to add "nopan" to the append line in lilo.conf

The next step is only necessary if you want to the X server running on the framebuffer, and thereby getting the X server cloned to the TV screen.

The third way is to use cloned X. While this is fairly easy to set up, it does not have many features. You will not get accelerated video, and no overscan, that is: the image on the TV will not fill the entire screen. But if you want to try, read my instructions on how to clone X

For more information:

  • matroxset (If the one with MPlayer does not compile)
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Asus v9180 SE/T

Drivers

The Asus v9180 SE/T is a GeForce4 MX440 board with one vga, one S-VHS and one composite output connector.

I use Nvidias's own drivers, the Open Source driver "nv" does sadly not support XV or direct rendering :(. In Gentoo Linux, just emerge nvidia-kernel nvidia-glx.

Furthermore the graphics card supports XvMC (X Video Motion Compensation) for more information about XvMC check out the Tips and Tweaks: Video playback part of my Home Theater PC page.

For more information:

TV out

The graphics card is connected to my 25" Sony TV via an S-VHS to scart cable from Tech-link. The graphics card detects that it is connected to a TV, so I get BIOS and console output on the TV. See the previous section for my xorg.conf

To tweak the settings, e.g. overscan, color, of the display, I recommend nvidia-settings, it is in portage

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Sapphire Radeon x1300

Drivers

The Sapphire Radeon x1300 uses ATI's new x1300 chip and provides one vga, one S-VHS and one DVI-I output connector.

ATI has finally decided that we are worthy to get some drivers for Linux that support this card (Waiting for drivers for over 5 months is fun... NOT!)

The card is supported by ATI's driver version 8.25.18 and newer.

For more information:

Image quality

The main reason for buying a graphics card based on a ATI chip, was to get a graphics card with good image quality. I'm not talking 3D rendering quality, but image quality e.g. is the picture sharp, has nice bright colors and no "defects" like dark spots or weird lines or anything like that. And I can only say that the Sapphire Radeon x1300 delivers perfect image quality. Not only does it match the image quality of my old Maxtro G400 but it also surpasses it.

Driver quality

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