Tuesday, April 28, 2009

why you should avoid putting Ubuntu Jaunty on a t60p

I excitedly installed the newest version of Ubuntu on my t60p and found out the following unfortunate facts.

1) The t60p (and many other tSeries laptops) have the Mobility FireGL V5250 video card
2) Catalyst (ATI driver) delayed the delivery of the 9.3 driver to cram as much function into it as they could. The reason they did this was because 9.3 was the final driver to support the Mobility FireGL V5250 video card along with a plethora of other cards. (Full list of unsupported cards here)
3) Ubuntu Jaunty makes use of xorg-xserver 1.6 which only supports the 9.4+ version of the Catalyst ATI driver

All this ends up meaning that the warning Jaunty throws when you try to update with an Mobility FireGL V5250 video card means a lot more than there will be degraded graphics after the update. The only driver that will work with xorg-xserver 1.6 is the Radeon opensource driver for ATI cards.

I'm a big fan of opensource, but the Radeon driver are just not ready for primetime. There is no 2d acceleration which means all the compositing and pretty graphics are gone. Since switching to Jaunty and the Radeon drivers I've noticed a serious drop in performance doing standard things like moving windows and switching desktops.

On the upside: moving away from the Catalyst drivers (fglrx) re-enabled suspend / resume on my laptop. I've also started using fluxbox again (http://www.fluxbox.org).

The only noticeable update from Ibex to Jaunty has been the network manager and the new libnotify. The NetworkManager does a pretty good job of making sure I'm connected anyway it can connect me. The new libnotify insert message snippets into the pidgin and xchat notifications I get (which is nice).

If you are happy with Ibex, stay with Ibex until the radeon driver improves or someone backports support for the Catalyst 9.3 fglrx driver into xorg-xserver 1.6.


spi said...

I got lucky and my T61p has an NVidia card. Other than that Jaunty doesn't have anything that major for me since suspend and wireless worked fairly well in Intrepid.

iblearning said...

I suppose I should call that out as well. Nvidia and Intel graphics cards are fine.

Brian said...

Well that's unfortunate... that's not exactly an old laptop! I'm surprised you don't have 2d acceleration with the open-source radeon driver though.. apparently that card is RV530-based, and according to this page, 2d as well as 3d acceleration should be supported...

iblearning said...

I took another look and xdpyinfo lists GLX and DRI2 as loaded extensions.

glxinfo lists direct rendering as enabled but any sort of compositing is unusably slow.

I'm going to check out that page and see if there isn't some tweaking that can be done. Look for a new post if I come up with something (and if you have any other pointers I'd be happy to check them out)

Brian said...

Hm, so glxgears gives a good frame rate (e.g. >1000 fps)?

If you don't have it, you could try adding the "AccelMethod" "exa" option to your xorg.conf. Or possibly try using the radeonhd driver instead.

That's all I can think of...