[ubuntu-x] Unity, LiveCDs, and nVidia

Christopher James Halse Rogers raof at ubuntu.com
Thu Dec 2 05:26:43 GMT 2010

Currently, because we don't ship the nouveau 3D component by default,
users of nVidia hardware will get the classic GNOME 2D experience on
Natty LiveCDs.  Worse, it's difficult to enable the binary drivers on
the LiveCD.

Since nVidia hardware is common this means a large subset of our users
won't be able to test Unity without a physical install.

As I see it, there are two ways to fix this, each with their own fun
1) Ship Nouveau 3D in libgl1-mesa-dri, so 3D works out of the box
2) Make it easy to use the binary drivers on the LiveCD.

Option (1) has the problem that upstream aren't interested in 3D bugs
that don't have patches attached, and we don't have the manpower to
invest.  Most problems we'd encounter would need to be worked-around
with some form of blacklisting.

Option (2) has the problem that it's quite difficult to unload a kms
driver, and few people actually try it, so it's poorly tested.  This
also involves extra LiveCD-specific work.

It seems that we can do either nothing, (1), (2), or both (1) and (2).
Both options seem to me to be independently valuable - I think it would
be useful for users to be able to try out the binary drivers on a
LiveCD, and it would obviously be nice to support 3D by default for
nVidia users.

I think that shipping nouveau 3D is probably reasonable, but something
we should happily back out if it turns out there are significant

I also plan to quickly investigate how precisely how difficult getting
the binary drivers installable on a LiveCD would be.

What opinions or prior investigations do people hold?  Is this
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