[ubuntu-x] Unity, LiveCDs, and nVidia

Bryce Harrington bryce at canonical.com
Thu Dec 2 07:50:26 GMT 2010

On Thu, Dec 02, 2010 at 04:26:43PM +1100, Christopher James Halse Rogers wrote:
> 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.
> What opinions or prior investigations do people hold?  Is this
> reasonable?

Well, as we've been given the direction that we're moving towards a
wayland-ish future where KMS will be a hard requirement, then as long as
we do not see plans made public for adding KMS support to the binary
drivers, it seems that investments into infrastructure around binary
drivers is going to have a limited payoff.

On the other hand, time invested in nouveau 3d support would pay off
long into the future.

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

I agree, although often it's hard for us to tell that the problems are
significant enough to warrant reverting it, especially after we've spent
all the time getting it all *in*.  :-)  There's a strong desire to push

A complication is that our developers by and large have learned to stick
with -intel, especially during the development period, so we tend to get
limited testing feedback on drivers for NVIDIA hardware.

And a further complication is that the types of bugs we'd expect to see
would cause the LiveCD to fail to boot.  Even if we could get patches
for the issues, we wouldn't be able to SRU them.  (Well, we could, but
it'd be closing the barn door after the horse escaped.)

The mitigation for this is to maybe do organized testing like we've done
with mesa in the past, and have a measurable criteria that determines
go/no-go rather than using gut feel.

Probably also ensuring the failure mode is gentle and that the user is
able to switch from using 3d to 2d reasonably easily.  (Will failsafe-X
work in this situation?)


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