Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fun with NVIDIA driver

I have a Sun W2100z running Solaris. It's a fantastic machine, but the graphics has never been too hot. It's got the entry level graphics card - an NVS 280 if I remember correctly - and I've been using the bundled nv driver as I wasn't aware that the accelerated driver could do much better.

I was trying to get DVD playback to work, and gxine seems to work (after I had built and installed libdvdcss), but was rather slow and I noticed that Xorg seemed to be pegging a whole cpu. In addition, it might be neat to get Looking Glass to work.

So I ambled over to NVIDIA and their Solaris Driver downloads, and noticed that my graphics card was listed as one of those supported. I downloaded and installed the latest version (9764), and that didn't work. I get an error message as it boots that seems to be from the nvidia driver, but then the system immediately reboots. Not good. (I went into failsafe from the grub menu and used pkgrm to delete the two packages to recover.)

Then I had a look in the forums and noticed a message about a legacy release (9631). Now, it doesn't really explain what the legacy release is in this case (the information on the download page about legacy releases applies to Linux), and there isn't a link to the legacy release on the download page itself, but to cut a long story short - the 9631 legacy release works fine on my entry level box. DVD playback is a bit smoother, although still not brilliant, but the cpu load is pretty negligible compared to before.

If you, like me, have an entry-level W2100z with an NVS280 graphics card, then you may be advised to use the NVIDIA legacy driver rather than the latest and greatest.


Tomasz said...

Open Source 3D driver for nVidia card has been included in main Xorg source and will be part of 7.3 release. So acceleration will be in Solaris after merge of Xorg sources.

Anonymous said...

boot into single user mode and run nvidia-xconfig which will create xorg.conf in /etc/X11.

I have a w1100z and the official driver at the time used to lock up my system randomly occasionally, but usually within 15 minutes. Even using the beta driver from nzone (as recommended by Sun, as i had raised a support case) didn't help. nzone link
Version was 1.0-9742.

Note, i was on Solaris 10 6/06.... previously my system was fine until i installed that 6/06 release. Now i am on OpenSolaris Nevada build 53 and it ships with nVidia driver version 1.0-9629. Everything works fine. I haven't tried 11/06 yet, but given my system works fine i don't know if i will bother.
you can email me: peter at loved dot com if you want a copy of my xorg.conf. I run two Sun 19" LCDs in TwinView mode and it is sweet!

Alan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan said...

Actually, the new open source driver (“nouveau”) is still in early stages of development, and will probably not be ready for 7.3. The closed source driver is the only way to get acceleration for now, and is now included in Solaris Express builds nv_53 and later so you won't need to download it any more. (For more on the current state of nouveau, see the recent Phoronix review.)

Peter Tribble said...

Alan: given that there are two different (and according to my experience, incompatible) version of the nvidia driver, which one do you include?

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