nVidia 8600 GT direct rendering on Hardy Heron

I made a clean install of the new Kubuntu 8.04 on Shuttle SP35P2. Everything went reasonably smoothly, I could even install nVidia drivers though KDE->System->Hardware Drivers Manager.

However, setting up the compiz desktop effects (KDE->System->Desktop Effects) didn’t quite work out. After reboot I logged in and got the white screen of death. I had to switch to terminal by Ctrl+Alt+F1, restart the X server by

sudo /etc/init.d/kdm restart

and login in failsafe mode. One can access the desktop effects setup from terminal by running


After disabling all the effects I was able to log in in normal mode again.

It turned out that although the driver was installed, it wasn’t working properly. Running glxinfo printed out

direct rendering: No (If you want to ...
server glx vendor string: SGI

Clearly there’s something wrong here…
I installed newest drivers from the repositories, and also installed drivers using EnvyNG. Even went to nVidia homepage and got the latest driver installer and when even that didn’t work I downloaded the nvidia beta drivers from the same site. No remedy.

In the end it turned out that the trouble was package xserver-xgl that prevents direct rendering (DRI) in all cases. Removing the package and rebooting did the trick for me. I’m now using the nVidia beta drivers (173.08) and the compiz effects seems to work ok. The drawback is that I noticed some decrease in performance when xserver-xgl was not installed.

To put the long story short:
If you are using nvidia drivers but don’t get direct rendering working, check if you have the latest (beta?) drivers and if xserver-xgl is installed (remove it if it is).

— Edit 2008-05-28 —
Upgrading to kernel 2.6.24-17 broke the nvidia driver. The nvidia kernel module would not load correctly anymore which was probably due to the manual beta driver installation (see Ubuntu forums). I decided to go back to nvidia-glx-new from Ubuntu repositories.

I had to remove the new kernel 2.6.24-17 and purge all nvidia related packages. After rebooting I reinstalled the new kernel and rebooted again. Then installed nvidia driver from Hardware Drivers Manager and rebooted. Everything was OK except that the 3d desktop effects still don’t work with xserver-xgl.

To summarize: It’s better to stick with Ubuntu drivers for future compatibility.


5 Responses to “nVidia 8600 GT direct rendering on Hardy Heron”

  1. anon Says:

    Thats interesting, I had rendering errors, slow performance, and other oddities (odd colored compiz/emerald shadowing) without xserver-xgl. Installing it fixed my problems and increased my 3d desktop performance.

    Yes, direct rendering gets disabled but I was under the impression that the xgl xserver didn’t need it enabled. All my 3d apps seem fine and I noticed a huge FPS increase in glxgears.

    I am using Ubuntu 8.04 with the Nvidia 169 drivers on a 8800gt

  2. Rael Says:

    I observed a similar behaviour; pragmatically:

    1. Nvidia drivers installed with Envy work fine (glxgears > 6000) on my 8600 BUT Desktop effects can’t be enabled. Kernel 2.6.24-17

    2. installing xserver-xgl enables Desktop effects but cause problems in loading Nvidia drivers, glxgears goes down to 2000+

    I decide to live with no Desktop effects for the time being…

  3. Richard Stellingwerff Says:

    I just installed Ubuntu 8.04 LTS after having used 7.10 with great pleasure. I was very disappointed when I enabled compiz in 8.04. It felt much less smooth than 7.10. Like the frames-per-second are limited to 20 or so. I tried upgrading to the latest nvidia drivers, but I couldn’t get them to work. So now I’m going back to 7.10, because that release was perfect for me.

    I’m very disappointed though.

  4. Rob Says:

    Sure, but with xserver-xgl enabled, can you run any 3d games? I myself tried xserver-xgl with my 8600 GT and noticed a pretty decent upgrade in compiz speed, but I can’t play games like Supreme Commander (works great in wine)… remove xserver-xgl and it works like a dream… ????

    with xserver-xgl I also notice that if I run glxinfo with sudo it tells me I DO have direct rendering.

  5. Tisminquino Says:

    Stunning… kinda cool subject. I will write about it too!

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