Saturday, March 31, 2007

Linux, AMD, VIA and Me

I installed Ubuntu Linux on my AMD64 3000+, S3 DeltaChrome IGP (it's just a big name for chipset which is good value for money), Asus A8V-VM mobo and a Gig DDR RAM. I've been working with many distros for quite sometime now(Mandrake, Knoppix, SuSe, Redhat since 6.2).

I'd some repeating bad experiences with it...

After numerous attempts to install for X, specific to my VIA K8M890 chipset (which is cheap and, not so surprisingly, widely unsupported by Linux), finally I realized this hardware isn't currently supported at all. The generic VESA driver draws at 40Mbits/s, which is *not* good enough for 1280*1024*75Hz GD. The kernel is generic 32bit, SATA drive runs in PIO mode (11Mbits/s, not better than even USB2 babe, hopefully I will fix this problem). Well, If Linux has to support only NForce, Radeon or very regularly expensive hardware, what's the use of it for those who seek the price-performance ratio well beyond brands?

There's an open source project,, for S3 Chrome Linux drivers, which doesn't have support for K8M890. Ironically it supports K8M800, I think I've got 90 more transistors/diode/resistors in my hardware; but this support doesn't excite me to know the differences between the models. And this support seems to be specifically for dear old XFree64 (hard-wired path in make scripts), hmm, its hopeless.

I've no success stories to tell about Linux on AMD based boxes. With three of my AMD based boxes, all I got is handful of driver installation defeats, shaky drags / scrolls and overall miserable system performance. Sad, I've to use Windows for most of my work. Now, I don't even mind keeping on my hard drive.

I downloaded and tried Fedora Core 7 Image and it seems it will support my hardware (xfree86), I hope newer versions of Ubuntu will provide drivers for Via chipsets out of the box (Ubuntu is after all "Linux for human" and not for people who understand: Why only kernel headers are required to compile, link, probe and install modules), this is partly the fault of hardware vendors who don't want to develop drivers for Linux (I also read somewhere they don't even open specification for others to develop).


Anonymous said...

I'm also using Asus a8v-vm, while googling i've found out your blog and I'd like to believe that my case is hopeless. I'm really giving up yet I found a driver for linux here ..
I haven't tried it though, I hope this will solve my problem. The page said it is for K8M890 - "This driver package provides the kernel source code for the Chrome9 K8M890". I dont know if it matches my hardware requirement, I'll be exploring it now, hopefully you can too, and give me some feedback.

Thanks and more power!

jojo maquiling

Unknown said...


I think it's safe to say that Linux is not "quite there yet". I'm getting tired of trying drivers that arent stable enough to be released, improper code, and lots of library/dependency problems. At this time, no OS is able to match the simplicity of Windows drivers installations. I hope everything gets better because, as it is, Linux isnt fun, more troubles than anything else.

- Jay

Nirav Thaker said...

I say, Linux is just there...

The driver support is problematic because Linux desperately failed to create ecosystem around it (say, something equivalent to partner channel). But things are changing of late, most of the linux drivers are available for regular hardware.

Linux is fun at times but I agree it brings lots of unbearable problems. Innovation in any form demands a price, and we are paying just that!

Nirav Thaker said...

hey pepesmith,

I'm sorry i don't know how to address you without name, but anyway...

I just wanted to tell you that Ubuntu Fiesty Fawn 7.x will solve your problem, I just installed AMD64 based kernel of 7.04 and It works like a charm!

Anonymous said...

hi Nirav,

Indeed Ubuntu Fiesty 7.04 solves my problem.. :) Though i still cant run some of those apps that uses OpenGL.

I'm trying to use google earth and fligtgear anyway,..eheheheh ..anyways its good that it solves my problem :)