Xandros OC

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2004-07-28 Print this article Print

Unlike Fedora Core 2, Xandros OC arrives with an enabled Nvidia 3D acceleration driver for OpenGL, so games had a fighting chance to get their graphics engines at least working. Cedegas how-to installation guide explains how to verify that 3D hardware acceleration is working: You need to first bring up a command-line interface and type glxinfo. This will return information about your OpenGL driver stack: who makes it, what versions are supported and whether hardware acceleration is enabled. An easier way to sift through the output of this query is to type this:
glxinfo > glxinfo.txt
This pipes the querys output into a text file you can open using a graphical text editor and search for the word "direct". If Direct Rendering is supported, you have hardware-accelerated OpenGL support up and running. If the Direct Rendering entry says "no," youre running a software-only driver thats inadequate for games. The other way to verify that hardware acceleration is enabled is to type the following at a command-line:
This will launch a little applet that renders three gears spinning together and every five seconds, it will output a frame rate back to the command-line interface. If hardware acceleration is enabled, your frame rate should by very high, over 5000fps in some instances. If you only have software rendering enabled, the frame rate will be down into the hundreds of frames per second. For quite some time, Nvidia has made decidedly better Linux drivers than ATI. Although ATI now seems committed to building better Linux drivers, Nvidia still holds the advantage here. If youre at all serious about gaming on Linux and want to minimize your hassle factor, youll want an Nvidia-based 3D card powering this system. For most of our testing, we used a 3D card powered by Nvidias GeForce FX 5700 and it seemed to give us very few troubles. We also tried an ATI Radeon XT card, which turned out to be more problematic, owing to ATIs Linux drivers. By default, Xandros OC did not install hardware acceleration for the ATI-based 3D card, whereas it did for the Nvidia-based card. We downloaded and tried to install ATIs Linux drivers, but were unsuccessful. Part of the install process was walking through the Xfree86 configuration manager, a tedious process at best. To get ATIs driver up and running, youll need to know what version of X Windows (Xfree86) youre running. To find this out, type the following:
XFree86 –version
ATIs driver supports three different versions of XFree86 though youll need to download the correct one. We did that and ran ATIs installer script. After walking through its many questions, we still found ourselves without hardware acceleration enabled. So we reverted back to the Nvidia-based 3D card and its drivers, which install during the Xandros OC installation. We also got a warning about the fact that Xandros OC, which uses the 2.4.24-x1 Linux kernel, doesnt support POSIX threads (pthreads) and that several games might be adversely affected.
Game Results
WarCraft 3 Demo
(Demo not officially supported but full game is)
Installed and ran fine, including online with BattleNet.
Joint Operations Demo
(Not officially supported)
Installed, but would not run.
(Not officially supported)
Would not install.
Splinter Cell
(Not officially supported)
Installed but would not run.
The only game we were able to successfully play was Warcraft 3, which ran quite well. Frame rates were smooth and never choppy, and audio sounded fine as well. We even tried an online multiplayer game via BattleNet and found that worked as well. However, when we tried some more recent titles like Joint Operations, Painkiller and Splinter Cell, none of these titles never ran successfully.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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