This might sound a little harsh coming from a guy who’s worked for a Linux company for over six years, but things never seem to get easier. Oh sure, the stuff that was hard to deal with last time is easier, but the new features and the stuff you want to check out this time are just as hard as the old crap was last time.

For instance, there’s all this talk about the 3D Desktop stuff in Mandriva. Well, I like eye candy so I want to check it out. I don’t have a sloucher of a machine either so I know for sure it’ll be able to take whatever can be thrown at it. It’s an HP Media Centrt PC m7470n which is essentially an Athlon 64 X2 4200+ (2.2GHz), 2GB RAM, ATI Radeon Xpress 200, 300GB SATA drive, and all the other media/TV tuner crap that came with it (it was a powerful machine for a really smoking good price). At any rate, it should be able to handle turning my desktop into a funky cube or whatever the 3d desktop is supposed to do.

Well apparently my system is unsupported. So I spent about 2 hours tonight dicking around, installing the ATI dkms stuff, then realizing I needed the ati rpm, then I had installed the ati-kernel rpm which conflicted with the dkms so I removed the ati-kernel rpm and it still wouldn’t work so “dkms status” was telling me nothing so I removed and reinstalled the ati-dkms rpm and in between all of these things I was rebooting just to ensure that stuff would work properly. Well half the time it wasn’t loading the fglrx module in the kernel, then I had to configure with XFdrake, and it wonked my xorg.conf a bit, then things looked better but glxgears was still only giving me 180FPS which I’m pretty sure is bad, and I’m perusing the Mandriva cooker twiki and the output from glxinfo and finally realize that for some bizarre reason direct rendering is not enabled.

So I look in my Xorg.log files and lo and behold I see:

(WW) fglrx(0): ***********************************************
(WW) fglrx(0): * DRI initialization failed!                  *
(WW) fglrx(0): * (maybe driver kernel module missing or bad) *
(WW) fglrx(0): * 2D acceleraton available (MMIO)             *
(WW) fglrx(0): * no 3D acceleration available                *
(WW) fglrx(0): ********************************************* *
(II) fglrx(0): Acceleration enabled
(II) fglrx(0): Direct rendering disabled


Are you shitting me? I’ve spent two hours getting the damn ATI kernel module installed, lsmod most definitely tells me that fglrx is loaded and I get this? Suffice it say I gave up. But I’m a stubborn guy so I’ll qualify that with a “for now”.

At any rate I’m less than impressed. Well, with this. Mandriva 2007 seems pretty nice so far (well, I installed RC2 and synced up with cooker right after the install). The 3d desktop is of less importance to me than getting vmware server working on it, but it would have been nice to play with since this is one of the premier features. Sadly, I need a lot more hand-holding than I’m getting.

This kind of thing is precisely why, for me, Linux belongs on the server. Now if those kernel-developing idiots would get there act together and give us a 2.6 kernel that was a) stable and b) supported for more than a week, then I’d really be pleased. I don’t think the problem with Linux on the desktop is Linux… Linux, and the associated bits and pieces make a fine desktop. It works really really well. The problem is how the desktop compares with other desktops. If you just need a functional, no eye-candy, all business desktop… look no further than any Linux distro with an X server. If you want something fun and fancy prepare to either obtain that with wall paper and skins/themes or a few hours of cussing out your machine. Frankly, I don’t have the time to waste on something on that should just plain work.

Yes, I’m ranting… =) It pisses me off that I can’t get that cuby thing on my spanky machine in a reasonable amount of time (I’d be more than happy to invest half an hour, but upwards of 2hrs? Come on!).

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