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OpenGL accelerated goodness 2006-11-11

Been waiting to play with an OpenGL accelerated desktop for months now. XGL always required too much in the way of extra software and AIGLX needed the 9xxx series of drivers to work on my Nvidia 6800. Only beta versions of the 9xxx drivers were available until a few days ago when Nvidia released version 9629. This means a wuss like me who doesn't like bleeding edge software on my system can get in on the accelerated niceness. As it turns out the effects can be sorted out by the nvidia drivers themselves, so you don't have to mess with AIGLX or XGL. This is the approach I took...

With the drivers installed I could start modifying xorg.conf to turn on the cool stuff, by adding:

Section "Screen"
Option "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "true"
EndSection

Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "enable"
EndSection

Next I needed a window manager that can take advantage of the new drivers. This boils down to using Compiz, the original compositing manager, or Beryl. This is a fork of Compiz but, most importantly for me, doesn't rely heavily on GNOME and includes its own window decorator called Emerald.

Beryl on its own isn't so useful, its designed to be used in conjunction with a Desktop Environment. I decided the best way to go was to switch from Fluxbox to XFCE4, albeit a minimal install. Xfdesktop and xfce4-session were emerged which pull in the useful deps, leaving me with a session manager, right-click desktop menu, panel etc, but without the XFCE window manager, file browser or the other cruft I don't need.

Now XFCE just has to be set up to use beryl instead of its own window manager. This was done by changing a line in /etc/xdg/xfce4-session/xfce4-session.rc. Under Failsafe session, change Client0_Command=xfwm4 to Client0_Command=beryl-start. Then I changed my .xsession file to "xfce4-session", this is then run when selecting "Your .xsession" from Qingy.

That all worked straight off, all the plug-ins work nicely with low CPU usage. I'm using Beryl 0.1.1-r1 which has recently been added to the Gentoo Portage tree. Video playback with Mplayer works, as does glxgears and glxinfo shows direct rendering is on. Next step is to see if games work ok.

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