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[vox] oh mamma, i think i'm going to cry: adventures into bleeding edge
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[vox] oh mamma, i think i'm going to cry: adventures into bleeding edge land



i put together a killer system:

amd athlon 1.3GHz
epox 8kha
   266MH front side bus
768 MB double data rate ram
ATA 100 disk drives  135 GB of storage
ati qe radeon (the good one) with 64MB of buffer and TVIO capability


but i was bumming because during initialization, linux would report:

> agpgart: Maximum main memory to use for agp memory: 94M
> agpgart: Unsupported AMD chipset (device id: 700e), you might want to try
> agp_try_unsupported=1.
> agpgart: no supported devices found.

meaning that the agp driver wasn't recognizing the agp chipset, and without
agpgart, i wasn't going to get DRI working.  and without DRI working.  and
without DRI working, this wouldn't be the gaming system that i wanted it to
be.

just out of curiosity, i ran gears.  now mind you, this is without agp and
dri/drm working:

                                                         gears frame rate
1.3GHz ddr/266MHz FSB athlon with radeon (no agp/dri):     180-200 fps
dual 550 celery with voodoo5 (with agp/dri):                85-95  fps

JUMPING JEHOSAFAT!  now my curiosity is piqued.  i load quake3 to the hard
drive, and ran it.  the darn thing is actually playable with no hardware
acceleration!!!  WOWZERS!!!   who wuddah thunk it?  you can actually play
quake3 on my system and use an old legacy PCI video card.  and it'll actually
be fun!


today i started websurfing and looked at the archives of the linux-kernel
mailing list, the DRI mailing list and kernel-newbies mailing list.  i found
some tips that might help me out, along with some discouraging posts from
people who couldn't get agpgart to work.

4 hours (and about 5 kernel recompiles) later, i was able to get agpgart to
load in correctly.  it made some assumptions about my agp port.  namely, i
told it to assume that my port was based on the "generic VIA 82*** chipset".
the module loaded with no hitches.

(aside: i rebooted without typing lilo.  as the shutdown messages were
scrolling, i noticed that i still had a prompt; the virtual terminals were
still intact and the hard drives were still mounted.  i quickly typed "lilo"
as services were being shut down, and it worked!).

next, i started X, but DRI still wasn't working.  went back to the X logs,
and found that radeon_drv.o wasn't being found -- unresovled references.
bleah.   did a locate, and sure enough it was on my system.  modprobe didn't
know where it was, so i insmoded it in and badda bing badda boom, it linked
into the kernel.

now i had both agpx4 and the radeon driver loaded.   typed startx.  ran
quake.   DRI was obviously working!  killed X, read the X logs again, and
sure enough saw "DRI enabled".  two sweet words.

started X again, and ran gears.  now hold on to your hats.  don't read
any further if you have a weak heart...

gears reported up to 250 frames per second.  i nearly fainted.

i laughed.
i cried.
i kissed my voodoo5 good-bye.

all in all, i spent nearly 8 hours (i tried off and on yesterday as well)
trying to get the agp and DRI problem worked out.  the problem was bleeding
hardware -- nobody wrote a driver for agp system on my motherboard yet.  very
few people have these boards; they're pretty new.  but it was worth it.  now
THIS is a gaming machine.

it's been a long time since i've had a single processor machine; dual CPUs
have spoiled me.  i don't get the snappy response i'm used to when, say,
compiling the kernel, web surfing with X and updating debian.  but when only
doing 1 or 2 tasks, this machine screams louder than any PC i've ever seen.

if anyone here needs help in getting AMD boards to recognize the agp hardware
or configuring X to use the kick-butt radeons, email me and i'll be more than
happy to help.

pete

-- 
"You may not use the Software in connection with any site that disparages
Microsoft, MSN, MSNBC, Expedia, or their products or services ..."
                    -- Clause from license for FrontPage 2002


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