Direct Rendering

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This page is intended to be the hub of information on graphics-driver-related problems and getting VGA adapters to run correctly. While X autoconfiguration is nice for the majority of users, not having an xorg.conf by default makes it difficult to diagnose graphics problems.

  • A lot of the time, complaints like "DVD skipping" can be solved with the smplayer frontend to a bleeding-edge release of mplayer. Try:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:motumedia/mplayer-daily
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install mplayer smplayer

Then, in smplayer, go to Open > DVD from drive and configure your options.

  • If youtube/movies on the HD are choppy as well, check your graphics drivers. Use lspci to check what your VGA adapter is and, if necessary, install proprietary drivers in System > Administration > Hardware Drivers.
  • You can try turning compositing off to get a better response from menus, etc. Go to System > Preferences > Appearance > Visual Effects.
  • If none of these things yields any results, see if you can find your solution below.

Fixes for Oddball Cases

If your system has an /etc/X11/xorg.conf, look there for information. Here's a guide to reading it. If you don't have one, try:

Testing for direct rendering

  • Open Synaptic and get mesa-utils or do
sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

You can now run

glxinfo | grep render



to get information about your graphics setup.

If everything is right, you'll get outputs like Direct Rendering: Yes and framerates of 400+ frames/5 seconds, and your problem is likely not graphics related. If you're getting strange outputs like Segmentation Fault or framerates of 200- frames/5 seconds, make a sad face and continue reading through this guide.

Note that systems running the nouveau driver will not report Direct Rendering: Yes even if they are properly utilizing DRI. Nouveau's kernel module is a staging driver (info) and does not yet sit right with Mesa. Nouveau is a cool thing, but it isn't really ready for mass consumption yet (even though Ubuntu loves it). If you're really having problems, fall back to the proprietary Nvidia drivers, which are known to work well.

ATI Radeon RV100

  • fglrx proprietary drivers do not support this chipset. Use the open-source drivers called ati
  • Use smplayer and a bleeding-edge version of mplayer
  • Include this in your xorg.conf or make a new one (with sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf) and copy in this information:
Section "Device"
        Identifier      "Radeon 7000"
        Driver          "ati"
        BusID           "PCI:1:0:0"

Section "Monitor"
        Identifier      "monitor1"
        Option          "DPMS"

Section "DRI"
        Mode 0666

The DRI section is the functional one, but you want the others just to make communications between X and Ubuntu clear. It's also useful to be able to change which driver you're using by just changing the Driver option. = )