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Intel 855GM graphic chipset unsupported

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Andrej Podzimek 1281191355Sat, 07 Aug 2010 14:29:15 +0000 (UTC)
Hello,

as many sad users know, old Intel graphic chipsets, such as the 855GM, have not worked with the Intel drivers for more than a year. Patches that effectively dropped support for all chipsets older than 9xx were included into the Linux kernel around April 2009. They introduced a bug that makes old Intel chipsets unusable.

The bug has tens of duplicates. I guess this is currently the most famous one: https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=... [1]

Unfortunately, this bug does not affect only Linux. In fact that is why I am writing this message. :-) These are examples of systems with no usable GUI on slightly older laptops with Intel chipsets, such as Asus M2400N:

	* OpenSolaris (tested with build 134, build 145) -- freezes at X.org startup
	* FreeBSD (tested with 8.1, both original FreeBSD and the PC-BSD distro) -- panics at X.org startup
	* GNU/Linux (since the introduction of KMS-enabled kernel and X.org) -- X.org with broken graphics, freezes in a couple of minutes

Older versions of {OpenSolaris,GNU/Linux,FreeBSD} (with older X.org) provided a *working* desktop capable of virtually unlimited uptime. The hardware 3D acceleration was sufficient to run a compositing window manager (with not much eye candy, but perfectly usable).

Currently, the best situation you can achieve (on Linux) is an unreliable desktop with *disabled* OpenGL, *disabled* KMS, choppy video and occasional failures. Some failures are related to complex graphic operations [1], some seem to occur at random. Of course, you can use VESA, but that is not a viable workaround. The performance is so disastrous that even watching a DVD is impossible.

I asked whether the old driver could be used somehow (https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=...), but the answer was NO. So this is a clear NO for Linux on all the old machines I maintain. I have been waiting for more than a year and keeping all those one-year-old packages has just become impossible.

Since OpenSolaris is famous for its DDI and the binary compatibility of drivers across multiple versions of the kernel, I am asking the same question here again: Would it be possible to make the old Intel graphic drivers (from 2009.06, for example) work with the latest OS/Net? It would be great if there were two Intel drivers side-by-side, so that the corresponding driver version is selected based on the Intel chipset type.

It seems to me that Linux will *never* support old Intel chipsets again. But I guess OpenSolaris could work just fine, as long as the appropriate driver is available. I can compile OS/Net and carry out some experiments, but don't know what exactly should be done... Any suggestions? Some people say that an old UTS-side driver can't work with the latest X.org-side driver. Is this true? Could anyone shed more light on this, please?

Andrej
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