[plug] Frustration

Brad Campbell brad at fnarfbargle.com
Fri Sep 7 13:51:20 WST 2012

On 07/09/12 13:28, Jason Nicholls wrote:
> I have a mac mini but it's using the built-in sandy-bridge graphics and
> was pleased that once I got a 2nd monitor things actually worked under
> linux! I do get some weirdness like one screen going out of res/refresh
> range during boot but it rights itself once X starts up. Also I don't
> completely like the behaviour of Unity on Ubuntu 12.04 and I don't
> really have any way to change things.

I had a 2006 Mac mini as my primary desktop up until I upgraded to the 
iMac early last year. The old mini was an interesting beast in that the 
DVI socket on the back had separate DVI and Analogue ports hooked up to 
different heads on the intel on-board GPU, however the wires used for 
signalling the EDID were shared internally so you could plug two 
monitors in, but it would only detect one.

I ended up hacking the i915 driver with hardcoded EDID's and happily ran 
dual head on it for years.

The Thunderbolt port on the mac gets set up by the bootcamp BIOS, so it 
really just looks like a displayport connector to the driver. The issue 
was a regression in the radeon driver than only manifested itself when 
you had more than two heads.

I did try initially to bring the machine up in EFI mode, but that was 
just more trouble than it was worth.

I know everyone dumps on Apple, and blah blah, evil, proprietary, boo, 
hiss... but for my requirements they just make the best hardware, 
period. Powerful, great screen, negligible footprint and silent. Nobody 
(and I mean nobody) produces a half equivalent machine.

I was torn between the new mini and the iMac, but when I saw the 27" 
display and the ability to add another 2 of them I was sold.

It's always a bear to get bleeding edge hardware working, but all my 
frustration with this cursed machine relates to the radeon GPU, and if 
you scan the freedesktop bugzilla you'll find countless people with 
generic PC hardware suffering exactly the same issues.

I was going to write a patch for the radeon driver allowing manual 
selection of voltages and clock speeds like you can do with the ati 
proprietary driver and its associated tools, but I can't be arsed with 
months of pushback and resistance to getting it included because people 
might break their hardware with it.

I'm still running Ubuntu 10.04LTS on both my desktop and my laptop. I 
won't upgrade until I absolutely have to, and then I might just look 
elsewhere. The current state of Linux desktops just makes me want to cry 
and puke at the same time.

On the other hand, I don't game _ever_ so my needs are not those of the 
many. If I did I'd probably triple boot windows.

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