I've long been a supporter of Linux, but this weekend has been a descent into Open Source Hell. I've been using SuSE for years, but every once in awhile I like to try something new, so I decided to Take Mandrake 9.0 for a spin. I chose Mandrake because I wanted to try Transgaming WineX to see if I could get some games to run under linux, and Transgaming and Mandrake had put out a gaming distro together, so I figured there would be fewer compatability problems. So I loaded up Mandrake, only to find that the new Xfree 4.2.1 would not work with my Video Card, an PNY Verta NVIDIA GeForce 2 MX 400. I could use an older Xfree version, but I had the newer version to get WineX to work. No problem, I downloaded the newest version of linux Drivers from NVIDIA, still no go, total lock up.
Deciding that Mandrake was a joke I got the latest version of SuSE, 8.1. SuSE had never let me down before. I loaded it and ended up in the same blank screen lockup as Xfree choked on my video card. Maybe it was my card.
I looked at the ATI website which said it had linux support for its 8500 RADEON and above cards. Great I went and bought an ATI RADEON 9000 PRO. After repeated iterations of installing Mandrake and SuSE with various driver configurations I was still staring at a blank screen. I went to ATIs site to look for support. This is when I found that 8500 and above does not include the 9000, only the 9700.
Luckily Circuit City allows returns, so I exchanged the card for a Mad Dog Geforce 4 MX 440. It says "Full Linux Support" right on the box, right on the box, can you believe that. I did. I'm an idiot.
I installed the card and went through several more installations, I can do this in my sleep now, and was rewarded with a screen thats intermittently blank, but occasionally flcikers. I went to Mad Dog's website and what did I find, Drivers for every version of Windows, but not a single mention of Linux.
Back to the Nvidia website, download the newest drivers. Work with these for awhile and get partial success, I can get a screen but its low res and low color. I finally gave up for the time being and booted back to XP. I visited my favorite site, http://slashdot.org What do you think I saw, a story telling how ATI had just released a new set of drivers for linux, and guess what, the 9000 pro is supported.
Not that it would have fixed my problem, but it might have saved the return trip to the store.
I have to go to work so I will beat my head against this particular problem later.