Supported and Unsupported Video Card Features

Overall, the most important criterion when purchasing a video card for use on a Linux workstation is the quality of the X driver support for the card. There are three main sources of drivers:

XFree86 The XFree86 package ( comes with all mainstream Linux distributions as the standard X server. XFree86, in turn, comes with drivers for a wide variety of video cards. These standard XFree86 drivers support 2D operation, including 2D acceleration modes for many cards. Not all drivers support 2D acceleration, though—even when those features are available on the hardware. As a general rule, support is best for cards that are a generation or more behind the latest models; this time lag enables XFree86 developers to implement acceleration features in their drivers. Consult the release notes for your version of XFree86 for details.

Video Card Manufacturers Some video card manufacturers now release X drivers for their cards. These drivers may support acceleration before the official XFree86 drivers do, so it's worth checking with your video card manufacturer if you find you've got a video card that doesn't perform as well under Linux as you'd like.

Mesa The Mesa project provides 3D acceleration under X. Mesa 3D acceleration drivers are available for just a small subset of the cards for which 2D acceleration drivers are available. Therefore, it's critically important that you check for these drivers before buying a card to be

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