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Given that:

  • ubuntu has announced they will be moving to unity on the desktop for 11.04 which requires 3d acceleration.
  • there is no stable 3d acceleration available in open source graphics drivers like Nouveau,

what will happen when I install ubuntu 11.04 on my machine which has an nvidia card?

  • Will ubuntu ship with open source drivers and run in a mode without the 3d animations?
  • Will ubuntu ship with the proprietary nvidia drivers making it impossible to run a 'free' desktop.
  • Or is there another solution.
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The idea is if your driver supports 3D you will get Unity, if your driver or hardware does not you will get a standard GNOME 2.x desktop.

Unity itself will be built using Compiz technology which gives us the ability to have a fallback mode for 2D, this is why we can become highly performant, which we couldn't do with Mutter as it required 3D accelleration. More information will be made on the blueprint.

RAOF's answer also has more information.

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I wouldn't mind if I was given the option at install time. 1. open source driver with gnome 2.x or 2. Proprietary driver with Unity – trampster Oct 25 '10 at 22:07
Or in that vein, two separate options entirely: a) which driver? b) which desktop? I want the closed driver with the standard desktop. – Oli Oct 25 '10 at 22:10
@trampster you already have that option since 10.10 in the installer; it's what happens if you choose to install extra software (to improve the experience) or not. If that carries over to 11.04 then obviously you will get the same option. – RolandiXor Nov 4 '10 at 1:03

Everything Jorge said but also nouveau can already render basic things in 3D through Gallium3D.

This feature isn't turned on by default because it's relatively unstable and it can break things. This could be mature enough for implementation by 11.04 release.

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nouveau are still saying that they are concentrating on 2d, I think it is very unlikely that 3d will be ready for 11.04 – trampster Oct 25 '10 at 22:11
Plus my nvidia actually boils with Nouveau drivers. – skalka Oct 26 '10 at 10:52
trampster are you really looking for an answer or just stirring the waters for your own enjoyment ;)? – RolandiXor Nov 4 '10 at 1:05
@Roland Taylor I have an nvidia card on my desktop and was interested in know what my experience would be with 11.04 – trampster Nov 5 '10 at 3:54

It's quite likely that the 3D support in the open-source nouveau drivers will run Unity well. However, upstream is not currently in a position to support their 3D component, and so neither will Ubuntu. As in Ubuntu 10.10 it will be possible to install the nouveau 3D support from the libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental package, but this will not be installed by default and we will be unable to do anything useful with bug reports about 3D.

It's also possible that power-management support for nouveau will land in the kernel that will be used for Ubuntu 11.04, but that's not clear yet.

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