I have a bit of a weirdie here.

My rig uses an Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS in a PCIE x16 slot. Up to about a year ago, no problems with the card. I then started getting random crashes. They got more frequent.

Now, first thought: It's an old card. But I don't have the bucks to buy a new one, and my mobo doesn't have the DVI input that my monitor needs. So, I decided to take a shot with the Nouveau drives.

Amazingly, they have worked flawlessly. Does anyone have a guess as to why?

  • 5
    Well they are open source, and therefore the Linux community can fix bugs themselves rather than waiting for Nvidia. – adempewolff Jun 4 '12 at 5:17
  • nvidia tends to drop compatibility (or at least attention) to older chips while Nouveau aims to support them all – Cubiq Jun 4 '12 at 7:01

There are three possible reasons I can think of

  • Less bugs, better compatibility: The source is open — with the nouveau drivers, you probably have a lot more people looking at the code, and it is also easier to deal with changes on the X Windows System and linux kernel sides that break the driver code, and bugs are easier to track.

  • Issues with 3D acceleration part of the video card, or some feature that is only supported by the proprietary drivers. It is possible that your card is actually damaged, and that you don't get random crashes because nouveau does not use the affected components.

  • Bad memory. I don't know to which extent are the drivers so different that their different memory usage patterns explain this, but you may have some bad main memory or video card memory (random crashes are a common effect of bad memory). The former is easier to test, using memtest86+, the latter may be supported by tools like memtest86+, but I've never played with video card memory stress testing...

  • Nouveau also supports 3D acceleration now. Maybe the second item can be removed? – xuhdev Jan 12 '15 at 9:35

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