My spare time is precious. So although I'm running Debian "Sid" (the developer/unstable) branch and am willing to help fix bugs I'm easily annoyed by flaws in software that haven't been fixed in years. One of them is the proprietary driver for nVidia graphics cards. In Windows I love these cards because a 100€ upgrade to an nVidia GTX 550 Ti made me play Skyrim in high resolution and with a good framerate. These cards are massively powerful. Then I boot into Linux (XFCE and Compiz) and find that animations are sloppy and I get lots of redraw problems with tooltips and menus. Seems like the problem with XDamage and race conditions between the nVidia driver and Compiz is still there. The performance of my graphics card is easily beaten by my laptops integrated Intel graphics card – Compiz works flawlessly there.
(UPDATE: Starting compiz with "compiz –replace –loose-binding" helps a lot with the performance. Found it on the Compiz wiki. That's very noticable to get a smooth "Expo" animation. The problem with broken tooltips and modal menus which annoys a lot when using an IDE with autocompletion could be worked around by enable Compiz animations with a 50ms fade animation when opening windows.)
Fortunately there are alternatives if I don't want to play 3D games, right? Yes, the nouveau driver is there which seems stable enough that Ubuntu relies on it. Nice try. My GTX 550 Ti card is unsupported and leads to unfunny kernel crashes. The only way to fix that was to set "nouveau.modeset=0". Right – the kernel works stably – but then Xorg doesn't find the card at all. So basically nouveau isn't an option either.
Yes, I should probably file a proper bug report against nouveau and learn how to develop video drivers and cure cancer while I'm at it. But half of my weekend is already wasted and I'm close to installing some Ubuntu flavor so I can just start working again. What I'll do now is dump Compiz because OpenGL and nVidia doesn't go together. On the other hand XRender rendering gets me mad because I can't enable vertical sync which tears windows apart when moving them which looks really ugly – not to speak of watching movies which is a pain without VSync. Either I'll use KDE 4.6 with XRender or XFCE without Compiz. Both aren't really my preferred choices. My next graphics card will surely not be from nVidia. It's true what I keep saying for years – you have to buy hardware that works well with your operating system. What use is a nifty graphics card that has such a bad driver that it works much worse than the average non-accelerated laptop graphic? Shame on you, nVidia.
Last weekend I spent an entire day finding the cause for an ASUS BIOS bug that prevented my VirtualBox I use for backport package maintenance to boot 64 bit Debian installations.
It feels like I'm permanently fixing other people's problems that prevent me from even getting to fix my own bugs. That's why I sympathize with people who give up in their IT midlife crisis and just buy a Mac. 😉