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Ubuntu Hacks by Bill Childers, Kyle Rankin, Jonathan Oxer

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Hack #52. Enable 3-D Video Acceleration

After a fresh install, X11 is probably not configured to take full advantage of your graphics card. Learn how to take advantage of proprietary drivers to configure your video card for top speed.

Modern graphics cards are actually quite powerful little computers in their own right. Squeezing maximum performance out of them requires them to be set up the right way.

Measure Performance

To see how well your system is currently performing and give yourself a baseline to compare against after making changes, you can use a game such as Unreal Tournament 2004 or Quake III to measure graphic-card performance, both of which have "timedemo" modes that run through a defined sequence of events as fast as possible and report the average framerate achieved. An alternative is to use the glxgears utility (run glxgears -printfps), which is included with the mesa-utils package, but it's such a simple application that it really doesn't stress any decent 3-D hardware, so the framerate figures it generates aren't much use as a benchmark. If you get anything less than about 2,000 fps in glxgears, your video card could probably do with a tune-up—or replacement!

Identify Your Video Card

To get your video card running at maximum speed, you need to know what brand and model it is so you can select the best drivers. Video cards are generally installed as PCI, PCI-X, or AGP cards, or are provided directly on the motherboard. In reality, all of these card types are just ...

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