How is OpenGL support (specifically OpenGL 3.x) in the different video card drivers available for Linux? Assuming that the hardware supported it well, would the drivers be an issue?


Drivers are definitely an issue. They must basically provide a library that implements the OpenGL entry points via hardware acceleration. Without those, you are stuck with software implementations, or open source drivers (which are not very widespread or successful at the moment).

At the time of writing:

  • as of driver version 256.38.03, nVidia goes as far as supporting OpenGL 4.1 (on capable hardware)

  • there appears to be a preview version of the Linux ATI Catalyst driver that supports OpenGL up to 4.0

I'm not sure about the other vendors but I would be surprised to learn about OpenGL 3 support on those.

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  • Do you know anything about the quality of the support in NVIDIA and ATI drivers? Are there known bugs, performance issues or problems of incompleteness? – Oystein Nov 6 '10 at 1:47
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    Historically, nVidia support has always been pretty good. They release drivers promptly and frequently, and support a lot of features. From experience, they are really good. ATI, on the other hand, only recently started providing acceptable Linux drivers; I don't have any direct experience on this, although at first glance their releases don't seem as frequent as nVidia's. – UncleZeiv Nov 6 '10 at 1:51

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