Thanks for your suggestions, but I’ll stick with Ubuntu for now (I might try OpenSUSE sometime, though). But in any case, if there are drivers in either Gentoo or OpenSUSE that work with my graphics card, couldn’t I just use them in Ubuntu? Would you happen to know of any?
What can I say? With gentoo you get the newest mesa drivers (which you appear to be using, google for it) without having to bother with installation and setup. So if you neglect the compilation time delay, everything is the same as with OpenSUSE, you can even install some GUI tools for choosing the ebuilds, if that is your thing. The fact that everything builds from source makes the resulting binaries (if you configure CFLAGS correctly) run faster. If you card and/or machine are old, then this makes for a positive user experience. One of my machines is a crappy old 256MB machine and with LXDE, prelink and some other tweaks, it can easily be used for development. Ubuntu steals valuable RAM with KDE or XFCE.
But for the average Joe, it’s a bit much. You need to configure and compile the kernel yourself, for example (there is a tool to help you with that, if that’s your thing). All taken into account, Gentoo is friendlier than the various *BSDs, in my opinion.
So maybe try SUSE first and Gentoo later.
BTW: I myself have experienced mesa bugs when trying my binaries on the 256MB machine, particulary when calling glMultiDrawElements(). In fact there’s an enduring mystery with this, as quake3, enemy-territory and tremulous games somehow “detect” that glMultiDrawElements() is bugged and switch to glDrawElements() automatically.
Beg to differ on that. I used to run FreeBSD before Linux – never had to build my own kernel or all my own packages. That would have been ridiculous.
The free drivers, the NVidia proprietary drivers, and the ATI proprietary drivers should all work just fine either way. With the latter two, you just run their install script, which builds a driver kernel module. They’re more interested in what kernel you’re running than what distro you’re running.
I tried to install freebsd nvidia drivers on my FreeBSD install once and it required kernel sources to be present on the hard drive. So even though you may not have needed to compile the kernel yourself, you still needed to install the kernel sources. If one doesn’t have the luxury of a nvidia card, you need to compile the kernel yourself.
With PC-BSD there the nvidia & ATI (for old cards) drivers come prepackaged, but who would use PC-BSD for development?
So you are talking FreeBSD specifically? Interesting.
On Linux with ATI or NVidia, that is definitely not the case. Kernel modules have obviated that need for many years.