What is support status of PowerVR GPUs in Fedora? (Intel D2500 and gma500_gfx)

Adam Williamson awilliam at redhat.com
Thu Nov 14 19:18:46 UTC 2013

On Thu, 2013-11-14 at 10:59 -0500, Adam Jackson wrote:
> On Thu, 2013-11-14 at 13:05 +0100, valent.turkovic at gmail.com wrote:
> > I'm really interested what is the state of gma500_gfx driver in latest
> > kernel, is it reasonable to expect that this driver will get updated
> > and have better support or should I just say to my friend to grab
> > version of Windows 7 and to run with it... any suggestions?
> Intel's PowerVR-based graphics have _terrible_ support in Linux.
> They've been promising for years to either a) provide a competent free
> driver and/or b) stop producing pvr-based chipsets, and they have
> repeatedly failed at both.
> There is no OSS 3D driver for these chips, which is unfortunate, since
> 3D is the only thing these chips do even remotely well, and they're
> inevitably attached to underpowered CPUs where llvmpipe isn't going to
> help much.  There's a KMS driver that vaguely works kinda sometimes, as
> you've found, but that just lights up the display, it doesn't provide
> any acceleration.
> I do not expect support for these chips to get materially better any
> time soon.  Honestly at this point I don't even want to reverse engineer
> the things, it would essentially be rewarding Intel for bad behaviour.

I would never usually suggest any of the things in this post, but if
you're really stuck with Poulsbo hardware, you essentially have zero
good choices, so it's just a case of which bad choice you want to make.

Note that several years ago there was a proprietary driver which, while
in many ways being a pile of crap, more or less worked and gave 2D, 3D
and video playback acceleration.

Whoever was maintaining it gave up years ago, and you have 0 chance of
getting it to work on any modern distro, but you may be able to use it
if you run an old LTS build of Ubuntu. Ubuntu 10.04 should be old enough
for the proprietary driver to work, and still has support until mid-2015
according to https://wiki.ubuntu.com/LTS . Of course, the rest of the
environment will be from the middle of 2010. You could run an equally
old build of any other distribution too, of course, but few will have
any support at this point, and you'll likely be able to find old
guide/howto threads for running the GMA500 proprietary drivers on Ubuntu
more easily than any other distro.

If you want to go this route, the best thing to do is probably to start
Googling or searching the Ubuntu forums (where
Poulsbo-proprietary-driver-folk-wisdom tends to reside) with the magic
string 'emgd'.

AFAIK none of the two or three different proprietary drivers put out by
different groups at Intel (yes...really) for the Poulsbo has been
maintained at all since 2011 or so, and you have no effective chance of
getting any of them working on distros with Xorg 1.10 or newer and/or
kernel 3.0 or newer. For anything modern you're stuck with vesa or the
gma500_gfx kernel driver and xorg-x11-drv-modesetting, which will be
barely any better than vesa, and both of which will be extremely
Adam Williamson
Fedora QA Community Monkey
IRC: adamw | Twitter: AdamW_Fedora | XMPP: adamw AT happyassassin . net

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