Linux-video vs mode-setting ... which free driver better?


Still having trouble with drivers.
Removed Bumblebee and Nvidia after freezes and want to return back to “free drivers” ... but there’s a choice between Linux-video and the “mode-setting” drivers ... which is best of the free once?
Currently on my Nvidia/intel hybrid I have the “mode-setting” for the intel and its got the “nouveau” for my Nvidia dGPU ...

I also noticed the system sometimes allows to have both a “free” and a non-free to be installed at the same time, which I’m not sure is good or not, leaning towards the latter...

Can’t post inxi etc as posting from my iPad now.

If it were just the intel .. the answer would be 'they both work.. but if its a modern intel you probably want modesetting'
If you have a dual-gpu (nvidia+intel) .. then its a bit more complicated .. but not really .. because the answer is 'neither'.
You want intel-nvidia-prime if your nvidia is new enough to work with PRIME.
If it isnt, your other option is bumblebee.
In the case of prime your intel should be on modesetting, in the case of bb it should be intel.
It doesnt really matter for you, as whichever mhwd profile you choose for your dual-gfx should give you the correct intel anyways (and again it will run on either)
the 'modesetting' profile is just to force modesetting on intels that otherwise use the older 'intel' driver.

(PS - some more explanation - nvidia you want to use with non-free. Its a proprietary company wiith a proprietary driver .. using the free 'nouveau' will invariably give you worse results)

So basically .. undo everything you have done .. and if your setup supports it use the xx-PRIME-xx profile .. if it doesnt (earlier than nvidia 435) then you must use bumblebee.

Hi , thanks for info.

Unfortunately I think it is too old ... latest driver it seems for it was 390xx, but that crashed, so only one that worked was Nvidia 340xx.
However, I tried the Bumblebee and sadly that didn’t work, at least it didn’t pick up my external monitor (which is a must as my laptop monitor not good condition and small). But I been informed that Bumblebee does NOT support external monitor.
So I tried just the Nvidia 340xx, but then first,y ONLY the external monitor works and secondly it seems not long until system keeps freezing.
So I seem left with the Linux-video and other free options only :frowning:

Not sure if I should give up on Manjaro or even Linux

Its mostly down to your old nvidia. Heck, even if it was just a few years old, nvidia dropped support for dozens and dozens of non-legacy cards last year.

No idea what that means. If you want support debugging your nvidia situation or similar .. you should start a thread on that. Asking 'which driver is better' is the wrong question .. and already answered :wink:

What I meant was I tried that specific Nvidia 390xx driver (it was on the list in hardware config) options, the latest and last for my Nvidia GPU model, but when I chose it, system crashed, no display at all, so had to try lower version 340xx, which seemed better as at least worked some, but then eventually froze system.

The reason for my “what’s the best driver” was specifically between the 2 “free Linux” options, as I didn’t know really anything of the “mode setting “ one, I did hear to leave the “vesa” alone and never use it.
Pic shows the driver options I was given,


And as I said .. modesetting is only to force use of modesetting driver on intel cards.
(because video-linux is an umbrella for everything free .. and intels technically have 2 free options)
I honestly do not know if modesetting even works with bumblebee switch.
So if we are just talking about the intel .. then its entirely whether it is Gen4 or newer .. if not, you might not want modesetting .. if yes .. you probably do.
Until you get to the switchable graphics (+nvidia) .. in which case your options are simply non-free (nvidia-bumblebee) .. or full free. In both cases the nvidia is asleep until invoked with a command.
If not using bumblebee the nvidia will use the poor reverse-engineered nouveau but only if it is working, and only if you use something like DRI_PRIME=1

Okay I had to do a reinstall from USB ISO, chose free for now cause for now it’s only thing that seems to give me both monitors working if any at all ... but how do I active Prime when using free drivers and how would I switch or even make sure that the nouveau or other driver is working?
For now that’s a mystery to me.
With the optimus switch one had a GUI ... oh heck I think I’m losing my mind lol

glxinfo | grep 'renderer string'
DRI_PRIME=1 glxinfo | grep 'renderer string'

And thats just an applet someone created .. there are no truly supported GUI's .. and they are honestly overkill for the job. In most cases things should just be configured properly, and then it should be forgotten about besides edge cases.

Example - you probably dont want your nvidia running all the time. Lets say the only thing you really want it for is steam games. Then just augment the game launch options to

DRI_PRIME=1 %command%

And done. No switches necessary. Your desktop runs on the intel, and the game on the nvidia.
(using nouveau)

..assuming that nouveau/prime is working.
The first commands above should show us.

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Thing is my old card that only seems to be able to use Nvidia 340xx ... nothing newer ... so I’m not sure if the Prime 1 switch will work with it.
When I did install the 340xx, it kinda worked somewhat, but then system crashed/freezes a number of times and only the external monitor kinda worked, not both.
I might have Linux-video as my only option for external monitor support.

What I showed above was assuming you are using video-linux
Please return the 2 commands.

Ok yes I’ve chosen video Linux for fresh install so all good ... I was just wondering about Nvidia 340xx ... doesn’t seem my ol Mach has much options.
Thanks again, I’ll give it a go,

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