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Different Unichrome family display drivers

The VIA proprietary drivers

These are considered unstable and unsecure.

The Xorg-driver

The driver that comes with Xorg. Supports VIA CLE266, KM400/KN400, K8M/N800, PM/N800 and CN400 chipsets. Accelerates 2D, 3D, Xvideo and mpeg2 decoding using XvMC. Nowadays the Xorg-driver is mostly unmaintained as the development focus is on OpenChrome-driver.

You can install the Xorg driver with command:

pacman -S xf86-video-via

The xorg.conf driver name is via.

The Unichrome-driver

Another driver with the development focus on stability and clean code. Unichrome driver only supports CLE266, KM400, P4M800 and K8M800 chipsets. Doesn't support accelerated mpeg2-decoding.

You can install the unichrome driver with command:

pacman -S xf86-video-unichrome

The xorg.conf driver name is via.

The OpenChrome driver

The most advanced and developed driver for Unichromes. Supports CLE266, KM400/KN400/KM400A/P4M800, CN400/PM800/PN800/PM880, K8M800, CN700/VM800/P4M800Pro, CX700, P4M890, K8M890 and P4M900/VN896 chipsets. Accelerates 2D, 3D, Xvideo and mpeg2 decoding using XvMC. This driver is the way to go if you want to be on the bleeding edge.

You can install the OpenChrome driver with command:

pacman -S openchrome

The xorg.conf driver name is openchrome. When your X-Server shows artifacts and fails to redraw some windows, try entering

         Option     "EnableAGPDMA"               "false"

into the Section "Device" of your xorg.conf. Please note that using KDEmod-Fancy or KDEmod-Fancy-OpenGL will eventually freeze your machine so use a different KDE-Splash.

Unichrome and OpenGL

OpenGL support for Via's graphic chipsets is seriously outdated. At the moment you will not be able to run more fancy applications, games or compositing desktops like Compiz Fusion that rely on OpenGL as a backend, because the more recent OpenGL extensions are not yet supported in Unichrome 3D driver. You will be able to run simple OpenGL-applications though. The 3D driver for Unichrome is provided by the the DRI project.

Install unichrome-dri, libgl and mesa -packages to get OpenGL to work.

DPMS problems

If you experience problems with DPMS not turning off laptop's backlight, try adding:

Option "VBEModes" "true"

to the device section of xorg.conf.

External Resources