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Re: [LUG] Jittery playback


On 03/06/2020 18:55, Michael Everitt wrote:

I was under the impression that Firefox for Linux still lagged terribly in
the leagues of acceleration period, whether basic 2d window stuff or video
playback. It's for this reason I do use Chromium, where it's often easier
to enable the acceleration options without jumping through too many hoops
with vaapi etc.and associated graphics drivers/libs...

That said, we do have a rather tough time in Gentoo with making compatible
working versions, as the complexity of build systems and browsers turns
gradually more into its own OS ecosystem than even the host system.
Goodness knows how anyone else copes .. but still ..

Graphics on Linux in general are a "bit of a mess" at the moment, to put it mildly. The messy transition to Wayland from Xorg isn't helping one bit and we already had all the old issues of Nvidia and AMD's various bizarre approaches to handling drivers and proprietary blobs differently to contend with. Throw in rapidly advancing media codecs and all the new formats on top of hardware acceleration in web browsers and what we have is a gigantic mess - it's the one area where Microsoft and Apple completely and unreservedly get to point their fingers at us and laugh.

That being said, Firefox have in the last couple of releases made gigantic strides in WebRender and it _should_ now be enabled by default for most end users - providing you're up to date and your distro provider is sane, neither of which are givens. Additional problems with Netflix (WideVine DRM) and other proprietary platforms are still very much works in progress unfortunately but YouTube at least in principle _should_ be ok for most normal Linux users at the moment. There is a bewilderingly long checklist of stuff to work through before you are good to go though. Honestly even I'm having a problem keeping up with all this mess and I'm pretty motivated...

The first layer of the stack is your graphics hardware and then your choice (or the distro's choice) of Wayland vs Xorg and it's implementation. Theoretically we should all be full Wayland by now which Firefox claims much better accelerated graphics capability for... in a perfect world. Reality is much different. Then you've got the driver implementations and their different capabilities to deal with - Nouveau vs official Nvidia drivers for example. Nvidia are famously basically refusing to go anywhere near Wayland for the moment so if you're using the official drivers you're stuck with Xorg. Nouveau users can use Wayland but immediately lose half the capabilities of their graphics card if they do. AMD is generally less of a mess and more opensource friendly but they have similarly complex matrices of support+featureset compatibility to negotiate. Intel is still the safest bet for true opensource friendly Linux graphics drivers and support both Wayland and Xorg... but their hardware capabilities are so pathetic you might as well not bother. It's pretty much lose-lose no matter which direction you come at this from.

My long-suffering workstation as ever is my testbed for all this crap and for most of this year at least things are finally coming together on the graphics front - sort of. Hardware acceleration on Firefox past version 74 (?) has been _mostly_ fine although I've fiddled with so many flags and options I no longer even remember what's been changed and what hasn't at this point so I'd definitely pull up short of saying "it works for me therefore it must work for everyone". I'm using a Nvidia GPU with their proprietary drivers (from Ubuntu, not direct from them - that's another can of worms) on top of Xorg though, not a popular combination these days. All the cool kids are full Wayland + AMD + opensource drivers, god knows if that works properly without guru-level tinkering. For me at least, Firefox has been mostly flawlessly playing back extremely demanding fullscreen 4K YouTube videos without issue which is something I was wondering would ever work quite frankly. Frustratingly, when Firefox does glitch out or bomb this Chromium fork:


Does indeed work better and more reliably - I just don't like Chrome/Chromium very much in general. However results speak and it does undoubtedly more consistently provide perfect 4K YouTube which is my usual test case.

Moving beyond mere web-accelerated media playback and into even more challenging graphical areas like VMs with hardware accelerated capabilities, video editing or god help you, graphic intensive foreign software running under Wine for example, and it all falls apart again no matter what combinations of hardware and software you're using without hours of constant fiddling and tuning.

For me this entire mess easily gets my top pick of 2020 as the biggest single problem in all of Linux. It will get sorted out eventually and huge progress has been made, particularly recently, but we can all expect at least another couple of years of chaos before it all settles down.

I'm a little bit surprised that Gentoo of all distros isn't the best sorted Linux flavour considering the general technical level of their users and literally endless levels of customisation available. I haven't used Gentoo for quite a long time now so maybe things have changed a bit - I guess Arch is now more the distro for "literally anything you can think of already exists in a user-prepared optional branch to get hold of". The AUR is pretty amazing to be fair, it has just about everything.

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