|Blender Documentation Volume II - Reference Guide: Last modified July 08 2004 S68|
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On Linux, and most unices the graphical interface runs upon XFree86, http://www.xfree86.org/ hardware 3d accelleration is provided by the Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI) subproject.
You can usually get both in one convenient package from your distribution, Linux distributions geared at beginning users even come with X installed by default.
Blender needs both X and OpenGL to be able to work, it can work without an accellerated graphics card, but it will run faster with accelleration, of course.
If you are using a distribution (like Red Hat, Debian, Mandrake, SuSE) installing the XFree86 (also called 'X11', or 'X' for short) package(s), you usually get enough to run blender, and modern distributions will come with a version of X from the current stable branch, 4.x. The most recent version at the time of writing is 4.3, with 4.4 around the corner. 4.0 and higher are fine, and x 3.x might even work, but almost no one uses that nowadays.
In case your distribution doesn't come with X preinstalled, it shouldn't be hard to do it yourself, for example, on Debian you do:
apt-get install x-window-system
Et voilą, you've got yourself a graphical system!
For an overview of cards supported in the current version of XFree86, see: http://www.xfree86.org/current/Status.html
The DRI project provides XFree86 with 3d hardware accelerated drivers: DRI homepage: http://dri.sourceforge.net/ http://dri.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/moin.cgi/Status For a detailed overview, broken down by chipset and supported features: http://dri.sourceforge.net/doc/dri_driver_features.phtml
Tables in the following will be more specific, for compatibilities, but it must be stressed that there are Open Source drivers and Proprietary drivers:
For what concerns ATI, Mach64 (Rage Pro), Rage 128 (Standard, Pro, Mobility), as well as Radeons up to 9200 Open Source drivers exists.
On the Proprietary, Closed Source, drivers side: ATI has a linux section at http://www.ati.com/support/driver.html. Radeon 9800, 9700, 9600, 9500, 9200, 9100, 9000, 8500 are supported. Nvidia too has linux drivers available at: http://www.nvidia.com/object/linux.html. Some distributions might also provide these drivers themselves.
Blender should work without problems with all these drivers, but occassionaly a bug is exposed. In such a case the Blender and DRI developers work together to determine in what part the bug lies and fix it.
If you experience problems with DRI you can try to set
as an environment variable in your .bashrc or watever. This is a very drastic measure since it will disable hardware acceleration completely. http://dri.sourceforge.net/cgi-bin/moin.cgi/TestingAndDebugging has many tips on debugging.