Download: Tutorial HL: Linux 3D Hardware Acceleration

M.S. degree in computer science from the University of Toronto. Brad Grantham is a Senior Software Engineer at VA Linux Systems in Sunnyvale, California. Brad specializes in 3D graphics and OpenGL, and previously worked at Silicon Graphics on object oriented graphics toolkits. Prior to SGI, Brad worked at Tenon Intersystems on a Macintosh UNIX variant and at Recognition Research on image processing. Brad is an Adjunct Lecturer at Santa Clara University and has presented at the SIGGRAPH computer …

OpenGL is used for all types of 3D visualization as well as 2D illustration. Many games available under Windows 98 and most under Linux use OpenGL, including Quake III: Arena, Baldur’s Gate II, and Descent 3. OpenGL has long been the choice of API for Scientific Visualization and CAD software. Many animation and visualization packages go so far as to implement their user interface using OpenGL because it allows them to write platform-independent graphics code. Linux has already established itself as a powerful platform for internet services and computing and is now starting to compete with Windows as a desktop environment for applications. Only time will tell whether Linux can match or even supplant Windows, but support for games and other 3D applications is a prerequisite. OpenGL has been available in an unaccelerated form on Linux for several years, both as a port of Silicon Graphics’ OpenGL and as Mesa, a multiplatform open source implementation of the OpenGL 1.2 API. In the last year and a half, the list of 3D acclerators supported under Linux has grown from one to nearly all of the accelerators supported available for PCs. Matrox, 3dfx, 3Dlabs, S3, Evans and Sutherland, and NVIDIA are all supported in some form of hardware-accelerated Mesa or OpenGL. Some implementations of the OpenGL API under Linux provide advanced features rivaling those of Windows OpenGL implementations, including multitexture, 3D texture, geometry acceleration, and AGP buffers for DMA for rapid transfer of commands to hardware. Benchmarking by Utah-GLX developers (admittedly biased) shows Linux Mesa and OpenGL to approach or even exceed the performance of OpenGL under Windows 98. (see utah-glx-dev mailing list messages from the 21st of January, 2000 and the 30th of January, 2000 ) This tutorial provides an introduction to the use and implementation of the OpenGL API on Linux, and should be valuable both to beginning OpenGL application developers wishing to use Linux and to engineers curious about the foundations of 3D direct rendering using the OpenGL API. Brief Introduction to OpenGL This tutorial is not intended to contain a detailed introduction to the features of OpenGL itself. This tutorial instead touches only on the basics of OpenGL to provide a brief introduction. For an in-depth introduction to OpenGL, see the OpenGL Programming Guide (also known as the “Red Book”, most recently edited by Dave Shreiner), which introduces the reader to each of the OpenGL features in turn and how to use each one. A detailed technical specification for OpenGL is available at www.opengl.org. OpenGL is an immediate mode 2D and 3D graphics library. An application calls commands in the OpenGL library to change state including colors, lighting, and textures, and to draw primitives. A snippet of code in OpenGL to draw a red lit triangle can look like the following:…

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