Earlier this spring, in the process of upgrading our work-stations at the office, I contacted a few other forum members to ask about their hardware and software experiences. As a response there has been a few request to post the results and here they are.
At our architecture office, OpenStudio arkitekter, we are running BricsCAD v16 and v15 on Debian 8 Jessie, x86-64 systems with good results. We are using AMD FM2+ systems with AMD 65W A10 5700 and A10 7800 APUs. The components are mounted in a really small M350 universal Mini-ITX enclosure from mini-box.com on a motherboard with msata connector, together with 120 GB msata SSD, low profile DDR3 RAM and 120W or 150W pico PSU.
The performance is good and hardware acceleration works out of the box with the GPU drivers delivered with Debian.
For the slightly older A10 5700 APU we recommend using the open source AMD radeon driver. Recent versions of the open source driver produces excellent performance and has better 2D performance compared to the proprietary AMD catalyst fglrx driver. Use this driver if it supports 3d hardware acceleration with your GPU.
For the recent A10 7800 APU we recommend using the proprietary AMD catalyst fglrx driver (unless you have a new version of the open source AMD radeon driver that will deliver 3D hardware acceleration with this GPU off-course). 3D performance is great, but this driver has some minor 2D issues that can affect other 2D applications running together with BricsCAD on the same computer; For example temporary mouse pointer distortion.
Depending on what display driver you are using with BricsCAD, you need to set the GL swap mode setting in BricsCAD to match your driver:
Set 'Settings/Display/GL Swap Mode' to '2' with the proprietary AMD catalyst fglrx driver, or '3' with the open source AMD radeon driver.
No matter if you use the proprietary AMD catalyst fglrx driver or the open source AMD radeon driver, make sure you always run a compositor (to render each application window in its own frame buffer) on computers where you plan to use BricsCAD. A compositor will correct some issues with pop-up dialogs, like the quad tool, and it will prevent BricsCAD from making other 2D-applications lag when several drawings are open simultaneously in BricsCAD.
A simple compositor like 'compton' works well if your desktop environment does not natively use a compositor. Compton is what we use at the office.
Here follows our recommended settings in BricsCAD. These settings works good four us:
- Set 'Drawing/Drafting/Direct Modeling/Extrude mode' to '0' Subtract or create new solid (to produce new 3D solids instead of adding to previous solids when extruding a polyline from the surface of an existing solid).
- Set 'Drawing/Drafting/Display/Viewing/Lineweights/Default lineweight' to '0.09 mm' for half scale drawings or '0.18' for full scale drawings (if you want custom colors, not defined in your plotstyle, to produce hairlines instead of thick lines).
- Set 'Program options/Quad/Quad icon size' to 'Small icons' (to get a less childish-looking quad tool).
- Set 'Program options/Quad/Quad' bitcode to '1', Display the quad when the cursor hovers on an entity' (to enable a more classic AutoCAD way of using right mouse button).
- Set 'Program options/Files/Alternate font' to 'isocp.shx' (this font is the recommended standard in Sweden at least).
- Set 'Program options/Display/GL Swap Mode' to '2' with fglrx, or '3' with radeon driver (IMPORTANT! to get good display driver performance and avoid graphical lagging and artifacts).
DO NOT! Activate 2D & 3D options for OpenGL rendering in 'Display/Crosshair rendering mode' (it will cause crashes).
- Set 'Program options/Display/Anti-alias amount for screen' to '1' (low anti-aliasing equals faster 3D performance).
- Set 'Program options/Open and save/Save time interval' to '10' (for more frequent auto-saving).
- Deactivate 'Program options/Plot and publish/Background plotting' to 0 (to avoid crashes if you are using batch-plotting).
DO NOT! - Activate any 'Program options/System/Multi-Threading Flags' (will cause file save corruption with non-english characters in the save path and we have also experienced crashes on some versions of BricsCAD).
- Set 'Program options/User preferences/Delete entity' to '0' Retain defining entities (to avoid deleting polylines when used to extrude 3D solids).
- Disable 'Program options/User preferences/Delete tool' (to avoid deleting 3D solids during subtract and intersect operations).
- Set 'Program options/User preferences/Command line font name' to 'Bitstream Vera Sans Mono' and size to '8' (if you want the command line text to take less screen space).
- Set 'Program options/User preferences/Shortcut menus' bitcode to '2', enabling only 'Edit mode shortcut menus' (to enable a more classic AutoCAD way of using right mouse button).
- Disable 'Program options/User preferences/Command line/Auto complete mode/Auto-Append' (less disturbing & fixes fillet issue in v15).
Further optimizing performance:
- Exclude preview of 'locked layers' and 'xrefs' under 'Program options/Selection/Selection preview/Selection preview filter/'.
- Disable all glow and smoothing effects under 'Program options/Display/3d Mode/Highlighting/...'.
- Disable transparency effects by setting all opacity options to value 100 or 0 (solid color or no color) under 'Program options/Display/3d Mode/Highlighting/...'.
- Disable 'Program options/Display/3d mode/Horison background/' as well (just in case it takes computing power and it does not look good anyhow).
- Activate 'Drawing/Drafting/Display/Viewing/Drawing display/Hide original entity when dragging/In 3D Modeling commands' (to speed up drag operations in 3D mode).
Note that with the open source AMD radeon driver; Always disable all 3d mode glow, smoothing and transparency options as described above to avoid crashes. Optionally setting 'Program options/Display/3d Mode/Antialias amount for screen' to a minimum of '2' also seems to prevent the same crashes, but more (and prettier) antialiasing will slow down 3D performance.
Hope this comes in handy to anyone!