I recently updated the Nvidia drivers on my multihead Linux system and had a rude shock: the newest driver does not support my PCI-based Nvidia cards (two NV18's [GeForce4 MX 4000] and an NV17 [GeForce4 MX440]). After experimenting a bit, I realized that the Nvidia "Legacy" driver doesn't offer what I need either -- there seems to be a third driver, which is legacy-but-not-declared-legacy, the 96xx series. (On Livna, the package name for the driver is xorg-x11-drv-nvidia-96xx).
I think it's a mistake for Nvidia to stop supporting the GeForce4 video cards with the 'current' driver while those cards are still being sold. The PCI versions of the GeForce4 cards are great for multihead systems -- they have reasonable power consumption, are available in fanless versions, are inexpensive, and provide sufficient performance for basic 3D purposes (including Google Earth and even Compiz). I'm considering upgrading my 4-head home system system to a dual-core 64-bit motherboard with two PCI-Express x16 slots which will power two seats, and using two of the fanless PCI GeForce4 cards (from the existing system) for the other two seats, but I'm concerned about long-term driver support. It seems a shame to waste two perfectly good (and still available at Retail) video cards...
An alternative is to use a x1 -> x16 wearout adapter, or modify a x1 -> x1 wearout adapter, although this necessitates a case modification to anchor the cards (using low profile cards such as 6200/7300/7100 may allow the use of the extender with a custom bracket to fit in the space of a "normal" video card.)
$25 x1 -> x1 wearout adapter:
I have had 3 cards (2x 6600GT, and a 6200) installed and running on the above system, which is configured with 1 x16 and 2 x1 slots, even benchmarked with 3Dmark2001 and obtained some good results.
About Chris Tyler
I am a Christian, college professor, computer programmer, system administrator, author, and consultant. I am also an Industrial Research Chair with a focus on Linux on 64-bit ARM enterprise systems.