Chapter 9: Graphic Cards
by Ian Kayne
The graphics card is arguably one of the most important pieces of hardware in a modern computer. Whilst it is basic task is to convert digital information in memory to an analogue signal that can be displayed on a monitor, in practice most modern cards are capable of much more.
Choosing the right video card is an important decision. Poorly designed cards & drivers can cause severe instabilities in any operating system. Poor image quality can cause eyestrain and fatigue, and insufficient processing power will prevent the use of some productive software, not just games. Ethereal, a piece of software that allows the capturing of network packets for troubleshooting and diagnostic purposes is a good example of this. Ethereal was originally written for the UNIX & Linux platforms, and uses GTK for its graphical user interface (GTK is a GUI development toolkit). The Windows version of Ethereal also uses GTK, which has one very important limitation it will not work on displays of 256 colors or less, providing an excellent practical example of why even productive software often needs good quality graphics cards to function correctly.
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