Graphics driver bugs observed in Chimera

updated May 6, 2009

Frequently asked questions

  1. How do I know if a Chimera error is a graphics driver bug?
  2. How do I fix a graphics driver problem?
  3. Which graphics driver settings should I change?
  4. Why is Chimera so slow on my machine?
  5. Who can help me with my graphics driver problem?
  6. Which graphics cards and drivers are known to have problems?
  7. Why does this problem only appear in Chimera?
  8. Does Chimera come with graphics drivers?

How do I know if a Chimera error is a graphics driver bug?

If your computer crashes and requires a reboot while using Chimera then this is almost certainly a graphics driver bug.

If Chimera crashes or reports an "Unknown C++ exception" every time a specific sequence of steps is made, but it does not crash on another computer with the same operating system but different graphics, then this is very likely a graphics driver bug.

If incorrect rendering is shown in Chimera, such as stripes, streaks, artifacts on saved images, yellow boxes, no green selection outline, fractured surface appearance it is very likely a graphics driver bug.

If Chimera crashes sporadically on one machine, but the same Chimera version does not crash on another machine using the same data and capabilities, then it is most likely a graphics driver bug.

Graphics driver bugs are more common on laptops than on desktop computers, and are especially common with high-end laptop graphics cards.

The only non-graphics-driver crash commonly observed in Chimera is when displaying a molecular surface (menu entry Actions / Surface / show).

How do I fix a graphics driver problem?

Here are ways to fix or work around a graphics driver bug.

Which graphics driver settings should I change?

Changing a graphics driver setting can sometimes avoid a bug. Different graphics cards have different available settings. Locate the graphics driver settings panel on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac, Linux.

Why is Chimera so slow on my machine?

This is most common on Linux when no graphics driver is installed. The glxinfo command will will list Mesa as the renderer. Mesa is an all-software implementation of 3D graphics which can be 100 times slower than hardware accelerated graphics. Install a driver from the graphics card vendor to get increased speed.

Who can help me with my graphics driver problem?

It is difficult for the Chimera developers to figure out solutions for graphics driver bugs because we seldom have the offending graphics card in our lab, so we cannot run any tests.

While we like to hear about the problems so we can advise others with the same problem, most likely you will need to solve the problem using one of these steps.

Report bugs using Chimera menu entry Help / Report a Bug. Submitting a bug using the Chimera menu entry automatically includes the model of your graphics card and the driver version. Alternatively you can send email to

Which graphics cards and drivers are known to have problems?

Here is a list of graphics driver bugs observed using Chimera. These cause rendering artifacts, program crashes, or system crashes. They are more common on laptops than on desktop computers.

ATI Graphics Cards

GraphicsPlatformDriverDescriptionDateChimeraBug IDReported By
Radeon HD 4800 Series Win Vista 1/09 6983
Radeon HD 3800 Series Win XP 7/08 6062
Radeon HD 3470 Mobility Win Vista 10/08 6410
Radeon HD 3200 Win Vista 1/09 6893
Radeon HD 2400 Win XP 1/09 6813
Radeon X1600 Mac 1/09, 10/08 6853, 6468
Radeon X1400 Mobility Win XP 9/08 6230
Radeon X1400 WinXP 2.0.6068 Frames are sheared using Movie Recorder. 10/30/2007 2465 4789 Jaap Brink
Radeon X1300-X1950 series Linux 64-bit unknown Horizontal and vertical hash marks on volume surfaces. Artifacts don't rotate with map. 9/12/2007 ? 4483 Angel Paredes
Radeon X1300/X1550 Series Linux 10/08 6455
Radeon X1300/X1550 series WinXP 2.0.7058 Frames are sheared using Movie Recorder. 12/12/2007 2470 5047 Sacha De Carlo
Radeon X1250 Win Vista 3/09 7072
Radeon X700 Windows 2/08 5354
Radeon X600 Win XP 4/08 5544
Radeon X600 WinXP 6.14.0010.6561 Frames are sheared using Movie Recorder. 9/25/2006 2255 3151 Susan Saban
Radeon X300 Win XP, Linux 7/08, 3/09 7109, 6014
Radeon X300 (mobility) Windows XP 1.5.4650 Unknown C++ exception not reproduced on other machines. Laptop. 5/10/2007 1.2304 3862 Roberto Vanacore
Radeon Xpress 1150 Win Vista 4/09, 2/09 7145, 6945
Radeon Xpress Series Win Vista 10/08 6406, 6376
Radeon 9800 Pro Mac 1/09 6854
Radeon 9800 Win XP 1/09 6900
Radeon 9600 Mobility Win XP 5/08 5645
Radeon 9600SE WinXP 2.0.6067 Frame corruption when using Chimera Movie Recorder. 10/29/2006 2304 3259. Sabuj Pattanayek
Radeon 9600 Pro Mac 10.3.9 Eudora, Word, Safari crash after using Chimera. 8/18/2005 2065 1962 Michael Schmid
Radeon 9600 Pro Mac 10.3.5 Frame artifacts (streaks) showing volume data. 10/12/2004 1951 1248 Lu Gan
Radeon 9600 XT Mac 10.3.8 and 10.3.5 System crash when displaying large volume data (470x470x440). 4/28/2005 ? and 1951 1665 and 1319 Lu Gan
Radeon 7500C WinXP Chimera crashes when rotating molecule or map. No crash in OpenGL 16-bit z-buffer mode. 1/8/2005 2038 1387 Sacha De Carlo
Radeon 7500C WinXP ? Chimera crashes display volume data. No crash of OpenGL hardware acceleration turned off. 11/19/2003 1872 1060 Sacha De Carlo
Radeon 7500 (mobility) Windows XP 1.3.3842 I selected some atoms, though they didn't look selected, then everything got frozen. 5/24/2007 1.2303 3918
Radeon 7500 WinXP 1.3.3259 Unknown C++ exception when displaying volume data. 7/3/2006 2199 2928 Maria Zoghbi
Radeon 7500 (mobility) WinXP 1.3.1006 Unknown C++ exception displaying volume data. 4/16/2006 2199 2669 Jian Shi
Radeon 7000 Win XP 3/09, 8/08 7042, 6203
Radeon 7000 Windows XP 1.3.4276 "Unknown C++ exception" measuring distance between atoms. Works on other machines. 3/22/2007 3728 Andrew Bigley
FireGL V5700 Mobility Win XP 1/09 6826
FireGL V5200 (mobility) Windows XP Pro 2.0.5757 Chimera crashes with commands "select :arg,lys", "color blue sel" on T60P laptop. 4/22/2007 1.2382 3797 Andrea Rossi
FireGL V3400 Linux 3/08 5487
FireGL V3400 Linux x86_64 8.37.6 Graphics windows does not update when first shown unless resized. Model Panel raises error when model ID column is shown but only after side view dialog has been shown. 12/10/2007 2470, 2475 5038 Gary Ren
FireGL V3400 Linux 8.28.8 and 8.29.6 Freezes system when resizing Chimera window to large size (~1024x1024). Yellow rectangular blocks in graphics window when resizing. Can recover by logging in from another machine and killing Chimera Yellow blocks appear when selecting in smaller window size with no freeze. 11/30/2006 2307 Gary Ren
FireGL V3200 (mobility) Windows XP and Linux 2.0.5285 System hang requiring reboot rotating volume surface. 1/11/2007 1.2304 3512 Jeff Triffo
FireGL V3200 (mobility) WinXP and Linux ? Freezes system requiring reboot on Windows. System crash with screen covered with vertical bars on Linux. 12/28/2006 2304? Jeff Triffo
FireGL T2/T2e (mobility) Linux 2.6.18-4-686 2.0.6458 (8.36.5) Mesh benchmark score is zero of IBM T41p laptop. Suggests failed volume mesh rendering. 5/15/2007 1.2392 3888 Alec Robertson
FireGL T2 WinXP ? System freeze when displaying large volume data EMD 1060. 10/6/2005 2176 2095 Tom Goddard

Intel Graphics Cards

GraphicsPlatformDriverDescriptionDateChimeraBug IDReported By
Intel 965/963 GMA Win XP/Vista 2/08 - 9/08 6335, 6160, 6145, 5943, 5659, 5658, 5339, 5338, 5251, 5245
Intel 950 GMA Mac 10/08, 6/08 6502, 5818
Intel 950GMA Windows current Crashes when residues selected. Filled style selection highlighting works. 12/3/2007 1.2470 5000 Andrea Coletta
Intel 945 G Win XP 12/08, 8/08 6673, 6111
Intel 945 GM Win Vista, Linux 4/08 - 7/08 6064, 5602, 5581
Intel 945GM Windows Vista Error when using side view dialog. TclError: unable to share display lists. Couldn't configure togl widget. 5/7/2007 1.2304, 1.2382 3847, 3843 Tracey Musa, Andy LiWang
Intel 945GM Windows Vista Selection drag-box is not visible. 5/6/2007 1.2382 3842 Andy LiWang
Intel 915 GM Win XP 11/08 6508
Intel 915GM Windows XP Unchecking "solids using 2d textures" in volume dialog causes "unknown C++ exception". 4/25/2007 1.2304 3804
Intel 915GM Windows XP 1.4.0 - Build "Unknown C++ exception" in switching from solid rendering to surface rendering. 1/11/2007 1.2304 3513
Intel 855 GM Win XP 4/08 5536
Intel Bear Lake B Win Vista 11/08 6528
Intel Montara-GM Windows XP 2d labels not showing in saved image. 3/1/2007 1.2350 3655

NVidia Graphics Cards

GraphicsPlatformDriverDescriptionDateChimeraBug IDReported By
Quadro FX 4500 Mac 2/09, 11/08, 10/08, 8/08 6960, 6568, 6423, 6178
Quadro FX 4500 Mac Intel 10.4.9 Chimera crashes using solid volume rendering. 6/16/2007 2417 4059 Matt Dougherty
Quadro FX 3500 Win Server 2003 11/08 6554
Quadro FX 3000 Win XP 3/08 5410
Quadro FX 1300 WinXP ? System crash using quadbuffer stereo. Testing Dimension Technologies Inc autostereoscopic display Virtual Window 2019. 12/1/2006 2304? 3378 Juho Kim
Quadro FX 1000/AGP Linux 2.6.9-34.ELsmp 2.0.2 NVIDIA 87.56 Placing volume path tracer markers causes freeze. Unplugging and replugging in mouse resolves freeze. 1/12/2007 1.2318 3515 Jeff Triffo
Quadro FX 570M Win Vista 6/08 5864
Quadro FX 360M Win XP 7/08 5922
Quadro FX 350M Windows XP Pro 84.69 Scene can appear dim because lighting is incorrect. 10/8/2007 1.2422 4625 Fabian Glaser
Quadro4 Linux RH8 4349 X server hangs or operates at "glacial speeds" if Chimera window resized before displaying any data. 5/1/2003 1700 535 Ed Egelman
GeForce 9800 GTX Win XP 4/09 5617
GeForce 9600M GT Mac 4/08 7147
GeForce 8800 GTX Windows XP and Vista Squashed shiny atom spheres. 1/25/2008 1.2470? 5214 Christos Gatsogiannis
GeForce 8600M GS Linux 3/09 7097
GeForce 7900 GS Linux 6/08 5852
GeForce 7800 GT Win XP 1/09 6865
GeForce 7700, 512 Mb RAM Windows Vista Rendering is extremely slow, several seconds to select atoms, and vertical black bars appear in saved images. 5/24/2007 3913 Michael Humbert
GeForce 7500 Win XP 4/09 7151
GeForce Go 7400 Win 2000 12/08 6650
GeForce 7300 GT Mac 12/08, 8/08, 7/08 6621, 6154, 6084
GeForce 7300 GT Mac Intel 10.4.10 Chimera crashes using solid volume rendering. 6/26/2007 2422 4103, 4445, 4729, 4752 Axel Brunger, Josh, HuiTing Chou, Henning Stahlberg
GeForce 6800 GT/PCI Linux 2.1.0 NVIDIA 97.46 Coloring of volume maps erratic when two maps open. Only happens when side view window is autostarted and models open on the command-line. 2/12/2007 1.2304 3604 Albion Baucom
GeForce 6800 LE Linux 2/09 6975
GeForce 6600 GT WinXP ? 100% CPU utilization on one CPU of dual opteron when doing nothing. Also system crash in solid rendering mode. 11/15/2005 2186 2234 JJ Heyd
GeForce FX 5500 Win XP 7/08 5962
GeForce FX 5200 (Quadro FX 500/600) RedHat 9 Linux 1.4.18 glxinfo said card is GeForce when really a Quadro (ancient driver). Dies on startup with a "ValueError: attempt to create string with null pointer" error. 1/23/2007 1.2304 Chen Xu
GeForce 4 Ti4600 Mac 10.2.5 Chimera crashes rotating a molecule. 4/23/2003 1700 529 Tom Goddard
RIVA TNT2 WinXP ? Unknown C++ exception displaying second volume or side view window. 5/9/2006 2199 2735 Hernando Sosa

SGI Graphics Cards

GraphicsPlatformDriverDescriptionDateChimeraBug IDReported By
Maximum Impact SGI IRIX 6.5.12m System crash using solid rendering, also sometimes with surface rendering. 4/15/2003 1602 516 Jean-Francois Menetret

SIS Graphics

GraphicsPlatformDriverDescriptionDateChimeraBug IDReported By
Sis M760 Graphics Controller Windows XP Outline highlight not supported by hardware on Amilo A 1645 Fujitsu-Siemens laptop. 5/15/2007 3870 Volodymyr Zloy
SiS 760 Win XP 4/08 5526

Tungsten Graphics, Inc.

GraphicsPlatformDriverDescriptionDateChimeraBug IDReported By
Tungsten Graphics, Inc. Mesa DRI Radeon 20050528 Linux 1.2 Mesa 6.4.1 Horizontal frame artifacts rotating molecule. 6/20/2006 2251 2861 Gianluca Degliesposti

Why does this problem only appear in Chimera?

Chimera uses more OpenGL 3D graphics capabilties than other visualization programs and is more likely to encounter bugs in graphics drivers. Bugs are especially prevalent on higher performance work-station graphics cards, possibly because Chimera queries and uses advanced features of those cards that are used by few other programs. Little used and little tested graphics card features are more likely to have bugs.

Does Chimera come with graphics drivers?

No. A graphics driver is part of your operating system software. It may be supplied by the maker of your operating system (Microsoft, Apple), by the graphics card manufacturer (Nvidia, ATI, ..., usual approach on Linux) systems, or by the manufacturer of your computer (Dell, Sony, ..., common for laptops).