Installing and using Open GL's glsetup.exe

glsetup.exe is not usually required for computers running the latest Windows operating systems, i.e. Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, because hardware necessary to run those operating systems tends to have much better or complete graphic driver support for Open GL specifications, meaning that glsetup.exe is obsolete and should only really be necessary when using Windows 95, 98 & 98SE based systems when used in conjunction with older graphics card hardware.

Although this article has been updated slightly it should be noted that it was originally written when Quake 3 was published c.1999/2000 so is now considered obsolete where modern computers and Operating Systems are employed on gaming PCs as outlined above.

What is glsetup.exe?

Open GL setup (glsetup.exe) was a third party device driver service that provided 'support' for the Open GL rendering system (API) that powered games in the late 1990's and early 2000's when there were a number of ways to render content to screen, depending on which brand of graphics card was used. Whilst a number of them had proprietary systems, Open GL was considered a useful 'cross-platform' language and so was supported by most graphics card manufacturers. However, "support" didn't always means "supply" so there was a need for a third party application to provide drivers that recognised and installed the appropriate OpenGL based material for a given graphics card. More often than not, it was supplied on CD's used to install purchased games.

OpenGL, graphics drivers and performance ^

When openGL drivers are used they make a noticeable difference to Quake 3's performance than the 'default' graphics card drivers as supplied with and when the the game is installed. For example, when compared to a games machine that had a classic Voodoo3 2000 in place (16MB), the default drivers (dated 13-07-99) supplied on the VooDoos driver CD don't run q3 very well at all - missing polygons, transparent surfaces and generally a bad visual experience. As an aside, the default drivers did seem to affect the connection quality to the internet when using a dial up modem device.

Installing and updating to the latest available drivers with glsetup, at the time (dated 07-05-2000), meant that most of the graphics problems disappeared after a little fiddling around with Quake 3's main game settings. Oddly, the new glsetup drivers adversely affected the modems connection to the net!.

glsetup and correct OpenGL driver support ^

Installing the GLSetup drivers do make a hell of a difference, the game is so much more stable than before and there are no texture/polygon/drawing problems. The GLSetup on the Q3A disc I've got is now 'old' so it's best to follow the link to the web site and down load the latest 'installer' which when executed will install the latest openGL drivers for your specific graphics card, it does this over the net mind, so if your using a 28/33/56k modem it may take some time to do; total installation is about 5MB for all the various files needed.

It's a must to run this really as graphics card manufacturers don't seem to update their own drivers too often, usually the graphics card drivers supplied on the products installation CD are the latest drivers!

Problems with OpenGL and graphics cards ^

Graphic card drivers are an area where you either have problems or you don't, there doesn't seem to be a 'happy middle ground' with them. The Voodoo's generally can handle q3 quite well without the GLSetup drivers but, and as an example, a friend (yes I do have a life outside of Quake...! as do we all..!) is currently running a Voodoo3 3000 using the Voodoo3 2000 drivers because of the bad Q3A performance he gets from the 3000's drivers [what he actually said was he had to install the V3 3000 using the 2000 drivers, he then 'updates' these drivers with the 3000's (control panel > my computer > system properties > device manager > display adapters -click the 'driver' tab). He can't install the card using the original V3 3000 drivers, it does what was described above- missing polygons/textures, transparent surfaces etc..], this might be down to all sorts of things, motherboard BIOS/drivers/support, AGP drivers, PCI bus drivers, IR. conflicts, BMA conflicts, hardware conflicts etc., etc. I think you get the picture..! It doesn't take much to throw a system out of whack.

Some cards really do need the GLSetup, one in particular is the Diamond Stealth s540 (I have one of these in another system), it won't have it at all! Whether this is down to the chipset, the S3 Savage4, or the card I don't know, but it definitely needs the GLSetup to be run to get good Q3A game performance. Once done it's fine, it actually give better colour then the Voodoo but it doesn't have the sharpness or the speed.

OpenGL, glsetup, first generation GForce and Radeon cards ^

Two cards I'm dying to get my sticky mitts on are the ATI Radeon chipset card and the GForce chipset cards. I've been reliably informed that the GForce card itself is good but the drivers aren't too hot on NT platform... mmmm. Worth investigating.

Conclusions ^

Maybe it's me, and I am a little fussy at times, I expect a graphics card to run a game like q3 straight out of the box, I don't especially expect to have to install further drivers to get it all working.. Ah well, one can only q3dream..!