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Graphics Software Hardware Linux

A Look at the State of ATI Linux Drivers 43

Linux PaPa writes " has just posted a great new review on the current state of ATI drivers under Linux. The review is specifically a look at the Connect3D's Radeon X800 and it exposes many of ATI's current problems in their latest drivers. While the drivers seem to have plenty of speed to them now, some stuff still just doesn't work."
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A Look at the State of ATI Linux Drivers

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  • well, (Score:4, Funny)

    by Keruo ( 771880 ) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @03:56PM (#13203570)
    if it does 80x24, it's enough for me, everything beyond that is just bonus
    • You are buying a multi-hundred-dollar graphicscard to display the console?
      • You'd be surprised how badly some *cough* nvidia *cough* graphics cards do at straight text. They're so 'optimised' for high benchmark framerates that the 2d quality becomes utter shite. Compare an older Matrox with a current gaming graphics card and be surprised.
        • No kidding. I've a GF2MX-200 that is ridiculously slow rendering a BIOS setup screen. Paired with this card, a machine with an Athlon 2600+ will render that screen more slowly than my old 486SX-25 with Paradise SVGA accelerator did.

          It's not this machine, BTW. I replaced that card with a Radeon 9600XT and the BIOS screen just flies.
      • Yes. []
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) * on Saturday July 30, 2005 @04:14PM (#13203681)
    On a laptop, the state is that you go to ATI's website, dig around for a bit, find a page for downloading the drivers, get a note saying that there are no laptop drivers and that you should contact your laptop OEM (and exactly how many of them are distributing LINUX drivers for their system even for OS-less laptops like my own?), search the web, find a websit with a guy who says he modified the ATI linux drivers to operate on a number of cards, including the Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB, take the guy at his word and trust that they're fine, download and recompile your laptop's kernel, download the source for the ATI driver, download another source bundle, compile the two along with your new kernel, say a prayer and hope that everything works.

    For the life of me, I don't know why everyone isn't running linux already. Hmm...!
    • Because... ATI is really bad at releasing drivers?
      • Actually, that's why I walked away from ATI in the first place. I believe the last time I had an ATI card was in 1998 or 2000. They released this attrocious videocard and it took forever to release ANY udpated drivers. A number of games (including Vampire: The Masquarade) were completley unplayable because of it. Their released driver (which only came after about six months) brought more problems.

        After that, I've been NVIDIA ever since.

        But they do seem to have cleaned up their act at ATI and I would not hes
    • Ignore what ATI tells you on their website. Download the fglrx package from them anyway, they work with mobility products about as well as they do with desktop products.
      • Yes, it's just that little word, 'about'. I've been wanting to install some sort of 3D acceleration on my laptop for nearly a year now. Tried a lot of things but nothing worked. I would be really excited to get ATI's official slant on linux drivers.
      • Ignore what ATI tells you on their website. Download the fglrx package from them anyway, they work with mobility products about as well as they do with desktop products.

        With my ATI Radeon X300 PCI Express Mobility, they don't. I didn't even know about the "no laptop" thing.

        I'm currently running generic Mesa GLX drivers, running at ~500 FPS in glxgears. Good enough for what I do on this partition (separate Windows partition for games), but I would love to see what this thing can do with real drivers.
      • by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @06:31PM (#13204351) Homepage
        I spent days trying to get stupid ATI 64-bit drivers working on AMD64 Linux. Don't bother. Just buy an nVidia card and be done with it.
        • Hmm I had some resolution problems initially, but eventually got the 64 bit drivers working without too much trouble.

          Of course, I can't upgrade my kernel or else they will break again. Naturally.
        • OK, I'll go out and buy an NVidia video card, now can you show me how to install it in my laptop?

          Actually, I've got a laptop with an NVidia card, and it's pretty powerful stuff... but the newer models are mostly carrying ATI. Also, the newer/better brands/models seem to have more compatible components (soundcard, modem, wireles, etc) for Linux... but lack the NVidia card.

          Personally I'd just like to see ATI release some good drivers, but I guess that's still hoping for too much.
      • about as well as they do with desktop products

        Yeah, except that desktop systems aren't asked to suspend very often.

        Suspend is broken in the ATI fglrx drivers [], and has been for the eighteen months that I have owned my current laptop. For this reason I use the 2D drivers in the standard X.Org release, although I am hopeful that the r300 project [] is showing some real traction now.

      • I don't know if this helps anyone who can't get the drivers working, but fglx 8.13.4 worked for me where 8.14.13 did not. Still no DRI, but at least I can load the driver. I'm running on AMD64 with a Radeon Xpress 200M.

        If you're considering purchasing a laptop with that chipset for use with Linux, I would advise against it. It's not fun to get working, and there are strange bugs like the system clock running twice as fast as it should be (I think that the APIC was generating twice as many interrupts as it s
    • Actually, that doesn't make me wonder why people aren't running Linux, it makes me wonder why people are running ATI (even a few Linux people!).

      On my laptop, in Linux (AMD64 even) the NVidia drivers work just fine with one special setting in xorg.conf so the full width of the screen is used. In Windows, the stock nVidia drivers don't even believe I have an nVidia chip, and I'm stuck waiting for Compaq to update their drivers to work around a bug when scaling while preserving aspect ratio.

      • In my case, I'm running ATI because that's what the laptop came with. It was originally intended to be a quick and dirty Windows laptop for watching videos remotely and doing a little surfing and music listening. But now its purposes has been shifted a bit and I've put Ubuntu on it for my friend (she wanted linux, I love Debian and had never tried Ubuntu before).

        I've had lots of problems in the past, which I've mentioned on Slashdot, getting videocards that are identified and in the select list of a linux i
    • And that's an improvement from a few years ago. I had one of those Radeon Mobility 7500 IGPs; I waited over a year (probably two; I forget how long exactly) for driver support in Linux, and even then, there were strange problems like holes in textures.
  • Really. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    From the article: The ATI proprietary drivers are easy to install under almost any distribution and the setup is not too painful using their X configuration utility. Really. Any laptops as example?
  • fglrx is getting better and better. We can't it to suddenly become perfect. fglrx today is much better than flgrx a year ago. As far as I know, fglrx supports the graphic cards on laptops aswell. Read the release notes to see which cards are supported: ml#172394 []
    • From release notes
      These release notes provide information on the latest posting of ATI's Proprietary Linux driver version 8.14.13 (IIRC)

      IIRC? Um... wonder if that's for "If I Remember Correctly"
    • I would have to second this opinion. I recently used the fglrx driver in the Ubuntu distribution on a desktop, and I was extremely pleased with the performance.

      Granted, I don't push the graphics too hard, but I had nothing to complain about from the standpoint of usability.
  • by someone300 ( 891284 ) on Saturday July 30, 2005 @05:00PM (#13203931)
    ATI's development cycle is far too slow for linux. They develop for it to work on the current *stable* kernel, rather than the mm kernel or the development kernel. Naturally when it comes out, the development kernel is the stable kernel by that time, and it doesn't work any more. This wouldn't be as bad a problem if they didn't use heavily deprecated kernel features when they're developing (if you can make it build, look at the amount of deprecated errors).

    They also use CRAP 2d drivers .. 6x slower in my experience. I think it was based off of really old XFree radeon drivers or something and they haven't changed it.

    Their state with windows and linux laptop drivers confused me at first, but their linux drivers work on mobility products, and windows drivers require a hack. My laptop manufacturer doesn't release drivers so I needed to get them to get the updated drivers.

    I don't understand why they don't have a nightly driver release.. and they could help by releasing everything that they possibly can opensource and a binary module (see the madwifi drivers for an example), then get a load of OSS developers who know X really well to maintain them. The madwifi drivers work really well for most parts, ATI should learn from them and nvidia.
    • ATI's development cycle is far too slow for linux. They develop for it to work on the current *stable* kernel, rather than the mm kernel or the development kernel.

      God forbid that a hardware company should develop a driver on a stable target, rather than one that gratuitously changes the AGP and PCI API's in a 0.0.x (what the rest of the world calls a patchlevel) revision in what is supposed to be the STABLE kernel. I hold ATI absolutely blameless for that mess.

      The fglrx driver is quite solid now, and blend
  • Once linux on the desktop is relevant, they'll care, but until then they're putting all their resources into their windows drivers.

    My main machine is a desktop replacement (pre-upgradeable video cards), and is an ATI 9600. Nice card on windows. Plays FarCry and Counterstrike pretty well, but quake3 on linux is another story.

    Next time I'll be sure to get Nvidia. Of course, by that time ATI will probably the good guys again.
    • Ok when you say they put ALL their resources to the windows drivers, it's a sad statement. Because the windows Catalyst drivers are still an abolute mess. Nvidia is better, but by a mighty small margin.

    • ati are the good guys... compared to nvidia.

      both companies are pretty much bastards but for different reasons.

      nvidia cannot be trusted with their drivers and they put forth far more development into cheating at benchmarks then making a good hardware product in the first place.

      ati has cheated in the past but not to any degree that nvidia has.

      the fact that both companies do this just means the customers lose.

      for me, i'm an ati user now. it is possible for me to go back to nvidia (owned gf2 and 3) would requir
  • by anth ( 2631 ) <> on Saturday July 30, 2005 @06:43PM (#13204405)
    It seems odd to write a review of hardware for linux and only consider proprietary, binary-only drivers. The R300 [] project has progressed to the point that they now list what is left to do, and its shorter than the list of what is already done. Many games are playable, and it looks like they could use some testers who have a wider range of cards.
  • Dual Headed Displays (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rimu guy ( 665008 ) * on Saturday July 30, 2005 @09:34PM (#13205134) Homepage

    After a few hours of messing around with xorg.conf, I managed to get my CRT/LCD display up and running in dual headed/Xinerama mode on my Radeon9600pro.

    Fast foward a few months and I upgrade from FC3 to 4. X performance is now not even usable. I grab the latest ati drivers. After a few hours more in xorg.conf I get X starting up, but no matter what I try dual headed displays elude me.

    The solution I eventually found was a cheap nvidia card purchase on trademe. I still needed a few more hours in xorg.conf, but ultimately I did get that dual headed setup back.

    Until there is some change to the driver status quo I'll be buying nvidia over ati on my Linux systems.

    Want better Linux driver support? Vote for Linux friendly vendors using your checkbook at your local computer store.

    Linux Friendly VPS Hosting []

  • No really. I have a Dell Latitude D600 with (what is labelled as) a Radeon 9000 Mobility, and although ATi's drivers *sort*of* work, inasmuch as having a completely mangled screen which just barely shows wdm's login prompt is working. Of course this is after a few re-boots trying to figure out exactly which kernel options they want in and out. And using *THEIR* X.Org configuration script, which is more confusing and only slightly more useful (only for ATi cards), which means nothing because the end result i
  • by Tom ( 822 )
    "some stuff" ???

    Yeah, like support for the 2.6.12 kernel, which is not exactly new anymore, and despite claims to the opposite is still largely non-existent. There's a patch to at least compile the module, but it locks some systems (including mine) up.

    As much as I dislike NVidia's close-mindedness, but their drivers at least work, work reliably, and with a fraction of the hassle.

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