The USS Quad Damage


OK, This is a post for anyone running linux with an ATI card. I remember often bitching about ATI drivers, but upon searching, I can only find one source. Anyway, I've often struggled with the proprietary ATI "fglrx" drivers. They don't support dual-head properly, they don't do DAMAGE and Composite, and they've basically been crashing and plaguing me anytime I do a kernel upgrade (hell, they crash when my computer goes to sleep mode).

I always kept going back to the OSS drivers only to find that they were unacceptably slow. At least, that's what I thought at the time. Every time I'd try and use them, I'd find that despite being a fair bit more stable, they would often not use DRI properly, or even if they did, they'd run really slowly. The problem was that there was a cascade of issues that needed to be dealt with before the OSS driver works properly:
  • Firstly, you need the DRM module in the kernel. I knew this part, and I had to recompile my kernel with radeon built into it.
  • Second, you need to have the ATI drivers uninstalled (or at least the original libGL re-named) .
  • Finally, you need to make sure that you've got the X drivers for radeon correctly installed.
This seems like a really trivial set of things to remember, but for some reason, I always forgot at least one of them, or couldn't be bothered with another. The big issue is that the ATI driver doesn't like to exist next to the radeon driver, so you have to spend time fully un-installing "fglrx" if you want "radeon" to work.

Anyway, the point here is: persevere, and the OSS driver "radeon" will work nearly as fast as the "fglrx" one. It won't be just as fast, and it doesn't support all the extensions, but it's a lot more stable, and offers a lot more features. I can breathe easily now.