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Users with ATI cards have the following driver options:
- vesa - very basic, lacks 2D/3D acceleration, and focuses on compatibility with all VESA-compliant graphics cards. It is good for starting the GUI environment when no accelerated driver is available/working, and little else.
- ati - actually a thin wrapper that will invoke the radeon driver (or another ati open-source driver for pre-Radeon cards).
- radeon - open source driver supporting all Radeon cards. This driver has excellent 2D acceleration and compatibility with the Linux graphics stack. 3D acceleration is sufficient for desktop effects and a nice set of native Linux games.
- Catalyst (a.k.a fglrx) a proprietary "blob" (closed source binary) driver designed by ATI, with 3D code based off of their Windows driver. Only RadeonHD chips are supported on recent Linux distros. You may want to use this driver for longer battery life on a laptop or for more demanding 3D applications.
Updated Open Source Driver PPA's
Installing Proprietary Drivers a.k.a. Catalyst/fglrx
Which cards are no longer supported by ATI?
The ATI Radeon 9500-9800, Xpress200-1250, 690G, 740G, X300-X2500 (including Mobility RadeonHD 2300, since it is really a DirectX 9 part). See the complete list here.
If your card is on that list, you are limited to open-source drivers on Ubuntu Lucid/10.04 (and later). If you really need the proprietary Catalyst/fglrx driver, you will have to use an older Linux distribution, such as Debian Lenny/5.0.x or Ubuntu Hardy/8.04.x.
|ATTENTION RADEON USERS
NOTE: If you enter your card information on AMD/ATI's driver page, it will offer you the Catalyst 9-3 driver to download. However, the Catalyst 9-3 driver doesn't support X servers past 1.5, and it will not work with Precise (or anything later than Lucid/10,04)! !!!SO BE CAREFUL!!! If you tried to install Catalyst on a system with one of these cards, see the 'Removing the Driver' section to restore the default/pre-installed drivers.
Using Ubuntu-supplied fglrx/Catalyst
This may not give you the latest drivers, but should be safest. On Ubuntu Precise, this will install Catalyst 8.960, which is roughly equivalent to Catalyst 12-4. NOTE: You must have the restricted repository enabled in Applications -> Ubuntu Software Center -> Edit -> Software Sources... for this to work. After you complete the install, skip to Generate a new /etc/X11/xorg.conf file.
sudo apt-get install fglrx fglrx-amdcccle
You must have jockey-common and jockey-gtk (or jockey-kde for Kubuntu) packages installed. For the default Ubuntu desktop (Unity), go to the dashboard home and search for "Additional Drivers" in the applications search field (or double-click the "available driver" notification icon) and activate the "ATI/AMD proprietary FGLRX graphics driver".
Installing Catalyst Manually (from AMD/ATI's site)
I recommend copying and pasting the commands to ensure there are no typing mistakes and speed up the install process. Remember to use Ctrl + Shift + V or Shift + Insert to paste into the terminal (or go to the terminals menu, select edit and click paste).
Before you start
If you have previously attempted installing Catalyst, remove any leftover files by following the Removing the Driver section. Make sure universe and multiverse are enabled in your repository sources (System -> Administration -> Software Sources).
or Applications->Ubuntu Software Center->Edit->Software sources->Other software: check canonical partners.
Install the prerequisite packages:
sudo apt-get install build-essential cdbs dh-make dkms execstack dh-modaliases fakeroot libqtgui4
If you are using the x86_64 architecture (64 bit):
sudo apt-get install lib32gcc1
If your /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-local.conf contains blacklist fglrx make sure you comment out this line by adding a # in front of it.
Download the latest Catalyst package.
This package contains both the 32-bit and 64-bit driver.
chmod +x amd-driver-installer-catalyst-12.10-x86.x86_64.run
Create and install .deb packages.
sudo sh ./amd-driver-installer-catalyst-12.10-x86.x86_64.run --buildpkg Ubuntu/precise
sudo dpkg -i fglrx*.deb
If building .deb packages fails, there is also an Alternative Manual Installation
In case of failure:
Remember these steps before you reboot your computer.
If the X server fails to start, switch to a new TTY using ctrl+alt+F2. Log in, and attempt to start the X server.
If it fails to start, you will likely see a stacktrace, and immediately above it will be something along the lines of "Could not stat /usr/lib64/fglrx/switchlibGL" which means that you failed to copy the executables properly. Ctrl+c, and immediately copy the switchlibGL and switchlibglx executables to the fglrx folder in /usr/lib64/ or /usr/lib32/.
If all else fails, revert your xorg.conf and reboot.
sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf.orig /etc/X11/xorg.conf
This should return your original display.
Generate a new /etc/X11/xorg.conf file
Unfortunately, there is no sure way to generate the ATI version of the Xorg.conf file. It is entirely dependent on your configuration. The following subsections will attempt to address possible (and tested) variations for their respective configurations.
This will work for most people:
sudo amdconfig --initial -f
A very basic /etc/X11/xorg.conf file might be what you need if you have a new card that's not fully supported by amdconfig. Here follows the entirety of a minimal xorg.conf file for the Radeon HD 6870:
Identifier "ATI radeon 6870"
X2/Dual GPU Cards
If you have an X2 card (e.g. 4870X2 or 5970), use... !!Do not use for two separate cards in crossfire!!
sudo amdconfig --initial -f --adapter=all
If you have a dual monitor display (also known as "Big Desktop"), use:
sudo amdconfig --initial -f
sudo amdconfig --set-pcs-str="DDX,EnableRandR12,FALSE"
This was confirmed in http://phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18553. Be advised that you may need to manually set the correct refresh rate for your second monitor through catalyst.
Force use of the new xorg.conf (if necessary)
Some people find that changes to xorg.conf don't get used by the driver. To force the ATI driver to adopt changes made to xorg.conf, use the following command:
sudo amdconfig --input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf --tls=1
Test your installation
NOTE: if you don't reboot first, fglrxinfo gives an error message.
Reboot the computer and type
into the terminal. If the vendor string contains ATI, you have installed the driver successfully. Using fglrxinfo on a system with Catalyst 12-3 and a RadeonHD 4550 returns:
display: :0.0 screen: 0
OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc.
OpenGL renderer string: ATI Radeon HD 4550 (This line may be different depending on what graphics card you are using.)
OpenGL version string: 3.3.11566 Compatibility Profile Context (This line may be different depending on what graphics card and
Catalyst version you are using.)
If you experience issues or a hang, you may need to disable fast TLS.
sudo amdconfig --tls=0
Just in case
Write down or remember this series of Alt+PrntScr key combinations, just in case your screen should go black and Ctrl+Alt+F1 and Ctrl+Alt+Backspace doesn't work.
Alt+PrntScr+r, Alt+PrntScr+s, Alt+PrntScr+e, Alt+PrntScr+i, Alt+PrntScr+n, Alt+PrntScr+u, Alt+PrntScr+b
These key-presses will reboot the system safely. To remember the key-presses, remember this nonsensical phrase: "Raising Skinny Elephants Is Never Utterly Boring".
An alternative would be to hold down Ctrl+Alt+SysRq (SysRq is usually the same key as PrintScreen) and type very slowly R E I S U B. A way to remember this is by inverting the word: "BUSIER" or remembering a phrase: "Restart Even If System Utterly Broken". This would also safely shutdown the system.
Alternative Manual Installation
WARNING: This method is incompatible with Debian/Ubuntu Filesystem Hierarchy and may cause issues, especially when trying to remove or upgrade Catalyst. It is highly recommended to build .deb pakages. USE AT OWN RISK.
This is another method of manual installation that may work best for laptop users who have a hybrid setup (i.e. Intel HD onboard graphics with an AMD discrete GPU).
sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.orig
Click "Install Driver on X.Org" rather than "Generate distribution specific driver package". Select the "Automatic" install option.
Hardware Video Decode Acceleration (EXPERIMENTAL)
Using XBMC player (XvBA)
XBMC has added support for accelerating video using XvBA/libxvba directly, but the support is currently not in the xbmc package in Ubuntu's repositories. To install the XvBA-enabled version of xbmc:
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:wsnipex/xbmc-xvba
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xbmc
sudo amdconfig --set-pcs-u32=MCIL,HWUVD_H264Level51Support,1
Using the xvba-va Driver (VA-API)
This is confirmed to work for newer RadeonHD GPU's (those with UVD2). If you have a RadeonHD 4000-series or newer, you have UVD2. To see the complete list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Video_Decoder#UVD_enabled_GPUs
sudo apt-get install xvba-va-driver libva-glx1 libva-x11-1 vainfo
vainfo should return something like the following (and no errors):
libva: libva version 0.32.0
Xlib: extension "XFree86-DRI" missing on display ":0.0".
libva: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva: Trying to open /usr/lib/dri/fglrx_drv_video.so
libva: va_openDriver() returns 0
vainfo: VA API version: 0.32
vainfo: Driver version: Splitted-Desktop Systems XvBA backend for VA-API - 0.7.8
vainfo: Supported profile and entrypoints
VAProfileH264High : VAEntrypointVLD
VAProfileVC1Advanced : VAEntrypointVLD
If vainfo returns an error, you may need to create a symlink:
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/va/drivers/fglrx_drv_video.so /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/dri/fglrx_drv_video.so #for 64-bit
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/va/drivers/fglrx_drv_video.so /usr/lib/dri/fglrx_drv_video.so #for 32-bit
Once you've confirmed that vainfo is correct, you can test video playback. A good test player for xvba is VLC. You can enable xvba in Tools -> Preferences -> Input and Codecs. Check the box named "Use GPU acceleration (experimental)" and then restart VLC.
DO NOT try to install a new version over an old one. Follow the 'Removing Catalyst/fglrx' section below to remove your existing driver, and then you can start at 'Downloading the latest Catalyst' to install the new one.
The uninstall script in the first command will only exist if you downloaded the drivers and installed them directly (rather than building packages as this guide does). Skip the first command if it does not exist.
sudo sh /usr/share/ati/fglrx-uninstall.sh
sudo apt-get remove --purge fglrx fglrx_* fglrx-amdcccle* fglrx-dev*
If you plan on using open-source drivers, you will need to reinstall some packages because Catalyst overwrites or diverts some key 3D libraries with proprietary versions. For more information on this issue, see this Ubuntu wiki page
sudo apt-get remove --purge xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-radeon
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-ati
sudo apt-get install --reinstall libgl1-mesa-glx libgl1-mesa-dri xserver-xorg-core
sudo mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup
sudo rm -rf /etc/ati
If you receive
$ E: Internal Error, No file name for libgl1-mesa-dri
Change the third command above to:
sudo apt-get install --reinstall libgl1-mesa-glx:i386 libgl1-mesa-glx:amd64 libgl1-mesa-dri:i386 libgl1-mesa-dri:amd64 xserver-xorg-core
AMD/ATI claims that the "Tear Free Video" option is enabled by default, but that wasn't the case with Catalyst 12-3 installed on Kubuntu 12.04.
If you're having issues with tearing, make sure that "Tear Free Video" is on. You can find this option in the Catalyst Control Center under 'Display Options' or you can use the following command:
sudo amdconfig --sync-video=on
The option will not take effect until you restart X (i.e. log out).
If you're using compositing, you should also make sure that vsync is enabled in the compositor's settings. I found that vsync was enabled by default, but here are the appropriate settings should you want to experiment.
You can enable vsync for kwin in System Settings -> Desktop Effects -> Advanced tab
TODO: See if there's a friendlier way to make sure vsync is enabled without installing ccsm.
Install the compiz settings manager:
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
The 'Sync to Vblank' is found in the 'OpenGL' subsection of the 'General' group
Hybrid Graphics and Catalyst
There are two basic types of hybrid designs. Older hybrid systems use a multiplexor (mux) to switch between GPU's. Newer systems (those with PowerXpress >= 4.0) are muxless. As far as I can tell, PowerXpress 4.0 started with RadeonHD 6000-series GPU's, and systems with older ATI GPU's have a mux, but don't quote that.
As of Catalyst 11-8, switching between two ATI cards (and maybe Intel/ATI muxless too?) is supposed to be doable, though I don't know if that applies to all ATI/ATI hybrids or only the muxless ones. One would use amdconfig's PowerXpress options to switch back and forth between the integrated and discrete cards, like so:
amdconfig --pxl # List current activated GPU
sudo amdconfig --px-dgpu # Activate discrete GPU (High-Performance mode), must re-start X to take effect
sudo amdconfig --px-igpu # Activate integrated GPU (Power-Saving mode), must re-start X to take effect
After switching, one would log out and back in to restart X.
TODO: Status unknown at this time
Build Fails and Log Shows "mixed implicit and normal rules. Stop."
If the installation fails and you find the above message in /var/lib/dkms/fglrx/<version_number>/build/make.log, it may be because you're using a pentium-build wrapper around gcc. See what the following ls command returns:
ls -la /usr/bin/gcc
If it shows that gcc is a link to builder-cc, temporarily redirect the link to point to the real gcc (gcc-4.6 in Ubuntu Precise). This should allow you to install fglrx:
sudo ln -sf /usr/bin/gcc-4.6 /usr/bin/gcc
When you're finished installing the driver, return the gcc link to its original value:
sudo ln -sf /usr/bin/builder-cc /usr/bin/gcc
Launchpad link for this bug: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/fglrx-installer/+bug/555957
"Errors were encountered while processing: fglrx-amdcccle" (on 64-bit systems)
Most likely, you probably did not have the ia32-libs-multiarch:i386 lib32gcc1 libc6-i386 packages installed beforehand. If you have a 64 bit install, the above dpkg command may complain that "Errors were encountered while processing: fglrx-amdcccle". This is because of a dependency of the amdccle package on 32 bit libraries. If you receive this error, use the following command, which will force the installation of all of the 32 bit dependencies, and then the amdcccle package:
sudo apt-get -f install
Catalyst 15.12 on 64-bit systems may require the --force-overwrite command in the above dpkg command:
sudo dpkg -i --force-overwrite fglrx*.deb
Problems Starting Xserver
If you get a black screen hang, the first thing to check is if xorg.conf is the problem.
You can disable the xorg.conf with:
sudo mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.disabled
Reboot and check to see if things work now.
You can reinstate the file with:
sudo mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf.disabled /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Before tweaking ACPI settings, try ensuring /dev/null is chmodded to 0666. This intermittently changes when using the nano (and possibly other) editors with sudo and the group/world permissions are unset. This leads to the ATI drivers hanging on boot or otherwise. A quick and dirty init script saved as /etc/init/chmodnull does the trick -
start on filesystem
chmod 0666 /dev/null
chmod 0666 /lib/udev/devices/null
This has been tested using Ubuntu 10.04 64-bit on a ATI Radeon HD 4830 (HP Envy 15-1060ea). It's worth noting that I had to disable TLS (amdconfig --tls=0) to get things to stay stable!
If you've properly installed the driver, but experience problems when starting the X server, such as hanging, black/white/gray screen, distortion, etc., your system BIOS may have a buggy ACPI implementation. To work around, press Ctrl+Alt+F1 to get to a terminal (or failing that, boot to recovery mode) and run:
sudo amdconfig --acpi-services=off
If this method works, you should consider checking your system vendor's BIOS changelogs for relevant ACPI fixes, updating your BIOS, and reenabling the driver's ACPI services.
Unsupported Hardware Watermark
This can happen if your card's PCI ID wasn't officially certified to work with a particular version of Catalyst. It does not necessarily mean that your card is unsupported, but it does mean that you shouldn't file bugs with that particular card/driver combination. If you installed the driver by downloading it from AMD/ATI, installing a newer version of Catalyst will probably help.
If you installed the proprietary driver included with Ubuntu or you do not want to upgrade to a newer version, it may be possible to work around the issue by using a control file from a older version of Catalyst than the one you're running.
cd ~/; mkdir catalyst12.4; cd catalyst12.4/
chmod +x amd-driver-installer-12-4-x86.x86_64.run
sh amd-driver-installer-12-4-x86.x86_64.run --extract driver
sudo mv /etc/ati/control ~/control.bak
sudo cp driver/common/etc/ati/control /etc/ati
Hang at logout
If you experience hangs when logging out (of X) it is probably due to the /etc/ati/authatieventsd.sh script looking for X authorization files in the wrong place when it starts up. You can kill the hanging authatieventsd.sh processes from a console tty to allow the shutdown of the X server.
Before the following commands verify that /etc/ati/authatieventsd.sh exists after build and install, if not just do:
(assuming that the installer is in the directory we used to install)
sh amd-driver-installer-15.12-x86.x86_64.run --extract driver
sudo cp driver/packages/Ubuntu/dists/lucid/replacements/authatieventsd.sh /etc/ati/authatieventsd.sh
sudo chmod +x /etc/ati/authatieventsd.sh
This problem can be fixed permanently with:
sudo mkdir -p /var/lib/xdm/authdir
sudo ln -s /var/run/xauth /var/lib/xdm/authdir/authfiles
If that doesn't work then you can disable atieventsd with this command:
sudo /usr/sbin/update-rc.d -f atieventsd remove
You'll have to restart for this to take effect.
Can't remove fglrx with dpkg (diversion issue)
If dpkg refuses to remove an fglrx package and complains about a diversion of a file, you might need to manually remove it. For example, if dpkg complains:
dpkg-divert: mismatch on divert-to
when removing `diversion of /usr/lib/libGL.so.1.2 to /usr/share/fglrx/diversions/libGL.so.1.2 by xorg-driver-fglrx'
found `diversion of /usr/lib/libGL.so.1.2 to /usr/lib/fglrx/libGL.so.1.2.xlibmesa by xorg-driver-fglrx'
sudo dpkg-divert --remove /usr/lib/libGL.so.1.2
This module/version combo is already installed
If you get this error-message, simply uninstall the previous version before installing the new one with:
sudo dkms remove -m fglrx --all
New kernel installed?
In theory, DKMS should automatically install the fglrx kernel module for your new kernel the first time you boot it. Should you need to manually install it:
sudo dkms build -m fglrx -k `uname -r`
sudo dkms install -m fglrx -k `uname -r`
if amdcccle doesn't work and says Identifier is not a valid word. Use lower case letter in xorg.conf
amdconfig not found after installation
This scenario is possible when the driver installation has seemingly succeeded and is possibly related to previous fglrx installs, including those through Jockey (i.e. you first used drivers provided by Ubuntu but then upgraded to ones available from AMD's website). When doing amdconfig --initial after driver installation, you might end up not having the amdconfig available at all:
amdconfig: command not found
After booting you might receive X error '(EE) Failed to load module "fglrx" (module does not exist, 0)'. These do not necessarily indicate that the installation has failed completely. On command line, do
and see if the command lists some Ati related programs. If they are listed but not found from /usr/bin, it is possible that the "update-alternatives" fglrx .deb installation does has been ignored. See man update-alternatives for more information about the concept and workings of alternatives. In practice, update-alternatives is supposed to create several symbolic links to the files in the fglrx directory, but it will be ignored if the alternatives for the very related gl_conf entry has been set to manual. Do
update-alternatives --get-selections | grep gl_conf
and see if the mode is manual instead of auto and if mesa is mentioned instead of fglrx in the path that is printed. In this case you need to
sudo update-alternatives --set gl_conf /usr/lib/fglrx/ld.so.conf
to set fglrx as the active alternative. You can alternatively (no pun intended) and additionally change the gl_conf into automatic mode before the installation this way:
sudo update-alternatives --auto gl_conf
After that, the alternatives should automatically be configured correctly when the graphics driver .debs are installed.
"update-alternatives: error" during install
During installation you may receive the following message:
update-alternatives: error: unable to make /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers/fglrx_drv.so.dpkg-tmp a symlink to /etc/alternatives/fglrx_drv: No such file or directory
This can be easily solved by creating directory "drivers" under /usr/lib/xorg/modules/
sudo mkdir /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers
'Can't exec "debian/rules": Permission denied at /usr/bin/dpkg-buildpackage line 507.' during deb generation
During installation you may receive the following message:
Can't exec "debian/rules": Permission denied at /usr/bin/dpkg-buildpackage line 507.
This can happen when your /tmp folder is mounted with the option "noexec". The noexec is suggested by many howtos regarding Ubuntu on SSD, when placing the /tmp in memory.
A workaround can be found here: 
Errors during deb generation
You may recieve errors if you do not have devscripts, dh-make, execstack and dh-modaliases installed. Run apt-get to install, and the errors go away and the deb is generated correctly.
If you recieve the error dpkg-buildpackage: not found:
sudo apt-get install devscripts
If you recieve the error make: dh: command not found:
sudo apt-get install dh-make
If you recieve the error make: execstack: Command not found:
sudo apt-get install execstack
If you recieve the error make: dh_modaliases: Command not found:
sudo apt-get install dh-modaliases
Black screen after uninstalling old amd drivers
Start you computer in recovery mode and exit to root shell.
Remount your partitions in rw mode:
mount -rw -o remount /
Go to your download directory and proceed with building and installing the drivers in recovery mode.
All should be fine after a reboot.