ATI Driver Installation in Linux

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Introduction & Brief History

Scared to use an ATI card in Linux? Had a horrible experience with ATI in Linux that resulted in 2 smashed keyboards, a broken Ubuntu 8.04 LiveCD, and three trips to your family psychiatrist? Well I did, well maybe not THAT bad, but really close. Since I started using Linux roughly two years ago, I always ran it without 3D video drivers because ATIs drivers were so hard to install and configure. I started out using Ubuntu, I believe it was 8.04, with my brand spankin’ new ATI 4870 and it was tearing it up in Windows, but as soon as I started dual booting Windows and Ubuntu, it all came crashing down. So this article is dedicated to all those broken keyboards and LiveCDs.

Over the last two years ATI has really stepped up it’s game and has vastly improved it’s Linux drivers. ATI still has almost no support for Linux drivers from the company itself, but you can find quite a bit of information elsewhere on the net. ATI has made their driver installation much more user friendly with a more streamlined and simple GUI. It’s really straightforward and just requires a few simple commands.

Catalyst Control Center¬†(CCC) has probably had the biggest change. It now actually resembles the Windows version, minus some features, of course, but has a similar layout and has the basic options. The biggest option it’s missing is the Overdrive tab with overclocking and fan settings. I’ll go over some quick tips on fan speed control at the end of the article. Overclocking and other more advanced features of the Linux driver variant that aren’t in CCC but are available via the command line and are outside the scope of this article.

Installation

  1. Remove old ATI drivers (if installed)
    1. cd/usr/share/ati
    2. sudo sh fglrx-uninstall.sh
  2. Reboot your system
  3. Download the latest ATI drivers for Linux in your architecture
    1. Download the drivers from HERE
    2. Select your system type (Desktop in my case)
    3. Select your family of card (HD series for me)
    4. Select your card (4xxx Series PCIe here)
    5. Finally select your operating system/architecture (Linux x86 or x86_64)
  4. I suggest reading the Release Notes and Installation instructions on the site as well. They provide some nice tips with troubleshooting X start failures and other video driver related issues.
  5. Once downloaded open your terminal and make the download directory your current working directory (Desktop in my case): cd ~/Desktop
  6. Now that your in the correct directory, execute the following command:
    1. sudo sh ati-driver-installer-xx-x-x86.x86_64.run (In this case it’s sudo sh ati-driver-installer-10-6-x86.x86_64.run)

    Command Execution & Install Window

    Command Execution & Install Window

  7. This will open the ATI driver installer (similar to the Windows version).
  8. There are two options here, ‘Install Driver’ and ‘Generate Distribution Specific Package’. We’re just going to Install the driver, so select the first option then hit ‘Continue’.
  9. Read the License Agreement and select ‘I Agree’.
  10. The next screen will allow you to choose ‘Automatic’ or ‘Custom installation’. I choose the Automatic Installation, as the custom only allows you to not install CCC if you don’t want it. I rarely ever use it myself, but it’s nice to have if your having screen resolution problems and your default Window Manager options aren’t working. So select ‘Automatic’ and ‘Continue’.

    Installation Window in Progress

    Installation Window in Progress

  11. The driver will now install and you’ll get an Installation Complete window and you then Exit the window. (Notice the command at the bottom of the window in case X fails to start next reboot [aticonfig –initial -f], write this down in case you need to use it.)

    Installation Complete

    Installation Complete

  12. Open a terminal and run:
    1. /usr/bin/aticonfig –initial
    2. (Whenever I’ve run this before a system reboot, it says it cannot be found. So, I reboot first and let it create a default configuration. If it gives you the same message, reboot then try it.)

  13. Now restart your system your good to go. (Remember to execute the command in step 12 if you got the error and had to reboot first.)
  14. If you have a 4xxx series like I do, you may have an early model that doesn’t have a fan that’s speed scales with temperature and you manually set your speed, or you just like a set fan speed. You can se that fan speed using the following command:
    1. aticonfig –pplib-cmd “set fanspeed x yy”
    2. Where x is the card number, 0 – 1, and yy is the fan speed percentage you want, 0 – 100. Mine looks like this:¬†aticonfig –pplib-cmd “set fanspeed 0 30”

  15. If you want this fan speed set at the beginning of each boot up, open ‘Startup Applications’, click ‘Add’, name it whatever you’d like, put the command with your card number and speed in the command line, then add comments if you’d like and click ‘Add’ to finish.

Conclusion

So hopefully after reading this you’ll be a little more inclined to give ATI another chance in Linux. Although many people still believe Nvidia’s Linux drivers to be far superior, I think ATI deserves some recognition for their vast improvements in their Linux drivers. It really shows that they do support their Linux users, maybe not quite as much as their Windows users, but with things like Steam hopefully in the works for Linux, I hope we can expect even better support in Linux in the near future.

SeanBest

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Discussion
  1. Stratus_ss
    I think he is refering to the hardware drivers utility which doesnt always install the most up to date versions

    Or work at all... :)
    If your referring to the Restricted Driver thing, I've used it once or twice, never had a problem with it, but it usually is one to three versions behind. Also it doesn't install CCC which is nice because some distros don't like to set up the display correctly and occasionally the best way to configure the resolution is via CCC if your Window Manager is giving you trouble.
    SeanBest
    If your referring to the Restricted Driver thing, I've used it once or twice, never had a problem with it, but it usually is one to three versions behind. Also it doesn't install CCC which is nice because some distros don't like to set up the display correctly and occasionally the best way to configure the resolution is via CCC if your Window Manager is giving you trouble.

    Yep... My experience with the Restricted Drivers on Ubuntu is... sometimes it doesn't show anything at all. Other times it shows nvidia drivers (which is proper, since I have an nvidia gpu in the box), but after installation, it can never load the kernel module.
    At which point I usually get annoyed, drop out of X, nuke all nivida-* that is installed, and install from my backup of the nvidia drivers I downloaded from nvidia's website. I've always had that work for me.
    I can't speak for ati support, but i've never had a problem with the restricted drivers tool and nvidia gpus - xorg always loads fine after rebooting. do you check the logs to see what went wrong before you nuke everything?
    I had quite a lot of problems with my ATI drivers on my new workstation at work. It was a pretty new model and the restricted drivers barely supported 2d. On the other hand Ati's own drivers did not support the newest Ubuntu version... Funny thing is, I found a hacked (ATI checks removed) driver based on their official one which installed just fine.
    You'd think they could just list supported distro's and models but not artificially limit installation to them?
    ATI has always been hit an miss for me. I can't play WoW in linux because the graphics drivers run like arse. I have a 4670 video card, core I7 with 4 gigs of ram and on the title screen I get about 7 fps.
    The official drivers from ATI caused X to crash constantly, I am using the hardware drivers utility to give basic functionality
    Stratus_ss
    ATI has always been hit an miss for me. I can't play WoW in linux because the graphics drivers run like arse. I have a 4670 video card, core I7 with 4 gigs of ram and on the title screen I get about 7 fps.
    The official drivers from ATI caused X to crash constantly, I am using the hardware drivers utility to give basic functionality

    i have never had a problem with ati linux drivers
    jediobi1
    i have never had a problem with ati linux drivers

    You won't unless you have a very new card / want to use a newer kernel then installed on supported distro's etc. There are pretty clearly definable cases that will cause problems, but even they would not need to cause problems (as shown by how well the drivers work when you find a "hacked" one that removes the check used prior to install).
    dropadrop
    You won't unless you have a very new card / want to use a newer kernel then installed on supported distro's etc. There are pretty clearly definable cases that will cause problems, but even they would not need to cause problems (as shown by how well the drivers work when you find a "hacked" one that removes the check used prior to install).

    well everything has worked on my 4850's with no problem, i got a friend with a 5870 and mint 9 and it works fine, and we both do gaming, ie css, gmod, hl2 etc
    Yup.. Then get an SSD, and try to get trim to work... You'll have to download a 2.6.33 kernel which will work fine, except with Ati drivers. Also you'll need to be running a 64bit distro if you want more then 4GB of memory (unless you want to compile the kernel yourself).
    I've been told to straight up avoid ATI in favor of nvidia if I want to get any sort of reliable graphics performance under nix; is there truth in this statement? I've never run into this problem since I have a windows machine for all my graphic intensive (read: gaming) needs, and most of my nix machines are legacy machines from who knows how long ago running embedded chips.
    Ninth
    I've been told to straight up avoid ATI in favor of nvidia if I want to get any sort of reliable graphics performance under nix; is there truth in this statement? I've never run into this problem since I have a windows machine for all my graphic intensive (read: gaming) needs, and most of my nix machines are legacy machines from who knows how long ago running embedded chips.

    As a general statement I agree with the above. I have had problems upon problems with ATI (unless we are talking like a RAGE 128 which work well with the mesa drivers)
    ATI is still a crap shoot as far as I am concerned. Stick with nvidia for any sort of graphics needs or intel if you don't want anything too fancy
    splat
    i had no problems running the HD 5550 in linux with the ati drivers this past week when i was reviewing it

    same here i have a mobile 5750 i think it is, anyway, i just played some lan of l4d with some friends and game play on linux was smooth, also played some guildwars and it was great
    I have a 4670, it runs like arse. I get about 3 FPS in WoW at the MENU The official drivers caused constant crashes. Am using the drivers from the repo's but it causes the fan to run quite a bit.
    I have graphical glitches from time to time. All around not a good experience