Yet again ATI continues in their monthly ritual of releasing new Linux display drivers that are accompanied by the release of their usual Windows CATALYST suspect. The candidate taking center stage today is v6.3 for Windows CATALYST, while the Linux version making its presence known is v8.23.7. While no X1000 series support has been added in this March release, there are a handful of prominent changes that many Linux ATI users can expect to find beneficial this month. The changes this month involve OpenGL 2.0 extension compliance, FSAA support on all non-R200 GPUs, and support for various X800 series components. The OpenGL 2.0 extension compliance was verified using GLEW (OpenGL Extension Wrangler Library). FSAA (Full Screen Antialiasing) is now enabled for all non-R200 cards, or cards newer than the ATI Radeon 9500. The FSAA antialiasing can always be altered using the aticonfig utility. The new ATI Radeon X800/850 support under Linux is for the AGP X800SE, X800VE, X800GT, and X800GTO. On the side of the Mobility Radeon series, the Mobility X800 has been appended to the list of supported products. Finally, the Radeon X850XT, X850SE, X850PRO, and X850XT PE are officially supported. A requirement change has also been enacted with the fglrx v8.23.7 drivers. Precompiled kernel modules are no longer bundled with the driver, which means all installations will require GCC and kernel-headers or kernel-source. However, according to ATI more distribution vendors are joining the Linux BETA program and with each driver release, more distributions are providing these distribution-specifc driver packages, so check your distribution's website for additional information. Although this release is not as eccentric as some unsatisfied users were hoping for, this release is certainly more noteworthy than some of the past releases. There appears to be no official mention of any driver changes pertaining to XGL and Compiz or the Fedora Rendering Project AIGLX (Accelerated Indirect GL X). However, the item that ATI has been widely criticized for is the lack of Radeon X1000 support, but we are still hopeful that a spring release will occur -- in other words, the supported drivers may possibly be out in as little as a month or two from this point (perhaps v8.25.x). Another ATI area that users have been ranting about has been the lack of a CCC-like Linux port. For the uninformed, CCC or CATALYST Control Center is the Windows graphical application for configuring a number of aspects regarding the settings. Pete Vagiakos had also mentioned in an editorial that the possibility for ATI to simply use the CATALYST Control Center under Linux thanks to mono. The Novell-sponsored mono allows .NET software to run on alternative operating systems, and with the ATI CCC being written using C#, theoretically, the port would be quite an easy task. Although this thought may sound ideal, we have reason to believe that the fireglcontrolpanel will not be replaced with a Windows CCC port. This control panel port will likely never happen, as this open-source project (mono) will consistently be behind Microsoft's official .NET implementation. Although not confirmed we believe ATI may have an alternative control panel planned for the Linux drivers. The known issues hindering the v8.23.7 ATI release is the driver failing to initialize 3D applications properly when certain 3D components outside of the stock X.Org v6.8.2 are installed, TV display is correct after switching resolutions, and running two X servers simultaneously results in the system failing to respond.
Release Date: March 08, 2006
· Added OpenGL 2.0 Extension compliance
· FSAA support is enabled for all non-R200 cards
· X800/X850 AGP Product support, Mobility Radeon X800, Radeon X850