Ch-ch-ch-changes... Not expecting to hear that with today's driver release? Well, we had not expected much improvement for the March ATI Catalyst Linux driver either until we saw the driver first hand. Today's 8.35.5 release has implemented one major change: a new Catalyst Control Center! AMD is eliminating the fireglcontrolpanel in favor of the brand new AMD Catalyst Control Center Linux Edition. In this review we will be looking at the new 8.35.5 display driver along with taking a very close look at this much improved control area.
Prior to talking about the Catalyst Control Center, a few other changes also make up this release. The packaging scripts for SuSE, Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora have all been updated. With the Fedora scripts there is now Linux 2.6.20 support for not only Fedora 7 but also Fedora Core 6 and past releases. The 8.35.5 driver has been successfully tested with Fedora Core 6 against the latest official kernel by using the --buildpkg Fedora/FC6 argument. The 8.35.5 driver should also contain "out of the box" support for Fedora 7 Test 3. Official Linux 2.6.20 kernel support is not in the 8.35.5 release, but it will probably come next month in fglrx 8.36. One of the bugs fixed in this release is the screen no longer blanking when the X server is killed from the text console. Outside of amdcccle, that about wraps up the noteworthy changes in this release.
Prior to showing off the new control area for the fglrx drivers there are a few related items worth pointing out. The AMD Catalyst Control Center Linux Edition (amdcccle) is a complete replacement for the fireglcontrolpanel. In fact, starting with next month's 8.36 release, fireglcontrolpanel will be removed from the driver package. However, unlike the fireglcontrolpanel, amdcccle is not open-source. The fglrx driver package ships with a 32-bit amdcccle binary, which will also work on 64-bit Linux distributions. This binary is not compatible with previous fglrx versions. There have also been horror stories for Windows Catalyst Control Center users that it takes a long time to load, but this is definitely not the case for the Linux edition. On a modest setup amdcccle had loaded near instantly. There are also new copyrights, a redistribution notice, and disclaimers with the fglrx 8.35.5 driver.
On the following pages are our thoughts as we dissect the AMD Catalyst Control Center Linux Edition.