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Installing The RadeonHD Driver On Ubuntu

Michael Larabel

Published on 17 September 2007
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 1 - 20 Comments

While today's unveiling of the RadeonHD driver for the ATI R500 and R600 series is great news, this driver right now is targeted solely for developers as it's still experimental and doesn't yet support 3D acceleration and other key functionality generally needed in production environments. However, if you are looking to try out this new RadeonHD driver on Ubuntu because you're running into problems with the proprietary fglrx driver or just wishing to report your results, we've documented the installation procedures for Ubuntu. This guide is based off our Avivo on Ubuntu How-To.

Like the Avivo driver, RadeonHD requires X server 1.3 or newer. Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn ships with X server 1.2 while Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon (to be released next month) ships with X server 1.3. Therefore, you will need either to manually upgrade the packages in Feisty Fawn against a Gutsy repository or check out Ubuntu 7.10. For our purposes, we had installed an Ubuntu daily LiveCD on September 15, 2007. These installation steps are mostly the same no matter the Linux distribution (granted, the package names will be different), but in this guide we are focusing specifically on Ubuntu.

Well, the logical thing to do is to get the latest driver source-code. The RadeonHD driver is housed at FreeDesktop.org in git. Unless you already have installed the needed Ubuntu packages, you will need to execute the command displayed below. The command will install the needed packages for git and compiling the RadeonHD driver from source. Unlike the Avivo driver, the RadeonHD driver doesn't yet depend upon libpciaccess and therefore the libpciaccess-dev package isn't yet needed but will be at some point in the future.

sudo apt-get install build-essential git-core configure-debian automake autoconf xorg-dev libtool

Now that git is installed, execute the below command to check out the RadeonHD driver from FreeDesktop.org.

git-clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/git/xorg/driver/xf86-video-radeonhd

Now that there is a copy of the RadeonHD code locally, it's time to build and install the X.Org driver using the below commands.

cd xf86-video-radeonhd/; ./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr/; make; sudo make install

After that, it's time to update the xorg.conf to reference this new driver. In the Section "Device" area that is showing vesa, avivo, or fglrx, change the Driver "<driver-name>" line to radeonhd.

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Since the RadeonHD driver doesn't yet support Composite/AIGLX, you need to manually disable them.

Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "Off"
EndSection

Section "ServerFlags"
Option "AIGLX" "Off"
EndSection

After that, restart X and you should be good to go with the new RadeonHD driver (permitting you run into no driver problems). It's as easy as that. Before installing the driver, it is important to reiterate that this driver is still very basic and is definitely not ready for any production environments nor will it be for at least a few months. This new driver does use ATI's ATOM BIOS but there are still a number of R500 and R600 graphics cards in our tests where we had run into trouble with the latest xf86-video-radeonhd driver git code this afternoon. In this guide we had used a Radeon HD 2400PRO 256MB PCI Express graphics card. If you run into any problems or need help for your distribution, stop by the Phoronix Forums.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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