Back in June of 2005 with the ATI Linux 8.14.13 driver release was a new installer to more easily facilitate the installation of this binary graphics driver using a graphical interface for a generic setup or generating distribution-specific packages (at that time Red Hat was the only officially supported distribution). With time, this installer has evolved by gaining new features and more distributions are being supported through their --buildpkg command for generating custom driver packages. These packaging scripts are now even hosted in the open for more community interaction. With two new driver options that will be formally introduced next month in Ubuntu's packaging scripts for the Catalyst 8.02 Linux driver, the installation process of the ATI fglrx driver on Ubuntu will become several steps easier.
Starting next month with the Ubuntu packaging scripts for the ATI Linux driver, the --autopkg and --installpkg arguments will be supported. When using this new --autopkg argument, the Ubuntu packaging scripts will detect the distribution version, install any build-time dependencies for that distribution, builds the ATI Debian packages (the same as running --buildpkg manually), installs DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support) and libGL package dependencies, and then finally installs the ATI driver packages. The distribution version is detected using lsb_release, the Linux Standard Base package. Using synaptic/apt-get, the auto-packaging scripts will then install any needed dependencies automatically without any end-user intervention. Having the installer automatically use the distribution's packaging system to satisfy any dependencies is great to see, cuts down on manually having to install these packages, and is certainly friendly to new Linux users. The build dependency resolution is done by parsing the Debian control file in each of the supported Ubuntu releases.
The --installpkg argument is used for just installing the generated ATI packages (and DKMS, if needed) and is the same as the last step in the --autopkg process. This option would be used if you had already ran --buildpkg to generate the Debian packages.
The --autopkg and --installpkg additions were created by Mario Limonciello with the Ubuntu packaging scripts. As of yet, no other Linux distribution has yet to adopt these changes in their packaging scripts. However, with time it will hopefully become standard among the maintainers and perhaps the --autopkg argument becoming standard to the ATI installer.
The reason for sharing this information now as opposed to in tandem with the Catalyst 8.02 release is that these new Ubuntu packaging scripts are already available to the public. As has been the case since last November, the ATI fglrx packaging scripts are housed in the open at Phorogit (Phoronix-Phorogit announcement). These scripts are backwards-compatible with the current ATI 8.01 Linux driver.
If you would like to try out --installpkg or --autopkg right now, on the next page we have a guide for using Phorogit with Catalyst 8.01.