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AMD Catalyst For Linux On The "Blacklist Of Junk"

AMD

Published on 06 September 2012 09:45 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD
96 Comments

While the Catalyst Linux graphics driver was overhauled five years ago, not everyone is satisfied with the closed-source AMD Radeon Linux graphics driver. Here's some interesting comments by a prominent Linux developer and his less than stellar Catalyst experience.

Some interesting Linux graphics driver comments were shared this week in an email by a prominent open-source developer who's been involved with Linux since 1996 and is responsible for one of the window managers. When I was liaising between this developer and a prominent game company, he shared some interesting driver comments, which he's allowed me to republish on Phoronix.

The short story is that he's come to really dislike the AMD Catalyst Linux driver. The issue that really set him off is, in the past, the Catalyst Linux driver would check the name of a process to see if it was "compiz" before exposing the GLX_EXT_texture_from_pixmap support. Below is the relevant part of that email sharing the troublesome Linux Catalyst driver story. As a longtime Linux developer, his recommendations are using the binary NVIDIA graphics driver or the open-source Intel driver for the best OpenGL Linux support.
the state of gl drivers/libs on linux overall is poor. the best imho after years of kicking the tires are the nvidia closed drivers. next down are intel drivers. i put ati's fglrx well at the bottom. they are on my blacklist of junk so bad you don't want to have it in the same room as you.

when i first tried to write a compositor for x11 i spent 2 weeks beating my head against the desk wondering why texture-from-pixmap simply refused to do anything. i read all the code and docs i could find. low and behold after 2 weeks i took a wild gamble. i renamed by test app to "compiz" and it started working. the drivers totally disabled a core feature UNLESS your process name was compiz. these were fglrx drivers. they went on my permanent blacklist after that episode.
And then in a follow-up message about the entertaining but frustrating experience:
i believe fglrx has been fixed since. this was like over 2 years ago, so it's not news or relevant anymore, BUT fglrx (and ati in general) are on my blacklist still. that was so royally stupid to do that kind of thing. but i am not kidding. i had this test binary and i had beaten it every way possible and i simply got nothing to work (ie i couldn't get any pixels out of textures when i bound pixmaps to them) and then i just:

mv testapp compiz
./compiz

and it suddenly worked. i literally spent the next 10 minutes in a stream of swearing and cursing. it was a memorable moment.

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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