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Using Six Monitors With AMD's Open-Source Linux Driver

AMD

Published on 19 May 2013 02:40 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in AMD
27 Comments

Linux graphics drivers have come a long way in recent years for both the open and closed-source solutions from AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel. In this Sunday article, a Phoronix reader has shared his experiences in going from failing to setup two monitors under Linux just a few years ago with NVIDIA to now successfully driving six monitors on a single system using the AMD Linux driver.

Niklas Andersson, a Swedish Phoronix reader, wrote in to share his AMD Linux six-monitor success story:

Last december I bought a AMD Radeon HD 7970-card with six outputs (4 hdmi, 2 dvi), six 23" monitors and a cool monitor rack from SMS Solutions. I have a two rows, three columns setup.

Unfortunately the drivers didn't work back then (yeah, back then is just some five months ago) The open drivers and even closed drivers with Ubuntu 12.04, Ubuntu 12.10 and now Ubuntu 13.04 (and I upgraded to kernel 3.9) was very sluggish and did not activate all displays. Very, very random behavior. Also bugs in Compiz made the CPU go bananas when using open driver and multiple screens. Constant load of some 50-60%. Lots of issues.

After I had some success with multiple screens on a Mac Mini 6,2 of mine with a pre-beta of Fedora 19 (KDE), I thought I might just install it on my workstation with my dysfunctional six monitors. It actually worked out-of-the-box! The six screens got detected in KDEs display settings, I could arrange them according to my 3x2 setup, click apply and voilá, I got my huge desktop with native resolution on all monitors (1920x1080)

Only problem is that the display settings does not save the setup permanently so I have to arrange the screens on each reboot. Think it is going to be solved in upcoming tool Kscreens, but I am happy for now.

I am no gamer so I am not that interested in 3d-graphics performance, but OpenGL works with the open driver, there is support for WebGL both in Konqueror (webkit-based) and in Chrome. WebGL-support broke down on some demos though and I had to restart the browser to regain the support, but in all it is a nice experience.

I just wanted to share the story. I remember some five years ago when I was struggling with a two monitor setup in Ubuntu 7.04 and Nvidia proprietary drivers... We have come a very long way since then.


It's great to see an AMD Radeon six monitor configuration working "out of the box" on the yet-to-be-released Fedora 19 for a Radeon HD 7970 "Southern Islands" graphics card! Also for those looking for affordable yet very reliable multi-monitor stands, I highly recommend the Tyke Supply monitor stands and use several of them in my office.

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