Will The Catalyst Driver Work On Ubuntu 11.04 At Launch?
For the past few years there's been a tradition where AMD supplies Canonical with an early snapshot of their very latest Catalyst driver prior to the next Ubuntu release. This hasn't been done to ensure Ubuntu ships with any magical graphics driver features (in some cases though it can provide a glimpse of what's to come), but rather is provided so that there is actually a Catalyst driver that works on the given Ubuntu Linux release. There's an unfortunate tradition where by the time the next Ubuntu release rolls out that the latest publicly available Catalyst driver does not support either the latest Linux kernel and/or the X.Org Server used by that release. The Catalyst snapshot provides that belated support.
For Ubuntu 11.04 we do not yet know if the upstream ATI/AMD Catalyst driver will work with "Natty Narwhal" and its Linux 2.6.37 or 2.6.38 kernel and X.Org Server 1.10. As of right now, the Catalyst 9.12 / 10.1 driver does not offer up this support. However, over the weekend we see from the Ubuntu-X mailing list, AMD is certainly working on the xorg-server 1.10 support.
While X.Org Server 1.10 is past its feature merge window and is set to be formally released next month, earlier this month there was a second ABI breakage in this code, which causes issues for the proprietary drivers. The xorg-server-1.10 snapshot currently being tested for Ubuntu Natty isn't new enough to have the code for this latest break. This led AMD's Felix Kuehling to ask about it.
There is a recent ABI breaking change in Xserver git in the Xserver's ScreenRec structure that still seems to be missing in the Xserver 1.10 snapshot currently in xorg-edgers: http://cgit.freedesktop.org/xorg/xserver/commit/?id=e65c3f8bcc86845f21ac575e2bfb4b21b67d5ebf
So it seems that AMD is already working on the X.Org Server 1.10 support, but they're waiting on an updated Ubuntu X Server package this time so that the latest headers will be in sync with their binary. It will be a question though of when this support lands if it will be here with Catalyst 11.2 or Catalyst 11.3 or if AMD will once again be shipping a special driver release over to Canonical for use in Ubuntu 11.04 when released this April.
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