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Current state of Catalyst drivers?

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  • Current state of Catalyst drivers?

    What is the current state of the binary blob on linux?

    I'm thinking of doing a 3x24" Eyefinity setup in the following months and my questions are: Is it stable? Tear-free? Bug-free?

    My past experiences with fglrx haven't been that great. I had to setup a laptop with AMD graphics 2 years ago and despite my best efforts there was tearing all over the place and on top of that the gpu wouldn't downclock when idle.

    I'm going to be using Ubuntu 11.10 as my distro and a 67XX graphics card. I will not be playing games on wine but I do want compositing and effects on all 3 screens.

    TLDR Version: Looking to hear from people running triplehead Eyefinity on linux.
    Last edited by Derpinator; 25 October 2011, 07:08 PM.

  • #2
    It's still awful. It tears badly, and if you enable the "tear-free desktop" option, then you get lag that makes the desktop feel like it floats. I mean the kind of lag/latency you get when playing Doom 3 with VSync and triple buffering on. Everything you do needs a few milliseconds to show on screen. Makes typing text a bit frustrating. Or when you move windows, you see the mouse pointer move to where you tell it to but the window itself only follows later.

    These people don't know how to write Linux drivers, period.


    • #3
      The "current" build (Catalyst 11.9) is unusable.

      Randomly crashes X.

      In general terms:

      Cons: Using any version of Catalyst gets you a kernel taint, more security vulnerabilities, slower 2d acceleration, broken compositing, no OpenGL ES support at all, and all sorts of horrible DRI 1 race conditions and internal locking. Some prominent kernel developers such as Greg Kroah Hartman from SUSE have said they consider it (and Nvidia's driver) to be a GPL violation. The tearing you get with Compiz and kwin seems to be due to them detecting that direct rendering support is broken in Catalyst and they have to fall back to indirect rendering. (The open source drivers don't have these problems). They only have official support for some versions of a few Linux distributions. Unless you want to use Ubuntu with Unity (Which I call Project Dalek due to Kubuntu's Project Timelord) you're basically screwed unless you just happen to get lucky and have it work on an unsupported distribution.

      Pros: Some video games run faster. Adobe Trash only enables hardware acceleration by default with proprietary drivers (this can be overridden), it supports OpenGL 3.3/4.1 depending on your card (Mesa is stuck at 2.1, though most of 3 is supported, though some features that are commonly used are encumbered by US software patents and are not built in by default with many Linux distributions.), and you get a nifty watermark on your desktop if you have newer video cards or want OpenGL 4.2 support (The watermark is a pro because it reminds you that you have AMD Premium Graphics). It supports AMD's NIH'd video acceleration which a select few programs can take advantage of if you happen to install the xvba library. xvba is not as widely supported as Nvidia's vdpau, about the only thing it works with that's well maintained is MPlayer and front ends based on MPlayer.
      Last edited by DaemonFC; 26 October 2011, 07:26 AM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by DaemonFC View Post
        Adobe Trash only enables hardware acceleration by default with proprietary drivers (this can be overridden)
        per our GPU team:
        We are no longer supporting OverrideGpuValidation on Linux

        Closing Not a Bug.
        And the other bugreport says that it doesn't work for many people either (fglrx included)


        • #5
          I can speak about Eyefinity on Linux. With the open drivers in 11.10 Ubuntu, I actually have all three displays working properly (with the Cayman 69xx), and I can rearrange them as I like with the Ubuntu display manager without rebooting each time with Unity 3d. However, the fan/power management with the OSS drivers sucks (really noisy), and there's no OpenGL 3.2+ support.

          With the FGLRX drivers, I have quite the headache getting them working. First off, there's no support for Unity 3d with Eyefinity and catalyst. I have to use Unity2d or it will be a wonky experience (or just knock me back to log-in screen). If I disable compositing engine, and turn on the tear-free option, then I don't get any tearing like most other people claim to.

          As for setting up Eyefinity with the CCC, it is a royal pain. Using either 11.8 from the repos, or 11.9 from AMD, CCC almost always crashes when I make a monitor change if I don't load it from the terminal with "sudo amdcccle" - WTF? If I launch it from the terminal, then it usually doesn't crash, but moving monitors around in the display config manager is a weird thing. Do not attempt to rearrange them as you would like to, as it will screw something up in your Xorg.conf. Here's how I can manipulate them: click on the down arrow on a monitor, and go to multi-display with multi-monitor with monitors: X & X(something like that), and just click it. When you do that, it will probably rearrange the ordering of the monitors it shows. Just click that over and over changing which monitor you do it from, until eventually you have it configured the way you want. -Geez.

          And for some reason, when I try and make a XBMC go full screen, it doesn't use the eyefinity resolution, and instead just changes my config to clone across three screens. But I can just use the windowed version and drag it across multiple monitors (that sucks). Also, no options for bezel correction like in Windows.


          • #6
            I can also speak for Eyefinity as I have been running 3x24 LCDs in portrait mode since dec 2010 in RedHat Enterprise Linux 6.

            I ran it initially on a Radeon 5770 and since last month on a 6950 and have been updating FGLRX every month since dec 2010. As I ran RHEL 5 before that I cant speak for Eyefinity as it wasn't supported due to the older version of RandR.

            I have never found a single problem with the catalyst driver on RHEL 6. Always uninstalling/installing the driver in single mode (and deleting the /etc/ati folder before install as you can get problems if you don't). Running aticonfig --initial, reboot and then setting it up in CCC. Never had it crash on me even once. Just put the LCDs in the correct location, rotate them for portrait mode and logout and back in.

            I also plays ETQW on this setup and it just works and is really nice maxed out at 3600x1920. I'm using the tear-free desktop which did cause problems with firefox in 11.8 but it now works as expected in 11.9 again.

            I'm not running Compositing so can't speak for that. I think I have a much different experience than most in this thread due to the fact that i'm running RHEL 6 and not a newer dist like fedora or the latest version of ubuntu that both contains much newer packages.


            • #7
              Still crap if you read any discussion of recent ATI cards and recent Catalyst drivers.

              Read this:

              And recent posts show bugs and regressions. I was considering an old card to test but there's constant bugs and AMD refuses even basic support for their cards. The worthlessness of compositing/compiz and desktop effects coupled with any time of video use when using these drivers just shows this. Also, if you use the open source drivers, you have no power management and have a major reduction in features and basic use.

              AMD doesn't support Linux. Even their Windows drivers are sketchy but at least they feel forced to work on things...

              It's a shame...

              I noticed no one replied to my post requesting more tests to supplement the typical benchmarks. I'm surprised... it would be interesting to have additional tests (testing for tearing, lagging, video play etc.).


              • #8
                If you want to use 3 monitors you could wait till next year for ivi bridge (there you need 2 matching monitors however, but that should not be problematic). I am not sure if i would buy an amd card for that purpose. For nvidia you could basically buy 2 quadro ones as those have got no binary driver limitations but maybe overkill for home usage. Most easy way would be when you could get a card from a friend to try before buying, for win users amd cards are very common, so should not be so complicated.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Qaridarium
                  in that point of view no company supports linux even nvidia and intel does not.

                  no company gives 100% Linux compatibility.

                  even nvidia does NOT.
                  Obviously, nvidia and intel invest more. I know Nvidia has enough problems in Linux and I checked nvnews for reports of problems.

                  But, AMD/ATI cards sound like they have the most and both driver types are full of various issues.

                  A 5670/5770 is around $60 used now so it's almost affordable for me now to try out but maybe it's a waste of time...

                  I thought I'd test and try to help but sounds like the drivers are constantly broken and there's not much one can do...


                  • #10
                    Triple-Monitor-Setups work with both fglrx and the open drivers.

                    Back when I used fglrx I found it to work reasonably well for my purposes, but you MUST resist the urge to configure your multiscreen layout via aticonfig, because that gets you a broken Zaphod/Xinerama setup. Configure a single monitor layout and use xrandr to configure additional monitors. Better don't touch AMDCCCLE at all, since IIRC that'll lead to zaphod, too.
                    Limitations were slow 2D (though that was before their new 2d acceleration, so I don't know the current state) and trouble with wine games.

                    I've now switched to the OSS drivers on both my desktop and my new notebook and I'm happy with them. Running advanced 3D games (native or wine) is a hit-and-miss, but the desktop experience is great (better than using fglrx OR nvidia). 3d compositing works, and so do simple 3d apps, games or emulators.

                    Waiting for ivy bridge isn't going to help much, since intel's drivers aren't suited for highend 3D either. Whether you pick an intel GPU or an AMD GPU with the OSS drivers won't make much difference; except that the AMD GPU carries more horsepower and is available right now.

                    nvidia has the most advanced openGL implementation on linux right now, but (last time I checked) a triple-setup using nvidia hardware requires a multi-GPU-system, which comes with it's own set of quirks and problems. Their 2D didn't feel quite as snappy as AMD/radeon, either (if that's even comparable across different hardware). And multiscreen setups are painful, since they still don't fully support xrandr, so have fun digging in their manuals and your xorg.conf until everything's set up.
                    Last edited by rohcQaH; 28 October 2011, 10:12 AM.