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OpenSolaris Ships RadeonHD Driver
Since last September when AMD's new open-source strategy was unveiled, their xf86-video-radeonhd driver and NDA-free documentation efforts have largely been to improve its Linux customer base. However, with this open community enablement, it has also led to an improved ATI hardware status in Sun's Solaris Operating System. Introduced in Build 80 of OpenSolaris was the RadeonHD display driver and this R500/600 driver has now appeared in Solaris Express Developer Edition 1/08 and Project Indiana Preview 2.
While Indiana Preview 2 and SXDE 1/08 are based upon OpenSolaris Build 79b, Sun had back-ported the RadeonHD driver from Build 80 for this new graphics card support. NVIDIA provides a binary-only display driver that even ships inside of Solaris, but ATI/AMD hasn't ported their fglrx Linux driver to Solaris and have shown no signs of support for this Sun operating system. The relationship between Sun Microsystems and NVIDIA has been quite close with NVIDIA Quadro GPUs being used inside Sun workstations, but going back a year in our communications with Sun they have expressed interested in an ATI Solaris driver. Thanks to AMD cherishing this open-source strategy and Sun now using the X.Org server (v1.3), this is now a reality.
In these updated versions of Solaris, the xf86-video-radeonhd driver is included by default but not enabled. In order to enable this open-source R500/600 support you must run /usr/X11/bin/Xorg -configure, which should generate a xorg.conf for use with the RadeonHD driver and supported driver options.
To some dismay, shipping currently with OpenSolaris is the RadeonHD v1.0 driver. This driver was released back in late November when there was full mode-setting support, hardware cursor acceleration, and RandR 1.2 capabilities. The latest official version is v1.1, which had brought enhanced monitor detection, mode stability, support for the RS600, minor fixes, and initial support for the Radeon HD 3800 series. However, even xf86-video-radeonhd v1.1 is now outdated. The major change coming since the v1.1 driver update was R500 XAA/EXA 2D acceleration and other work, which can be found their git branch. Coming in OpenSolaris Build 82 is the RadeonHD v1.1 driver as well as including the RadeonHD man page.
For anyone using a Radeon X1000 or Radeon HD 2000 graphics card with OpenSolaris or Solaris Express, the inclusion of the xf86-video-radeonhd driver is great news. It's a bit unfortunate though that with the quick OpenSolaris release cycle builds that the xf86-video-radeonhd driver isn't yet at v1.1 or better yet being pulled from their git repository. Using NVIDIA graphics (NVIDIA: Linux vs. Solaris) is still the best bet for Solaris desktop or workstation users, but already shipping this open-source AMD graphics driver is great to see from Sun Microsystems.
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