An Outcry For Improved ATI Linux Drivers
Written by Hakan Bayindir in Display Drivers on 14 April 2007. Page 3 of 5. 7 Comments

Missing Overlay Modes

This is the one of the strange issues that appeared after the 8.26 fglrx driver. Until 8.26, there were plenty of overlay color formats for programs to exploit. This plethora of modes enabled a hassle free development and user experience but with 8.27's new features, the X-Video extension is broken for X1xxx users and never came back as before. When the X-Video came back, some color formats were missing and never implemented back and this broke a lot of things including TV-Time (I'm not a TV fan but I was watching Formula 1 races) along with the WMV decoder for Xine and gStreamer back-ends and some others. As a result, I cannot use TV-Time anymore and use mplayer as a secondary video player to play some formats that makes kaffeine segfault (read: can not play anymore).

Also it is interesting to note that, while it's a bit late, ATI has admitted this implicitly with the release of the knowledge base article that mentions incompatible applications with Linux drivers [Editor's Note: AMD Knows Its Problems]. If you apply straightforward logic to this situation, you can guess that the problem will be solved since it's officially admitted but only they know when they will and with what efficiency... I can only hope that this admittance is the signal of arrival of the new driver with new code-base.

X-Video Instability

Actually, this is the most annoying problem with the driver for me after the temperature and noise issue. Also this is the problem that inspired me to write this article. While I really don't know when this bug was born, I'm sure that I did not have it with my X1600Pro. Maybe this bug is specific to X1x50 family or maybe not but it's definitely testing your patience to the limits.

Actually, the bug and its result are simple as described as in the first paragraph of this article. When you are watching any video over Xv output, your computer becomes an armed time bomb set to an unknown time. If you are lucky, your video ends before counter reaches zero. If not, your computer freezes without giving any warnings. You just hear a sharp beep (since only the last sample is repeated over the sound card, it turns to a sharp beep, always) and everything freezes. The only solution is to reset your computer.

Like most problems, there is a workaround. You can use OpenGL output and bypass any Avivo layer. While this really solves your problems, the outcome is not that sweet since bypassing Avivo means bypassing some image post-processing and cleanup resulting in a video, which looks like a bit blocky water, color painting. If you are not using a high-resolution display (like 1280x1024 or up) or a large monitor (19" and up) it is likely that you may not notice the difference, but it is really there.

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