Build Linux drivers for ATI 6450 on FC15

The 6450 is a great card, it's cheap, cool and needs only 8 Watts. Powered by Renewable Energy I can use this card as yet another point made against energy waste. Let's get it to running in Linux..

I sold my iMac and from the proceeds I build two high performing Intel SandyBridge-based PCs with Intel SSD's. I decided there's no going back to Windows nor MacOSX, because I felt that would be a step back. So Linux it was. With Fedora Core 15 spurting Gnome 3 being released yesterday, I chose that one. Of course one could always switch to another Window Manager like KDE.

 

Preparation of the Kernel



Become root for the ease of use of this tutorial.


yum update
Reboot.


yum install kernel-headers kernel-devel gcc
Check if lib/modules/uname -r/source is correctly linked to build and if the kernel headers with the correct kernel version (uname -r) are in the build directory. Maybe you have to reboot into the correct kernel version first after doing update.
 

Installation of the ATI drivers

Download the drivers from the ATI homepage and finally install them.


bash ati-driver-installer-11-5-x86.x86_64.run
Check in Ati install log if the drivers compiled a kernel module against the kernel headers with cat /usr/shr/ati/fglrx-install.log

Reboot and test your install.


fglrxinfo

This is what you want to see in the end:


display: :0 screen: 0
OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc.
OpenGL renderer string: AMD Radeon HD 6450
OpenGL version string: 4.1.10750 Compatibility Profile Context

Test your framerate:


fglglxgears

You should see at least 200/300 FPS (depending on your GPU) in Gnome3


Using GLX
SGIX_pbuffer
1539 frames in 5.0 seconds = 307.800 FPS
1838 frames in 5.0 seconds = 367.600 FPS
1828 frames in 5.0 seconds = 365.600 FPS
1835 frames in 5.0 seconds = 367.000 FPS


This is what I got in KDE with Compiz-Fusion


Using GLXSGIXpbuffer8002 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1600.277 FPS
7999 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1597.831 FPS
8106 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1621.128 FPS
6598 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1319.523 FPS

Above great framerates I achieved with the propietary drivers. However, I get a nasty right corner sticky-mouse bug with Compiz. Users of other distributions are also repporting this with the 11.5 ATI drivers. That's why I switched to the akmod drivers, they lack 3D support (glxgears at 60fps I call hardly 3D support), but 2D is fine with Compiz - and no bugs.

 

Troubleshooting

If you screw up during install and cannot get back into the system you have to check with your BIOS and boot from USB or LiveCD and try to fix your drive or re-install. With nowadays Processor power and a SSD a OS reinstall should take below 60 seconds. Try to beat that while charging no money for your OS, Microshaft and Crapple!

For instance I did reboot without checking if ATI did compile a kernel module (you will need that one!). So my OS (FC15) hanged during the boot sequence when entering init.rd, maybe when switching to runlevel 5. I therefore booted to the live usb stick and mounted my system disk, which can be a bit confusing if you are new to Logical Volume Groups.


pvs
lvdisplay /dev/VolumeGroupName
vgchange -a y VolumeGroupName
mkdir /mnt/system
mount /dev/VolumeGroupName/lv_root /mnt/system/

You now can edit either edit Xorg mnt/system/etc/X11/xorg.conf or switch of automatic boot to the XServer with /etc/inittab. However, in Fedora Core 15 the Init Dameon is legacy (there goes the usefullness of your LPIC or RHCL certification). So we have to link to the text-mode, which was referred to as initlevel 3.


rm /mnt/system/etc/systemd/system/default.target
ln -s /mnt/system/lib/systemd/system/runlevel3.target /mnt/system/etc/systemd/system/default.target


In case you need to chroot to your mounted system, do it like this. It will load the proper environment variables and add a reminder that you are chrooted to your shell:


chroot /mnt/gentoo /bin/bash
env-update
source /etc/profile
export PS1="(chroot) $PS1"

 

Switch to OpenSource Drivers


It might be necessary to uninstall the ATI drivers. Remember to keep your important files somewhere hidden on a USB HDD or NAS during re-install and cutting edge experiments like this.


Remove ATI propietary drivers


sudo yum remove xorg-x11-drv-ati

Force them to vanish (could lead to errors)


sudo /usr/share/ati/amd-uninstall.sh --force

Repair Mesa


yum reinstall mesa-libGL

Install the F15 Drivers from the RPM-Fusion repository


rpm -Uvh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm
yum install akmod-catalyst xorg-x11-drv-catalyst xorg-x11-drv-catalyst-libs.i686

 

Conclusion



Overall it can be quite the hassle to getting OpenGL work in Linux, especially if you are a newbie. However it's absolutely worth the effort. I ditched Gnome3 because it's absolutely bollocks. I use KDE with Compiz-Fusion now and it's absolutely goregous (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4wB3GUemVw).

Suddenly MacOSX or Windows 7 feels like going by foot, while KDE 4.6.3. with a 2.8 Linux Kernel empowered by yum package management feels like riding a Full Suspension Bike. So good bye WindoZe and WackOS, I am home.


Sources

Build Kernel Modules
Official Xorg How-To
fglrx interferes with radeon driver problem
Fedora 13 ATI Catalyst (fglrx) 10.11 Drivers Install/Uninstall

The only error I get with ATI 11.5 drivers: Right Corner Sticky