June 17, 2009

ATI Catalyst (fglrx) and Kernels 2.6.30 / 2.6.29

Updates / Changes

  • 29 July 2009 - Gentoo now has Catalyst 9.7 drivers in the official tree. Should work with kernels 2.6.29 and 2.6.30 as well. A leaked beta ATI driver has given us hope that the next version of fglrx will finally support these kernels without patching.
  • 26 July 2009 - Well, I just realized that Catalyst 9.7 drivers have been released. I've seen conflicting reports as to whether Gentoo's patches for 9.6 can be used with 9.7. If they don't work, then try this.
  • 27 June 2009 - As of yesterday, the patches discussed below are in the official portage tree! Hooray Gentoo!!!

Introduction

Until the developers over at Mesa, Xorg, and the Linux Kernel commit the latest developments to finally bring open source 3D drivers to those of us with newer ATI graphics cards, our only option is the proprietary Catalyst driver.

Not that this is a problem for most people. But for those of us who wish to have the latest stable kernel running on our systems (2.6.30), it may seem we are out of luck.

Well not anymore!

Catalyst For Kernels 2.6.30 / 2.6.29

The folks over at Gentoo have recognized the demand for Catalyst on newer kernels. And though the discussed patches have not been applied to the Catalyst drivers in Portage, you can still apply them yourself with a little overlay magic. Non-Gentoo users will have to adapt this distribution specific process to their system, sorry.

First, download the patches here. Here's what you'll need:

For kernel 2.6.29 -

  • 2.6.29_support.patch

For kernel 2.6.30 -

  • fglrx-2.6.30-irqreturn_t.patch
  • fglrx-rt-compat.patch
  • fglrx-missing-pci_enable_msi.patch

You will also need ati-drivers-8.612.ebuild from the bugzilla. The latest version mentioned on the bug entry should be fine, as it works with both of the mentioned kernel versions. (Note: the aforementioned ebuild corresponds to Catalyst 9.5. If you want to use Catalyst 9.6, you'll need to update the ebuild accordingly)

These patches should apply to Catalyst 9.5 and 9.6. Other versions have not been tested.

Alright, now if you have a local overlay, great! If not, see this guide to learn how to create one. I won't go into the specific process of creating an overlay for the sake of brievity.

First, let's copy the ati-drivers ebuilds to our overlay . . .

$ mkdir -p  /usr/local/portage/abby/x11-drivers/ati-drivers
$ cp -R /usr/portage/x11-drivers/ati-drivers/*
   /usr/local/portage/abby/x11-drivers/ati-drivers

 . . . now overwrite the ebuild in there with the one from the bugzilla . . .

$ cp ~/ati-drivers-8.612.ebuild /usr/local/portage/abby/x11-drivers/ati-drivers

. . . and copy over the patches you downloaded.

$ cp ~/my-ati-patches/*  /usr/local/portage/abby/x11-drivers/ati-drivers/files

Great! Now let's create the new manifest.

$ ebuild ati-drivers-8.612.ebuild digest

Now we're all ready to roll! Remerge ati-drivers and you will now have 3D acceleration on a brand spanking new kernel. Congrats!

Caveats

 If you get a bunch of crap filling up your dmesg from the patched fglrx driver, don't worry too much about it as it seems to be harmless.

Conclusion

 I'm sure we all eagerly await the day we finally get open source 3D drivers for our ATI cards. AMD deserves a lot of credit releasing the documentation and funding the developers to make that happen. So sit tight folks, the day is soon coming that the open driver surpasses the proprietary one.

Click Here!