This guide will show you how to use the Free, Open Source driver for many ATI graphics cards called "radeon" or "ati". It will provide 2D and 3D acceleration in your video hardware. This driver's 3D is usually not as fast as the closed-source, proprietary "fglrx" driver from AMD/ATI Inc. for some cards, but has better dual-head support, and supports some older chipsets that fglrx does not.

Identifying Your Graphics Chip

First, check your graphic card name and chipset:

sudo update-pciids #optional command, requires internet
lspci -nn | grep VGA

It should report something like this for your graphics card:

01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] RV710 [Radeon HD 4550]

Unsupported Chips

For the very latest cards, open-source driver support is not always instant. Using proprietary fglrx/Catalyst driver may be necessary.


Supported, but Hardware is Too Old for Unity

These cards will not run Ubuntu's Unity desktop with 3D acceleration. They will still run Unity, but the CPU will be used for basic drawing and performance may suffer. If you have one of these cards, a lighter desktop (such as xfce or lxde, found in Xubuntu and Lubuntu respectively) is recommended.

R100                     Radeon 7200
RV100                    Radeon 7000(VE), M6, RN50/ES1000 (2D only)
RS100                    Radeon IGP320(M)
RV200                    Radeon 7500, M7, FireGL 7800
RS200                    Radeon IGP330(M)/IGP340(M)
RS250                    Radeon Mobility 7000 IGP
R200                     Radeon 8500, 9100, FireGL 8800/8700
RV250                    Radeon 9000PRO/9000, M9
RV280                    Radeon 9200PRO/9200/9200SE/9250, M9+
RS300                    Radeon 9100 IGP
RS350                    Radeon 9200 IGP

Fully Supported

All these Radeon(HD) cards and derivatives have good 3D acceleration support. This is not an exhaustive list:

RS400/RS480                 Radeon XPRESS 200(M)/1100 IGP
R300                        Radeon 9700PRO/9700/9500PRO/9500/9600TX, FireGL X1/Z1
R350                        Radeon 9800PRO/9800SE/9800, FireGL X2
R360                        Radeon 9800XT
RV350                       Radeon 9600PRO/9600SE/9600/9550, M10/M11, FireGL T2
RV360                       Radeon 9600XT
RV370                       Radeon X300, M22
RV380                       Radeon X600, M24
RV410                       Radeon X700, M26 PCIE
R420                        Radeon X800 AGP
R423/R430                   Radeon X800, M28 PCIE
R480/R481                   Radeon X850 PCIE/AGP
RV505/RV515/RV516/RV550     Radeon X1300/X1400/X1500/X2300
R520                        Radeon X1800
RV530/RV560                 Radeon X1600/X1650/X1700
RV570/R580                  Radeon X1900/X1950
RS600/RS690/RS740           Radeon X1200/X1250/X2100
R600                        Radeon HD 2900
RV610/RV630                 Radeon HD 2400/2600/2700/4200/4225/4250
RV620/RV635                 Radeon HD 3410/3430/3450/3470/3650/3670
RV670                       Radeon HD 3690/3850/3870
RS780/RS880                 Radeon HD 3100/3200/3300/4100/4200/4250/4290
RV710/RV730                 Radeon HD 4330/4350/4550/4650/4670/5145/5165/530v/545v/560v/565v
RV740/RV770/RV790           Radeon HD 4770/4730/4830/4850/4860/4870/4890
CEDAR                       Radeon HD 5430/5450/6330/6350/6370
REDWOOD                     Radeon HD 5550/5570/5670
JUNIPER                     Radeon HD 5750/5770
CYPRESS                     Radeon HD 5850/5870
HEMLOCK                     Radeon HD 5970
PALM                        Radeon HD 6310/6250
SUMO/SUMO2                  Radeon HD 6370/6380/6410/6480/6520/6530/6550/6620
BARTS                       Radeon HD 6790/6850/6870/6950/6970/6990
TURKS                       Radeon HD 6570/6630/6650/6670/6730/6750/6770
CAICOS                      Radeon HD 6430/6450/6470/6490
CAYMAN                      Radeon HD 6950/6970/6990
TAHITI/PITCAIRN/VERDE       Radeon HD 7000/"Southern Islands" series
OLAND                       Radeon HD 8xxx series
HAINAN                      Radeon HD 88xx series
RICHLAND                    Radeon HD 8xxxG series

Testing The Driver

To look for boot messages/errors, check

dmesg | egrep 'drm|radeon'

To see your OpenGL information, you can run the commands below. Make sure your OpenGL renderer string does not say "software rasterizer" or "llvmpipe" because that would mean you have no 3D hardware acceleration:

sudo apt-get install mesa-utils
LIBGL_DEBUG=verbose glxinfo

Removing the proprietary fglrx driver

If you've previously installed the ATI binary/proprietary driver (a.k.a Catalyst/fglrx), you need to make sure it's fully purged before trying to use the open-source ati/radeon driver. See this page

No configuration is necessary for ATI driver in the modern versions of Ubuntu. You can safely take away your /etc/X11/xorg.conf and your computer should run fine.

Check the manpage of the radeon driver for advanced options.

man radeon

HDMI Audio

The open-source radeon driver supports HDMI audio on Radeon HD 6000-series and earlier chips. On Trusty/14.04 and newer, HDMI audio should work automatically.

On release older than Trusty/14.04, users will need to to enable HDMI audio manually by passing the kernel parameter. It can be done with the following command:

echo "options radeon audio=1" | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/radeon.conf

Ubuntu Precise/12.04 users should also note that they may need a newer kernel (>= 3.5.x) to enable HDMI audio on later cards.

Power Management

Kernel 3.10.x and Earlier

Power management was one of the weak spots of the open-source driver prior to kernel 3.11.x. If you have a laptop that's getting too hot, try setting the power management profile to low.

sudo bash -c "echo \"profile\" > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_method"
sudo bash -c "echo \"low\" > /sys/class/drm/card0/device/power_profile"

Kernel 3.11.x (Ubuntu 13.10/Saucy) and Later

You can enable DPM on RadeonHD cards by adding a boot parameter. This should greatly help power consumption, especially when idle. To do so, edit /etc/default/grub and add the 'radeon.dpm=1' to the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT line, so it would look something like:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash radeon.dpm=1"

After you save/quit the text editor, update grub:

sudo update-grub

See Also

BinaryDriverHowto/ATI - The Wiki page for the proprietary AMD/ATI driver "fglrx" which also offers 3D acceleration, and works on newer cards than the "radeon" driver. Since it's closed-source, only AMD can work on it and give efficient support, and the open-source community can generally not help you with problems.

Arch Linux ati driver documentation - includes TV-out information Radeon Feature Table

RadeonDriver (last edited 2014-07-04 17:33:15 by dtl131-deactivatedaccount)