Elric's random thoughts in idle times

"Why stop now, when I'm just starting to hate it?" – Marvin the robot

radeon-xorg. A bit more free than before

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My ATI x1250 has always been a pain in the ass. My introduction to Linux came from Ubuntu Hardy (yep, just that) and I remember ALL the stuff I had to go through with fglrx and xorg.conf just to get a decent performance and the possiblity to use compiz, which for me didn’t work out of the box, at all.

Actually, the two things that forced me most into learning Linux systems inner workings are my graphics card, and my Broadcom 4312. Yep, my laptop hates Linux.

Starting with my ATI, I couldn’t get 3d or even a good 2d experience with the radeon xorg driver, not to say that the latter used to freeze the whole system when used on Debian. So, ATI taught me about Xorg, xorg.conf, and how not to lose your patience after killing xorg several times.

Lousy wireless drivers  (b43, ndiswrapper and early wl) taught me how to compile kernel’s modules, and how to use the various text files regarding the loading of modules at boot. And I was a total newbie at that time (not that I got into geekdom with such short time) which for me meant massive learning.

Back to my graphics card, subsequent Ubuntu releases, as well as Debian ones didn’t work fine at all at first, and I even had this UGLY bug of your screen powering off just cause you took the ac adapator out. Plus, fglrx wasn’t working fine either with my card (not supported by then) or with Xorg, hence the need  for a mixed Debian system.

Fortunately? I had this other very UGLY bug that makes you boot into a system on read-only mode for “/”. After spending the whole morning searching for solutions, Live CD’s, fsck…. I decided to reinstall after lunch. One hour, and I was on my new clean Debian Squeeze system. Gnome 2.26 was working perfectly, but even better, the radeon driver worked awesomely with my card!

Latest Radeon xorg driver supports 3d acceleration, with glxgears (lies, bigger lies and benchmarks) spitting out more FPS than it ever did with fgrlx. The average temperature of my system dropped by 5-10 degress, scrooling web pages is WAY faster and less jumpy than before, and I even avoid getting 100% cpu usage when selecting and moving text from firefox (turning my system unbearably slow). Truth has to be said, and it’s that compiz works with a few glitches with this driver. However, they are way less regular than the git radeon driver I tried on Jaunty when it just came out. This means massive improvement.

However, I do like eyecandy. I was into the whole spinning cubs with fishes trapped inside crying raindrops of fire, but in the end, all I set now are shadows and transparencies. I love gnome’s spartan look, just seems to extreme to me at times. Anyway, playing with the driver, I actived gnome’s composite manager. Whow, what a step forward. On gnome 2.22 it was just a curious item you won’t use, whereas now it makes window-dragging smooth and faster, and I get to use gnome-do (I love docks).

Well, this is meant to be a THANK YOU to the lads at radeon-xorg team for delivering such a greatly improved driver. There are still a few glitches as the one mentioned before, the difference is that I know these bugs will be addresed, a feeling I never had with fglrx. It’s amazing how little money can do, in comparison to real interest in making things happen.


Edit: As of May 2010, I have 3d acceleration with Kwin under Archlinux with the default packages. Still having glitches on Debian Testing and Compiz without the ati git version. \o/


Written by elric80

September 28, 2009 at 12:02 am

Posted in debian

Tagged with , ,

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