9 Nov 2008
AMD Graphics in Intrepid
As part of my quest for a quieter desktop, I replaced my old NVidia 6600GT with a shiny new fanless AMD 3450HD card. I had heard good things about AMD graphics working well in KDE4, even with desktop effects and I was interested in having a card that (in the far future it seems) will eventually work with the opensource radeonhd drivers.
In the meantime, it seems that I’m still stuck using the binary-only fglrx driver. And up until a few minutes ago, I was having all sorts of trouble with it. Once I was into a desktop session things were fine, but getting from a computer that was powered off to a working X session was absolutely horrendous. A normal boot would never work, and some magic combination (which I have yet to narrow down precisely) of using the “xfix” option in the recovery menu, copying over old xorg.conf files and restarting the xserver in all manners of ways would sometimes let me see the login screen at the correct resolution.
Finally, I was completely frustrated with fglrx and decided to drop down to 2d only with the current radeonhd drivers (that supposedly work for my 3450HD). Upon trying to install xserver-xorg-video-radeonhd, I discovered that it was already installed. I’m not sure if this is a part of the default Intrepid install or if I installed it and forgot about it, but I decided to just change my driver line in xorg.conf from “fglrx” to “radeonhd” to see what happens. Much to my surprise I got the same black screen as I normally did. Out of curiosity, I decided to remove the radeonhd driver, in case it was conflicting with the fglrx driver, causing my headaches.
I removed the driver, reset the xorg.conf and rebooted. Lo and behold, X11 started up cleanly. I guess all of my problems were related to some sort of conflict with the radeonhd driver and the fglrx driver, even though the latter was the only one listed in the configuration file.
Update: A few days later, everything is still working perfectly.