Alternative Open Source Drivers for ATI Graphics Cards

There are several different drivers available for various ATI graphics cards in Mandriva Linux 2008 that may be of interest in certain situations. This entry concerns the free software set of drivers. Some notes on the proprietary drivers may be found further down this document.

By default, all ATI graphics cards up to but not including the Radeon X1xxx generation (r500 chipset) are supported by the driver in the x11-driver-video-ati package, which is version 6.6 of the ati driver. This version has been determined to work reliably on the most cards.

However, if you have trouble with this driver, the alternative x11-driver-video-ati_6.7 package contains version 6.7 of the same driver. The package is available in the contrib repository. Following the instructions on the Installing and removing software page to add remote repositories and install packages, you should be able to install this package with the Mandriva software management tools.

Installing this package will automatically cause the x11-driver-video-ati package to be removed, and the 6.7 version driver will replace the 6.6 version. No further action is required except to restart the computer: the new version of the driver will then be used immediately. You can revert to the 6.6 version of the driver by reversing the procedure.

By default, X1xxx and HD 2xxx series cards (r500 and r600) chips will almost all use the vesa driver, which is a generic driver that works on any graphics card by using an industry standard interface that all cards implement. This, however, makes it very slow (as native acceleration provided by the card is not used).
Two native drivers are available for these cards, but both are in a very early stage of development, so we chose not to use them by default in Mandriva Linux 2008 for most cards.

Three particular cards that have been tested by users and reported to work well will use the avivo driver by default. This driver is contained in the x11-driver-video-avivo package. The avivo driver was the first free software driver to be developed for the r500 and r600 chips - it actually supports only r500 cards. Development on the avivo driver was recently stopped in favour of a new driver, radeonhd.

The radeonhd driver is based on specifications provided to its authors by ATI / AMD. It is also available in Mandriva Linux 2008 in the x11-driver-video-radeonhd package. As it was initiated very late in Mandriva Linux 2008 development, there was no time to test it to see if it could be used by default on any cards.

If you have an r500 or r600 chipset-based card and would like to experiment with the avivo or radeonhd drivers, you may install the packages if necessary (they will likely be installed already on a default installation) and use the drakx11 graphics card configuration tool to select the driver, which you will find in the Xorg category at the bottom of the list.


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