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New video card — ATI HD4350 — Sigh for proprietary drivers

So I got a new video card, since the old one was quite fuzzy (compiz went haywire repeatedly, or froze, or emacs decided to ovrewrite the window instead of clearing it before scrolling, the Tyan logo at boot up had the wrong colours, …). Since finding r500 cards on the market is near-impossible, I got an HD4350; I got one that would support 1920×1440 resolution, which seems to be available on some pretty high-end 24” monitors, which hopefully one day I’ll get (the 20” feels small lately).

Now, since this also has an r700-series CPU, I had to fiddle quite a bit to get it to work, and the results are, sincerely, not extremely nice.

First stop: trying the experimental radeon driver with all the extra support enabled. Using GIT versions of the driver, mesa, libdrm and the kernel itself (long story anyway), I get to the point it actually starts up after creating the modeline manually (because otherwise the monitor gets out of range… on a DVI connection). It seems to work, KMS enabled and all the stuff.. it worked fine, for a few hours, then it kernel panicked (and the panic wasn’t sent to the serial console, just the vga console!).

Second stop: non-KMS drivers, still with all the GIT software… it works, sort-of. When compiz is enabled (and I use compiz to be more productive: desktop wall and obscured non-focus windows are definitely useful), menus and textboxes corrupts… to the point of being unusable.

At the end, I had to install ati-drivers, and I’m now running the proprietary version of the drivers; on the upside, it works quite decently for now. I’ll stick this way until radeon can deal with this decently, which means when KMS won’t freeze my system. Maybe 2.6.23?

Comments 10
  1. For ati-drivers to work fast (resizing and maximizing windows is slow as hell), you need 107_fedora_dont_backfill_bg_none.patch (you’ll find it if you Google it.) It’s not in portage, you have to patch X.Org yourself in your overlay.The patch has a small drawback: sometimes, and for a split second, garbage is seen when maximizing a window or opening a window. For me far preferable than slow as molasses performance.

  2. Had no issues with ATI 3200 IGP chipset, until I attempted to use a Xen or some other kernel that would make use of virtuals. Using proprietaries at first.Now using the open source version. It seems fine, haven’t tried the virtual support yet. Like the idea of containers.

  3. In my case, I really prefer nVidia cards with its propietary driver. I have tried lots of nvidia cards and all of them were properly supported with linux (even suspending and hibernating), on the other hand, I still have a lot of stability problems with an old Ati 9200 with free driver (its propietary drivers never worked for me) and with an Intel card that I am simply unable to have it working with framebuffer and, of course, without 3D supportRegards

  4. Maybe it’s bad luck, but with the nvidia card I cannot use compiz, at least on Fedora 11, so I went for ATI… in the past the free drivers worked quite fine for me.

  5. Keep trying the radeon driver (mesa libdrm and kernel) as the quality of the driver is improving day after dayTwo weeks ago it was nearly unusable – ie not bootingThey’re really whacking the bugs at the moment.Perhaps you could help in this process by submitting bugs and hopefully getting a better experience for it

  6. Huh. Your experiences are mostly the opposite of mine.I have a RadeonHD 4550, which is the exact same card but with higher clock frequencies.Mine is totally usable, and just about the fastest card I’ve ever used for 2D work — 3D I still haven’t tried.You might try running just stable/~arch packages, instead of the git versions.I’m only using ~arch xf86-video-ati, mesa, and libdrm. Everything else is stable, and performance is excellent. I also don’t use an OpenGL window manager like Compiz, because Compiz is an unstable, buggy POS even with mature graphics drivers. I just use xfwm4’s built-in Xrender compositor for shadows and transparency. Simple, basic, does what I need it to do.There are lots of reports over on the Phoronix forums that the R700 cards work nicely with the still-immature 3D stack, but that can change depending on day-to-day git commits, or even week-to-week. Even the ATI rep on the forums recommends using the non-KMS 3D support via DRI1 as it’s much more stable (and a better performer) than KMS with DRI2.Your random panics intrigue me, though — I’ve discovered that sometimes when the screen goes into suspend mode, that I can’t get a desktop back. It’s almost entirely random, but it definitely happens more often when I log out and/or leave my desktop idling for awhile. I don’t have sshd setup so I can’t log into my box to check if the system is still responding or not. And there don’t seem to be any error messages in my logs — though I may have misconfigured acpid’s reports.I have to press the ‘reset’ switch to get my box back, as the keystrokes don’t work. I suspect it’s something to do with the graphics driver stack, presumably in xf86-video-ati, but I haven’t upgraded past ~arch to check.

  7. I bought a Radeon X1950 Pro for 50€ on eBay (the most powerful card with a stable driver) , changed the stock cooler to a passive one and everything is perfect (currently at 1920×1280, 27 days uptime). Maybe you should try that.

  8. Given that I could have had an HD3250 for less than €50, with warranty, and writeable off as expense (I went for a slightly higher class one to get 1920×1440, as I said), no, eBay wouldn’t have been a good choice at all.At any rate! Using KMS and 2.6.31 + backported drm-next (simply merged in, worked fine, thanks git!) is definitely the best choice up to now. Indeed, ati-drives froze my system a few times yesterday, non-KMS is corrupted, but KMS works fine.. let’s hope it won’t freeze again!

  9. Flameeyes,Any update on this card? I’m looking at getting one, so I was wondering if things had improved.Cheers,jw

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