Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Fedora 7 and ATI binary drivers. An Ugly Hack.

There is a known problem with the recently released Fedora 7 and ATI video cards.
  • Most recent driver (version 8.37.6) causes X server to segfault
  • Older drivers do not support new Xorg versioning system (server reports 1.3 and driver expects >7)
  • Xorg open source ATI drivers do not have support for anything past Radeon 9250 (due to ATI not disclosing specs)
  • Xorg VESA driver doesn't support either 3D acceleration or multi screen and is generally rather slow
All this caused Michael Larabel (who seems to know most about the state of ATI drivers for Linux) to warn people not to upgrade to Fedora 7 just yet.
So, what do you do, if you already upgraded (like me)? Well, if you have single monitor and don't play games much, you can probably live with VESA driver.
Otherwise you can temporarily downgrade your X server to the supported version. Here is a short HOWTO:

  1. Login as root
    su -

  2. Add freshrpms repository
    rpm -ivh
  3. Install ATI proprietary drivers
    yum install ati-x11-drv

  4. Start ATI even daemon
    service atieventsd restart

  5. Download and install old version of Xorg server
    rpm -U --force xorg-x11-server-Xorg-1.2.0-6.fc7.x86_64.rpm
  6. Uninstall newer Xorg server
    rpm -e xorg-x11-server-Xorg-
  7. Prevent YUM from upgrading Xorg again
    sed '/metadata/aexclude=xorg-x11-server-Xorg*' /etc/yum.conf
  8. Configure Xorg to use ATI drivers using aticonfig
    1. CTRL-ALT-F1 to switch to console and login as root
    2. telinit 3
    3. aticonfig --initial for single monitor or aticonfig --initial=dual-head for dual monitors
    4. telinit 5
This is it. At this point you should have proper, 3D accelerated setup.
Most of the directions I have taken and adapted from this thread at

Update: There is a new release of the ATI drivers that works with Xorg 7.3 (somewhat). It is packaged by both freshrpms and livna and therefore there is no need to downgrade the X server anymore