Best driver for Radeon 5850 on 11.3?

I’ve installed openSUSE 11.3, and I want to have hardware 3D acceleration on my Radeon 5850. Far as I can tell, I don’t have any right now (for example, I installed armagetron and it uses software rendering).

I’m a technical enough user, but I’m new to openSUSE and to Linux, and my previous attempt of installing ATI drivers (proprietary ones on Fedora) resulted in the OS being unable to boot. I figure that asking for directions would help make things work out better this time.


Unfortunately, you’re not too lucky with your choice of hardware.

ATI Evergreen GPUs (Radeon HD 5xxx) under Linux are currently only supported by
ATI’s Catalyst driver (fglrx). With openSUSE 11.3 you will need Catalyst 10.7 or
newer (older versions don’t run with the version shipping in 11.3, although
some people have had some success patching Catalyst 10.6).

Be warned, though, Catalyst 10.7 is horribly buggy (known to produce severe
screen artifacts in Firefox and Thunderbird). 3D should work more or less ok, though,
as long as you don’t run wine games.

My suggestion would be to wait for Catalyst 10.8 due later this month, and to hope
that ATI hasn’t botched this one too (it’s hit and miss with their drivers).

Unfortunately, in the high-end graphics card range the only reasonably good
choice for use under Linux at the moment is the Nvidia GTX 460 (as Nvidia’s driver
is still much superior to fglrx).

One more hint:
If you install Catalyst (i.e. fglrx) you should always use the so called “hard way”.
Do not try to install from the openSUSE ATI driver repository. Instead:

a) Download the driver from ATI’s site
b) You must generate an rpm package for openSUSE 11.3. Run ati-driver-installer with the --listpkg option first to list all supported packages.
c) Generate the package appropriate for your OS using ati-driver-installer with the --buildpkg option.
d) Install this package with zypper, yast, or rpm.
e) Finally don’t forget to run aticonfig.

Good Luck!

I think that you have to disable KMS (with nomodeset on kernel line) for the fglrx to work properly.

Thanks a lot for the replies, guys. Since what I’m trying to do is evaluate whether I can use Linux as a day-to-day OS, including playing Windows games, I guess I’ll have to wait for the 10.8 release and see how it fares. Is there any particular thread (here or on another forum) where I’ll be able to see comments about how well the new driver works?

BTW, would it be okay to install the precompiled drivers from here?

IMHO if playing Windows games is important, then one should use Windows. I say that as a BIG Linux fan who would like to see more users come to Linux, but in truth, Windows games are designed and tested for Windows and not for Linux, and hence Windows is mostly a FAR superior OS for Windows games.

Thanks for the honest feedback. I know Windows is the best platform for Windows games, but I’m still curious about the usability of Linux for that. I’m not that much of a heavy gamer nowadays, which is one reason I felt I could give Linux a try. Still, I’m not in any rush to move to Linux and can wait a little in the hope the driver situation improves. The Radeon 5850 is a good card in Windows, and it’s a pity the Linux drivers aren’t up to par.

(Really, I don’t have a compelling reason to move to Linux. I’m pretty fine using Vista x64, and haven’t even upgraded to Windows 7 even though I have a license for it. Still, I’m enough of a computer geek and I’ve always liked exploring alternatives.)

I have used the patched 10.6 Catalyst packages from that link (before
Catalyst 10.7 was released), and the install worked. Can’t comment on the present
10.7 packages. But in general your best bet is to use the “hard way”.

For reactions on Catalyst for Linux releases, see:
AMD/ATI Linux - Phoronix Forums

Nearly every new version is greeted there with the sentence
“Let the bashing begin …”! :shame: