How Do I Install New (to the computer) video card

using OpenSuse 11.2.
My On Board video is pretty shot I have a Radeon 9250 card I want to use. What would be the best way to install?
Disable mobo card and just boot? Will suse recognise the new board? Is there a command I need to run?
or something different?

How do I get the proper driver?

I was looking @ this page and am confused:
ATI - openSUSE
"Please note that an incompatibility exist between 11.2 and ATI Catalyst Driver 9.3 for “legacy” chip-sets from Radeon 9500 to X1900. "
I have a 9250, but the 1 click does not have my product listed.
So I went to the Radeon page Radeon - openSUSE and that page lists my device.
So should I follow the Radeon page?

Can some one help?

Can you buy and use an nvidia card?

There are practically no problems with nvidia cards, and they work perfectly.

You will need to install the new card and then boot the computer, making sure you change the bios settings to not use the onboard video (if necessary). After booting, you will likely be left at the command line, as X will be unable to start due to the change in hardware. From there you will need to run sax2 to get started on setting up X to work with your new hardware. After you get X working with sax2, you should be able to install the Radeon drivers through normal channels. I do not have any experience with ATI video cards under linux, as I use Nvidia hardware. Follow the guide referenced in the previous post. If you need further help, let us know.

A brief explanation about drivers for ATI cards. There are various drivers available:

  • fbdev
  • this is the frame buffer driver and it is compatible with many different graphic cards (ati, nvidia, intel … ) . It has the slowest performance, but sometimes it will work when all else fails. It typically comes packaged with openSUSE, possibly as part of xorg-x11-driver-video rpm. - vesa
  • this is the vesa driver and it is compatible with many different graphic cards (ati, nvidia, intel … ) . It is faster than the fbdev for performance, and it is pretty robust, but overall it still has slow performance. It typically comes packaged with openSUSE, possibly as part of xorg-x11-driver-video rpm. - **ati **
  • this is the free open source ATI driver for very old ATI hardware. For that hardware it should have better performance than the VESA driver. It typically comes packaged with openSUSE, possibly as part of xorg-x11-driver-video rpm. - radeon
  • this is the free open source ATI “radeon” driver for moderately aged ATI hardware. For that hardware it should have better performance than the VESA driver. It typically comes packaged with openSUSE - radeonhd
  • this is the free opensourece ATI “radeonhd” driver for the latest ATI hardware. For that hardware it should have better performance than the VESA driver. It typically comes packaged with openSUSE in the file xorg-x11-driver-video-radeonhd. - fglrx
  • this is the proprietary free (as in free beer) ATI driver for the latest ATI hardware. For that hardware it should have better performance than all other graphic drivers, but it tends to be a fragile driver and many times a kernel or an xorg update will break it. In order to install it one must download it from the ATI web site (or from a special repository) and then do various hand tweaks to get it to work. It does NOT come with openSUSE.

Now ATI used to produce a propreitary “Catalyst” graphic driver for older ATI cards, but they no longer do that for the 2.6.31 kernel which comes in openSUSE-11.2 and comes in other Linux distributions. Hence for moderatorly aged drivers, one can no longer get access to the very high performance proprietary ATI graphic driver.

In older openSUSE releases, it was necessary to have an /etc/xorg.conf file which defined the configuration needed for one’s graphic card.

As of openSUSE-11.2, the need to have an xorg.conf file was removed for many graphic cards. This was because “xorg” who code X window framework are moving away from requiring the xorg.conf file, but rather want to have the card configured automatically without that xorg.conf file. In such a case, the xorg software should automatically use the latest open source driver (either “radeon” or “radeonhd”). However the automatic recognition of graphic cards is still not reliable for all cards in openSUSE-11.2.

In that case (where automatic graphic card recognition fails) one needs to create an xorg.conf file for the card to force a configuration, for if that xorg.conf file is available, then the xorg software will use it.

The software in openSUSE that is used to generate the xorg.conf file for open source graphic drivers is called “sax2”. One can run “sax2” with many options (but it must be run with root permissions).

For example, to check what chip# one’s graphic devices are, one can run:

sax2 -p

pay attention to the chip, … ie chip 0 (tpically if only one graphic device) or there may be a chip-0 and a chip-1 (if one has more than one graphic device).

Now typically, when reconfiguring a graphic card, it is best to do this NOT in X window, but rather in the full screen terminal run level 3. One boots to run level 3 by pressing “3” (no quotes) when the initial grub boot menu first appears. By pressing “3” one will see the “3” appear in the options line. Then boot normally. That brings one to a full screen text login. Login as a regular user. Then after logged in, type “su” (no quotes - enter root password) to switch users to the administrator/root.

If one wishes to force sax2 to create an xorg.conf file for the open source free radeonhd driver, then one would type in run level 3 (NOT in X window):

sax2 -r -m 0=radeonhd


sax2 -r -m 1=radeonhd

where the 0 or 1 depends on what graphic chip one is trying to configure. The “-r” option tells sax2 to ignore any previous created xorg.conf file, and overwrite/replace it.

Once sax2 is complete, one can restart from run level 3 by typing “shutdown -r now” (with root permissions) and then let the reboot continue to see if the graphic card configuration worked.

Hopefully that gives you a bit more information so that you can understand the recommendations that have been given above by other forum members.

Nice work OldCPU :slight_smile:

It occurred to me this morning that the above list was incomplete for older ATI cards. For example, provided by the file xorg-X11-driver-video there are also open source free drivers specificially for

  • mach64
  • ATI Mach64
    *]r128 - ATI Rage 128

Thanks, It worked. Its slower than I expected, but it is working.

Thanks oldcpu great help!

Concise, clear and the most helpful post on using old video cards with opensuse 11.2 - my old ATI Rage IIC is now working great. Thanks OldCPU!

OK, I thought I would add to this thread instead of creating a new one.
I am new(ish) to Linux and am trying distros. I have used Ubuntu before, so I chose it to replace Windows XP on a laptop. 9.10 worked flawlessly. Then I wanted to install it on a PC I have plugged to an LCD TV to watch movies. This PC has an NVIDIA GeForce 8400GS. I just can’t get the resolution to go over 640x320. I was able to get it at 1366x768 on XP.
So I looked elsewhere, and heard the opensuse works very well with NVIDIA cards. My question is, would opensuse recognize and install, with no problems, on my PC? I changed the BIOS so that the NVIDIA is the default video.
Any thoughts?

I am surprised that you can not get the PC’s resolution to go higher than 640x320 on Ubuntu. Typically Ubuntu is very good at automatically sorting the resolution.

I have an old PC with a nVidia 8400GS running at 1920x1200 resolution on openSUSE-11.2. Previous I had it running on openSUSE-11.1. I’ve had it working with the VESA driver (at a lower resolution), and the openGL “nv” driver (at a lower resolution) and the “nvidia” proprietary driver at its current high resolution.

I recommend you try booting openSUSE from a liveCD first, and see if that works. That will typically run with the open source openGL “nv” graphic driver.

You can find liveCD’s for openSUSE-11.1 and 11.2 here:

Ensure you do the md5sum check on the downloaded iso file against the value on the CD web site, else it is a complete waste of time. Also burn the CD/DVD NOT to an RW but to a R+ or R- of high quality at the slowest speed your burner allows.

I provided some practical guidance for openSUSE and graphical drivers here: openSUSE Graphic Card Practical Theory Guide for Users - openSUSE Forums

How many graphic cards do you have in your system? There is always a risk that your graphic card will be misidentified, and you will need to manually configure.

As I noted here one can create on openSUSE an xorg.conf file with the tool sax2 to create an xorg.conf file. In the case of a liveCD this can be done also, although in the case of a liveCD since the file resides in RAM the file is deleted as soon as one reboots. Hence for a liveCD (where running from RAM instead of from the hard drive) instead of rebooting after configuring X one should instead type “exit” to get rid of root permissions and then type “startx” to start X windows with the new xorg.conf file in place. Note also that the user in the openSUSE live CD is “linux” (with the password <enter> ) and that the password for root in the openSUSE liveCD is also <enter> .

Thank you,
I’ll try the opensuse installation tonight. I know it works with the NVIDIA card, at least during the installation, at 1024*768, as I did a little system probing first.
Now, I have an older IBM 8303 KKU with a 2.26GHz CPU, 2GB RAM and a 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400GS. When I installed Ubuntu I could not use the NVIDIA for the installation process, so I had to set the bios to use the onboard video, and after the installation I changed it to use the NVIDIA as the default. That’s where my problem started, and I posted on a number of forums. No suggestion worked.
I really don’t want to go back to Windows, and I’m hoping opensuse works without these problems.

OK, we have some guidance here for new users:

Installed opensuse with no problems. It recognized my video card at once and got the right resolution. It is a beautiful desktop.
There are however problems with the updates. I read in another forum that the repositories for updates were moved?

I think some of the repos were off line for a while, but they should be back now . …

I recommend only 4 repos: OSS, Non-OSS, Update (which are default) and Packman. Just those 4. No others. None. Just those 4. Hence you should only need to add Packman. If you need others for some specific app, add the other repos, install the app, and then disable or remove the 5th repos. That approach may save you massive headaches and possible dependency problems.