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What a lousy day

[ feel free not to read this ]

Initially I wanted to write about ATI, but then you'd say “come on dude, again?!”.  Yeah I fucked up my day trying to install, for the zillionth time, this lousy driver.  All day.

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Filed in: ati, linux, rants2 comments

Ati spits a new driver for Linux

Heard the newsATI AMD finally releases a new driver for Linux which brings the long awaited AIGLX support.  AIGLX is cool stuff.  Great work, although it's kind of late—since most other producers had it long ago.

Unfortunately, the suspend/resume problems seem to be still in place so I think I'll just stick to VESA for now...  But hey, there is hope—since they brought us AIGLX by the end of 2007, I think we'll have suspend/resume working some time next year.  Grrr.


Couldn't resist so I spent half a day trying this driver.  For one thing, it didn't work because my hardware is unsupported.  Applied the patch, messed with the ChipID option, finally got it to work.  It was damn slow for 2D, so slow actually that I'd be happy to revert to VESA any time.

But let's keep trying.  After these new hacks in xorg.conf it was about as fast as VESA.  What can I say—cool, they finally match the performance of a general, unoptimized driver.  I expected better, but I can live with it.

Let's try AIGLX now.  apt-get install compiz 'n shit, finally killing sawfish (still my preferred window manager) and trying to start compiz results in an error (err... forgot what was it.  I'd love to paste, but I can't since I upgraded to VESA since).  OK, they claim to support AIGLX, but compiz doesn't really work—no problem, maybe it will later.  LATER.  I mean, in a few years or so.  No problem.

Let's try suspend.  Oh, it WORKS.  How cool is that?  My machine suspended.  Now let's RESUME IT!  And... you don't wanna hear the rest of the story...

So I switched back to VESA.  I'm happy.  I can suspend/resume.  Compiz doesn't work (but Sawfish is so cool and so.... Emacs-like.).  I bet that moments after I'll have bought a new laptop, which definitely won't have any AMD label on it, their crap driver will work just fine.  I bet.  But I won't be giving them any more cents...

Filed in: ati, linuxNo comments

ATI Releases Specs

I can't believe it, I must be dreaming!  ATI finally did the Right Thing.  I don't yet know if this is a result of the fact that they can't write and maintain a proper driver for Linux, or to beat competition, but one thing's for sure: I might eventually get to use this hardware to its full potential (though, chances are, I will purchase a new one before this card gets proper open-source support).  I'm also sure that this will increase ATI sales (though they'll probably be blind enough to not realize it.).

Anyway: their sins are halfway forgiven.  Thanks, ATI, and sorry to be that vocal — but you deserved it.

Filed in: ati, linuxOne comment

ATI — again.. All the TIme

So I have upgraded my kernel.  Day three.  I finally realized why suspend doesn't work anymore.  Because along with this kernel update, I also updated the infamous ATI drivers.  My never ending nightmare.

I don't want to say that suspend/resume was always dependable.  It worked, sometimes.  Most of the times, it didn't.  Basically, it was random.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  When it didn't, I risked losing all my work.  I was conscious about it, but I still risked, saying—“hey, Linux is in heavy development; I'm using a bleeding-edge kernel; folks don't have support from hardware producers” etc.

It is only today when I realized, after another 3 painful days trying to set things up for the millionth time, that it's not the kernel and it's not Debian.  It's ATI.  Yes, if you upgrade to kernel and to latest ATI drivers (8.39.4 as I write this) then suspend doesn't work.  It hangs with this message:  “Suspending console(s)”.

I rebooted a million times.  I tried a million variants, only to come up to the logical conclusion (and I wonder how was I stupid enough not to think about it from the first place): “fglrx” can't suspend.  It worked, sometimes, with a certain combination of fglrx and kernel versions, but it was buggy.  And I blamed it on the wrong side.

By pure chance, I switched my X to a “vesa” driver today to find out that suspend/resume works flawlessly, over and over.  Never crashes.  With “fglrx”, it crashed twice a day (in those days when it worked at all).  But VESA is sooo slow.  I guess I should be thankful to ATI that they gave me this buggy driver that wasted tens of hours of my life (but it's oh so fast).

I'm almost 30.  It's mid 2007.  And I can't suspend my laptop.  Thanks to ATI.  They can't write a good driver, yet they won't release any documentation.  Basically, they don't grant us the right to use their expensive crap hardware—which we paid for.  Doesn't this suck?!

Filed in: ati, linux, rantsNo comments

ATI — the never ending nightmare

Almost one month ago I upgraded my Debian to 4.0 (Etch).  I did that for no specific reason—I'm just trying to keep my box up-to-date as it's generally a good thing.  In this release they switched to a new X version, which for some reason is named 1.3.0.  The old version was 7.2 or something.

The version change is planned for a long time and AFAIK it has been in the X.Org development tree for 6 months or so.  But, the proprietary ATI driver, one of my primary sources of frustration ever since I bought this laptop, will only work on X.Org 6.7, 6.8, 6.9, 7.0 and 7.1, even though it was last released two weeks ago.

I tried all sorts of hacks but I couldn't convince it to run on X 1.3.0.  If you ask me, there are 2 problems here:

  1. The X team shouldn't have changed the version number in such a dumb way.  They should have named it 7.3.0.  That would make sense.  1.3.0 doesn't.  But anyway, it's a lost battle—they did it and so it shall stay.

  2. ATI should either allow me to force loading it regardless the X version, or just update the fucking driver to support something that has been planned for half a year.

Some people got it to work by either downgrading X (not really an option for me as I upgraded the whole distro and the changelist was huge), and others by rebuilding X after changing the version in the code—which means that there's no practical reason why the driver wouldn't work on the new version and also means that it would only take 30 seconds for an ATI engineer to "upgrade" it.

So here am I with this super-powerful multi-hundred-dollars card, stuck with a slow VESA driver and no acceleration whatsoever.  Almost one month has passed and probably I'll have to wait for another 2-3 months until ATI thinks they should update the driver.

Meanwhile, my friends with cheap Intel cards have absolutely no problem and they even have AIGLX + Compiz/Beryl eye-candy desktops, something ATI still doesn't support in 2007 and, judging by how things go, probably never will.  It's definitely a great advantage to have open-source drivers!  I can understand now why kernel hackers refuse hooks to run proprietary code.

I keep saying that I won't buy another ATI product ever again, but unfortunately when you purchase a brand laptop you don't really have a choice.  Except for Linux support, they produce great cards.  But why do they make Linux people life so miserable?  Dear ATI, can't you hear we hate you?  I hate you!  F**k you and your cards.  And, did I mention I hate you?

Update: I was able to finally fix it by applying this binary patch.  I paste the relevant lines below:

sed -i 's/\xe8\xec\x4f\xfe\xff\x85\xc0\x7f\x31/\xe8\xec\x4f\xfe\xff\x85\xc0\x90\x90/' x710/usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/fglrx_drv.so
sed -i 's/\xe8\xaa\x72\xfe\xff\x85\xc0\x7f\x23/\xe8\xaa\x72\xfe\xff\x85\xc0\x90\x90/' x710_64a/usr/X11R6/lib64/modules/drivers/fglrx_drv.so
sed -i 's/\x0f\x88\x3c\x09\x00\x00/\x90\xe9\x3c\x09\x00\x00/' x710/usr/X11R6/lib/modules/drivers/fglrx_drv.so
sed -i 's/\x0f\x88\x3b\x08\x00\x00/\x90\xe9\x3b\x08\x00\x00/' x710_64a/usr/X11R6/lib64/modules/drivers/fglrx_drv.so

Never in my life have I done something as horrible.  But it worked.  Kudos to whoever created the patch.  And shame on you ATI!

Filed in: ati, linux, rants4 comments
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