Installing fglrx (ATI) drivers in Debian Etch

  2006-11-20


The instructions in /usr/share/doc/fglrx-kernel-src/README.Debian.gz left something to be desired, so here’s how I installed the official ATI display drivers (fglrx) in Debian Etch (without rebooting!):

Here are the relevant packages I have installed. This list may not be exactly what you need but should work. Install using Synaptic or apt-get or what-ever-you-want.

  • fglrx-control, fglrx-driver, fglrx-kernel-src – 8.28.8-3
  • module-assistant – 0.10.7
  • mesa-utils – 6.3.2-2.1 (for the glxinfo command)

Just for reference, here’s some of my system information:

  • Dell Optiplex GX620
  • ATI RV380 [Radeon X600 (PCI-E)]
  • Debian 4.0 aka Etch (“testing” release as of this post)
  • Kernel package: linux-image-2.6.17.2-686 – 2.6.17-9
  • Gnome 2.14 (important because I use gdm while KDE users probably use kdm)

As root run the following:

  1. cd /usr/src
  2. module-assistant prepare
  3. module-assistant a-i fglrx
  4. Edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file, and set your display driver to fglrx (it is probably currently set to radeon_, if not, step #7 will probably be different for you)

_ 5. _Exit Gnome (or KDE, just get out of X Windows), press ctrl-alt-F1 to get a console, login as root.

_ 6. /etc/init.d/gdm stop 7. modprobe -r radeon 8. modprobe fglrx 9. /etc/init.d/gdm start 10. Done!

To verify that it is installed correctly go to Desktop > Administration > ATI Control Panel and make sure the Renderer is something like RADEON X600 Pro Generic. Also run the excellent glxinfo tool and make sure it contains the line “direct rendering: Yes”.

Many thanks to dcarvil at forums.debian.net whose post helped me figure out step #7.

Update: This configuration does not seem to work with the Composite X.org extension needed to use AIGLX/Compiz.  AIGLX/Compiz is so new, and there are so many conflicting web sites on how to get it working, that I probably won’t try to fix this error for a while.