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AMD Graphics Open Source Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu Drops Support For AMD's Catalyst GPU Driver ( 155

An anonymous reader writes: Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and newer will no longer be supporting AMD's widely-used Catalyst Linux (fglrx) driver. AMD has dropped support for this proprietary AMD driver in favor of encouraging users to use the open-source AMDGPU/Radeon drivers. While the fglrx/Catalyst driver is notorious among Linux gamers, this will represent a regression for many AMD Linux users due to the open-source driver only having OpenGL 4.1 support compared to OpenGL 4.5 in Catalyst, lower performance in common gaming workloads, incomplete OpenCL compute support, no CrossFire multi-GPU support, and other missing features. Much of the missing functionality will end up being implemented by AMD's new AMDGPU driver stack but that is still months away from being truly ready and will only benefit the very latest Radeon GPUs while the fglrx-free Ubuntu 16.04 is set to ship in April.
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Ubuntu Drops Support For AMD's Catalyst GPU Driver

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  • by poet ( 8021 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @05:16PM (#51668213) Homepage

    That is what this really boils down to.

    • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @05:33PM (#51668325)

      nope, the open source drivers are garbage, people will install the binaries from the vendor themselves

      • by qubezz ( 520511 )
        The binaries are kernel-specific and X version specific garbage. Take a 2011 laptop or your average Dell computer with a AMD HD 3xxx video card, the proprietary drivers dropped support within a few years and you can't even update Ubuntu 12.04.x or you lose support.
      • Pretty hard when it is AMD that is dropping support for the binary.

      • FYI this isn't about "dropping Catalyst", it's about moving from the closed-source Linux Catalyst stack to the mostly-open amdgpu-based hybrid stack, based on the open-source amdgpu driver stack plus closed-source OpenGL, OpenCL and Vulkan usermode drivers.
      • nope, the open source drivers are garbage, ....

        Well, it's Open Source, so help fix it. Or so the lore says...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    SteamOS is downstream from Debian, which has not deprecated fglrx yet and probably won't until the new AMD driver comes out.

    • SteamOS is downstream from Debian, which has not deprecated fglrx yet and probably won't until 6 months after the new AMD driver comes out.

      Fixed that for you.

      Just because Ubuntu doesn't support it doesn't mean some group out there won't fill in the gap. comes to mind.

    • SteamOS is downstream from Debian, which has not deprecated fglrx yet and probably won't until the new AMD driver comes out.

      Ubuntu has 0.4% share of the Steam Market. 40% of Linux's pathetic 1% share of the Steam market. Steam Hardware & Software Survey: February 2016 [] Stats for SteamOS or the Steam Machine aren't to be found here, or anywhere else for that matter.

      I suspect because the numbers are so bad no one wants to see them in print.

      • You need to drill down better. Ubuntu 15.10 in 19% of Linux. 14.04.3 is 17%. Other is 44% Since they only had room for 3 flavors of Ubuntu (Mint arguably is) the Steam box could be 4th and 5th place (There were two versions) for all we know.
  • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @05:18PM (#51668231)
    From the "are-you-nuts?" department

    Ubuntu does not exist to support customers. That is what Windows is for!

  • I have many machines that use Mint 17.3 but Catalyst or Crimson doesn't function well on my HP G6 with AMD A4 3300. Some reason the laptop turns on but the display is off. Not until I close the lid and open it again will the display turn on. This bug persists with Ubuntu 16.04 and even with Oibaf PPA which gives me the latest open source drivers. The drivers work great but I'd like to see something done cause this isn't a new problem.

    Nomodeset does get the display to work but no 3D acceleration. Quick

  • Just drop AMD from your equipment. You'll be a lot better off.

  • by fishscene ( 3662081 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @05:39PM (#51668379)
    Dropping support for something without having a reasonable replacement is usually a bad idea. But it's a good idea if you're trying to decrease choice, increase frustration, and leave the people who depend on you hanging. It might make things easier on the development side, but the long-term affects can be far reaching. Personally, I'd think the people who would have a problem with this would just move to a distribution that *does* have it - and then you've lost market share. It's hard to get back people who have already moved away.
    • Ubuntu has form in this area. PulseAudio and Unity are two of the biggest examples. They were pushed out before they were ready and made life hell. It was a major factor in me leaving that distro.

      • You're saying this as if PulseAudio was on the way to ever be ready. Like systemd, its author[s] ignore[s] all bugs that don't apply on his particular system.

        • I don't know. Now audio just seems to work on my linux machines. Analogue, optical, surround, hdmi so from my perspective it seems pretty good. I've no doubt that there are some issues somewhere but I haven't run into them for years.

          • On the machine I'm using right now:
            * quiet but annoying noise all the time
            * badly distorted sound after suspend+resume until "killall pulseaudio"
            neither of these is hardware's fault as alsa works perfectly.

            I could actually use one of pulseaudio's features, redirecting streams on runtime between headphonesspeakers... had it worked correctly.

            • Bugger that sucks. Which distro are you using? I have mint 14 on one machine and mint 17 on another, so both using pulse but no issues. I would need to test the suspend resume though as I never use that feature. But I certainly don't have any noise

    • Just to be clear, this isn't "Ubuntu dropping Catalyst" it's "AMD transitioning from Linux Catalyst to amdgpu hybrid". The new hybrid driver (amdgpu open source stack plus "Catalyst" closed source OpenGL, OpenCL & Vulkan) won't be ready in time for 16.04 integration, so Canonical is focusing on the open source drivers for 16.04 launch.

      So no plans to force you all to use the open source drivers... the breaking news here is "AMD in the process of replacing Linux Catalyst with amdgpu-based hybrid driver
  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @05:49PM (#51668457)

    Keep running fglrx until the open source drivers are up-to-snuff.

    As long as there is a road map, we should be good.

    If they had dropped fglrx and didn't have a plan to replace it then there is a problem.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      As long as there is a road map, we should be good.

      1. Strip GNU/Ubuntu of proprietary code
      2. ???
      3. YotLD

      I'd give Pinky and the Brain a better chance at taking over the world with their road map... in a rerun.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @05:58PM (#51668533)

    That Catalyst was old, bloated, and required old versions of X. Also AMD has been dumping a ton of effort into its opensource driver which is now far superior to its catalyst driver and quickly reaching feature parity with the Windows driver.

    Yes, AMD cards used to be terrible in linux, but Ive been playing steam games in linux for the past few years with AMD cards with no issue. I used the catalyst driver till AMD deprecated it about a year ago. When i switched to the opensource driver I noticed significantly better performance. AMDs open source driver isnt quite as good as the proprietary nvidia driver, but its gettin damn close (as long as the application isnt using Nvidia GameWorks).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Ive been playing steam games in linux for the past few years with AMD cards with no issue."

      How ironic that the subject of your post includes "fails to mention".

      You failed to mention that plenty of Linux-supported games on Steam don't even support AMD cards.
      There goes your "no issue".
      Just to give you one example [] (quoting from the tab 'SteamOS + Linux'):
      "NOTE: AMD and Intel graphics cards are not currently supported by Alien: Isolation. Game requires at least OpenGL 4.3"

  • Since 16.04 is LTS, if they don't drop catalyst, they are committing to supporting an OS with it for a while. Most likely AMDGPU drivers will be good enough well before the LTS release reaches EOL.

  • by ihtoit ( 3393327 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @06:51PM (#51668815)

    it's now in the "legacy" pile. I know this because I recently had to reinstall the driver for my other laptop and had to go to the legacy pile for the catalyst driver, as the new package ("Crimson") didn't work. I sort of half expected this anyway, since Catalyst is over decade old now. What, did you seriously expect AMD to support Catalyst forever??

  • Stop being negative! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gukin ( 14148 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @06:55PM (#51668837)

    Putting a positive spin on things, this change isn't about catalyst being so terrible that Ubuntu won't use it, rather the open source driver has come so very very far.

    From an AMD and open source perspective, if you want high performance and open source, you have to use AMD, the radeon guys have done an amazing job of bringing along the open source driver, and considering they're now up to OpenGL 4.1, which is truly impressive. The Nouveau driver doesn't suck, rather there is a lot of reclocking magic the Nouveau guys don't have and nVidia won't give them; hell nVidia just released the signed firmware for the 9xx series a couple of weeks ago.

    For most folks, the open source driver is good and stable enough, need more, go catalyst or nVidia. I don't know too many people who are hardcore gamers and insist on open source drivers.

  • This is about what Canonical is prepared to support for the next 5 years. Catalyst is closed source so the support they can offer can only be as good as what AMD is prepared to offer. If AMD have announced that a replacement for it will be released imminently then it follows that AMD themselves probably aren't prepared to support Catalyst on Linux for the long term. Therefore, why should Canonical commit to supporting it in the long term either?

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.