[clug] ATI drivers and Ubuntu/linux in general

Hal Ashburner hal.ashburner at gmail.com
Fri Jun 20 14:45:32 GMT 2008

Andrew Janke wrote:
> The "ati" driver after all is the "old" one and we are all supposed to
> be using fglrx for ATI stuff now. 
Hey Andrew,

Really, did I miss a memo?
My understanding was that fglrx drivers were the proprietary, stale, 
nasty, smelly, closed source, binary only, ati drivers that would do 
wicked things to kittens. Whereas the ati drivers were the lovely, 
fresh-smelling, wholesome, kind-to-animals-and-children, and deeply, 
deeply sexy GPL drivers that we were supposed to use. Once upon a time 
the original ati drivers were released as GPL by ATI, then they decided 
to close source the fglrx drivers because that's what nvidia were doing 
with theirs so obviously... Or something.

And now ATI have survived their period in the wilderness
So have released full specs. Yep. Specs. We love specs. Specs are 
awesome and make you look smart.

Based on these specs a bunch of people (I imagine including Dave Airlie) 
have gone and updated the ati drivers. (1)
I used to have an x600 (?) driving two monitors at my former work, the 
flux in the drivers on the spec release initially led to some 
instability as one or two regressions occurred then things got more 
stable than they'd ever been, had new features RANDR support and then 
even 3D accel such that I could lose very, very badly to my colleagues 
at Quake3. (Misspent youths, they had the lot of them - but this excuse 
wore off when they could still pwn me, one handed, after they'd had 5 
beers and I hadn't. But don't let it worry you, I caught up on the beers.)

Now I don't follow the kernel development as closely as I might so if I 
have this wrong please do shout out loud. Have the fglrx had source 
released since?
Can't seen any obvious suggestion of it here:

Unless things have changed dramatically I wouldn't touch them with the 
proverbial barge pole. Fglrx and the World of pain singing "Binary 
Driver Blues."


(1) I know Dave did the original 2D stuff for more recent ATI cards that 
were not supported by the gpl drivers at all, based on having seen specs 
under NDA for other work he was doing at the time. Which once written 
ATI took too long to allow him to release.

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