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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Tue, 24 Dec 2013

Will there really be no AMD Catalyst driver packaged by RPM Fusion for Fedora 20?

So I finally did my FedUp upgrade from Fedora 19 to 20, and one of the things hanging me up was the AMD Catalyst driver, the packages for which come from RPM Fusion.

I should have looked into this more BEFORE I did the upgrade, because there are no kmod-catalyst packages for F20.

This has happened before. Catalyst is always behind Nvidia when it comes to RPM Fusion packages.

But according to these two threads, the maintainer of kmod-catalyst is orphaning the package, and unless someone else picks it up, there will be no new Catalyst drivers packaged as RPMs for any existing Fedora releases, including F19 and F20.

The good news for me anyway is that Fedora 20 with the 3.12.5-302.fc20.x86_64 kernel marks the first time that the AMD Radeon HD 7420G graphics chip in my HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop has had working 3D acceleration without the proprietary Catalyst driver.

But it's not as good of video as I get with AMD Catalyst (aka fglrx if you're running a Debian-based distro).

Without Catalyst/fglrx, animations in GNOME 3 aren't as smooth, games that use 3D don't perform as well, and full-screen video in VLC stutters a bit. Again, that's better than GNOME 3 not running at all (which is what has been happening with the open Radeon driver in recent months), but I'd rather have the choice between the open Radeon and proprietary Catalyst drivers.

Oh, and my suspend/resume situation is the same. Suspend appears to work fine, but without resume (which doesn't work at all), why bother?

The laptop does run cooler with the proprietary driver, too.

Back to the point: I'm not willing to download and run AMD Catalyst directly from AMD. That's always been a prescription for endless fiddling and bricked video. I have heard good things about the open Radeon driver in the 3.13.x kernel, and I will wait for that to roll into my system before I decide whether or not to abandon Fedora for a distribution that isn't orphaning the Catalyst/fglrx driver. Among those: Debian, Ubuntu and everything derived from them.

I've always said I'd prefer to run the open driver, and there has been substantial progress in making my particular AMD video chip work better in Linux. But there needs to be just a little bit more performance. The stuttering video NEEDS TO GO.

And before this release, GNOME 3 did not work at all. It works now but is struggling. For me, that means more time running Xfce.

I'd love to see a dramatic improvement when the 3.13.x kernels come into Fedora. If that happens, all is forgiven. But if not, more than likely I'll be moving from Fedora.

Update: Full-screen video in Mplayer is much better than in VLC and GNOME's stock player. That's a workaround but not a full-blown solution.