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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Wed, 12 Mar 2014

After four days, I go back to AMD Catalyst in Fedora 20

I lasted four days this time. After I couldn't log in one morning after rebooting Fedora 20 under AMD Catalyst, I pulled the proprietary driver, leaving the open Radeon driver to run the graphics on my HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop.

With every new kernel, Radeon gets better. I'd say the performance differences between Catalyst and Radeon on this hardware are small enough that I'd be happy to stick with Radeon and leave Catalyst upgrade trouble behind (mostly because THERE IS NO CATALYST PACKAGE FOR FEDORA 20, THOUGH NOBODY SEEMS TO CARE).

But suspend/resume brings me back every damn time. Now I'm not asking so much why it works in Catalyst but why suspend/resume doesn't work with Radeon on modern hardware. It's disappointing and puzzling. Just like the fact that nobody who knows enough to package Catalyst in RPM Fusion has taken it up and done just that.

So I pulled the latest beta from AMD and installed via the .run file.

I hate doing it this way. I'd much rather do this via an RPM Fusion package. Like Fedora 19 users can still do.

This is the unsavory side of volunteer-driven open-source projects. The guy who maintained Catalyst in RPM Fusion doesn't want to do it anymore. He's keeping the Fedora 19 version going (I presume it's the same guy) because he's committed to riding out that release. But he never packaged Catalyst for Fedora 20.

And nobody else has, either. There's nobody at AMD proper who thinks this is important? They think their own installer, which isn't part of the system's overall package manager, is sufficient? Well, it's not sufficient.

The knee-jerk free-software answer is to do it yourself. I'm not against learning packaging, but this seems a bit difficult for starters. And a graphics driver that runs on a wide swath of current laptops (AMD chips are VERY common) should have more broad appeal that an obscure application for a specialty use.

Or so I might have thought.

Question: Is the continued lack of a packaged Catalyst/fglrx enough to send me away from Fedora and toward the many other distributions that do package the proprietary driver?

It should be.

But overall I'm comfortable. I don't want to spend weeks getting everything set up in a new installation just the way I want it.

And Fedora's ability to easily encrypt the entire Linux portion of a dual-boot Windows-Linux system at installation trumps its lack of a packaged proprietary Catalyst driver.

Bringing suspend/resume to Radeon on my hardware is the solution, but the fact that it hasn't happened now might just mean that it never will. This hardware is just about at the 1-year-old mark, and that's kind of the sweet spot for things to be working in Linux, right?

I swear, if suspend/resume is working on those shiny new AMD A10 APUs and not on this older A4, I'm not going to be happy about it.