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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 26 Dec 2013

Read the excellent year-end proprietary AMD Catalyst and free Radeon driver roundup from Phoronix and find out why I'm recommending against buying AMD hardware for Linux

I got a lot out of reading Michael Larabel's AMD Catalyst 2013 Linux Graphics Driver Year-In-Review on his Phoronix site.

He's been following all of the Linux video drivers for years, and his perspective is very valuable, especially in his assessment that it's been a horrible year for the proprietary Catalyst driver and a great one for the open Radeon driver.

I can confirm that I finally have 3D acceleration in the open Radeon driver on the 3.12.x Linux kernel but that the performance isn't what it is with the Catalyst driver. That Fedora users might no longer have a choice between the two when it comes to a pre-packaged driver is troubling.

But thanks, Michael, for a thorough look at AMD graphics and Linux.

Of course things are going better for Nvidia, Michael reports.

That's cold comfort for me with my AMD hardware, and while desktop users can generally chose to shove an AMD or Nvidia card into the box, there aren't all that many laptops with Nvidia chips on them. No, AMD is a whole lot more common, especially if you're trying to save a few dollars over an Intel-based laptop.

So overall, it's pretty much AMD vs. Intel when it comes to laptop graphics, and AMD's extremely lackluster performance in 2013 is leading to me recommend against buying AMD hardware. While the open Radeon driver project is going from strength to strength, sometimes you need (and/or want) the proprietary driver.

And in 2013, there appears to be no contest when it comes to graphics for Linux. Intel and Nvidia are doing a lot. AMD is doing a whole lot less.

If you want to delve further into the rabbit hole that is Linux graphics, start at this part of Phoronix. Good luck. I really appreciate Michael Larabel's testing and writing, but I'd rather things just worked (and wish I had opted for an Intel-based laptop when I needed one on short notice in March of this year).