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AMD Catalyst (previous fglrx: FireGL and Radeon for X ) is the proprietary graphics driver for AMD/ATI graphic cards. The open source alternative is radeon.

Hardware detection

To choose the right driver, first detect the graphics card. You can use lspci for this task:

root #lspci | grep -i VGA

If you have an AGP card, also detect the chipset supporting AGP:

root #lspci | grep -i AGP

Hardware support

Product name Driver version X server (max) Bus Note
Radeon HD 5000 and newer 13.6_beta 1.14 PCIe
Radeon HD 5000 and newer 13.4 1.13 PCIe
Radeon HD 2000 - 4000 13.1_pre897 1.12.49 PCIe or AGP Mask ati-drivers slot 1 and newer, see the instructions under the table
Radeon HD 1000 and older   Use radeon driver
Force legacy driver when you have Radeon HD 2000 - 4000
Mask >=ati-drivers-13.1 and >=xorg-server-1.13:
root #echo "# Force legacy driver" >> /etc/portage/package.mask
root #echo ">=x11-base/xorg-server-1.13" >> /etc/portage/package.mask
root #echo "x11-drivers/ati-drivers:1" >> /etc/portage/package.mask



You need USB support. Also you need to activate the following kernel options:

[*] Enable loadable module support --->
Processor type and features  --->
    [*] MTRR (Memory Type Range Register) support
Bus options (PCI etc.)  --->
    [*] PCI Express support
    [*] Message Signaled Interrupts (MSI and MSI-X)
Device Drivers  --->
    Graphics support  --->
        < > Direct Rendering Manager (XFree86 4.1.0 and higher DRI support) --->
    Graphics support  --->
        [ ] Support for frame buffer devices -- not necessary? If you set your kernel this way, you will see no console on bootup, so if running headless, you have nothing.

If you have an AGP card, enable AGP support. If you want to use the ATI internal AGP support, you must enable kernel support as a module or not at all:

Device Drivers  --->
    Graphics support  --->
        <*> /dev/agpgart (AGP Support)  --->
            Choose your AGP driver, e.g.:
            <*> AMD Opteron/Athlon64 on-CPU GART support

If you use a hybrid system with Intel integrated video card, you should also activite KMS and Intel driver. Make sure radeon is disable.

Device Drivers  --->
    Graphics support  --->
        <*> Direct Rendering Manager (XFree86 4.1.0 and higher DRI support) --->
            < > ATI Radeon
            <*> Intel 8xx/9xx/G3x/G4x/HD Graphics
                [*]   Enable modesetting on intel by default


FILE /etc/portage/make.confSet VIDEO_CARDS

After setting the VIDEO_CARDS variable remember to update the system using the following command so the changes take effect:

root #emerge --ask --changed-use --deep @world

If you are using a hybrid system, enable intel driver but disable sna USE flag on it. See bug #430000.

FILE /etc/portage/make.conf
VIDEO_CARDS="fglrx intel"
FILE /etc/portage/package.use
x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel uxa -sna

Check the USE flags of x11-drivers/ati-drivers:

USE flag (what is that?) Default Recommended Description
debug No No Enable extra debug codepaths, like asserts and extra output. If you want to get meaningful backtraces see Backtraces
modules Yes Yes Build the kernel modules
multilib No On 64bit systems, if you want to be able to compile 32bit and 64bit binaries
qt4 Yes Install qt4 dependent optional tools (e.g Catalyst Control Panel)
static-libs No No Build static versions of dynamic libraries as well

After setting this you want to update your system so the changes take effect:

root #emerge --ask --changed-use --deep @world


Some cards need acpid running to handle events. See the ACPI article.


Initial setup

This will generate an initial xorg.conf to /root/xorg.conf.new:

root #X -configure

Copy the file /root/xorg.conf.new to the default location:

root #cp xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf

This will modify an existing xorg.conf to use the fglrx driver with a single screen:

root #aticonfig --initial --input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf

For dual-head configuration use this instead (where the second screen is [left|right|above|below]):

root #aticonfig --initial=dual-head --input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf --screen-layout=[left|right|above|below]

Set the OpenGL driver to use fglrx:

root #eselect opengl set ati


If you have the USE flag acl enabled globally and are using ConsoleKit or systemd (i.e you're using a Desktop profile) permissions to video cards will be handled automatically. You can check the permissions using getfacl:

user $getfacl /dev/ati/card0 | grep larry

A broader solution is to add the user you want to be able to access the video card to the video group:

root #gpasswd -a larry video

Note that you will still be able to run X without permission to the fglrx subsystem, but usually not with acceleration enabled.


The most comfortable way for most users is to use opt/bin/amdcccle as a graphical UI to configure the driver.


Unexplained segmentation faults and kernel crashes

If you experience unexplained segmentation faults and kernel crashes with this driver and multi-threaded applications such as Wine set UseFastTLS in xorg.conf to either 0 or 1, but not 2.

X -configure fails with a no device found error

If X -configure fails, you must create a stub xorg.conf file:

FILE /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Section "Device"
        Identifier "ATI radeon xxxx"
        Driver     "fglrx"

Where "xxxx" is your card model (example: 7770 for HD7770). Name this file xorg.conf and place it in /etc/X11.

aticonfig fails with no suitable screens error

Create stub file as above, run aticonfig command again as:

  1. aticonfig --initial -f --input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf

Trouble with integrated graphics (A8 or similar)

If you are having trouble getting an on chip integrated graphic core to work (strange visuals/black screen) you may want to double check your BIOS settings. In some cases it appears the 'auto' settings don't work correctly, so make sure to explicitly enable the integrated graphics. In my case (MSI A88XM-E45 motherboard):

Settings > Advanced > Integrated Graphics Configuration > Initiate Graphics Devices - I changed this from 'auto' to 'Dual graphics'

Settings > Advanced > Integrated Graphics Configuration > Initiate Graphics Shared Memory - This then appeared which I gave a setting

If you don't find the options above, try to use the "Sideport" only memory option instead of UDMA or Sideport and UDMA.

After this all problems cleared up.

See also

  • fglrx Quick Switch - Quickly switch between this driver and the open Radeon driver using GRUB 2 without downgrading xorg-server.
  • hprofile - Another method for switching between graphics drivers.
  • uvesafb - Framebuffer support with binary drivers.

External resources