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Ubuntu 16.04 dropping the AMD Catalyst/fglrx driver

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Canonical have decided to deprecate the fglrx driver in Ubuntu 16.04. This is hardly surprising news as fglrx, which has always been renowned for being a pain, has steadily becoming more and more of a problem on modern Linux distributions. Even Debian with its tentatively updated packages has surpassed the official system requirements for fglrx.

Ubuntu is one of the last distributions to have had support for it, and to make that happen Canonical had been patching the driver files themselves to get it to compile against current versions of X and Linux. The most recent version of Ubuntu that is officially supported by AMD is 12.04.

AMD are expected to release the new Catalyst Linux driver sometime in the summer, which will be based on the AMDGPU open source driver. However it will still have limited support and will not cover the majority of AMD Linux users needs, as AMDGPU is still very much a work in progress.

Ubuntu will now be using the open source drivers for AMD GPUs as other distros are doing. But for now those drivers are also still a work in progress, and functionality is hit and miss depending on your GPU when it comes to gaming.

In my own systems that run on APUs, gaming is sadly impossible for the moment on the open source drivers, but hopefully things will start to change on that front in the coming months.

As always with Linux you can install it yourself, but it will probably be a nightmare in this case. I gave up after many attempts, but best of luck too you though if that is your plan, I hope you're familiar with the rescue terminal :D.

Most Linux gamers will be unaffected by all this, as the majority of us use Nvidia. But I can't help but wonder how many potential new Linux gamers will be turned off of the platform during this AMD limbo period. As a lot of newbie users go to Ubuntu, and a lot of off the shelf systems these days ship with APUs.

Sources:
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Ubuntu-16.04-Dropping-fglrx
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/XenialXerus/ReleaseNotes#fglrx
http://support.amd.com/en-us/download/desktop?os=Linux+x86_64 Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: AMD
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Kimyrielle 11 Mar, 2016
Quoting: throgh
Quoting: KimyrielleHandling graphics drivers in Linux is still an absolute pain and is probably THE single biggest obstacle for the average user to get a Linux based system ready for halfway serious gaming. Both AMD but also NVidia have to get their act together eventually and release something that installs with one click, you know...like in Windows. Right now we're a far cry from that. And no, NVidia isn't much better. Optimus. 'nuff said.

Interesting: I have no further problem running the driver installation. You want a one-click-installation? Stay with Windows. Simple as that. :D

Well, if we ever want Linux to become interesting for the 99% of the population -not- tech-savy enough to wrestle with complex command-line based installation procedures, we better DO become a bit more user friendly. No, I haven't had a real problem either. But I don't think the average person would be able to get NVidia drivers to run on an Optimus card (which is the most common NVidia based architecture on laptops if I am not totally mistaken.)

And yes, the person who said that GPU drivers should be installable via the distro's package manager from its standard repository is right. I don't really get why installing a GPU driver has be a completely different process than any other package either.
Purple Library Guy 11 Mar, 2016
Quoting: throgh
Quoting: KimyrielleHandling graphics drivers in Linux is still an absolute pain and is probably THE single biggest obstacle for the average user to get a Linux based system ready for halfway serious gaming. Both AMD but also NVidia have to get their act together eventually and release something that installs with one click, you know...like in Windows. Right now we're a far cry from that. And no, NVidia isn't much better. Optimus. 'nuff said.

Interesting: I have no further problem running the driver installation. You want a one-click-installation? Stay with Windows. Simple as that. :D

Erm, no. I have no idea what Windows is like for this, but current Mint totally has one-click installation. In the control centre thingie there's a sub-app for graphics; it detects your card and gives you a list of possible drivers (open and closed) but recommends one. Click on the recommended one and badabing.
Purple Library Guy 11 Mar, 2016
Quoting: Kimyrielle
Quoting: throgh
Quoting: KimyrielleHandling graphics drivers in Linux is still an absolute pain and is probably THE single biggest obstacle for the average user to get a Linux based system ready for halfway serious gaming. Both AMD but also NVidia have to get their act together eventually and release something that installs with one click, you know...like in Windows. Right now we're a far cry from that. And no, NVidia isn't much better. Optimus. 'nuff said.

Interesting: I have no further problem running the driver installation. You want a one-click-installation? Stay with Windows. Simple as that. :D

Well, if we ever want Linux to become interesting for the 99% of the population -not- tech-savy enough to wrestle with complex command-line based installation procedures, we better DO become a bit more user friendly. No, I haven't had a real problem either. But I don't think the average person would be able to get NVidia drivers to run on an Optimus card (which is the most common NVidia based architecture on laptops if I am not totally mistaken.)

And yes, the person who said that GPU drivers should be installable via the distro's package manager from its standard repository is right. I don't really get why installing a GPU driver has be a completely different process than any other package either.

It should be different because when you're using the package manager you have to know what you're looking for. Way too easy for someone not knowledgeable about such things to either fail to find drivers in the package manager app, or find the wrong one. I don't mind the idea of it being in there, but that shouldn't be the primary method--there should be something in the hardware management side that says "This is what you want! Graphics card driver, over here!" Something that's discoverable even if you're not thinking specifically about drivers for your graphics card but are only dissatisfied with how the graphics are running and noodling around vaguely in the available management apps trying to figure out if anything can be done about that.
Which, as I noted above, current version of Linux Mint totally does.
Pecisk 11 Mar, 2016
Quoting: Purple Library GuyIt should be different because when you're using the package manager you have to know what you're looking for. Way too easy for someone not knowledgeable about such things to either fail to find drivers in the package manager app, or find the wrong one. I don't mind the idea of it being in there, but that shouldn't be the primary method--there should be something in the hardware management side that says "This is what you want! Graphics card driver, over here!" Something that's discoverable even if you're not thinking specifically about drivers for your graphics card but are only dissatisfied with how the graphics are running and noodling around vaguely in the available management apps trying to figure out if anything can be done about that.
Which, as I noted above, current version of Linux Mint totally does.

You know, what Ubuntu did in first hand 10 years ago with their 'there's special driver for your hardware' dialog? Which still appears if you have AMD or Nvidia card?

Discoveribility has been solved long time ago - on Ubuntu at least, and it's derivatives. RedHat won't do it because of not being easily to offer packages of third parties, but also never aimed to be super user friendly.
Pecisk 11 Mar, 2016
I would like to defend AMD and Canonical's decision here. First of all, it is not very logical to offer fglrx for 16.04, considering these things a) you can get supported Ubuntu LTS from 14.04 with proper fglrx support and it will last for additional 3 years b) 16.04 sports Xorg 1.18 which isn't supported by fglrx anyway c) huge amdgpu restruct going on.

Just don't throw yourself under the bus using newest LTS for some time and you will be fine. All power to AMD Linux team, because situation was dire and they are clearly doing good work cleaning this up, moving display stuff to kernel side and planning to beefing up RadeonSI and adding Vulkan to all this. Actually this makes me very hopeful that I might buy AMD for my graphics upgrade again.
ripper 12 Mar, 2016
Quoting: KimyrielleAnd yes, the person who said that GPU drivers should be installable via the distro's package manager from its standard repository is right. I don't really get why installing a GPU driver has be a completely different process than any other package either.

No, it should not be installable. It should be included by default. Same as any other drivers, which you do not need to install on Linux, because they are included in Linux (kernel), e.g. motherboard drivers, wifi drivers, printer drivers, etc etc. Having anything outside of Linux kernel is just an obstacle for a common user and should never be needed.
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