ATI drivers and Linux

Recently I decided to update the fglrx driver (ATI’s proprietary driver for Linux) to the latest version. I wanted to do that because the old version made switching between virtual consoles and X impossible (X would lose the correct timing of the screen, distorting it and forcing a kill to reset the settings). Also I was hoping on finally solving the hibernate issue that has been plaguing the driver for months.

Alas, nothing of the sort was observed in the latest version. It surely added a bunch of new features, but some irritating bugs are still not fixed (and still no AIGLX support). I have to say this is a common behavior regarding ATI products, even on Windows: the hardware is usually top-notch but the software components are insanely buggy. And they (like NVIDIA) won’t publish open specifications in fear of having them exposed to competition… too bad that their competition has been always using reverse engineering methods to obtain information, so I don’t think it would change anything.

This, as I blogged about previously, is a sore problem of binary-only drivers, with even important bugs staying present until the vendor decides to fix them. With AMD buying ATI I think that the situation will only become worse, reducing even the little competition there is in this essentially duopolistic market.

Dialogue & Discussion