Linux with a Good but Older ATI X1800 GPU – a Legacy Farce

ATI got slagged a lot during this period for not continuing backwards support or releasing data for older cards in Linux – and rightly so as there are still MANY good older ATI cards around that DON'T WORK with Linux, so wrongly give linux a bad name, e.g:



The following is a list of graphics products that do not support Windows® 10:

  • ATI Radeon™ HD 4000 Series /ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4000 Series Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ HD 3000 Series /ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 3000 Series Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ HD 2000 Series /ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 2000 Series Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ X1### Series/ATI Mobility Radeon™ X1### Series Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ X### Series/ATI Mobility Radeon™ X### Series Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ 9000 Series Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ 8500 Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ 7500 Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ DDR Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ 7000 Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ 7000VE Graphics
  • ATI Radeon™ 7000LE Graphics

I have installed Mint 18 Sarah for testing my Dell T3400 Intel quad core "gamer" graphics that has a Radeon X1800 512M GPU – which works great for games in Win7 still – for later comparison to my AMD A8 Quad laptop:

stevee@T3400 sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

stevee@T3400 glxgears

Running synchronized to the vertical refresh. The framerate should be approximately the same as the monitor refresh rate. [It is – Im running through a Bravia HD TV @ 60 Hz refresh]
306 frames in 5.0 seconds = 61.073 FPS
303 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.449 FPS
305 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.910 FPS
304 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.718 FPS
304 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.779 FPS

Note the difference for the AMDA8 with a hardware supporting driver though:

stevee@AMDA8 ~ $ glxgears
8853 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1770.490 FPS
9133 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1826.548 FPS
8903 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1780.576 FPS
9049 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1809.720 FPS
8892 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1778.320 FPS
8954 frames in 5.0 seconds = 1790.682 FPS

stevee@T3400 sudo apt-get install glmark2

glmark2 2012.08
OpenGL Information
GL_VENDOR: X.Org R300 Project
GL_RENDERER: Gallium 0.4 on ATI R520
GL_VERSION: 2.1 Mesa 10.1.3

glmark2 Score: 866

For the AMDA8:

stevee@AMDA8 ~ $ glmark2
glmark2 2012.08
OpenGL Information
GL_VENDOR: ATI Technologies Inc.
GL_RENDERER: AMD Radeon(TM) R5 Graphics
GL_VERSION: 4.5.13399 Compatibility Profile Context 15.201.1151
[build] use-vbo=false: FPS: 723 FrameTime: 1.383 ms
[build] use-vbo=true: FPS: 1052 FrameTime: 0.951 ms
[texture] texture-filter=nearest: FPS: 895 FrameTime: 1.117 ms
[texture] texture-filter=linear: FPS: 890 FrameTime: 1.124 ms
[texture] texture-filter=mipmap: FPS: 929 FrameTime: 1.076 ms
[shading] shading=gouraud: FPS: 854 FrameTime: 1.171 ms
[shading] shading=blinn-phong-inf: FPS: 834 FrameTime: 1.199 ms
[shading] shading=phong: FPS: 867 FrameTime: 1.153 ms
[bump] bump-render=high-poly: FPS: 751 FrameTime: 1.332 ms
[bump] bump-render=normals: FPS: 983 FrameTime: 1.017 ms
[bump] bump-render=height: FPS: 969 FrameTime: 1.032 ms
[effect2d] kernel=0,1,0;1,-4,1;0,1,0;: FPS: 603 FrameTime: 1.658 ms
[effect2d] kernel=1,1,1,1,1;1,1,1,1,1;1,1,1,1,1;: FPS: 418 FrameTime: 2.392 ms
[pulsar] light=false:quads=5:texture=false: FPS: 758 FrameTime: 1.319 ms
[desktop] blur-radius=5:effect=blur:passes=1:separable=true:windows=4: FPS: 237 FrameTime: 4.219 ms
[desktop] effect=shadow:windows=4: FPS: 286 FrameTime: 3.497 ms
[buffer] columns=200:interleave=false:update-dispersion=0.9:update-fraction=0.5:update-method=map: FPS: 205 FrameTime: 4.878 ms
[buffer] columns=200:interleave=false:update-dispersion=0.9:update-fraction=0.5:update-method=subdata: FPS: 332 FrameTime: 3.012 ms
[buffer] columns=200:interleave=true:update-dispersion=0.9:update-fraction=0.5:update-method=map: FPS: 311 FrameTime: 3.215 ms
[ideas] speed=duration: FPS: 640 FrameTime: 1.562 ms
[jellyfish] <default>: FPS: 496 FrameTime: 2.016 ms
[terrain] <default>: FPS: 79 FrameTime: 12.658 ms
[conditionals] fragment-steps=0:vertex-steps=0: FPS: 977 FrameTime: 1.024 ms
[conditionals] fragment-steps=5:vertex-steps=0: FPS: 977 FrameTime: 1.024 ms
[conditionals] fragment-steps=0:vertex-steps=5: FPS: 974 FrameTime: 1.027 ms
[function] fragment-complexity=low:fragment-steps=5: FPS: 976 FrameTime: 1.025 ms
[function] fragment-complexity=medium:fragment-steps=5: FPS: 975 FrameTime: 1.026 ms
[loop] fragment-loop=false:fragment-steps=5:vertex-steps=5: FPS: 972 FrameTime: 1.029 ms
[loop] fragment-steps=5:fragment-uniform=false:vertex-steps=5: FPS: 974 FrameTime: 1.027 ms
[loop] fragment-steps=5:fragment-uniform=true:vertex-steps=5: FPS: 974 FrameTime: 1.027 ms
glmark2 Score: 730

Ooooops…not running…"Linux (proprietary video drivers required)"

Before trying to run with xorg tweaks in Sarah, I tried Unigine in Win 7 – this x1800 performs better on Win7 with a higher score than the AMDA8 due to the signed Catalyst driver still available to it in Win7 – which plays Call Of Duty Modern Warfare very well – unavailable to Steam anyway – so you still can't fully escape Windows for many things – games and graphics very much so!

For Sarah, I installed :

apt install fglrx-pxpress

them modified:

sudo vi /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Section "Device"
Identifier "ATI radeon R520"
Driver "fglrx"

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Configured Monitor"

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Default Screen"
Monitor "Configured Monitor"
Device "Configured Video Device"

This gives a usable Desktop on my HDTV. Testing with:

chmod +x

Creating directory Unigine_Heaven-4.0
Verifying archive integrity… All good.
Uncompressing Unigine Heaven Benchmark…………………………………………………………………..
Unigine Heaven Benchmark installation is completed. Launch heaven to run it
stevee@t3400 ~/Downloads $ cd Unigine_Heaven-4.0/


Loading "/home/stevee/Downloads/Unigine_Heaven-4.0/bin/../data/heaven_4.0.cfg"…
Loading ""…
Loading ""…
Loading ""…
Set 1280×720 windowed video mode
X Error of failed request: GLXBadFBConfig
Major opcode of failed request: 155 (GLX)
Minor opcode of failed request: 34 ()
Serial number of failed request: 53
Current serial number in output stream: 52
AL lib: (EE) alc_cleanup: 1 device not closed

No good – without a working driver, it won't run – same for Steam with this card in linux…hp hum…so don't buy an Radeon X1800 or an FX5700 for Linux Mint 18 use!

For the AMDA8, Unigine shows:

Later I found this to try:



Note: If coming from the proprietary Catalyst driver, see AMD Catalyst#Uninstallation first.

Install the xf86-video-ati package. It provides the DDX driver for 2D acceleration and it pulls in mesa as a dependency, providing the DRI driver for 3D acceleration.

To enable OpenGL support, also install mesa-libgl. If you are on x86_64 and need 32-bit support, also install lib32-mesa-libgl from the multilib repository.

Support for accelerated video decoding is provided by mesa-vdpau and lib32-mesa-vdpau packages.


Xorg will automatically load the driver and it will use your monitor's EDID to set the native resolution. Configuration is only required for tuning the driver.

If you want manual configuration, create /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-radeon.conf, and add the following:

Using this section, you can enable features and tweak the driver settings.


The radeon kernel module should load fine automatically on system boot.

If it does not happen, then:

Enable early KMS

Tip: If you have problems with the resolution, Kernel mode setting#Forcing modes and EDID may help.

Kernel mode setting (KMS) is supported by the radeon driver and is mandatory and enabled by default.

KMS is typically initialized after the initramfs stage. It is possible, however, to enable KMS during the initramfs stage. To do this, add the radeon module to the MODULES line in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf:

Now, regenerate the initramfs:

The change takes effect at the next reboot.


I am trying Mint 18.1 now to try the xorg-ati driver above…it's installed, but it's not available in Drivers…forget it – the whole situation with older but still very good cards like an X1800 in linux is a farce…you are forced to update to newer ones like AMD R5 series in the AMDA8 that work with the later kernels and the fglrx driver.