Fedora 9 with an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT

June 2nd, 2008 § 5 comments

I’ve drawn the short straw at work and I’m the guinea-pig who gets to install Fedora 9 before everyone else. It makes sense, really; I’m the new guy with a new computer and the least amount of user data that needs to be preserved. Like all new versions of a given distro, this one has some hiccups, especially on bleeding-edge hardware. I’ve spent a fair amount of time digging about to find solutions to the issues that I’ve encountered to date. This may be of use to others trying to install F9 on modern Dell hardware.

The biggest issue by far is the ATI Radeon XT graphics card that came with the machine. The Fedora installer auto-detects the card fine, but defaults to using the open-source “radeon” drivers. For older cards this isn’t usually an issue, but with the HD series of cards this is apparently a problem. During first boot, after the Red Hat Graphical Boot sequence is finished, the display will go fuzzy, then the system will crash completely, necessitating a hard reboot (if it doesn’t reboot by itself).

Usually, one can remedy the situation by installing the proprietary ATI drivers, either directly from the ATI site, or from a repository like livna. Unfortunately, the latest release of the ATI drivers doesn’t appear to be compatible with kernel 2.6.25 which ships with F9. I can think of 4 possible solutions:

  • Use the VESA driver for 2D-only support. This can be tricky to get running at the native resolution of larger displays, however. For laptops or smaller desktop machines, this will probably work fine until ATI releases a new version of the driver that works with kernel 2.6.25.
  • Use the open-source radeon driver that ships with F9 but turn off OpenGL Overlays. You’ll lose 3D acceleration, but your desktop will be working fine which is enough for most computing tasks. You can do this by applying this code to your xorg.conf, replacing the “Device” section (and replacing ‘Card0′ with whatever the card is called earlier in the config file):
    Section "Device"
        Identifier  "Card0"
        Driver      "radeon"
        Option "OpenGLOverlay" "Off"
        Option "VideoOverlay" "On"
        VendorName  "ATI Technologies Inc"
        BoardName   "Radeon HD 2400 XT"
        BusID       "PCI:1:0:0"
  • There’s an unofficial patch available for a slightly older version of the ATI driver here. This requires a little bit of kernel hacking, which if you’re not completely comfortable with, might put you off. The instructions given by the author, though, are quite verbose, although you’ll need some familiarity with patching the kernel to apply the fix.
  • Use one of the above 3 solutions until ATI releases a new driver which supports kernel 2.6.25. I think this is the way that I’m going for now, as I have no huge need for 3D acceleration and can afford to wait a few weeks for a new driver.

In order to apply any of these fixes at all, you’ll need to boot into single user mode and modify /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Append ‘single’ to the kernel line in GRUB before boot.

UPDATE August 27, 2008:
I’ve noticed that the computer continues to crash at boot time, even after disabling those extra features. Apparently, Red Hat Graphical Boot (rhgb) doesn’t respect xorg.conf and loads the bad drivers anyway, or in some fashion causes the crash. The solution is to disable rhgb by deleting the keyword rhgb from grub.conf. You’ll lose some prettiness at boot time, but that’s much nicer than the alternative.

Further reading:

Unofficial wiki for the ATI Linux Drivers: http://wiki.cchtml.com/

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§ 5 Responses to Fedora 9 with an ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT"

  • will rowe says:

    Even as we’re still waiting on a resolution (none yet, same bug as of today), I just wanted to add that ‘radeon’ may not be the actual problem. Installed and tested ‘radeonhd’ on the 2400 pro card sitting here, an RV610 chipset, and the situation is no different.

    So perhaps this is not the radeon driver at all, but either the motherboard (this one is an Asus P5Q Deluxe) or another component or complimentary driver of the X architecture?

  • James Boag says:

    Any further forward with the Ati Driver issue, My colleges just snigger at my std linux builds when i order nvidia 5200 cards, but they work great, now they got me a state of the are Dell with HD 2400 and it’s a nightmare.

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