Sunday, March 28, 2010

I do not think that word means what you think it means

Ah the joys of tracking down documentation, help, and that tiny bit of information that makes it all click :)

I got a base Gentoo Linux install onto my HTPC box, with kernel version 2.6.31 That was the easy bit. The hard bit is figuring out how to get my video card drivers running.

Gentoo is great with the helper guides it provides, and if any doco writers read this - keep at it. The Hardware 3D Acceleration Guide and The X Server Configuration HOWTO guides have been very useful. However there are a few things to note that weren't apparent to me straight away; and that I burned some time away on. The first is the keyword differences between the propriety ATI drivers (from here on referred to as fglrx) and the open source drivers. Two are provided 'radeon' and 'radeonhd'.

In Gentoo to specify the drivers for X, you edit the VIDEO_CARDS property in your /etc/make.conf However adding radeon and radeonhd will get you the open source drivers. Pretty obvious now, but without knowing how the keyword fglrx aligns to my Radeon 5450 video card, I went down the wrong path for a bit. Easy to recover from. I updated the kernel to rip out all references to video card drivers, and DRM. I unemerged all the unneeded x11-drivers packages and updated the VIDEO_CARDS flag to contain fglrx vesa. The vesa keyword is handy for a plain old backup driver. Ran an
emerge -vDNu world
and all is well. To make sure that the fglrx module was loaded at boot, I added fglrx to /etc/modules.autoload.d/kernel-2.6

The next problem came with trying to get X running. Can't watch those DVDs without it :). It's nice that the writers have added in the relevant steps for getting HAL working with X (the Xorg package in particular). When I first upgraded to Xorg 1.6 on my laptop, all the input devices stopped working, and Xorg 1.6 passes the management of that stuff to HAL. I guess I'll have to be careful when that all moves into udev.

Running the
Xorg -configure
command didn't work. I kept getting this error.
(WW) fglrx: No matching Device section for instance
(BusID PCI:0@1:0:1) found
After some searching on the Gentoo forums I found this helpful post outlining that
Since your using the ati-drivers , don't use Xorg -configure , you
want to run 'aticonfig --initial' ... That will set up
your xorg.conf the way fglrx needs it.
So ATI couldn't play nice and do things the same way the rest of the community does it? I ran it and got a basic xorg.conf I'll have to do more work to polish it off, but I'll soon have X running (I hope).

I got thinking to myself, why should I bother with the propriety drivers since there seems to be a decent community around the open source version. Maybe I should ditch fglrx and go with radeonhd. Alas I don't think I can. According to Wiki the 5450 uses the Evergreen chipset, and it seems that the radeon and radeonhd drivers aren't there yet; which I can understand given that the chipset is new.

Now all I need is to get X to work on the TV properly and I can move on to XBMC.

No comments:

Post a Comment