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CategoryHardware CategoryVideo CategoryHardware CategoryHardware CategoryHardware CategoryHardware CategoryVideo

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AMD/ATI Drivers (amdgpu, radeon, r128, mach64)

This page describes the process of installing and configuring the display drivers for ATI/AMD graphics hardware on Debian systems.


The AMD/ATI graphics processing unit (GPU) series/codename of an installed video card can usually be identified using the lspci command. For example:

  • $ lspci -nn | grep VGA
    01:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Barts PRO [Radeon HD 6850] [1002:6739]

See HowToIdentifyADevice/PCI for more information.


Support for newer AMD graphics hardware is provided by the xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu package. This will officially cover any cards that are part of GCN 1.2 ("GCN 3rd generation") or newer. This generation consists of most chips released after June 2015. GCN 1.0 and GCN 1.1 cards (Manufactured January 2012 to June 2015) are supported experimentally and require extra kernel parameters to be set, as documented in the experimental section.

Support for GCN 1.1 and older chips is also provided by the xserver-xorg-video-ati driver wrapper package, which depends on three hardware-specific driver packages:

The ATI driver package will autodetect whether your hardware has a Radeon, Rage 128, or Mach64 and earlier chip and load the radeon, r128, or mach64 video driver as appropriate.

Since the AMDGPU driver overlaps with the older Radeon driver for supporting GCN 1.0/1.1 GPUs, either driver can be used. The older Radeon driver does not support Vulkan or the ACO compiler and is often slower, but it is much more stable and is used by default.


Proprietary, binary-only firmware (also known as microcode) is not allowed in the main Debian repo as per the Debian Free Software Guidelines The firmware can be obtained by installing the firmware-amd-graphics package as long as the non-free component is enabled in your SourcesList file. The installation instructions below this section will document adding this component and installing the necessary firmware.

Without this package installed, poor 2D/3D performance is commonly experienced. Some GPUs may require firmware to function properly at all.


The following procedure will install the open-source display driver packages, DRI modules (for 3D acceleration), and driver firmware/microcode. It installs the Xorg video driver metapackage which includes all drivers. Your system will automatically select which one to use on boot. If your card is supported by both AMDGPU and Radeon (such as the GCN 1.0/1.1 series), it will default to radeon. You can view instructions for using the newer driver here

In the following instructions, # indicates the command must be run as root. On systems where it's configured, you may replace it with sudo. Otherwise, if you're logged in as root, omit it entirely.

  1. If you have previously used the non-free NVIDIA proprietary driver, then you need to uninstall it if you wish to now use the accelerated AMD driver. The easiest way is to use the command:

     # apt purge *nvidia*

    Don't forget to type the asterisks enclosing nvidia as this erases every package with "nvidia" in its name.

  2. Add "contrib" and "non-free" components to /etc/apt/sources.list, for example:

    # Debian 10 "Buster"
    deb http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main contrib non-free
  3. Update the list of available packages:

    # apt update
  4. Install the firmware-amd-graphics, libgl1-mesa-dri, libglx-mesa0, mesa-vulkan-drivers, and xserver-xorg-video-all packages:

    # apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree libgl1-mesa-dri libglx-mesa0 mesa-vulkan-drivers xserver-xorg-video-all
  5. Restart your system to load the newly installed driver.

32-bit support

Games that are installed from Steam, or are running in Wine, or are both at the same time with the advent of Valve's Proton, may all require 32-bit graphics libraries at some point or another when trying to run 32-bit games. This can be done by enabling multiarch and installing the appropriate libraries. Note that the following guide assumes that your user is configured to use sudo which some forms of installation may not do by default, make necessary adjustments if so.

First, to enable 32-bit support and update your repos as appropriate:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386 && sudo apt update

Then, to install the relevant libraries:

sudo apt install libglx-mesa0:i386 mesa-vulkan-drivers:i386 libgl1-mesa-dri:i386

Then, you may need to restart the relevant applications for them to load the new libraries. After which, there should be no problem.

Experimental options

ACO Compiler

ACO is an experimental shader compiler developed by Valve to reduce stuttering in games and improve overall performance in Vulkan applications. It's included in Mesa by default though not enabled. You can run any application with the environment variable RADV_PERFTEST set to aco for this to take effect. In a typical case, this means prefixing it to the command you wish to run. For example, with Games/Supertuxkart, you might run:

RADV_PERFTEST=aco supertuxkart

While for Steam games, including those that run through Steam Play/Proton, you may go to the game's "Properties" screen and set its launch options line to be:

RADV_PERFTEST=aco %command%

AMDGPU/Vulkan on older cards

If your graphics card is built on GCN 1.0 or GCN 1.1 (also known as being from the "Southern Islands" or "Sea Islands" card families), you may enable experimental AMDGPU support in order to see potentially better performance and Vulkan support.

Follow the normal installation instructions first, and then open the /etc/default/grub file in your text editor of choice. Note that it requires admin permissions to edit, so you will either need to open the text editor with sudo or use one such as Kate that supports PolKit permissions.

Within the quotes on the line that starts with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT, add the options radeon.si_support=0 amdgpu.si_support=1 for Southern Islands (GCN 1.0) cards, or radeon.cik_support=0 amdgpu.cik_support=1 for Sea Islands (GCN 1.1) cards.

For example, if you were using a GCN 1.1 card, the final line may look similar to:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash radeon.cik_support=0 amdgpu.cik_support=1"

Furthermore, if you are using an AMD A10 APU with an integrated Sea Island (GCN 1.1) card, you may have to disable Radeon Dynamic Power Management to get a proper boot. This is a feature that dynamically re-clocks the graphics core in order to keep the APU cooler and quieter, however for kernel versions 4.x.x and 5.x.x, this feature may put you in an infinite restart loop. To disable it, following the instructions above, add radeon.dpm=0 to the boot options.

After editing and applying the changes, run sudo update-grub2 and reboot your system. If all goes well, it should be using the new driver.


  • Use of firmware/microcode used by the radeon DRM driver can be verified using the dmesg command. For example:

    dmesg | grep -E 'drm|radeon' | grep -iE 'firmware|microcode'
    [    5.268609] [drm] Loading BARTS Microcode
    [    5.329862] radeon 0000:01:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware radeon/BARTS_pfp.bin
    [    5.341300] radeon 0000:01:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware radeon/BARTS_me.bin
    [    5.347745] radeon 0000:01:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware radeon/BTC_rlc.bin
    [    5.347911] radeon 0000:01:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware radeon/BARTS_mc.bin
    [    5.353336] radeon 0000:01:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware radeon/BARTS_smc.bin
    [    5.369449] radeon 0000:01:00.0: firmware: direct-loading firmware radeon/SUMO_uvd.bin
  • If files were unable to be loaded, ensure the firmware-linux-nonfree package is installed (refer to Installation).

  • Screen flickering with Adobe Flash: see FlashPlayer#flickering.

Hybrid Graphics

AMD ships hybrid graphics that may have an AMD graphics card combined with one of a different kind. Without proper support, the cards may run inefficiently, only using one or the other or even activating both at the same time which causes excessive power consumption.

Debian Stretch and newer come with a Mesa version which supports DRI Offloading. Make sure all necessary drivers are installed. It also needs firmware-linux-nonfree package to work.

Check if both the cards are getting listed:

xrandr --listproviders

The above listing should give both the names of the cards and the associated drivers. Assuming you're using a dedicated chip that uses the radeon and an integrated Intel card for example that's using the intel driver, you may set:

xrandr --setprovideroffloadsink radeon Intel

You can test the settings with the command:

DRI_PRIME=1 glxinfo | grep "OpenGL renderer"

Where the output should be AMD.

See Also

CategoryHardware CategoryVideo