This article discusses how to install and use the open-source Radeon and RadeonHD display drivers for X11.

Determining your hardware

Run this command to determine what kind of video card you have:

lspci -v | grep VGA

Supported Cards

The radeon driver supports R100/R200 (Radeon 7000 – Radeon 9250) and R300/R400/R500 (Radeon 9500 – Radeon X1950) class chips. See the radeon page on the X wiki for more information. The radeonhd driver is for R500 and newer cards. See the the radeonhd page on the X wiki for more info.

Installing proprietary firmware

You may need to install proprietary firmware if you have one of the following Radeon-based cards:

The firmware in question, id est the CP/PFP microcode, can be installed by first enabling the non-free repository for your Debian release and issuing the following command:

aptitude install firmware-linux

Currently this package is only available for lenny, squeeze, and sid.

Configuring the kernel

You will need Direct Rendering Manager as well as Accelerated Graphics Port support in your kernel, preferably as modules. If you are using the stock Debian kernel, you should already have these. To check for DRM support, issue this command:

grep DRM_RADEON /boot/config-$(uname -r) 

The output should be:

CONFIG_DRM_RADEON=m

If this value is n, then you will have to rebuild your kernel.

To check for AGP support, run:

grep AGP /boot/config-$(uname -r)

The output should be:

CONFIG_AGP=y
CONFIG_AGP_AMD64=y
CONFIG_AGP_INTEL=m
CONFIG_AGP_SIS=m
CONFIG_AGP_VIA=m

Note that you will only need support for your specific chipset.

If you do need to rebuild your kernel, you can find AGP under:

and DRM under:

Editing /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Essentially, you need to set your device's driver to either "radeon" or "radeonhd" as such:

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "radeon"
EndSection

There are also plenty of options for the driver too. You can find out about them in radeon's man page:

man 4 radeon

Enabling 3D acceleration

It is necessary to install driver libraries in order to utilize the card's 3D capabilities:

 aptitude install libgl1-mesa-dri

Testing performance

To determine whether 3D acceleration is working, use the glxinfo tool. Run the following command:

glxinfo | grep render

The output should be:

direct rendering: Yes

To see how many frames per second your video card is putting out, install the mesa-utils package, then run the following command:

glxgears -info

See Also

?ATIHowToXFree86 Configuring XFree86 to use ATI 3D accelerated graphics ATIProprietary Installing the closed source proprietary driver