Translation(s): English - Français - Italiano - Русский

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


Support for AMD (nee ATI) video hardware is provided by the package xserver-xorg-video-ati (wrapper driver) which depends on three hardware specific drivers:

The ati wrapper driver autodetects whether your hardware has a Radeon, Rage 128, or Mach64 or earlier class chipset and loads the radeon, r128, or mach64 driver as appropriate.

Determining your hardware

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

lspci -v | grep VGA

Supported Cards

The radeon driver in Wheezy supports R1xx to Cayman (Radeon 7000 – Radeon HD 69xx) class chips. See the radeon page on the X wiki for more information.

First try the free radeon driver by installing xserver-xorg-video-ati which installs xserver-xorg-video-radeon by dependency.

Installing proprietary firmware

Proprietary, binary-only firmware was removed from the Debian kernel's radeon DRM driver in linux-2.6 2.6.29-1, to resolve Debian bug 494009. It can now be installed via the firmware-linux-nonfree package (autostart by kernel: dmesg |grep -i firmware)

Without this firmware installed, poor 2D/3D performance in the radeon driver is commonly experienced. Some cards may require this to run the X Window System.

For Debian Squeeze and later releases, you will 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-nonfree

Editing /etc/X11/xorg.conf

(xorg.conf does not exist in Squeeze and Sid) Essentially, you need to set your device's driver to "radeon" as such:

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

The following options can improve 3d performance significantly.

Section "Device"
 Driver "radeon"
 Option "AccelMethod" "XAA"
 Option "AccelDFS"    "1"
 # 1/0 On for PCIE, off for AGP
 # Manpage: Use  or  don't  use accelerated EXA DownloadFromScreen hook
 # when possible.
 Option "AGPMode" "1"
 # 1-8 Does not affect PCIE models.
 Option "AGPFastWrite" "1"
 # 1/0 Does not affect PCIE models. Not recommended.
 Option "GARTSize" "64"
 # 0-64 Megabytes of gart (system) memory used.
 # Wrongly defaults to 8MB sometimes, see your logfile.
 # Bigger seems better.
 Option "EnablePageFlip" "1"
 # 1/0 Increases 3D performance substantially
 # seemingly in XAA mode only
 Option "ColorTiling" "1"
 # 1/0 Increases 3D performance substantially
 # affected stability only positively on my system

There are plenty of other 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

These will automatically be installed as a dependency of the xserver-xorg-core package, so if you've installed that, you don't need to worry about this.


Radeon Xpress 200M (R300) on laptop

During a long time, on laptops with Radeon Xpress 200M (R300) you may get some random colored stripes (especially after suspending display power). This is problably due to a bug into free driver. A solution may be to switch off, then switch on the backlight with radeontool (eponymic package).

sudo radeontool light off
sleep 1
sudo radeontool light on

See Also