Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

AMD proprietary driver experience

A while ago I bought a new 4k display and my old graphics card could not handle it anymore so I bought a new card, AMD RX 460 with DisplayPort and HDMI outputs that would be ok for the new screen resolution. I bought that card that apparently had decent Linux support.

I did not notice then that in order to get it working I would need to move from 14.04 to 16.04 Ubuntu LTS, but I did the upgrade and it worked but with a software render mode that was quite slow.

Some more googling and I installed the proprietary amdgpu-pro driver, that worked but not ok, among other problems I got:

  1. Numbers on Google spreadsheets won't show when using Chrome (but did with Firefox)
  2. Openscad would crash when rendering a design
  3. Processing programs, any of the examples that uses P3D (OpenGL) would crash.
  4. When my kernel was upgraded from 4.4 I got a failed graphics driver, when trying to upgrade it did not work till I install HWE. And even then I needed to set nomodeset if grub
  5. I experienced random lock-ups, windows noise background and ocassional flicker, mostly when resizing. 
I reported them to AMD and while the second one was fixed with amdgpu-pro 17.30 the othres kept on happening after several upgrades. 

I ran away from Windows long time ago to get a better user experience and this driver brings back bad memories from the past. Definitely not the typical pleasant Linux experience of the last ten years.

So browsing away I learned about the Linux kernel driver support for my card and I removed the driver from AMD


and installed the "open" one:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:paulo-miguel-dias/mesa
sudo apt update
sudo apt install xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu

Now I am back in business without any of the problems I mentioned above associated with the proprietary driver. I am not sure if all the pain could have been prevented if I never attempted to use the proprietary driver in the first place. I will definitely remember that for future system upgrades.