Arch Linux Revolts Against ATI Catalyst Driver
Phoronix: Arch Linux Revolts Against ATI Catalyst Driver
While AMD continues to improve the ATI Catalyst Linux driver from where they were at years ago by introducing new features like CrossFire and OpenGL 3.0 support while addressing outstanding bugs, no Linux graphics driver is yet in a perfect state. As a result from our post yesterday we have read many driver complaints for both ATI and NVIDIA on Linux...
Some explanation about the state of Catalyst in Archlinux
I would like to give some more explanation about the situation with Archlinux and Catalyst.
First of all, our current maintainer, Andreas Radke, is subscribed to AMDs beta mailinglist. He receives information and updates to the drivers before they go public. The mailinglist is very low traffic and almost no useful information is given. The driver updates that are announced on this list lately don't show much improvements in the driver itself, but rather "packaging improvements".
Without ugly workarounds that involves symlinking or editing a binary blob using perl or sed, it's not possible to make the current catalyst drivers working on a non-multilib distribution that doesn't ship /usr/lib64. Symlinking /usr/lib to /usr/lib64 is ugly, while the other solution involving editing the binary driver, violates the license agreement we have with AMD (we're not allowed to redistribute modified drivers). Setting LIBGL_DRIVERS_PATH or LIBGL_DRIVERS_DIR environment variables as we did before no longer works with these drivers somehow, the DRI drivers are always loaded from a path where they shouldn't be installed.
Another point is the upcoming release of xorg-server-1.6. As X.Org maintainer on our distribution, I'm preparing the new release today, which means all previous drivers will stop working. All opensource drivers can be rebuilt, Nvidia's drivers can be updated to the latest versions for xorg-server 1.6 support, but AMDs catalyst has no support. There's also no word on upcoming support for xorg-server 1.6, so I guess we'll have to wait for Ubuntu's release again to get a leaked driver that has xorg-server 1.6 support just like when the previous version of Ubuntu was released.
These issues make maintaining a binary, non-free driver a task nobody wants to pick up. Andreas maintains this driver because nobody else in the development team wants to do it, or has the hardware to do it. Now that he's not willing to maintain it anymore, we want to hand it over to the people who have to use it: the community. This can be trusted users who can put binary packages in the community repository, or regular community users who can place this package in AUR as PKGBUILD.
We don't complain about the quality of the driver itself. As your article says, this driver has improved a lot over time. We're complaining about the information given to us as distribution.
Please add Arch response to Phoronix news item
It would be nice if JGC's official statement in this thread would be elevated to an addendum of the official news item to make the situation more clear. It is great that phoronix uses its visibility to give these issues a platform that might be heard by companies and commercial developers. Thus, I think it is important that the position of Arch Linux is made as clear as possible.