2 PCs in our house running Ubuntu 12.04.3. One Nvidia, one AMD. Nvidia has no issues whatsoever. AMD has several issues. Compiz crashes (have to CTRL + ALT + F1 and kill and restart lightdm service). Window decorations disappearing (so there's no close/minimise/maximise buttons or window title). Screen tearing even when tear-free is enabled. Massive input lag in Steam games (mostly Valve source stuff, which makes them unplayable). Things keep crashing (Unigine Heaven 4.0 for instance). All with the 13.4 'stable' driver.
So, my question is - are AMD's Catalyst for Linux drivers as crap as they were back in 2008/9? Or am I just having bad luck?
Frustration is reasonable, but introducing yourself to a forum by calling the drivers "Utter bollocks" isn't great.
Catalyst worked fine for me on Ubuntu 13.04, I think you're being unlucky here. What graphics card model are you using? It may be worth trying the open source drivers (with the kernel parameter radeon.dpm=1 set) to see if they work better.
I dont use Ubuntu, but on Debian Testing with xfce4 (no compositing) they work just fine on A8-5500. This generation of APUs is really well supported by the OSS driver too.
The best Catalyst version for me is beta 13.6. The 13.8 series crap out on both Source games and hardware decoding.
But the new OSS drivers are better than Catalyst for the A series desktop APUs (i dont know mobile versions how fare especially with suspend/resume, although my desktop seem to work fine).
- Video playback is vsynced as it should without the need of "tear free"-like workarounds,
- hardware decoding is done via vdpau that works well on the existing mplayer, compared to the Catalyst hw decode (xvba) that to date is only available on a specific branch of xbmc (dont even mention the current vlc, that uses xvba->libva and its just crap with both amd and nvidia hw decoding). Also, the next version of VLC will have native vdpau too, so the OSS driver has a growing advantage vs Catalyst regarding video players.
- Steam games based on the Source engine at least have input lag issues with Catalyst. TF2 for example has none and runs way better/faster/smoother on the open source drivers with kernel 3.11 and mesa 9.2 (and git).
The system randomly hangs with the radeon driver after a few hours of use (i had sessions that lasted 1.5 days, but still froze). Others reported sudden restarts.
Note: for vdpau decoding you have to have a mesa compiled with this specific option.
PS. vdpau playback is at start with amd oss drivers, using mplayer works generally fine, but smplayer has some hiccups. I found that best is gnome-mplayer with radeon-vdpau, although sometimes i get corruption at start but if i restart the player, it will work just fine.