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Thread: Suggestions about how to make a Radeon HD 7790 work decently?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    Default Suggestions about how to make a Radeon HD 7790 work decently?

    I admit, I'm a doofus, I impulsively bought a "PowerColor" AMD/ATI Bonaire XT [Radeon HD 7790/8770] card for $80 or so after MIR without doing any research first knowing that all the boffins advise Linux users looking for high performance to shun ATI. I had almost always used onboard graphics before which was generally adequate for my use-case (2D, video playback). But I have an underutilized 6 core CPU and thought it might be fun to play around a real video card that was on the Passmark list of high performance ones, maybe play a few games.

    Unfortunately, this card has been a nightmare. I booted to my normal distro, Debian testing, which had been using the radeon driver and got much worse performance than I'd had with my 5 year old integrated Radeon HD 3200 graphics, I couldn't even use my second monitor, even after screwing around with xrandr commands. 2D performance was dreadful, and apparently the proprietary fglrx driver is not available in Jessie at this time. No big deal, I figured, I had a few spare partition on my hard drive, I figured I'd install Kubuntu 13.10 on one and be good to go. No luck. I couldn't even get to X with the live image, just a black screen. So I installed without "trying" Kubuntu, rebooted, and got the same thing. Oh well, I started in recovery mode, installed a few packages, I forget exactly what, then was able to get to X using radeon, but with the same crummy performance issues I'd had in Debian, and without being able to enable my second monitor. (One of the stupid fantasies I'd had when I ordered this turkey was running a 3 monitor rig.) I shrugged my shoulder(s), figuring that the card was too new for radeon support, I thought I'd just install fglrx and wait until radeon support matured. Unfortunately fglrx was not much of an improvement. I tried both fglrx from the repository (2:13.101-0ubuntu3) and fglrx-updates (same number). I was able to get both monitors working (sort of) with amdcccle, except I couldn't access the rightmost 20mm of my right screen (1200x1920, rotated). But performance is dreadful. Moving a window around is blocky and slow, & desktop effects in KDE are disabled (XComposite and XDamage are not available, whatever that means). Those things worked find with my onboard graphics. Unity doesn't seem to be able to produce a desktop. I can't even enable compositing on good ol' reliable XFCE. 1080p video plays, but that was never an issue on a 6 core desktop anyway.

    So any suggestions about what to do? Pull the card and throw it in a drawer for 6 months? Install Windoze on an extra partition and see what 3D is all about? Try a driver from outside the repository? I've seen articles about Gallium3d/radeonSI driver, but no guide to installing it on Saucy Salamander. It seems like a confusing morass with about 10 drivers, all of them being works in progress according to what I've read. But I'm willing to give it a throw if folks think that is a reasonable alternative, particularly if anyone can suggest a good place to start. I've been using Debian and Ubuntu as my OS for about 8 years, so I have basic computer skills though I'm out of my depth with high performance video card issues.

  2. #2
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    Use the open source driver:

    Update to Linux 3.13-rc3
    Use Mesa 10.x
    with an llvm 3.4 snapshot
    Make sure, something like glamor is installed
    Try the newest libdrm and xf86-video-ati

    I think on ubuntu you get all of that except the kernel from https://launchpad.net/~oibaf/+archive/graphics-drivers/
    And copypaste instructions for the kernel are found via google on http://linuxg.net/how-to-install-ker...elementary-os/

    All the parts to make it work are right around the corner, but distributions are slow... Not even archlinux has officially mesa 10.0, not even in testing...

  3. #3
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    Sell it, buy a hd6xxx, enjoy perfect drivers :P

  4. #4
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    Dec 2013
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    Thanks for the suggestions, I'll try ChrisXY's suggestion first and keep curaga's suggestion in mind if I see a good deal on a HD 6xxx card before the HD 7xxx drivers in the repos become useful.

  5. #5
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    Currently I'm running my HD7850 with oibaf's ppa and the latest 3.12 kernel (you can get easily installable Ubuntu packages here) and it works like a wonder. A lot better than with fglrx. The only thing that does not work right is power management. Even with DPM the card still spends most of the time in high performance mode, so I have to switch it manually from the terminal.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Praxis View Post
    I admit, I'm a doofus, I impulsively bought a "PowerColor" AMD/ATI Bonaire XT [Radeon HD 7790/8770] card for $80 or so after MIR without doing any research first knowing that all the boffins advise Linux users looking for high performance to shun ATI. I had almost always used onboard graphics before which was generally adequate for my use-case (2D, video playback). But I have an underutilized 6 core CPU and thought it might be fun to play around a real video card that was on the Passmark list of high performance ones, maybe play a few games.

    Unfortunately, this card has been a nightmare. I booted to my normal distro, Debian testing, which had been using the radeon driver and got much worse performance than I'd had with my 5 year old integrated Radeon HD 3200 graphics, I couldn't even use my second monitor, even after screwing around with xrandr commands. 2D performance was dreadful, and apparently the proprietary fglrx driver is not available in Jessie at this time. No big deal, I figured, I had a few spare partition on my hard drive, I figured I'd install Kubuntu 13.10 on one and be good to go. No luck. I couldn't even get to X with the live image, just a black screen. So I installed without "trying" Kubuntu, rebooted, and got the same thing. Oh well, I started in recovery mode, installed a few packages, I forget exactly what, then was able to get to X using radeon, but with the same crummy performance issues I'd had in Debian, and without being able to enable my second monitor. (One of the stupid fantasies I'd had when I ordered this turkey was running a 3 monitor rig.) I shrugged my shoulder(s), figuring that the card was too new for radeon support, I thought I'd just install fglrx and wait until radeon support matured. Unfortunately fglrx was not much of an improvement. I tried both fglrx from the repository (2:13.101-0ubuntu3) and fglrx-updates (same number). I was able to get both monitors working (sort of) with amdcccle, except I couldn't access the rightmost 20mm of my right screen (1200x1920, rotated). But performance is dreadful. Moving a window around is blocky and slow, & desktop effects in KDE are disabled (XComposite and XDamage are not available, whatever that means). Those things worked find with my onboard graphics. Unity doesn't seem to be able to produce a desktop. I can't even enable compositing on good ol' reliable XFCE. 1080p video plays, but that was never an issue on a 6 core desktop anyway.

    So any suggestions about what to do? Pull the card and throw it in a drawer for 6 months? Install Windoze on an extra partition and see what 3D is all about? Try a driver from outside the repository? I've seen articles about Gallium3d/radeonSI driver, but no guide to installing it on Saucy Salamander. It seems like a confusing morass with about 10 drivers, all of them being works in progress according to what I've read. But I'm willing to give it a throw if folks think that is a reasonable alternative, particularly if anyone can suggest a good place to start. I've been using Debian and Ubuntu as my OS for about 8 years, so I have basic computer skills though I'm out of my depth with high performance video card issues.

    FOSS Saucy Salamander Guide:

    Step 1) Install Saucy Salamander
    Step 2) Run this script I made for Ubuntu to download the latest open source drivers and stable Linux kernel. (useful for using with any hardware since it autodetects everything it needs)

    Catalyst Guide:

    Step 1) Really, just download the latest Catalyst beta from AMD's website.
    Step 2) Run it with sh *.run --buildpkg Ubuntu/saucy and then install it with sudo dpkg -i *.deb.
    Last edited by mmstick; 12-10-2013 at 07:50 PM.

  7. #7
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    Well, two steps forward, one step back. I purged fglrx* and it wiped xvba-va-driver, which I gather is well and good. Installing the kernel ChrisXY suggested went smoothly:
    3.13.0-031300rc3-generic #201312061335 SMP Fri Dec 6 18:37:23 UTC 2013 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64

    Adding the oibaf went well. I did an 'apt-get dist-upgrade' and it added what I gather is the llvm 3.4 snapshot & upgraded a bunch of others.
    Code:
    The following NEW packages will be installed:
    
       libllvm3.4 libllvm3.4:i386
     The following packages will be upgraded:
       libdrm-intel1 libdrm-intel1:i386 libdrm-nouveau2 libdrm-nouveau2:i386 libdrm-radeon1 libdrm-radeon1:i386 libdrm2 libdrm2:i386 libegl1-mesa
       libegl1-mesa-drivers libgbm1 libgl1-mesa-dri libgl1-mesa-dri:i386 libgl1-mesa-glx libgl1-mesa-glx:i386 libglapi-mesa libglapi-mesa:i386
       libgles2-mesa libopenvg1-mesa libwayland-client0 libwayland-cursor0 libwayland-server0 libxatracker1 xserver-common xserver-xephyr
       xserver-xorg-core xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-intel xserver-xorg-video-nouveau xserver-xorg-video-radeon
    That seemed to upgrade mesa as well: Candidate: 10.1~git1312101143.1e7149~gd~s

    After checking that xorg.conf was renamed I rebooted to Debian, updated grub and came back to Kubuntu. Lo and behold both monitors showed up both in lightdm and in KDE. I was able to use systemsettings and arandr to set up the monitors the way I wanted (side by side, one rotated), resolution was good. Direct rendering is working, as are desktop effects. fusion-icon segfaults, but that is no big deal, though I was hoping the extra punch I got from the upgraded video hardware would enable me to routinely use a bit more eye-candy without a performance hit. And I can now move my cursor all the way to the edge of my right monitor, instead of having a 20mm no-go zone like I did with the repository fglrx driver!

    However there is some bad stuff, as well. Though the windows are much more responsive then they were under the stock radeon and fglrx they are still not as responsive as they were with radeon on Debian testing with the 6 year old onboard graphics. Minimizing takes a perceptable moment, restoring my firefox window from the taskbar takes a full second or more. I can live with that. But video playback has all kinds of weird artifacts, particularly certain types of HD content, weird shadowing, messed up colors, strange little frames, etc. At least video playback worked well under fglrx and the stock radeon. Here is a screenshot of a PBS crafts program from my hdhomerun TV box:



    I gather following Melcar's suggestion will get me to the same place, since it just uses a slightly different kernel, but what the heck, I'm downloading the packages from http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa...e/v3.12-saucy/ and will give it a spin, as well. Maybe the 3.13 kernel has regressions. If that still gives me green skin-tone I'll try mmstick's suggestions, probably the fglrx from AMD first, and then the script (because I've already added a bunch of stuff to the open source stack I guess I should purge all the new non-repo programs from oibaf first. But I've messed with it enough for today, I'll play with again tomorrow, time to wok my dog, etc. Thank you guys very much for the suggestions, I feel like I'm making progress.

  8. #8
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    Well, no surprise, the different kernel did not change much. Amy Goodman is still looking a little under the weather. I'll try the AMD fglrx tomorrow.
    3.12.0-031200-generic #201311031935 SMP Mon Nov 4 00:36:54 UTC 2013 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux


  9. #9
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    So I downloaded and installed the beta driver from the AMD web site, amd-catalyst-13.11-beta V9.4-linux-x86.x86_64.run. I restored my xorg.conf from my previous fglrx efforts. I rebooted and I could get all the way to my right screen edge with the cursor, Victory over evil! And I started a 1080p video, it played nice...for a while. Desktop effects were still disabled by KDE. I manoeuvred the VLC window with my sample 1080p video over to my right monitor and was resizing the window when the interface froze. I could still hear the sound throughout the clip but the keyboard and mouse couldn't interact with the desktop, not even the Magic SysRq keys. Unacceptable instability. So I logged in over SSH from another box and rebooted my machine after purging the fglrx stuff again and re-removing my xorg.conf.

    When I got back to X with radeon my desktop positions were restored as per the startup script I'd created with arandr (krandrtray seems missing from the saucy repos and never worked as well as arnadr anyway), desktop effects were enabled, but strangely, my video is back to normal, flesh tone. I figured I was home free despite some weird artefacts (blockiness moving around windows). But I tried to start fusion-icon and the interface froze. I couldn't kill X with ctrl+alt+backspace (which normally works, I like that shortcut) and couldn't get to a virtual TTY with Alt+Ctrl+Fx. I logged in from another machine and killed the display manager with SSH, but just got black screens on both monitors, no virtual consoles. But I was able to start lightdm from ssh and get back in to X. Audio was disabled, oh well, I suspect it will be back when I reboot. But I think that is enough for tonight. I guess I'll stick with this and not mess with compiz assuming sound comes back after a reboot.

    Probably 14.04 will fix a lot of these issues, at least with radeon. If not, I will keep upgrading until something does, though I prefer to stick with Ubuntu LTS (who wants to upgrade every 6 months?) I went through this over the last couple of years with my e350 AMD low energy integrated APU (AMD/ATI Wrestler [Radeon HD 6310]), sound didn't even work at first, virtual consoles didn't work, if I logged out I couldn't restart X, video playback barely worked, particularly HD, etc. Now it seems mostly OK both with Ubuntu and Debian, though radeon still struggles with 1080p on Debian testing (but plays it). Eventually I'll hopefully be able to see what a nice video card can do for me.

  10. #10
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    Maybe check out a kanotix 64 special iso with gfxdetect enabled, it has vlc preinstalled an fgrlx latest as well.

    http://nightly.kanotix.acritox.com/latest/

    Then i am NOT sure fglrx is installed correctly from your description, it's not how i would install it. with that iso vlc will use xvba if you enable experimental video accelleration (check with vainfo) because of a patched xvba-video package preinstalled.

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