Saturday, December 12, 2009

ATI 3D Desktop Effects on SLED 11

This week, I find myself in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This is my first trip to Sri Lanka so its exciting for me to visit new places and people. The event is Novell's India Partner Academy where we see hundreds of partners from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka converge in Colombo to hear Novell's commitment, roadmaps and sharing of experiences so as to be more effective.

Anyway, I never wrote how to enable 3D Dekstop Effects with ATI graphics card as my personal Thinkpad uses nVidia. However, I had the opportunity to help Henry, our India Partner Executive, setup his Thinkpad T60p (with ATI Mobility FireGL V5250) with 3D Effects. As usual, the 3D Effects are already installed on his SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11. Its the graphics driver that is not 3D capable as Novell does not ship proprietary drivers with the base SLED 11.

Usually, the recommended and easy way is to use YaST Novell Customer Center Configuration. Upon successful registration, you will get an ATI repository setup in your YaST Software Repositories. All you need to do next is to install x11-video-fglrxG01 from YaST Software Management.

However, using the recommended method above failed to work for me for this particular Thinkpad T60p. The drivers installed successfully but X refuse to start and after a few flickers we are left with a blank black screen. Thus, I'm forced to go down the manual path where I download the latest ATI Catalyst driver and compiled a driver.

Here's a brief journal of what I did. NOTE that this is the manual method and should only be used if the recommended/easy/painless method described above does not work. The disadvantage of using this method is that you will need to repeat these steps (recompiling the driver) everytime you upgrade your SLE kernel. Here goes:

1) Go to and select Linux (x86 for 32-bit and x86_64 for 64-bit of SLED 11), followed by FireGL and Mobility FireGL V5000 and click GO. Scroll to the bottom and click to download the ATI Catalyst Proprietary Linux Driver (version 9.3 at the time of this writing).

2) Once downloaded, as root, make the file executable < chmod +x >

3) Next, to list the driver build options (for different Linux Distro) via < ./ --listpkg >. You should see SuSE/SLE11-IA32 amongst the many other SuSE entries.

4) Next, to build the driver for SLED 11, execute < ./ --buildpkg SuSE/SLE11-IA32 > (since the installed SLED 11 is 32-bit)

5) The result is a generated RPM called fglrx_7_4_0_SLE11-8.593-1.i386.rpm. Before you install this RPM, please get to runlevel 3 via the command < init 3 >

6) Install the RPM via < rpm -ivh fglrx_7_4_0_SLE11-8.593-1.i386.rpm >

7) Finally, execute SaX2 tool to configure this puppy via < sax2 -r -m 0=fglrx >

8) With SaX2 configuration completed, go back to runlevel 5 via < init 5 > and enable Desktop Effects via the Computer -> Control Center -> Desktop Effects.
A good brief reference is also available at "ATI Installer HOWTO for SUSE/Novell Users" at

Done. senyum

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