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SUSE ATI OpenGL Video Driver Installation

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Jim Gravelle

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Posted: 24 May 2006


The ATI Linux driver installation instructions on the ATI website didn't work too well for me, nor did it report on the errors that occurred during installation. I also found the installation instructions to be more complex then they needed to be and all the required packages listed were for a Red Hat distro...not SUSE.


Installation Procedure

The following procedure is for creating and installing the ATI driver package:

  1. Be sure to install all of the required Linux Packages.

  2. Download the "ATI Driver Installer", as outlined in the Environment Factors below.

  3. At a Shell/Terminal prompt, switch to user root using the 'sux -' command.

  4. Change (cd) to the directory where you downloaded the "ATI Proprietary Linux x86_64 Display Driver for XFree86 / X.Org" file named ""

  5. Execute the ATI installer by typing "./" at the shell prompt.

  6. The installer will now verify it's integrity and detect your system environment. Once it has completed these tasks, it will present you with the initial Setup window where you will select "Generate Distribution Specific Driver Package" and click the Continue button.

  7. Read and Agree to the License Agreement.

  8. You'll then be presented with a list of Options. Click the "SUSE Packages" button and select your O/S version. For me that was "SUSE/SUSE100-AMD64".

  9. Click the Continue button and wait for it to generate and save your custom package.

  10. Ignore the part about running the "aticonfig" tool and click the Exit button.

  11. In the same directory, you should now have a new RPM that starts with the name "fglrx". That is the package you will now use to install the driver.

  12. Just to be on the safe side, check the "/usr/share/fglrx/fglrx-install.log" file for errors that may have occurred during the package creation. Resolve any errors before continuing. (See the Examples section of a screen shot of a cleaninstall.)

  13. Hold down the following three keys to switch to "tty1": CTRL - ALT - F1

  14. Log in as "root" and switch to runlevel 3 (multi-user mode - no GUI) using the 'init 3' command.

  15. Change (cd) to the directory where your newly generated "fglrx" package was saved.

  16. Type 'rpm -Uvh fglrx~~~~.rpm', where '~~~~' is the remainder of the package name. In my case that would be: fglrx64_6_8_0_SUSE100-8.23.7-1.x86_64.rpm (Note: remember all Linux commands are case-sensitive. That is a capital "U" and small "v" and small "h" after "rpm".)

  17. If all goes well the package should install without a hitch! Now run the Sax2 program to configure the driver with the following command (all lower case - that's a zero after the "-m"):
    sax2 -r -m 0=fglrx -b /usr/share/doc/packages/fglrx/sax2-profile

  18. In a few seconds the SaX2 configuration screen should open. Click the "Change Configuration" button and make any changes you need to do (i.e. resolution, colors, etc.) and click the "OK" button. Be sure to "Test" any changes before saving them! (Note: It's normal if the "3D" symbol in the centre has a red line through need to worry...we'll check the 3D stuff momentarily.)

  19. After you've adjusted things, click the "Save" button and click "Yes" to close SaX2.

  20. Reboot the computer by issuing an 'init 6' command. (Note: For me, sometimes the screen will turn to a grey or off-white colour when exiting SaX2. I don't know why it does that, a simple CTRL - ALT - DEL (three finger salute), which reboots the computer, fixes it.)

  21. It's now time to determine if the ATI OpenGL rendering engine is being used: after the reboot, log in normally and at a Terminal prompt issue the following command: fglrxinfo

  22. The output should be "OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc." (See the 'Examples' section for a screen shot of the output.) If it reads "OpenGL vendor string: Mesa project:", or anything other then ATI see the Troubleshooting and Testing section below.

  23. That's it! You are all done!

Troubleshooting and Testing

The following are steps to follow in order to troubleshoot and test your ATI OpenGL driver installation. Also, many Kernel updates tend to kick out the ATI modules, so you will need to perform these steps to reinstate the OpenGL drivers.

  1. In a Terminal window, enter the following command: fglrxinfo

  2. The output should say "OpenGL vendor string: ATI Technologies Inc." If it reads "OpenGL vendor string: Mesa project:", or anything other then "ATI" perform the following:

    1. Hold down the following three keys to switch to "tty1": CTRL - ALT - F1

    2. Log in as "root" and switch to runlevel 3 (multi-user mode - no GUI) using the 'init 3' command.

    3. Now we need to ensure the kernel modules are in place: at the command prompt type:

    4. Note and resolve any errors. Usually problems occur if you don't have the proper packages installed. See the "Linux Packages" section under the "Environment Factors" heading.

    5. Now run the Sax2 program to configure the driver with the following command (all lower case - that's a zero after the "-m"): sax2 -r -m 0=fglrx -b /usr/share/doc/packages/fglrx/sax2-profile

    6. Make any required changes (see the "Installation Procedure" section for more detail) and save and exit Sax2.

    7. Reboot using the 'init 6' command and login as normal (as a user not "root")

    8. Try the 'fglrxinfo' command once more to see the output. Hopefully it reads "ATI". If not, you may either try reinstalling from scratch, or do some forum surfing for some help.

  3. When the OpenGL vendor string says "ATI", in a Terminal window execute the following command: glxgears (A simple OpenGL program that reports back the FPS rating to the Terminal window that spawned it. In my case I reached close to 3000 FPS! :)

  4. Another test is the OpenGL screensaver called "GLMatrix" by Jamie Zawinski. This screensaver comes standard with SUSE Linux and is provided by the 'xscreensaver' package.

Environment Factors:

Linux Packages

The following Linux packages are required in order to ensure a successful installation:


Required Packages

All Systems

Additionally Required on

64 Bit system

The Linux kernel sources.


QT libraries



The standard C++ library packages

compat / compat-libstdc++ / libstdc++ / libstdc++-devel


C complier runtime library


X.Org libraries

xorg-x11-devel / xorg-x11-libs

xorg-x11-devel-32bit / xorg-x11-libs-32bit

OpenGL program support

xorg-x11-Mesa / xorg-x11-Mesa-devel

xorg-x11-Mesa-32bit / xorg-x11-Mesa-devel-32bit

Font rendering subsystem

fontconfig / fontconfig-devel


XML Parser Toolkit



TrueType Font Engine

freetype / freetype2 / freetype2-devel


Data Compression Library

zlib / zlib-devel


ATI Driver

You'll need to visit the ATI Support Website ( and download the "ATI Proprietary Linux x86_64 Display Driver for XFree86 / X.Org". Be sure to grab the full "ATI Driver Installer" version. At the time of this writing it was version 8.24.8 at approximately 27-32 mega-bytes in size, depending on the processor type. Once you download the file, as user root, make sure you run the 'chmod 755' (where 'x' is the version and 'y' is the processor type) command to convert it to an executable, to be run during the installation procedure.

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