Radeon driver for Linux on 2006 MacBook Pro

Raging Dufus

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I've been researching this problem for days and can't seem to find a satisfactory answer, so I'm hoping some of you Linux gurus here can help. Here's the deal:

I've got this new-to-me 2006 17" MacBook Pro with ATI Radeon X1600 graphics, which you can read about here, and I've successfully installed Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on it. However, I can't seem to get full graphics acceleration or even get the OS to recognize the graphics chip. It looks to me like it's using an open source driver, see below:

Screenshot from 2019-10-18 17-02-48.png Screenshot from 2019-10-18 17-04-33.png

Video performance isn't what it should be, and I can't use the display's native resolution of 1680 x 1050. See below, my only option is 1400 x 1050. This leaves things looking somewhat stretched out.

Screenshot from 2019-10-18 17-00-02.png

I don't know what to do here. I've tried installing older Radeon drivers I've found here and there online, with seemingly no effect. I've tried terminal commands to force the 1680 x 1050 resolution, but instead of recognizing the display's proper pixel depth, all it did was stretch out the display even further so that not all of it appeared on screen.

There's no doubt I'm part of the problem here, because I just don't know what I'm doing. Unfortunately trying to educate myself has not proven fruitful. All I've managed to do so far is blindly fling stuff against the wall to see what sticks, so to speak... and so far nothing has stuck.

Is this the best I can do with this machine, or is there help for me out there somewhere?
 

Raging Dufus

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Have you tried the amdgpu-core-meta drivers?


Thanks for the quick reply!

I did try a download from the second link you posted. From what I can tell, looks like maybe the first link is to the same thing from a different site - or no?

Anyway, nothing changed after installing whichever one it was I downloaded. I do remember seeing a message in terminal at some point saying that KMS was required, but that it didn't detect KMS on my computer - it seemed to have a problem with "nomodeset", whatever that might be. I'm sorry to be so vague, this was several attempts and a few days ago. I can try it again if you like, and give you details.
 

Raging Dufus

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Or check this: Go to Software Updater > Settings, Additional Drivers tab, look if Ubuntu detected new drivers.
"No additional drivers available." :(

Yeah, I'd seen that page before, saw my card was supposedly fully supported, but didn't go further down the rabbit hole. Looks like maybe I need to uninstall the driver Ubuntu put there, and install a different one? I'll dig into that some more.
 

Raging Dufus

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OK, so I went down the rabbit hole at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RadeonDriver ... and I remembered quickly why I abandoned it the first time: I don't understand what I'm being told to do. I try inputting the terminal commands that seem to apply to my situation, but this is all monkey-see-monkey-do for me because I lack understanding and the instructions (to me, anyway) aren't clear.

Under the section on that page titled "Testing the driver", I took the steps in order.

In the terminal, I entered: dmesg | egrep 'drm|radeon'

What came back was:

[ 0.000000] Command line: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-4.15.0-65-generic root=UUID=e3397b65-af1c-43df-b987-5e77a485d0a4 ro radeon.modeset=1 quiet splash vt.handoff=1
[ 0.000000] Kernel command line: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-4.15.0-65-generic root=UUID=e3397b65-af1c-43df-b987-5e77a485d0a4 ro radeon.modeset=1 quiet splash vt.handoff=1

I don't know what that means, but I went on to the next thing.

In the terminal, I entered: sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

After entering my password, what came back was:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
mesa-utils is already the newest version (8.4.0-1).
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

I thought that was supposed to install something, but that doesn't appear to have happened? Anyway, marching on, I entered the next command in the terrminal: LIBGL_DEBUG=verbose glxinfo

And what I got this time was probably a couple hundred lines of gobbledygook I didn't understand. But the instructions said to look for my OpenGL renderer string, so I scrolled up til I found it.

It said: llvmpipe (LLVM 6.0, 128 bits)

I gathered from the instructions that this is bad, so I moved on to the next section, which led me to a different page to find out how to remove a driver, and more commands and gobbledygook I just don't understand.

I can keep up the monkey-see-monkey-do routine forever, but I. Don't. Know. What. I'm. Doing.

I feel like I'm wasting my time. Help?
 

SandboxGeneral

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The bit about Mesa-utils you posted shows that it’s already installed and up to date.

the other stuff appears to be showing your kernel version and the uuid of the Radeon which is its address on the system.
 
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Raging Dufus

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The bit about Mesa-utils you posted shows that it’s already installed and up to date.

the other stuff appears to be showing your kernel version and the uuid of the Radeon which is its address on the system.
Thanks. I've been mucking about in the terminal several times the past few days, I must have installed it before. Seems I'm going around in circles.
 

z970mp

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First, make sure amdgpu is installed with sudo apt install xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu.

Second, have you tried sudo apt install firmware-amd-graphics?

Everyone was totally new at one point. My own experiences as a hopeless Linux noob have even been documented here, if you want to read them. When I switched full-time in April 2018, it took me a single weekend to become mildly useful in the terminal, which you (most of the time) don't even need for modern distributions.

Just educate yourself with how Linux works. There's entire libraries of easy-to-process resources online, available one click away.

Otherwise, just learn hands-on. The man pages are great resources that explain what a program does, directly from the developers. What's sudo and what does it do? = man sudo What is apt? What can I do with it? = man apt How about the man pages themselves? I want to learn more about them. = man man

As is our favorite mantra for working with complex intricacies (like getting into an iBook G4), just go slow and methodical. You'll be fine. :)
 
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Raging Dufus

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First, make sure amdgpu is installed with sudo apt install xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu.

Second, have you tried sudo apt install firmware-amd-graphics?

Everyone was totally new at one point. My own experiences as a hopeless Linux noob have even been documented here, if you want to read them. When I switched full-time in April 2018, it took me a single weekend to become mildly useful in the terminal, which you (most of the time) don't even need for modern distributions.

Just educate yourself with how Linux works. There's entire libraries of easy-to-process resources online, available one click away.

Otherwise, just learn hands-on. The man pages are great resources that explain what a program does, directly from the developers. What's sudo and what does it do? = man sudo What is apt? What can I do with it? = man apt How about the man pages themselves? I want to learn more about them. = man man

As is our favorite mantra for working with complex intricacies (like getting into an iBook G4), just go slow and methodical. You'll be fine. :)
It's true, I am a noob here, so thanks for being understanding. I really feel out of my element.
Anyway, no, I hadn't tried either of those things until just now.

When I entered: sudo apt install xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu
What I got back was:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu is already the newest version (18.0.1-1).
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

So actually, I guess I had tried that one at some point, because it seems to already be installed :rolleyes:

And when I entered: sudo apt install firmware-amd-graphics
What I got back was:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Package firmware-amd-graphics is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source

E: Package 'firmware-amd-graphics' has no installation candidate


...aaaaand I'm right back to square one. Again.
 

SandboxGeneral

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Put this in your terminal:
Code:
lspci -nnk | grep -i vga -A3 | grep 'in use'
If it returns Kernel driver in use: amdgpu then you have the Radeon driver installed, which is the open-source one. If it returns Kernel driver in use: fglrx_pci then you have the proprietary ATI driver.

Based on what I am reading this morning, you are going to end up showing that the amdgpu is the one loaded and it is the latest and only driver support for this older GPU on this newer version of Ubuntu. That boils down to not having full support for the higher resolution of the MacBook in this version of Ubuntu which is what you're after.

To achieve this, you would have to downgrade to a much older version of Ubuntu, such as 8.04 (8.04 not 18.04).

source: https://askubuntu.com/questions/260618/ati-radeon-mobility-x1600-drivers-installation
 
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Raging Dufus

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What does cat /etc/apt/sources.list give back?
Sorry for the length, but this is what actually came back:

#deb cdrom:[Ubuntu 18.04 LTS _Bionic Beaver_ - Release amd64 (20180426)]/ bionic main restricted

# See http://help.ubuntu.com/community/UpgradeNotes for how to upgrade to
# newer versions of the distribution.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic main restricted
# deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic main restricted

## Major bug fix updates produced after the final release of the
## distribution.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates main restricted
# deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates main restricted

## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team. Also, please note that software in universe WILL NOT receive any
## review or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic universe
# deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic universe
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates universe
# deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates universe

## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team, and may not be under a free licence. Please satisfy yourself as to
## your rights to use the software. Also, please note that software in
## multiverse WILL NOT receive any review or updates from the Ubuntu
## security team.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic multiverse
# deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic multiverse
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates multiverse
# deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-updates multiverse

## N.B. software from this repository may not have been tested as
## extensively as that contained in the main release, although it includes
## newer versions of some applications which may provide useful features.
## Also, please note that software in backports WILL NOT receive any review
## or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-backports main restricted universe multiverse
# deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ bionic-backports main restricted universe multiverse

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Canonical's
## 'partner' repository.
## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by Canonical and the
## respective vendors as a service to Ubuntu users.
# deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu bionic partner
# deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu bionic partner

deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security main restricted
# deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security main restricted
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security universe
# deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security universe
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security multiverse
# deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-security multiverse
- - Post merged: - -

Put this in your terminal:
Code:
lspci -nnk | grep -i vga -A3 | grep 'in use'
If it returns Kernel driver in use: amdgpu then you have the Radeon driver installed, which is the open-source one. If it returns Kernel driver in use: fglrx_pci then you have the proprietary ATI driver.

Based on what I am reading this morning, you are going to end up showing that the amdgpu is the one loaded and it is the latest and only driver support for this older GPU on this newer version of Ubuntu. That boils down to not having full support for the higher resolution of the MacBook in this version of Ubuntu which is what you're after.

To achieve this, you would have to downgrade to a much older version of Ubuntu, such as 8.04 (8.04 not 18.04).

source: https://askubuntu.com/questions/260618/ati-radeon-mobility-x1600-drivers-installation
Ok, I entered it. What came back was nothing. I mean that literally; it returned no information and simply advanced to a new command line.
 

SandboxGeneral

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I just ssh'd into my Debian box (Debian is the mother of Ubuntu) and ran
Code:
apt search radeon
Here is the output from the repo:
xserver-xorg-video-amdgpu/stable 18.1.99+git20190207-1 amd64
X.Org X server -- AMDGPU display driver

xserver-xorg-video-ati/stable 1:19.0.1-1 amd64
X.Org X server -- AMD/ATI display driver wrapper

xserver-xorg-video-radeon/stable 1:19.0.1-1 amd64
X.Org X server -- AMD/ATI Radeon display driver
The bolded parts are the package names.

I believe someone in this thread suggested you install the first one.

You could try the others and see if you get anywhere. After you do one, run that grep command in my earlier post from this morning and see if you get an output.
 
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z970mp

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@Raging Dufus Don't worry about it. Ubuntu is known for its significantly longer sources.lists than Debian.

I think I see the problem here. Thanks to dumb package omissions (or whatever else it is), even though the repositories are enabled to access proprietary drivers, the one we need still isn't there. How often have I encountered that...


The above package is from Debian Buster, but standalone packages are typically interchangeable between the two. - Your GPU is part of the Radeon RV530 family, and the above firmware contains microcode for the entire RV500 family and all that is contained within it. So, installing that gives a pretty good chance that Ubuntu will recognize something.

All you have to do is download it, open a terminal, navigate to its saved directory (usually with cd ~/Downloads), and run sudo dpkg -i *.deb. After it's done, reboot and hopefully it should all be peaches from there. Do inxi -G again and see if anything has changed.
 
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Raging Dufus

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@Raging Dufus Don't worry about it. Ubuntu is known for its significantly longer sources.lists than Debian.

I think I see the problem here. Thanks to dumb package omissions (or whatever else it is), even though the repositories are enabled to access proprietary drivers, the one we need still isn't there. How often have I encountered that...


The above package is from Debian Buster, but standalone packages are typically interchangeable between the two. - Your GPU is part of the Radeon RV530 family, and the above firmware contains microcode for the entire RV500 family and all that is contained within it. So, installing that gives a pretty good chance that Ubuntu will recognize something.

All you have to do is download it, open a terminal, navigate to its saved directory (usually with cd ~/Downloads), and run sudo dpkg -i *.deb. After it's done, reboot and hopefully it should all be peaches from there. Do inxi -G again and see if anything has changed.
It came back with:
(Reading database ... 169789 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack firmware-amd-graphics_20190114-2_all.deb ...
Unpacking firmware-amd-graphics (20190114-2) ...
dpkg: error processing archive firmware-amd-graphics_20190114-2_all.deb (--install):
trying to overwrite '/lib/firmware/amdgpu/banks_k_2_smc.bin', which is also in package linux-firmware 1.173.9
dpkg-deb: error: paste subprocess was killed by signal (Broken pipe)
Errors were encountered while processing:
firmware-amd-graphics_20190114-2_all.deb

No change in inxi-G.
 

Raging Dufus

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I just ssh'd into my Debian box (Debian is the mother of Ubuntu) and ran
Code:
apt search radeon
Here is the output from the repo:

The bolded parts are the package names.

I believe someone in this thread suggested you install the first one.

You could try the others and see if you get anywhere. After you do one, run that grep command in my earlier post from this morning and see if you get an output.
I tried installing each of those, in turn. Each time I got the same response:
"[pkg I tried to install] is already the newest version ([shows version #])"
So apparently I have already installed each of these packages previously, to no effect.

Restarting after each attempt, and running the grep command again, yielded the same results as before. No information is returned, it simply advances to a new command line.

What's more, I think somehow these things I've been trying have broken my Ubuntu install. After the last three or four reboots, once I launch a program (Firefox, Terminal, Settings, anything) the computer freezes briefly, followed by a popup error message saying: "System program problem detected. Do you want to report the problem now?", with buttons to either "Cancel" or "Report Problem".

No information is offered as to what the problem is, neither is there an option to get more information. I've clicked "Report Problem" and I've clicked "Cancel", and whichever way I go the popup goes away and the computer responds normally afterward, although by then the fans have ramped up and remain that way.

I have no idea how to undo whatever's been done. My experience tells me it might be time to just nuke this install and start over from scratch. Thoughts?
 

z970mp

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I have no idea how to undo whatever's been done. My experience tells me it might be time to just nuke this install and start over from scratch. Thoughts?
Before you do, on a limb, try sudo mv -f /lib/firmware/amdgpu/banks_k_2_smc.bin ~/. This will remove the problem file APT tried to overwrite. Once that's out of the way, try the process over again.

If you're going to reinstall, I'd suggest trying a new distribution beside vanilla Ubuntu 18.04, like Linux Mint, elementary OS, or Peppermint OS. Or, wait and see if anything will have changed in the coming Ubuntu 20.04.
 
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Raging Dufus

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try sudo mv -f /lib/firmware/amdgpu/banks_k_2_smc.bin ~/. This will remove the problem file APT tried to overwrite.
Ok, I did that. It asked for my password, which I provided, and then it simply advanced to a new command line without returning any information. I can't tell if anything happened or not, but after a reboot, I still get the popup error message.

Once that's out of the way, try the process over again.
Which process exactly? I'm sorry, I feel like I've tried at least a half-dozen different things since starting this thread. Were you referring to one in particular?

If you're going to reinstall, I'd suggest trying a new distribution beside vanilla Ubuntu 18.04, like Linux Mint, elementary OS, or Peppermint OS. Or, wait and see if anything will have changed in the coming Ubuntu 20.04.
I'm not tied to Ubuntu, but from my research it seemed to be the easiest to install and to modify into a Mac-like interface (which ultimately, if I'm going to use Linux on the regular, is what I'd like). Something like this is what I had in mind. I don't care if it's Ubuntu, or Mint, or whatever. I originally had elementary OS in mind, precisely because of its similarity to Mac OS, but upon researching it seems my MBP lacks the specs to run it well.

But correct me if I'm wrong here, isn't the graphical problem due to my poorly supported hardware (the X1600)? Aren't all the options you mentioned just derivatives of the same underlying OS (i.e Debian)? And that being so, won't I run into the same issues no matter which flavor I try? I still need a way to either get the open-source driver to recognize my display's native resolution and provide better accelerated graphics; or somehow install and run a proprietary driver. Is there any reason to expect an easier time in something other than Ubuntu?
 

Dicere

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I run seven public access computers at one library with elementary OS. They aren’t Macs, but they have the same chipset as your Mac Pro. (Couldn’t tell you the graphics card, sorry!) They’ve been running a year in daily use and the only problem people have with them is face book scripts gumming up the works. So you could try elementary?
 

Raging Dufus

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I run seven public access computers at one library with elementary OS. They aren’t Macs, but they have the same chipset as your Mac Pro. (Couldn’t tell you the graphics card, sorry!) They’ve been running a year in daily use and the only problem people have with them is face book scripts gumming up the works. So you could try elementary?
Thanks, I think I'll give it a shot. Gonna nuke & pave over Ubuntu anyway, so why not?
 

z970mp

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Which process exactly? I'm sorry, I feel like I've tried at least a half-dozen different things since starting this thread. Were you referring to one in particular?
Don't apologize; it's okay to stumble and lose your way. It's all part of learning.

Just to be safe since you rebooted again, do sudo rm -f /lib/firmware/amdgpu/banks_k_2_smc.bin. Then, without rebooting, open a terminal, cd ~/Downloads, and run sudo dpkg -i *.deb. After it's done, then you can reboot. Do inxi -G again and see if anything has changed.

Ok, I did that. It asked for my password, which I provided, and then it simply advanced to a new command line without returning any information.
With CLIs, no news is usually good news. If the system accepts your command as valid and does as it's told, it simply advances to a new line. If it encounters a problem with what you want it to do, it will start complaining and make itself known. Otherwise if it has nothing to say, it's all good.

Aren't all the options you mentioned just derivatives of the same underlying OS (i.e Debian)? And that being so, won't I run into the same issues no matter which flavor I try?
Not necessarily. Some flavors of Ubuntu might implement graphics and drivers a little differently from another, sometimes offering different results for the same hardware. They often also use different repositories, so something not present in the main repos might be there with other variants.

I originally had elementary OS in mind, precisely because of its similarity to Mac OS, but upon researching it seems my MBP lacks the specs to run it well.
Oh please, this is Linux. Just install preload, zram-tools, enable disk caching, and you'll be fine. :)
 

Raging Dufus

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OK now I'm like a dog with a bone.

I booted my MBP from the Ubuntu Live DVD just to see what that looked like, and lo and behold, it's running the right driver! Recognizes the graphics card and the built-in display, and not only utilizes its native resolution, but gives me choices as well! I took a couple screenshots, see for yourself:

Screenshot from 2019-10-20 02-11-02.png Screenshot from 2019-10-20 02-08-36.png

So at least now I know it's possible. Can't play with this any more tonight, but as soon as I can I'll nuke & pave, maybe go back in with Ubuntu or give eOS a shot, I don't know. All I do know is that this should work, so I'm gonna keep at it til it does.

Thanks all for your help, I'll report back when there are developments.