OpenBSD Journal

New radeonhd driver now in current xenocara

Contributed by merdely on from the vesa-sucks dept.

"pedro" writes:

If, like me, you have been living with an AMD/ATI R5xx/R6xx based graphics card then xenocara in -current has a much-awaited new addition:

Module name:	xenocara
Changes by:	matthieu	2007/12/04 15:41:21

Modified files:
	driver         : Makefile 

Log message:
Link the radeonhd driver to the builds.

pedro continues:

Previously there were no blob-free drivers for these very common devices. The only available option was to use xorg's vesa driver, which generally worked but has several problems:

  • Poor performance. It struggled to display video well even within relatively small sized windows.
  • If you have no matching vesa mode in the video BIOS for your screen's native resolution (like my 1680x1050 laptop panel) you simply couldn't run at native resolution. I was stuck running my display at a horrible, eye straining 1400x1050.
  • Due to a bug in (at least) some of the affected units (including my Radeon Mobility X1400) when you quit X the console/virtual terminals were completely messed up. Blindly typing 'sudo reboot' was the only solution.

Having lived with this for well over a year I was keen to take the new radeonhd driver for a spin. The results are impressive. I installed a fresh snapshot on my ThinkPad and built xenocara from CVS. I put only the following in my xorg.conf and fired up X:

Section "Device"
        Identifier  "Card0"
        Driver      "radeonhd"

Bingo. The panel is running at it's native resolution of 1680x1050 for the first time ever under OpenBSD. I can switch from X to any virtual terminal and back without any issue and full screen video works with just a little jerkiness. Less than full-screen video is fine. For a v1.0 driver with (as yet) no 2D, 3D or Xvideo support this is more than I had any reason to expect.

All the heavyweight multimedia applications I love like Kaffeine, Amarok, Firefox and the DVB editing/repair tool Project X work great and look great.

If you are in a similar position or just have one of the cards/chipsets mentioned in radeonhd(4) you might want to give it a try.

Editor's note: I've heard that this radeonhd driver works on MacBook Pros, but I have not verified this yet.

(Comments are closed)

  1. By jcs ( on

    i've been using this on my imac, it works fine.

    vga1 at pci1 dev 0 function 0 "ATI Radeon Mobility X1600" rev 0x00

  2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Well there "some" drivers for RadeonHD now. Even the normal radeon driver gets updated to handle modern radeon cards.
    But the radeonhd driver is for now alos the best driver avaiable (at least as I took a look).

    Well that's what it looks like if developers get documentation.. I CAN WATCH A MOVIE and surf the internet now! :-p

    So thanks to the responseable devs. :)

  3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Very cool! Can I just get the latest xenocara and run that on -stable? Or do I have to upgrade my whole system to -current?

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      If you even have to ask... =)

  4. By Jason Dixon (jason) on Hey baby, wanna kill all humans tonight?

    It's really nice having 1440x900 on my MacBook Pro. Looking forward to watching movies in fullscreen, but that's probably a ways off.

  5. By Mark Peloquin (incripshin) on

    Really cool. I hope the Radeon driver continues to improve. I have disliked nVidia for a while now, and AMD/ATI's openness is just increasing the divide.

    I had the same problem with the screen corruption in my laptop, though this is with an nVidia Geforce Go 6200 and the nVidia driver in linux. I got really scared when I first saw the corruption. I have no idea how to stop it myself. I should try using nv or vesa...

  6. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Can somebody explain for me that what the "xenocara" is, please?

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      > Can somebody explain for me that what the "xenocara" is, please?

      Xenocara is the name chosen for OpenBSD's version of X. It's
      currently based on X.Org 7.2 and its dependencies. The goal of
      Xenocara is to provide a framework to host local modifications and to
      automate the build of the modular X.Org components, including 3rd
      party packages and some software maintained by OpenBSD developers.

    2. By Simon Bertrang ( simon@ on

      > Can somebody explain for me that what the "xenocara" is, please?

      Have a look at

  7. By Timo Myyrä ( on


    I've been waiting for a open source driver to hit -current for long time now and finally the wait is over :)

    I have tried to compile the avivo and then the radeonhd drivers several times but never got it to work. I think is the time I updated my laptop to a newer snapshot.

    Thanks for all the devs for the hard work.

  8. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    And DRM/DRI was almost implemented.

    Working driver + DRI = ?

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      > And DRM/DRI was almost implemented.
      > Working driver + DRI = ?

      A new need to get Wine working?

    2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      > And DRM/DRI was almost implemented.
      > Working driver + DRI = ?

      There's no DRI support for R500/R600 cards so far, so that won't help ya.

  9. By Finally! ( on

    My experience mirrors yours, right down to the video card type. (ATI Mobility Radeon x1400 in a widescreen laptop.) I can finally use OpenBSD on what I've previously deemed my "Windows-only gaming laptop." Many thanks to the developers!

  10. By Mike Erdely (merdely) on

    I finally got a chance to upgrade my 15" MacBook Pro Core2Duo to the latest amd64 snapshot. After running X -configure and copying to /etc/X11/xorg.conf, I'm enjoying 1440x900 goodness! Starting X without a config tried to load the VESA driver, but X -configure does the right thing.

    1. By sean ( on

      Intel Core2Duo -> AMD64 snapshot?

      Huh, how does that work?

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        > Intel Core2Duo -> AMD64 snapshot?
        > Huh, how does that work?

        "OpenBSD/amd64 runs on AMD's Athlon-64 family of processors in 64-bit mode.

        It also runs on the Intel ia32e processors which contain cloned support for the AMD64 extensions, but since Intel left out support for the page table NXE bit (No-EXecute) there is no W^X support on the Intel CPUs. "

      2. By m ( on

        > Intel Core2Duo -> AMD64 snapshot?
        > Huh, how does that work?

        More information on x86-64 (that is to say, the 64-bit extension to x86 developed by AMD, which was then cloned by Intel for their non-Itanium 64-bit cpus, of which Core2 is an example):

  11. By STeve Andre' (wb8wsf) on

    I installed it the day it came out on my ThinkPad T60p, and its been
    great so far. Before I had the scrunched 1280x1024 mode on, and
    wide screen is so much nicer. Thanks to Matthieu for his work!

    One thing I've noticed but haven't investigated yet is that Opera didn't
    seem to work OK under radeonhd. I could get an initial page up, but it
    seemed to freeze after that. Now, I might have messed something else up;
    I shoot myself often enough, but Opera is a Linux binary, hence this

  12. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    X -configure does the right thing for my x1800 as well.. thanx guys.


Copyright © - Daniel Hartmeier. All rights reserved. Articles and comments are copyright their respective authors, submission implies license to publish on this web site. Contents of the archive prior to as well as images and HTML templates were copied from the fabulous original with Jose's and Jim's kind permission. This journal runs as CGI with httpd(8) on OpenBSD, the source code is BSD licensed. undeadly \Un*dead"ly\, a. Not subject to death; immortal. [Obs.]