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I'm not so new to Linux, but absolutely new to ATI cards...
But I am about to buy a laptop equipped with a Radeon HD5650 and offering "switchable graphic" technology (it also has an extra Intel card integrated to switch to when more battery life is needed).
I have read lot of forums and it seems there is a great confusion around ATI drivers installation. Many people also says "NVIDIA is better supported", but my impression is that they mean "there's less work to do", that is not the same thing, in my opinion.
First of all: there are no open-source drivers for NVIDIA... and this is bad (at least to me).
Well, I have recognized 3 main approaches looking for a best practice to use with my (future) ATI HD5650:
1) stick with native Ubuntu drivers and relax -> stable and simple, but this means only 2D support, really poor...
2) download ATI drivers from the official site and manually install it -> some says it could not be more simple, some says they have gone into a never-ending tunnel made of configurations and tuning... probably the truth is in the middle
3) add the ubuntu-x-swat PPA. With this repo added you can get the latest (stable) xorg-server and you should also have "jockey" (the hardware driver automatic manager with graphic UI) proposing the latest ATI catalyst driver (1.7), with full support for HD5xxx.
Beside all this approaches, one can also add the kernel-ppa/mainline PPA, in order to get kernel 2.6.34 (stable) that will support "switchable graphic" in general, not for ATI only.
Unfortunately I cannot test any of this methods, since I do not own any laptop with an ATI card or switchable graphic technology... it would be great if one of you could test the three methods (especially the PPA-based one, that seems very clean) and report back about his experience.
Anyway, any kind of constructive feedback is greatly appreciated.
Let me just say that your GPU does not have any 2D or 3D acceleration with the open source drivers, either included in Ubuntu or in any PPA. 2D and basic 3D acceleration will likely be available in the next six weeks (they are aiming for Q3 2010), but they are still currently in legal review.
Thank you Adam, I figured out that my card is still unsupported just last night looking at this page.
Do you think I could successfully use latest catalyst driver (10.7) while waiting for the open-source support?
And what about "switchable graphic"? Are you informed about Ubuntu Lucid support to that technology. I know that kernel 2.6.34 should natively manage the card-switching (although I don't know with which logic), but I was not able to discover if 2.6.32-24 has been patched for that purpose...
First, you really shouldn't A) hijack someone else's thread and B) bump a thread that's been dead for so long.
Second, your GPU is relatively new, yet your distribution is nearly two years old. The open source drivers in Ubuntu 11.10 (or any reasonably new distribution) will support 2D and 3D acceleration on your video card. If you want to use Ubuntu 10.04, you will need to download and install the proprietary drivers from AMD, as the ones Ubuntu packages for 10.04 will likely be too old for your GPU.