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Adept I

Linux support PLEASE!

Nvidia Linux drivers work flawlessly every single time.

BUT, every time I search the Ubuntu forums, people are complaining that AMD/OpenCL drivers are hanging their system, freezing boots, late driver releases, and so on.  Basically, Windows seems to be the only OS that AMD is serious about supporting.   NOT a happy picture.:(

This is the ONLY concern I have EVERY time I'm at the store buying a new system:  why not AMD/CPU/GPU system?  Linux support! 

Therefor, I go with Intel/Nvidia just for piece of mind(because I'm a lazy jerk who likes easy installs and NO BUGS!!!)

So, what is the state of Linux drivers and support AMD?  Can we EXPECT unwavering and flawless Linux support from AMD at this time?

EDIT:  The documentation is also incomplete:  Latest APP guide, Appendix D, completely ignores the 7970.  It's really weird that AMD is loosing out on such trivial things like updated documentation.  Doesn't this hardware deserve better?!

12 Replies
Adept II

So what exactly is not working? For me, the linux drivers have always worked perfectly, while the windows drivers are very buggy: some cards not recognized in >4 gpu setups, 100% cpu bug when running opencl on multiple cards, ... the linux drivers have none of these and works like a charm here.


I love to hear that.   However, things like this are posted to Ubuntu forums up until March 8th:  "It looks like the Catalyst 12.2 driver is out. I managed to install on Xubuntu 11.10 using some of the methods you link to above; however, it is not perfect. I still get system hangs, although not as badly as I did before the upgrade." (Google it.)

Or, look at the message "Segfault in under Linux" posted right here 2 days ago.

That makes me worry before buying new hardware, because the return policy doesn't include "Linux failure."  I have to know that it works.

In the email that I received, you said that your 8x HD7970 works perfectly.  Do you mind if I ask about that?  What motherboard is that?  How do you even power up 8 of those cards without popping the fuse?


The hardware construction for my machine is indeed quite complicated. Too complicated to explain here, I'll write a detailed article about it when I got the windows drivers working.

As for the software: I did not use the Catalyst driver as far as I know. Ubuntu 12.04 installed my graphics drivers automatically and I followed some guide on the internet to make APP SDK 2.5 work.

Indeed, there are buggy drivers as well (like the proprietary ones that Ubuntu 12.04 beta proposes), so you may have to reinstall a few times before it works, but there surely are drivers that do work. clinfo returns all 8 cards, so I assume that counts as a proof (and otherwise: if you wait some days, I'll probably be able to say that I actually did heavy computations on them).


Would you kindly report after doing heavy computations on them?

And regarding buggy drivers, compare that to Nvidia's perfectly smooth installs(you also shouldn't have to read some guide on the Internet to install the SDK;  it should just work!)

When AMD does all this HARD WORK, why not go an extra mile and cleanup the install process for everybody?  That just makes so much sense(and sells more hardware!) 

Companies really underestimate image:  when a GPU driver breaks, it affects how people view the entire CPU product line as well.:(


Just for later reference (and since it may help you), I'll post a short guide on how to get things working right away. Please don't delete this post or topic (or at least save this guide and send it to me when you do).

  • after Ubuntu 12.04 finishes installing, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT install the proprietary drivers suggested by Ubuntu. Not sure if Ubuntu or AMD are to blame, but they broke OpenCL completely on my system (twice).
  • install AMD Catalyst from the website (I'm doing this with Ubuntu 12.04 beta 2 and Catalyst 12.3 with the default settings. So execute "sudo sh" in the terminal. Use default settings and automatic install.
  • at this point, "clinfo" should show only the CPU
  • reboot the system
  • at this point, "clinfo" should show CPU + 1 GPU
  • execute "sudo aticonfig -f --initial --adapter=all" in the terminal
  • at this point, "clinfo" should still show CPU + 1 GPU
  • reboot the system
  • at this point, "clinfo" should show CPU + all GPUs and everything is ready for action

Now "clinfo" should show all your GPUs. If the output is too long to check, type "clinfo > test.txt" and check there if all your devices are recognized.

For me, this was all I had to do to run OpenCL apps on all 8 cards (so yes, the load test succeeded). But it took several reinstalls to try, because once you install a wrong driver (like the proprietary one suggested by Ubuntu), it's unrepairable and requires a complete reinstall.


Thank you very much. 

On Mar. 29th, in this forum, liwoog says, "12.3 is still broken, though it seems to freeze a little less."

Can you please say what stress testing you used?  I'm not concerned about 8x GPU cards, but even if 2 or 4 7970's are stress tested very well, that would be great.

Can we get liwoog to test these settings as well and report back the result?

Thanks again.


Can you please say what stress testing you used?  I'm not concerned about 8x GPU cards, but even if 2 or 4 7970's are stress tested very well, that would be great.

I used programs for my research written in Java+OpenCL (using my previously written NetBeans project worked out of the box after the above instuctions (and of course the installation of Oracle Java 7 + NetBeans). Also, we installed cgminer for benchmarking (still looking for better linux benchmarks...) and this showed that all cards reach their full computing potential.

Can we get liwoog to test these settings as well and report back the result?

You don't need my permission to ask him. I have not experienced any freezes so far.

Then again, I only use these machines for OpenCL computing, I have not tested videogames or stuff like that.


linux drivers is not worked perfectly.

Adept III

The freezing system issue is I'm sure a bug in the applications exposing a fatal bug in the Catalyst driver. That bug is that many classes of errors (e.g. conditional barrier, writing out of bounds in __local memory) result in hanging the GPU, which freezes X and requires a reboot to fix. This is the problem. This is not true in Windows. The hardware has the capability of resetting it but the Linux driver doesn't take advantage of it. These errors in Windows cause a driver resets (the screen goes black for a second or two) and you get a notification that the "AMD driver stopped responding." The equivalent on Linux requires a hard reboot. This is a pretty major bug that often makes it difficult to get work done, but I haven't seen any mention of fixing this.

This functionality still isn't great on Windows. After the driver reset my applications hang there indefinitely until I kill them.

The Nvidia drivers are much more forgiving and have a much better behavior. Sometimes some of these errors get by silently (conditional barrier in my experience seems to work most of the time), but often they cause the clFinish and co. calls error, and the command queue is invalidated. Being able to catch GPU errors within the application is a pretty critical feature that should work.


The freezing system issue is I'm sure a bug in the applications exposing a fatal bug in the Catalyst driver.

Do you mean that it's always trivial to run AMD's own SDK-included samples on Linux?

(Thanks for that analysis arsenm.)


I don't know, I've only ever actually run a few of the examples and that was a long time ago.

Journeyman III

I'm using the SDK on my HD7950, and so far have had no bugs or crashes.

The tool support sucks, though.  Why is KernelAnalyzer for Vista and Win7 only?  I literally don't know anybody who uses those operating systems.