Installing the Proprietary AMD Catalyst 14.2 Beta Driver (fglrx) on 64 bit Fedora 20

This will be a bit longer for an installation post.

First, I’d like to say upfront that Fedora 20 is not listed by AMD as a supported Linux distribution, though the downstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5 is listed as supported.  This should tell you that it’s likely possible to get the driver working on Fedora 20, though there may be some hurdles.

The first hurdle to recognize is that GNOME unfortunately does not work with the AMD Catalyst Driver.  I know, I know, I didn’t want to believe it either (I ❤ GNOME) but it’s true.  If you attempt to install the driver and restart your system with GNOME loaded, it will crash at startup.  The pretty little blue Fedora 20 loading bars will get half-way through, turn orange, and your screen will go black.  It is most unpleasant.  I was able to use the magic SysRq key combination Ct+Alt+F2 (a key combination for which the kernel always listens at a high priority, designed to allow the user to perform low-level commands and recover from a system freeze) to reach another console and from there I could repair my system.

But that’s unpleasant, and you don’t want to have to do it, so what you should do before installing the AMD Catalyst 14.2 Beta driver on Fedora 20 is uninstall GNOME and instead install KDE.

$ sudo yum groupremove "GNOME Desktop Environment"
$ sudo yum install @kde

Sidenote:  The issue with GNOME appears to be code changes made with version 3.10 and beyond which enable experimental Wayland/EGL support.  Hopefully a future iteration of the Catalyst driver will resolve this matter (it certainly gives me concern over AMD’s ability and/or willingness to transition to Wayland support when the time comes…).  Other desktop environments may be suitable alternatives to GNOME as well, but KDE is what I’m using.

Now, when you do this, you’ll need to reconfigure your system to launch the KDE Desktop Manager by default.  If you do not, you’ll boot into a console even if you have your default runlevel set appropriately (which, with systemd, means ensuring that your /etc/systemd/system/default.target link is pointing to /lib/systemd/system/graphical.target).  If this happens, just use the SysRq key combination discussed above to reach another console and follow the instructions below; you’ll be back on your feet in no time.

Your first task is to modify your ~./xinitrc file as follows:

$ cat > ~/.xinitrc << EOF
 # Begin .xinitrc
   exec ck-launch-session dbus-launch --exit-with-session startkde # End .xinitrc
 EOF

This causes your X server to understand that your user profile makes use of KDE for its desktop environment.  Your second task is to configure KDE to provide you with its graphical login interface (KDM – the KDE Display Manager) when you start your system.  You accomplish that by first creating a service file for the KDM service as follows:

$ sudo vim /etc/systemd/system/kdm.service

Write in the new file:

[Unit]
 Description=KDM Display Manager
 Conflicts=getty@tty1.service
 After=systemd-user-sessions.service getty@tty1.service plymouth-quit.service

[Service]
 ExecStart=/usr/bin/kdm -nodaemon
 Restart=always
 IgnoreSIGPIPE=no

[Install]
 Alias=display-manager.service

Save the file and exit out.  Once it’s in place, you can enable the KDM service so that it starts at system startup:

$ sudo systemctl enable kdm.service

Now, when you reboot, you should see the KDM login manager.

The final thing to do before installing the Catalyst 14.2 Beta Driver is to ensure that the necessary prerequisite packages are installed on your system.  Because the package names listed on the driver site do not correspond directly to package names in the standard Fedora repositories (or RPMFusion, for that matter), this requires a little intuition.  The following packages are listed on the driver site as being prerequisites:

    • gimp-help-en
    • gimp-help-common
    • XFree86-Mesa-libGL
    • libstdc++
    • libgcc
    • XFree86-libs
    • fontconfig
    • freetype
    • zlib
    • gcc

To be honest, I overlooked the gimp-help packages after failing to find any gimp packages in the Fedora repositories.

The XFree86-Mesa-libGL and XFree86-libs packages are specified, but, as the names imply, these are XFree86 packages, not X.Org packages.  X.Org is the fork (branched version) of XFree86 which is used by Fedora, so don’t try to force an installation of the XFree86-Mesa-libGL rpm if you manage to get your hands on it despite its absence from the official Fedora repositories.  Because I installed Steam prior to installing my graphics drivers, I already had what appear to be the relevant X.Org counterpart packages (mesa-libGL, among other mesa packages). Installing Steam provides quite a large array of mesa and other graphics-oriented packages, so if you plan on installing it anyway, install it first.
Otherwise, let me know if you determine precisely which packages are needed in lieu of the XFree86 packages listed above.

By default, Fedora 20 includes libstdc++, libgcc, zlib, fontconfig, and freetype.

So that’s a rundown of all the prerequisite packages.  If you just update your machine and install Steam, you should be ready with everything you need.  If you want to chase down gimp and ensure its help files are installed, you can probably do that too, but I didn’t, and it doesn’t appear to have been necessary.

Phew!  Once you’ve done all that listed above, you’re prepared to install the Catalyst 14.2 Beta Driver.  With these issues understood and out of the way, the driver installation is a breeze.  Download the driver from http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/latest-linux-beta-driver.aspx.

It’s a zip file containing a single “.run” file.  Simply use unzip <path to .zip file> to extract the .run file, use chmod +x <path to .run file> to make the file executable, and then execute it with sudo <path to .run file>.  Follow the GUI or TUI instructions (based on whether or not you were in a desktop environment when you executed it).  If you have questions about the installation routine, feel free to ask, but the process is short and pretty easy to navigate.

Once you’re done with the routine, reboot your system immediately (the installer will prompt you to do so) and you should be back in your desktop environment running your new hotness.  The driver works gloriously with my Richland APU (A10-6800K), and I expect it shall work well for you, too.  I’ve run TF2, L4D2, and Rust on Steam for Linux without issue.  I’ve even run Civilization V on wine (using PlayOnLinux), though the sound doesn’t work (I’m investigating that).

Hopefully this set of instructions helps someone out; finding instructions for this process in one place for Fedora 20 was impossible when I was running through this just a few weeks ago.

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2 Responses to Installing the Proprietary AMD Catalyst 14.2 Beta Driver (fglrx) on 64 bit Fedora 20

  1. jason says:

    thank you so much

    • bitwiseoperator says:

      Sure thing, man! Glad I could help. Be sure to check out the latest posts for information on the most recent version of the driver and the Linux kernel!

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