If you use the AMD Catalyst (fglrx) driver on Ubuntu you may want to avoid upgrading to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS next month.
The ‘Xenial Xerus’ will not support the widely-used — and widely hated — proprietary graphics driver for AMD/ATI graphics cards.
Ubuntu say they “…recommend [using] open source alternatives (radeon and amdgpu). AMD put a lot of work into the[se] drivers, and we back ported kernel code from Linux 4.5 to provide a better experience.”
But rough edges with these open-source drivers could mean many upgraders could encounter worse performance.
What Happens To Fglrx?
Upgrading to Ubuntu 16.04 will remove both the fglrx driver and its related Xorg display stack automatically.
You won’t be able to re-install the driver (or its display stack) as in the past; it’s no longer included in the Xenial archives.
Ubuntu 16.04 uses open-source AMDGPU or Radeon drivers in its place depending on your hardware.
As Gaming On Linux notes, the decision isn’t a surprising one. The fglrx driver has been a right old pain to as pleasurable to set up as, well, the fglrx driver.
Ubuntu was one of the few Linux distributions to still support it, but will not, in line with other Linux distributions, default to the open-source Radeon driver instead.
The open-source Radeon drivers for AMD/ATI hardware is also not fully complete.
With Nvidia hardware the preferred choice among Linux gamers this news shouldn’t have too much of an impact.
With AMD’s new Catalyst driver, based on the open source AMDGPU stack, yet to be released it remains to be seen how much of an impact this decision will have on those looking to eke every bit of performance from their hardware.
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