View Full Version : [ubuntu] X Manual Configuration with Radeon - ATI Open Source Driver

September 27th, 2011, 12:40 AM
This Article is not a copy-paste solution it is actually to learn something!!!


Disclaimer: If anyhow you will crash or brake or make you system, hardware, monitor, OS, personal files and everything connected with you personal belongings not suitable for use or even damaged I do not take any responsibility for that. Use this guide for your own sake. I am giving you tips how to faster configure your X server Manually, so you will not spend week on reading, finding and comparing.

Changes and Updates will be posted in this quote

Attached files:

My xorg.conf - modified to work with any radeon compatible card check yours on RadeonDriver Community Page (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RadeonDriver)

You can write me suggestions or any correction tips to this email

I hope this Guide will Really Help some of you guys!!!

This article is about Manual setup of X server - what is a main basis for all GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) in probably all Linux distributions (I don't know them all, but surely for Ubuntu).

In this article you will find configurations for ATI RadeonHD 5650 video card, but it does not mean that it will not help you to setup yours. Principle is the same as it is here.

In this article I use Open Source Driver - radeon, but this doesn't mean that this info won't help you

I this article I am using laptop, but it does not mean that you can't use desktop PC

In this article I use Ubuntu x64 11.04, but this doesn't mean... OK?

So I hope you got it! :)

If this article is about My RadeonHD it doesn't mean that it will not help you to configure yours.


I was setting up my X to work with my ATI card for quite a while already. I run through a lot of articles and tutorials, I was testing hell a lot of different combinations in my xorg.conf file and for now have optimal ones that work perfectly for me. Not all Sections are configured in my xorg.conf file, but the main ones that are needed for X proper work are done. Reason why I used xorg.conf is that automatically my Ubuntu did not want to recognize everything correctly, so I started to look up for the solution and seems that I found one, which is working. I hope that it will work for you guys. I spend a lot of time on this and did not find anywhere only one page that explains everything with no missed details. As for a beginner, when I started to read about X and trying to configure, it was frustrating. Small details where missing there and there, and I spend a lot of time for finding them. Now I want to help to other beginners, what might help you and them with setting up their X and graphic cards work properly. I will try to include all the details in here to make it one place for configuration of X server. In the end result, when you will finish reading and configuring, you should end up in here, with exactly same article. Lets Start Then.

Know Your System

Before you start gather required information

System Specifications

Sony VAIO E series


Intel(R) Core(TM) i5 CPU M 430 @ 2.27GHz

cat /proc/cpuinfo

Video Card:

ATI RadeonHD 5650 (Redwood)

lspci | grep VGA

Operating System:

Ubuntu x64 11.04 Natty Narwhal

cat /etc/lsb-release

cat /etc/issue

Additional Information
It is useful for general knowledge

Kernel Release:


uname -r

Kernel Version

#50-Ubuntu SMP Mon Sep 12 21:17:25 UTC 2011

uname -v

Check if KMS (Kernel Modesetting) is enabled

Command given here will give you number of lines find one that looks similar to this

[drm] radeon kernel modesetting enabled.

dmesg | grep drm
If it is not, then stop reading this article here and go to radeonBuildHowTo#radeon-KMSissues (http://www.x.org/wiki/radeonBuildHowTo#radeon-KMSissues)
It will be quite difficult for a very beginner but you can give it a try.
Normally, you should not get problems with KMS, if you got one then you probably already tried to configure your X or made some mistake in configuration. It will be discussed later

Start Configuration in 3 Steps

1. Start Terminal

Depending on what configuration you already did, you have different options to start terminal

Alt+F2 -> terminal -> Enter

2. In terminal run command

sudo X -configure

You might get an error saying something like:

Fatal server error:
Server is already active for display 0

If this server is no longer running, remove /tmp/.X0-lock
and start again.

Please consult the The X.Org Foundation support
at http://wiki.x.org for help.

ddxSigGiveUp: Closing log

In this case run command:

sudo X :1 -configure

You will be asked for password

[sudo] password for username:

After this in your home directory will be created a file with name:


Inside that file will be generated configuration from your X server with necessary Sections.
That configuration will be put into xorg.conf file later


When Speaking about home folder in Linux Distributions(Including Ubuntu), users mean the location of personal directory with all user's personal data. In Ubuntu location is in

/home/username or ~/

This is two exactly the same paths to home directory

xorg.conf is not present in folders, that are normally referenced in a lot of tutorials, because:

On the fresh install xorg.conf have to be created manually!!!
If you never did X configuration manually you will not find xorg.conf file

We are doing it now!

3. Create xorg.conf

Copy xorg.conf.new file content into file with name xorg.conf in approproate folder.

Folders that are scanned during system startup for .conf files are:
Note: Last parameter in this list is not always a file name


We will use /etc/X11

There is different ways how you can copy xorg.conf.new into xorg.conf

Fastest way is to run terminal command

sudo cp xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Not so fast, but works for beginners

Start Nautilus with root rights

Start terminal and run command

sudo nautilus
Alt+F2 -> gksudo nautilus -> Enter

Go to /home/username

Copy xorg.conf.new to /etc/X11

Rename xorg.conf.new to xorg.conf

Alternative for creating xorg.conf

Open Nautilus with admin rights

Go to /etc/X11

Create empty file with name xorg.conf

Fill in all Sections manually or copy-paste from xorg.conf.new

Congratulations! Now you have xorg.conf that will be used by X server on startup for setting up your X session with specific parameters.

Essentials and Getting Ready

Must read before You Start!!!

Xorg.Conf Manual (http://manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/natty/en/man5/xorg.conf.5.html) - Have to read this! I can't explain everything here from this article. It's huge

ATI - Radeon Open Source Driver Manual (http://manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/natty/en/man4/radeon.4.html) - you will find essential driver Options for Device Section

First Things TO DO.

When reading material is covered start with erasing all unnecessary information from xorg.conf(for now unnecessary, you will add it back afterwards, but not all of it)
Leave in your xorg.cong file this sections

Section "ServerLayout"

Section "Files"

Section "Module"

Section "Monitor"
The one with Monitor0

Section "Device"
The one with a lot of # signs before Option

NOTE: Save all Options from Device Section and compare them with Radeon Manual. Not all of the options will be supported by certain Distributions. You will have to test them.

Section "Screen"
The one with Screen0 and Monitor0 in it

Learn by HEART essential Commands and Places


Two main places to remember:


Here you will find different logs from system
We will need Xorg.0.log for configurations and checking


Path to your X Configuration file(If you did not choose other)


If you want to read entire log in terminal

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log

NOTE: If you want to read normally with text editor, go to given path with nautilus. You might need this command because of not loadable X session due to bad Option in Device Section or syntax error

If you want to grab keywords from log use grep command like this

This will give you error reports

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep EE

This will give you warning reports

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep WW

If you want to edit xorg.conf from terminal

sudo pico /etc/X11/xorg.conf

sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

NOTE: To save press Ctrl+O -> Enter
To exit press Ctrl+X

If you want to copy backup of xorg.conf

sudo cp [path to file which to copy] [path where to copy]

I made a backup copy of xorg.conf to home directory with name xorg.conf.backup

sudo cp /home/username/xorg.conf.backup /etc/X11/xorg.conf


sudo cp ~/xorg.conf.backup /etc/X11/xorg.conf

NB! In root shell use full path to home because ~/ will be root's home directory

cp /home/username/xorg.conf.backup /etc/X11/xorg.conf

or if you want you can copy your xorg.conf.new file and start configuring all over again

sudo cp /home/username/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf

relatively in root shell

cp /home/username/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf

NB! If you are in recovery mode(When you boot, you choose kernel to boot with recovery) and choose root shell you do not have to use 'sudo' to enter text editor or execute other commands that need root rights.

NB! It might happen that you will need to go to root shell in recovery if some option or syntax error made your X server not loadable. Remember This! That is why you have to learn commands and places by heart!

When all set and ready start configuration with Device Section and then as follows:

Screen and Monitor Sections
ServerLayout Section
InputDevice and InputClass Sections

We will follow them as it is and I will put my snippets of xorg.conf code in next Topic

Playing With Sections, Options, Identifiers

Essential Key Combinations to Remember

Ctrl+Alt+T - Start Terminal

Alt+PrtSc+K - X Restart Key Combination

*Ctrl+Alt+F2 - Drop to terminal shell

*Ctrl+Alt+F7 - Go back to GUI

NOTE: Last Two Shortcuts is not recommended to use with Unity. When you drop to terminal shell it is not possible to go back to Unity GUI, but works with GNOME 2


Pay Attention on Syntax
DO NOT miss any quotes and close them or you will get not loadable X and loose time with booting to root shell and figuring out a problem.

Each Section should end with EndSection


Remember what changes you make. ALWAYS!!!

In order not to loose time remember last change you make. In case if you will crack X you will know what to change back

Change One-by-One and check right away with X Restart Key Combination

In order to get DRI (direct rendering) support this Options should be present in your xorg.conf

Section "ServerFlags"
Option "AIGLX" "on"

Section "Device"
Option "DRI" "true"
Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"

Section "DRI"
Mode 0666

Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "Enable"


Go through entire Xorg.0.log, it will give you some useful hints and information

Use Radeon Manual, Xorg.Conf Manual and xorg.conf.new file for Options comparing and reference

Enable and Test one by one

if you enabled some Option and want to see if it works check it with X Restart Key Combination and then

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep EE

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep WW
and for example you enabled ColorTiling like:

Options "ColorTiling" "true"
then check it

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.lof | grep ColorTiling

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.lof | grep Color
and etc

My xorg.conf Settings

Section Device

When I went through manuals I ended up with this

Section "Device"
Identifier "ATI Radeon HD 5650"
Driver "radeon"
Option "EXAVSync" "True"
Option "ColorTiling" "on"
Option "RenderAccel" "true"
Option "EnablePageFlip" "on"
Option "DRI" "true"
Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
Option "SwapbuffersWait" "0"
Option "Monitor-LVDS" "Left Monitor"
BusID "PCI:1:0:0"
Option "Monitor-LVDS" "VaioLCD"
Option "Monitor-HDMI-0" "BraviaLCD"
Option "IgnoreEDID" "true"
Screen 0

Section ServerFlags

When I went through manuals I ended up with this

Section "ServerFlags"
Option "AIGLX" "on"

Section Screen and Monitor

When I went through manuals I ended up with this

Section "Screen"
Identifier "LaptopScreen"
Device "ATI Radeon HD 5650"
Monitor "VaioLCD"
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection "Display"
Viewport 0 1080
Depth 24
Modes "1920x1080i" "1366x768" "1280x720" "1152x768" "1024x768" "800x600" "848x480" "720x480" "640x480"

NOTE: Screen refers to Monitor Section with Identifier VaioLCD and Device Section points to BraviLCD Monitor. This configuration says to X what settings to use for Monitors. I have second screen connected to my Laptop and that is why I have two Monitor Sections

NB! Setting Screens and Resolution is a different topic, here will be covered only Card configuration. Find Screen and Monitor Settings further in Thread

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "VaioLCD"
VendorName "Sony"
ModelName "VPC-EB1S1E"
Option "DPMS"

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "BraviaLCD"
VendorName "Sony"
ModelName "BRAVIA KDL-32S3000"
DisplaySize 1600 900
Modeline "1920x1080i" 74.25 1920 2448 2492 2640 1080 1084 1094 1125 interlace +hsync +vsync
HorizSync 14-48
VertRefresh 48-62
Option "DPMS"

Section ServerLayout

When I went through manuals I ended up with this

Section "ServerLayout"
Identifier "DualHead"
Screen 0 "LaptopScreen"

Section Module

When I went through manuals I ended up with this

Section "Module"
Load "dri"
Load "dri2"
Load "dbe"
Load "glx"
Load "type1"
Load "freetype"
Load "record"

Section DRI

When I went through manuals I ended up with this

Section "DRI"
Mode 0666

Section Extensions

When I went through manuals I ended up with this

Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "Enable"
Option "RENDER" "Enable"
Option "RANDR" "Enable"
Option "DAMAGE" "Enable"
Option "GLX" "Enable"

Configuring Screen and Monitor Section

Article is in Progress... Any help and input will be appreciated

Configuring InputDevice Section

I do not have enough knowledge about configuring InputClass Section. An for Me it is Kind a tricky, because I have Synaptics Touchpad and there is a bug report on launchpad about its functionality (Scrolling is not working, gestures problem and multitouch problem). Any help here and input will be appreciated.

July 30th, 2012, 09:12 AM
your one great a guy! you blessed my entire week... been working on this problem for almost 3 weeks now and so now and then in the last 4 months.

Couldn't get my ati card working since 10.04 and you totally rocked it!

/bow /bow /bow

July 31st, 2012, 12:27 PM
your one great a guy! you blessed my entire week... been working on this problem for almost 3 weeks now and so now and then in the last 4 months.

Couldn't get my ati card working since 10.04 and you totally rocked it!

/bow /bow /bow

Happy that it helped someone :)

You are very welcome ;)