Gutsy Gibbon + Radeon Mobility X1400

Compiz Fusion on a Radeon Mobility X1400 graphics card? Hell yeah!

Oh, driver hell. Proprietary drivers are the bane of Linux’s existence, as any Linux user with a current ATI graphics card can tell you. I have a Lenovo Z61m on which I’d like to install Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon, but good luck — the ATI Radeon Mobility X1400 will wreak havoc on your installation procedure. This is not new; Feisty Fawn had the same problem. Fortunately, you can in fact work around it.

Installing From the Live CD

First, there’s getting the live CD to work. You can download the alternate install CD and work from text mode, but I’d much rather use the regular live CD. Fortunately, you can! Boot up the live CD, and it’ll eventually die at some point, because the X server can’t launch properly. Hit Cntrl + Alt + F2 to jump to a virtual console. Type clear to clear the screen, then type the following:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xorg-driver-fglrx
sudo depmod -a
sudo aticonfig --initial
sudo aticonfig --overlay-type=Xv
startx

You’ll obviously need a working Internet connection to make this work. Congratulations, you can now use the live CD! Run the installer as per normal.

Special note for Lenovo users: Do not delete the FAT32 service partition! You can use this to restore your Windows partition or run other diagnostics. I found it worked well to resize the existing Windows partition and dual boot.

After installation, you’ll reboot your system and — surprise! It doesn’t work. It’ll die at loading the X server again. Hit Cntrl + Alt + F2, and enter the following:


sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xorg-driver-fglrx
sudo apt-get install xgl
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-radeonhd
sudo depmod -a
sudo aticonfig --initial
sudo aticonfig --overlay-type=Xv
startx

This is slightly different than before. Why? Well, no doubt you want to use those fancy Compiz Fusion effects, right? You didn’t need them to do the installation, but installation is done now. You’ll need to get the right drivers, as well as install xgl. Once you’ve done that, you might also need to edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf to change Option "Composite" "0" to Option "Composite" "1". After that, you should be able to enable Visual Effects through System->Preferences->Appearance, Visual Effects tab.