After switching to the Linux Mint Debian Edition from Ubuntu after the horrific rollout of the Unity interface, I noticed that my laptop fan was running a lot louder on Linux Mint Debian than it did on Ubuntu. After doing a quick survey of the search results I found that this was more than likely the result of not using the ATI/AMD Proprietary FGLRX Graphics Driver. This made sense, because I had always used that driver on Ubuntu and had never had any problems. Though installing the driver is a one to two click operation on Ubuntu and the Linux Mint Flagship edition, it's a more involved process on the Linux Mint Debian edition.
I found out more or less how to do this by reading the Debian tutorial here: http://wiki.debian.org/ATIProprietary however, this tutorial did not work for me. Many of the commands on LMDE were very different than the ones in the Debian tutorial (though they conceptually do pretty much the same thing). I don't know if this is because LMDE uses Debian Testing as opposed to another Debian edition or if it's due to something else. Anyhow, I decided to rewrite the tutorial with the commands that ultimately allowed me to do this.
Before You Start
Print these instructions!
You should also make sure that the debian testing non-free repository is enabled in /etc/apt/sources.list. More than likely this is already done. There should be a line reading: http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ testing/non-free. If this line is not there you should open the file with a text editor and add it. Another way to find out (instead of looking at the sources.list) is to run the command aptitude search fglrx-driver. If you see this package in the results you know you’re good to go.
1. Update the list of available packages by running the following command:
sudo aptitude update
2. Install the relevant linux-headers, fglrx-control and fglrx-driver packages.
The following command will install all of these things:
sudo aptitude -r install linux-headers-2.6-$(uname -r|sed 's,[^-]*-[^-]*-,,') fglrx-control fglrx-driver
3. Kill your graphical environment. More specifically kill the X windowing system entirely.*
*NOTE: If you have any programs open, they will all be closed. Save everything and get ready to go to the command line only. Make sure you've printed these instructions or written down the remaining commands in this tutorial.
Type the following command:
sudo /sbin/init 1
This will close all your programs and drop you into a console where you will be prompted to press Control-D or enter your password.
Do not press control-d. Instead, type your password. You are in single user mode. You will now be given a command line and your X session will be dead. This is what you want.
4. Unload the radeon and drm modules:
/sbin/modprobe -r radeon drm
*NOTE: When you do this, nothing will appear to happen. You will not get any feedback. This is normal.
5. Create an xorg.conf file.
*NOTE: the above command will automatically generate a new xorg.conf file. If you already have one, you may need to configure it by hand. If this is the case, follow the last part of step 5 here: http://wiki.debian.org/ATIProprietary.
6. Go back to your graphical environment (and inadvertently restart X). Type the following command:
You will now be sent back to your login screen. After you login everything should be working and your laptop fan should be quieter.