Changing drivers in Mint

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Jonathan10000
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Changing drivers in Mint

Post by Jonathan10000 » Sat Dec 09, 2017 2:21 am

Hello, I recently installed Mint Sonya on an old Aspire One laptop with Dual Core 1.333 Ghz, 2 GB RAM. Graphics processing has been really slow, so this has been on my list to optimize.

Only there are some problems, which is why I am here. First, the graphics card is an AMD/ATI Radeon HD 6000 series. Currently, it is using a 'radeon' driver integrated into the kernel. As mentioned, this is not working great [I am not doing heavy gaming, or planning to watch videos on this device, I will be happy if I can get it more functional for web use]

Through aptitude I was able to figure out that nouveau, radeon, amdgpu, and an ati driver are possible alternatives to try. Scouring the internet, I was able to find nothing that would tell me how to change the installed driver via the command line. I have looked in Synaptics, as well as aptitude, for functionality of this kind, to no avail. Several command line functions (like Ubuntu-drivers) do not seem to be supported in Mint.

Why not use Mint's nifty device manager? Unfortunately, the device manager is giving me no options for the video driver. It gives me some options for my wireless card, and an option to use a chip driver for my processor, but nothing for video.

My goal is to try some different drivers. My intuition is that the generic driver will work better than what I am using now, and some of my research corroborates this (as it seems support for the Radeon linux drivers has fallen away in recent years).

How can I change the used video driver from the command line? From configuration files [use of xorg.conf has changed, and I have found difficulty finding updated information]? Finally, is there something wrong with my device manager, and is there something I can do about that?

Thank you!

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kc1di
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Re: Changing drivers in Mint

Post by kc1di » Sat Dec 09, 2017 5:10 am

Hello Jonathan10000 and welcome to Linux Mint Forums,

I don't believe it's a driver issue Nouveau will not work with amd/randon chipset. The best driver is most likely already installed but you can do a search for the other drivers in synaptic package manager and install them from there also.
with your specs it is very unlikely you will be able to do heavy gaming on that machine. Video will be marginal 2gb ram is very limiting in what your trying to do.
You did not say which desktop version of mint your using. But if it's Cinnamon you are on the very bottom end of what is needed just to run it.
try xfce or mate would be better.
Give us some more info on what you installed.
Easy tips : https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/
Linux Mint Installation Guide: http://linuxmint-installation-guide.rea ... en/latest/
Registered Linux User #462608

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Pjotr
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Re: Changing drivers in Mint

Post by Pjotr » Sat Dec 09, 2017 5:48 am

kc1di wrote:try xfce
+1

A clean installation of 18.3 Xfce (bèta, 32-bit):
http://mirrors.kernel.org/linuxmint/tes ... t-beta.iso

And then these speed tweaks:
https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/3
Tip: 10 things to do after installing Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia
Keep your Linux Mint healthy: Avoid these 10 fatal mistakes
Twitter: twitter.com/easylinuxtips
All in all, horse sense simply makes sense.

Jonathan10000
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Re: Changing drivers in Mint

Post by Jonathan10000 » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:13 am

Wow so great to get such quick responses.
kc1di wrote:Give us some more info on what you installed.
Sure. I'm running a MATE desktop, minimum program environment, 2GB RAM and 4GB swap. uname -a produces the following information: 4.8.0-53-generic #56~16.04.1-Ubuntu SMP Tue May 16 01:18:56 UTC 2017 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

A more specific device query to the graphics card with lspci yields:

VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Wrestler [Radeon HD 6290] (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Wrestler [Radeon HD 6290]
Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 24
Memory at 80000000 (32-bit, prefetchable)
I/O ports at 4000
Memory at 90400000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable)
[virtual] Expansion ROM at 000c0000 [disabled]
Capabilities: [50] Power Management version 3
Capabilities: [58] Express Root Complex Integrated Endpoint, MSI 00
Capabilities: [a0] MSI: Enable+ Count=1/1 Maskable- 64bit+
Capabilities: [100] Vendor Specific Information: ID=0001 Rev=1 Len=010 <?>
Kernel driver in use: radeon
Kernel modules: radeon

From what I've researched, several of the drivers I mentioned in my original post should be options; however, as mentioned, nothing shows up in driver manager. The packages for all of the mentioned drivers were already on my system, as well, as if some system function had indexed them. I just have not figured out how to implement them. For example, it would surprise me if there were not a command line function for manually assigning a driver to a particular device.

In terms of synaptic, I did in fact find some posts about Synaptic having functionality to assign alternate drivers to a device, but when I followed that thread, I found that the Synaptics running in my Mint environment lacked this functionality. In other words, all the package files for the list of drivers mentioned in my first post were already on my system, and yet neither device manager nor synaptics gives me the option of arbitrarily assigning any of them, which is why I have been pursuing command line options.

I know it's an issue in the graphics arena because of what I've observed - manipulating documents and audio files (including processing in Audacity), as well as downloading files from the internet, as well as most other computer functionality that is not graphics-involved - all are running at good speeds already. It wasn't, but I got it that way :)

However, if I run gravit (excellent package which models gravity wells and particle activity in space, very beautiful and accurate) for example, I can see a noticable impact, and also if I start opening several web pages (and they start bombarding my computer with lots of little images which I'll prolly never look at), I also see an impact. And if I track RAM usage using 'free' during these moments of system slow down, the RAM is nowhere near being maxed out, so my assumption is that what is getting bottlenecked is the graphics card. And, as mentioned earlier, research suggests that people who have pursued the proprietary drivers offered through AMD's site have not had good results (with the Radeon HD series), so it seems like a card where some creative exploration of driver options might be useful.

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