Configuring the fglrx module for ATI graphics chips in Debian GNU/Linux 5.0


Bill Giannikos


This guide will help you configure the proprietary ATI module under Debian GNU/Linux 5.0. I will not be covering the open source radeon module included with Xorg because its configuration is normally handled automatically by most Linux distributions. We also wont be covering the newly released readeonhd driver as these are still in an early stage.

Licensing Issues

ATI provide their own license for their driver. You will need to read and accept this license before proceeding.


We will be using 'nano' as our text editor of choice but you can use whatever you wish.

While this guide is mainly focused to laptop users there isn't any difference for desktop users.


You should run a full update for your installation of Debian to ensure you have all the latest packages installed.

You will require an active internet connection for this to work.

Installing the fglrx module

Here are the steps required to install and configure the fglrx module in Debian.

1. Load up a terminal window if you are in the graphic interface.

2. Switch to the root user by entering the command “su -” (without the quotes) and typing in your root password.

3. Debian include parts of the fglrx driver in both the 'contrib' and 'non-free' repositories. You will need to enable both of these to install this driver. If you have already done this skip to step 7, otherwise continue on.

4. Edit your /etc/apt/sources.list file. With nano you would use:

nano -w /etc/apt/sources.list

5. Append “contrib non-free” to the end every line starting with deb. It should look something like this (except with a different mirror):

deb lenny main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny main contrib non-free

deb lenny/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src lenny/updates main contrib non-free

If you don't see anything similar to the first two lines (which you may not depending on how you installed Debian) you will need to add them.

6. Save the file. In nano you press Ctrl-X, answer yes to the “Save modified buffer” question and then press enter on the file name to write.

7. Run the following command to update your repository details:

apt-get update

8. Execute the following commands to install the driver:

apt-get install build-essential module-assistant fglrx-driver fglrx-kernel-src fglrx-control
m-a update
m-a prepare
m-a a-i fglrx

You may need to confirm that you would like to continue with some of these commands.

9. Now we need to edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file so it loads the fglrx drive. With nano you would use:

nano -w /etc/X11/xorg.conf

10. In this file find the section marked Section “Device”. If there is a Driver line in this section (such as Driver “vesa” or Driver “radeon”) change this to read Driver “fglrx”. If there isn't a Driver line in this section then add Driver “fglrx” to a new line within this section.

11. Save the file. In nano you press Ctrl-X, answer yes to the “Save modified buffer” question and then press enter on the file name to write.

12. Reboot and you will be using the fglrx module.


Enter your comment. Wiki syntax is allowed:
If you can't read the letters on the image, download this .wav file to get them read to you.
configuring_the_fglrx_module_for_ati_graphics_chips_in_debian_gnu_linux_5.0.txt · Last modified: 2009/03/02 02:48 by billg
Contact Us Sister Sites Privacy Policy Terms of Use
Copyright © 2006-2013 and other authors