Sunday, June 15, 2008

Compiz on thinkpad (T43) using OpenSUSE 10.3

Out of the box, OpenSUSE 10.3 detects the graphics card on IBM Thinkpad T43 as ATI Radeon M300 something. That's the default driver bundled with OpenSUSE. And quite expectably, the driver does not support 3D, direct rendering etc. That translates to No Compiz.

However, there seems to be fixes for the same. In fact, at this writing, I'm halfway through the process (having successfully switched to an ATI furnished driver which detects the card properly and allows 3D and direct rendering.) Keeping this as a record of what I do, so that folks as clueless as I was when I started out can make good use of this and do the work faster :)

The step 1. is to go to and download the version 8.0.* of the ATI drivers available there. The one click install is what I did. (You might need to add the Opensuse OSS repository to your Yast2 > Software > Software Repositories. The repo maybe found at )

Next, once the one-click install is over, do
# aticonfig --initial
as root.

Now, you can run "sax2 -r" as root and you will see the card detected as ATI Radeon X300. Also, CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE will restart the X server for you with the updated configuraion.

Next, in /etc/X11/ open the file xorg.conf, and at the bottom add the following lines
Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "Enable"
Option "DAMAGE" "Enable"
(The extensions section might already be there, in which case add/update the options there)
These lines take care of the errors
compiz (core) - Fatal: No composite extension
compiz (core) - Fatal: No DAMAGE extension

At this point, 3D works. (Small issues though, like the arcade game "Chromium B.S.U." hangs the system immediately on launch) However, "compiz --replace" still doesn't. Working on fixing this now.

(For nvidia cards, drivers can similarly be found at
========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= ========= =========

I gave up !

The ATI Driver seems to be buggy. Although the above procedure will get you 3D enabled, with beautiful effects and shadows and all that, it makes the system highly unstable.

For example, the chromium game crash I mentioned above. And also, once when I locked the computer, I guess some OpenGL screen saver would have started.. And this (!) crashed the comp !

So I removed the ATI drivers and reverted to the SUSE supplied stable drivers; no 3D but stable as ever.. Hopefully my Compal JFL 92 will work perfect with OpenSUSE 11.0 on that front.. (!)




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