Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

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Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:31 pm

Hi all,

So, i've just installed Debian 6.0.4 as a dual boot set up, so I still have windows if need be.

I havent had this problem with any other linux distro I've used (specifically Mint OS and Ubuntu).

Having installed Debian on my i5 2500k based system, and installed necessary graphics drivers to allow my radeon 6950 to work, I notice some terrible performance problems.

Moving windows around the screen causes phenomenal tearing (I've played around with the ATI console settings, but its still very slow)
So, I launch System Monitor to try see whats going on, and although System Monitor doesnt allow me see Gfx card usage, I can see a huge spike in CPU usage when I move windows around.
Playing a video (albeit, not a HD stream) caused barley a spike in my CPU usage.

Does my x window system not know about my graphics card? If so, how do I let it know!!

Any other help ye can give me would be great.

EDIT: Also, If ye need any more info, feel free to ask!
Its pretty late here, so I could be missing something simple... Also, I'm going to be sluggish in work tomorrow as a result of this... :roll:

Anyway, cheers in advance!
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:37 pm

Sounds like your system is using software rendering instead of using the GPU, hence the CPU-usage spike.

Your video card is rather newer than Debian 6, so the driver that comes with it probably doesn't support your card. You have a couple options that I can think of:

1) Upgrade your copy of Debian to testing - easiest way I know to do this is to open up a terminal window[1] and type "sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list" and replace all instances of "stable" (or "squeeze") with "testing" (or "wheezy"), then save the file, then type "sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade". Once this long process is done, you'll have a more modern system that's almost as stable as Stable, and will probably have a driver for your Radeon.

2) Go to AMD's website and find the Linux driver for your card, then follow the instructions to install it.

Maybe one of the other regulars has a better suggestion.

[1] It's been a few years since I used a fresh install of modern Debian, so you might have to replace all instances of "sudo" with first typing "su", entering your root password, then typing the remainder of the command, then when you're done type "exit" to stop being root. I'm not sure if Debian supports sudo out of the box.

EDIT: Here's AMD's wiki entry for Debian: http://wiki.cchtml.com/index.php/Debian
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:23 pm

Yeah, what they said. You're probably going to need to install the Catalyst for Linux drivers from ATI to properly run that card.
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:54 am

I was afraid of that.

I have the ATI drivers installed and its still that bad.

The whole point of me installing debian was cos I was sick of the hassles with ubuntu and the likes, too many annoying bugs for my liking...
I guess my hardware is a lttle "new" for this stuff.

I shall play around with it tonight, see if i can get it working!
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:13 am

wobbles-grogan wrote:I was afraid of that.

I have the ATI drivers installed and its still that bad.

Which version of the ATI drivers?
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:13 am

just brew it! wrote:Which version of the ATI drivers?


The 11.11 ones. Think theyre the most recent (at least, on the ati website)

You sound like you know something? :)
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:50 am

wobbles-grogan wrote:
just brew it! wrote:Which version of the ATI drivers?

The 11.11 ones. Think theyre the most recent (at least, on the ati website)

The newest available on ATI's site is actually 12.1.

wobbles-grogan wrote:You sound like you know something? :)

Only that the problem I was having with my ATI GPU (second head in a dual-head config randomly cutting out whenever anything used OpenGL) went away when I upgraded to the 12.1 Catalyst drivers. This could be a complete red herring as far as your issue is concerned though, since I'm running an old version of Ubuntu (10.04 LTS) on a *much* older GPU (Radeon 3xxx series). But it may be worth your while to give the 12.1 a shot.

TBH it actually sounds to me more like the ATI driver -- though installed -- isn't actually being *used*. Looking through the X log file (AFAIK should be in /var/log/Xorg.0.log) is probably a reasonable next step in the investigation if 12.1 does't help.
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:13 am

Yeah, you probably don't have the AMD driver installed properly - I'd say X is using the framebuffer or just the VESA driver. Try following the directions in that wiki link I posted - maybe you missed a step somewhere.

Things like this are why I don't recommend Debian for desktop usage - it's not as polished, and they typically take a /long/ time to make new releases, so the software and drivers are quickly outdated.
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:28 am

bthylafh wrote:Yeah, you probably don't have the AMD driver installed properly

And it is quite possible -- even likely! -- that if they *aren't* installed properly, it isn't because of anything you did. Getting the Catalyst drivers from ATI's web site to install properly on Linux is a bit of a crapshoot, which is why it is best to stick with the version in your distro's repository if at all possible.

FWIW I used this guide to get Catalyst 12.1 working on my Ubuntu 10.04 system. Ubuntu 10.04 is probably close enough to what you're using that much of the info may be applicable (biggest difference being that you'll want to start a root shell to issue the CLI commands instead of using sudo everywhere).

Edit: Oh, duh... that's the same Wiki that bthylafh linked to earlier. Use his link not mine, he gave you a link direct to the Debian-specific instructions. :oops:
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Thu Feb 16, 2012 4:17 pm

One thing about upgrading Debian to testing: testing has moved to GNOME 3.2, so you'll either be dealing with GNOME Shell as your desktop, or you'll need to install something different (which Debian makes easy). No sticking with GNOME 2.

IMO GNOME Shell is getting better now, but it's down to individual taste.
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Re: Some performance troubles with Debian 6.0.4

Postposted on Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:49 am

Catalyst is known for poor 2D performance, even when it's installed and operating properly. Unless you're trying to play intense games, stick with the open-source drivers (though you'll need a lot of backported stuff (kernel/drm/mesa) for it to work in Debian 6 ).
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