Ubuntu 11.10 + Gnome Shell + ATI drivers + multiple monitors


Dane (see comments) pointed out that ATI has in fact released the 11.10 version of their drivers, I went ahead and gave them a try and using them broke most things for me.

Once I booted back in to Gnome…I had some of the Gnome3 look and feel…but everything else (menus, icons, etc) were clearly from Gnome2.  I reinstalled version 11.9 and everything was back to normal.  This update might work for some other setups…but for now I’ll just stick with the version that is working 95% of the time.


I was finally able to get a working desktop using Ubuntu 11.10, Gnome Shell, Gnome 3.2 along with my Radeon HD 2400 XT video card.  The adventure started a few weeks ago when I tried to setup my existing Ubuntu 11.04 desktop using some PPA repositories I found online.

I was able to successfully upgrade from Ubuntu 11.04 to 11.10 beta, and  since the 11.10 final release was right around the corner I figured it was safe to go ahead and give it a try.  The upgrade went well, but I spent the next day fighting to try and get gnome-shell to play nicely with my Radeon card using the existing ATI drivers.

I ended up starting from scratch a few days later, by backing up some important files in my home directory and doing a clean install of 11.10 once the final version was released.

After doing an update and installing some other packages such as  ubuntu-restricted-extras, vlc, pidgin, etc installing gnome-shell was painless:

# apt-get install gnome-shell

After rebooting, I logged in to find some of the same problems as before with this desktop install (screen tearing, blurry icons, multicolored menus, etc). I found some posts around the net that alluded to the fact that I might be able to solve some of my problems if I used the latest drivers (version 11.9) off the ATI website.

On the other hand, I found other posts by people claiming that even using the latest drivers had not completely solved all their problems and that ATI would be releasing version 11.10 sometime within the next 2 to 3 weeks, and that this new version would be specifically tested against Gnome 3.x (and fix the remaining bugs).

Anyway, I decided that I had nothing to lose at this point and decided to grab the latest version from the web:

# mkdir ati-11.9; cd ati-11.9
# wget http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/ati-driver-installer-11-9-x86.x86_64.run
# sh ati-driver-installer-11-9-x86.x86_64.run –buildpkg Ubuntu/oneiric
# dpkg -i fglrx*.deb
# aticonfig –initial -f

After rebooting my machine again, I was pleasantly surprised to see that everything was looking good, no more problems with screen tearing and all my icons and menus were seemingly in order.

The only thing I needed to do now was to setup my multiple monitors correctly, since at that point I was staring at two cloned spaces instead of one large desktop spread across both my two 24″ monitors.

First I launched the Catalyst control panel:

# gksu amdcccle

Under the ‘Display Manager’ page I had to select ‘Multi-display desktop with display’


After a reboot I went into the Gnome ‘System Settings’ and choose ‘Displays’….I was finally able to uncheck ‘Mirror displays’ and hit ‘Apply’ without error.

The final two steps required for me to getting everything working %100 correctly was to install the gnome-tweak-tool:

# apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool

and disable the ‘Have file manager handle the desktop’ option in the ‘Desktop’ section (that did away with the extra menu I was seeing).

The final step in the process involved installing a new theme…I really liked the Elementary them found here. So that is the one I choose….now everything is working as it should be!

14 thoughts on “Ubuntu 11.10 + Gnome Shell + ATI drivers + multiple monitors

  1. Dane

    Thx for the tips man! ATI just released the updated drivers today! I still have some problems but maybe it’s my setup. I have an ATI radeon 4800 series dual monitor setup and all the graphics display fine but the graphics aren’t completely smooth. Still tinkering with it though…

  2. Alan

    Thx man! Your tips solve my problem with Gnome 3 and the multi colored top bar! My note have a ATI Radeon HD6550 and now it is working fine.

  3. shainmiley Post author

    I have plans to install Mint at some point soon, I have friends that have been using it for quite some time, and since I am very familiar with Debian, it makes sense to at least give it a shot. I have a netbook that I am not doing anything useful with right now…so I guess that is as good a choice as any to test with.

  4. Heitor

    I’ve got a problem. It’s with Linux Mint 12, Lisa. I installed and the first boot went good. after rebooting it showed the same problems you said. multi colored menus and screen tearing. i installed the version 11.12 of the drivers, the last one, and I noticed 3 things.
    1: The menus are not multi colored anymore, but the screen tearing persists.
    2: At the The Catalyst Control Center I can’t change the settings to high perfomance. If I change the option it goes back to economic (I don’t know how it says in english since my OS is in portuguese) when I restart.
    3: It says there that my graphic card is ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200, but it’s 6550. Just like Alan.

    I’m thinking about installing the previous version, this one you listed at your post. But I’ve already installed the 11.12. Have I got to uninstall the driver i just installed? How do I do it?

  5. shainmiley Post author

    The few times I have attempted to to go between different versions of the ATI drivers (install and uninstall), I simply downloaded the version of driver I was looking to try (wether older or newer) and ran the same commands,
    as I have listed in the blog posting. If you wanted to be extra sure that the drivers were removed you could try something like this:

    ‘apt-get remove –purge fglrx*’.

    Once you have installed the new drivers you can either restart your entire system…or I found I was able to save some time by just killing the X windows process:

    ‘pkill X’.

    I hope this helps,


    I believe

  6. Jack

    I am totally new to ubuntu. the dual screen setup took me ~ 4 hours 🙁 I followed your instructions step by step and it worked perfectly. Thanks a lot 😀

    Using ubuntu 11.10 and ATI 6670.


  7. jack2

    You nailed it. I just spent two days trying every fix I could find, and then using recovery mode to fix it. This did it and it was a simple workaround. Good job.

  8. Conner

    I am having a problem here… Got it all done fine until the sh line.. it says it couldn’t open it.
    # elgoog@Gamebox:~/ati-12.2$ sh ati-driver-installer-12-2-x86.x86_64.run -buildpkg Ubuntu/oneiric
    # sh: Can’t open ati-driver-installer-12-2-x86.x86_64.run

    I’ll paste the full log if desired.. but I have a feeling I messed up my install somehow, because I also can’t seem to get a udf disk to mount and no fstab edit or terminal mount command seems to be working. >_>

  9. loginix

    sh ati-driver-installer-11-9-x86.x86_64.run –buildpkg Ubuntu/oneiric

    giving you the error

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