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How to get AMD Drivers (Catalyst) FGLRX working in Ubuntu 12.10

Ubuntu 12.10 was quite a pain for me to get setup. I am running an i7 (1st gen) processor with an AMD 5770 graphics card and after installing 12.10 I found the interface to be incredibly sluggish with the default drivers that came installed. Actually, initially the interface was just fine but after several minutes something causes Compiz to slow down, making for a horrible experience. Furthemore, if you've ever used the open source drivers (gallium) for AMD you know that the efficiency is poor that the fan speed is always on full blast, making your PC sound like a hair dryer.

To fix these issues in the past I've relied on AMD's proprietary Catalyst driver referred to as fglrx. This driver is faster for 3d accelleration and more power efficient. It will also spin down the fan when the graphics card is not being driven hard. It does have some drawbacks though, including some 2d regressions and perhaps not as good of integration with the system being that it is closed source. What that means is that things like boot screens look crappy and other minor issues. The biggest problem in the past for me with the proprietary driver that I didn't see with the open source driver was that my system only wakes up from sleep about 2/3 times.. The other times I have to force power down my computer by holding the power key for 10 seconds.

With that being said, I still find myself installing the proprietary driver because of the benefits below:

  1. Compiz Works
  2. Efficiency is increased
  3. My computer remains quiet

Installing the proprietary driver is simple in Ubuntu 12.10 but it may not be obvious. Do the following:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic fglrx-updates

And then reboot.

Note that linux-headers-generic requirement. Without this compiz won't load correctly and you'll be left with a broken system.  This information was hard to come by when writing this article and hopefully this well help people out. Better yet, hopefully the Ubuntu engineers will make this a dependancy that is resolved when installing fglrx-updates so that users won't break their systems as I did.


Note that on Ubuntu 12.10 you cannot easily install Catalyst if you have a 4000 series or below graphics card (Thus, you must have 5000 series or better). The reason has to do with the new 12.9 Catalyst driver being the only one to support the version of Xorg shipping with Ubuntu 12.10. However, there is a PPA that has been made available that uses an older version of Xorg such that you can install the proprietary driver with 12.10. YMMV. See this for more info.