[SOLVED] Blank screen and noisy fan with ATI Radeon HD 5000 series under Natty (Ubuntu 11.04)

2 minute read

Today I upgraded 3 machines to Natty. Two of them have ATI Radeon 5000 series graphics card, and after the upgrade on both, the reboot came up as a totally blank screen (Sony Vaio VPC EA series) and appeared to completely hang (Acer M5811 Desktop PC with ATI 5450 card).

Sony Vaio Install

I learnt on the Sony! (my wife’s laptop) :-)

The actual natty install went well, but on reboot the screen was blank. I heard the login screen come up though, so it sounded as if everything went OK.

At the same time the fan was very very noisy. This laptop never really stops the fan as far as I can see, but this sounded like it was taking off.

Some posts recommend adding some flags to grub:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="nomodeset osi_acpi=linux "

for the noisy fan.

I had previously set up ssh on the laptop, so ssh’d in and tried this.  Rebooted - still noisy, still a blank screen.  (yes - I ran update-grub).

I tried the directions in the Natty Installation guide:

apt-get remove --purge xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-video-radeon
apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-ati
apt-get install --reinstall libgl1-mesa-glx libgl1-mesa-drixserver-xorg-core
mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup

Then using synaptic installed the fglrx-modaliases package. Rebooted - this worked. I.e., I had plymouth up and could log in.  No acceleration though.

Next I followed the “Restricted Drivers Manager” section -went to System/Administration/Additional Drivers in the menus and activated FGLRX drivers.  Reboot.  Same blank screen.

Then I read this post. Went to AMD website, support.amd.com and in the download drivers section, selected Notebook Graphics/Radeon HD Series/MobilityRadeon HD 5xxxSeries//Linux X86.

Downloaded the file and ran it, followed by the command which sets up the xorg.conf:

sh ati-driver-installer-11-6-x86.x86_64.run
aticonfig --initial -f

Rebooted.  THIS WORKED.

As an aside, it also fixed the noisy fan (fixed is a relative term for Sony laptops I think - still quite loud).

Acer Desktop

When I did the Acer desktop, I thought I would be smart and install the ATI driver before upgrading to Natty.  This made no difference.

On reboot after the natty upgrade the machine was dead (the three-fingered Vulcan salute didn’t work, network interface was dead so no ssh fun for me).

Rebooted and held the SHIFT key to get a grub menu.  Then went into the recovery menu item, and booted from there.  This gave me a usable machine. I then used the same ATI Radeon download as I used for the Sony (see above) and then ran

aticonfig --initial -f

Before logging out, I also edited /etc/default/grub and added this:


Did update-grub and rebooted.  Success.

Hope this helps someone else.

Leave a Comment