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The purpose of this page is to give you streamlined steps for setting up your video hardware for X, and desktop environments such as GNOME.


Editors: OK, I've decided to change the plans for this page. This is going to be a page similar to Subarches. The idea is to help people to identify their hardware and guide them toward the correct driver for their chipset. The focus will be primarily on defining the types of hardware that are supported, what products they appear in, and how to know if you have this hardware, and also give people good general overview of options available to them (free vs. proprietary, etc.) Other important topics that apply to all drivers, like eselect opengl should be covered as well. This will then serve as the meta-page for Video support, with individual ebuild pages holding the details for each driver.

Video Driver Installation and Setup

Individual driver pages cover specific setup steps for each driver. The general process is as follows:

  1. Define VIDEO_CARDS variable in /etc/make.conf to refer to the name of the driver that you wish to use. Special names, rather than ebuild package names are used. For example, fglrx is used to refer to AMD Catalyst Video Drivers.
  2. Update your system using emerge, if X is already installed, or emerge xorg-x11. Your VIDEO_CARDS settings will result in your selected drivers being installed.
  3. Configure X to use these drivers. This often involves running X -configure or using a supplied tool to produce an initial X configuration like aticonfig --initial.
  4. If necessary (this is typically done automatically for you,) run eselect opengl and eselect opencl to set the working OpenGL and OpenCL implementation.

Selecting a Video Driver

First determine which video card you have and which driver it requires.

# lspci -nn

Once hardware is determined use the following sections to add or edit the VIDEO_CARDS global variable in /etc/make.conf. See the specific driver pages for more granular details including kernel configurations, frame buffer settings, and X configuration.

Package NameLicenseDeveloped byVIDEO_CARDS setting
Radeon Video DriversOpen SourceCommunityradeon, radeonsi
AMD Catalyst Video DriversProprietaryAMDfglrx
x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel (package not on wiki - please add)Open SourceIntelintel
Nouveau Video Drivers (Open Source)Open SourceCommunitynouveau
NVIDIA Linux Display DriversProprietaryNVIDIAnvidia
x11-drivers/xf86-video-vesa (package not on wiki - please add)Open SourceCommunityvesa
x11-drivers/xf86-video-vga (package not on wiki - please add)Open SourceCommunityvga

An overview of each driver follows:


Users can choose between free (Radeon Video Drivers) and proprietary (AMD Catalyst Video Drivers) video drivers. AMD Catalyst Video Drivers supports a variety AMD products, including Radeon R9, R7, R5 and HD 5000 Series through HD 8000 Series. Also supported are AMD A-Series APUs and Mobile Radeon HD chipsets. The free Radeon Video Drivers has an official hardware and feature compatibility matrix. The free drivers are recommended as the proprietary drivers are not currently maintained very well by AMD. Users of AMD Southern & Sea Islands (HD7750 and above) should enable radeonsi for better performance and functionality.


The Intel video driver (x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel (package not on wiki - please add) supports Intel GMA and Intel HD graphics processors, which are found in laptops and desktop systems.


Users can choose between Nouveau Video Drivers (Open Source) and proprietary NVIDIA Linux Display Drivers video drivers released by NVIDIA. The proprietary drivers have a reputation for quality, although they are often not updated to work with the latest versions of X or the Linux kernel.

Managing Installed Drivers

Xorg Resolution

/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/45-lowres.conf - To lower resolution and set dpi edit this file
Section "Device"
    Identifier    "Configured Video Device"

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier    "Configured Monitor"
    HorizSync       30.0-62.0
    VertRefresh     50.0-70.0

Section "Screen"
    Identifier    "Default Screen"
    Monitor        "Configured Monitor"
    Device        "Configured Video Device"
    DefaultDepth    16
    SubSection "Display"
        Depth    16
        Modes     "1280x720" "800x600"