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Running Fusion on Linux with AMD Graphics Drivers

Running Blackmagic Design’s Fusion compositing software on Linux requires GPU hardware accelerated OpenGL 4.5 and OpenCL drivers in order for the compositing software to work at its best with no errors.

Working in Fusion’s 3D Workspace

If the system you are running has an AMD graphics chip like an AMD Radeon HD 6000 series graphics card you have to be very specific with the exact Linux OS and version you install if you want things to work out of the box without giving you lots of headaches. If your AMD graphics card was made prior to 2015 your best Linux OS choice is to go with the Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS version to have a ready to go version of the classic “AMD Catalyst” video drivers pre-installed.

As a bonus note, you can also get a MacBookPro 2015 laptop that has the Radeon R9 M370X GPU running Linux + Fusion with the same Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS version.

If you don’t like Ubuntu then your only other possible Linux OS option with functional AMD Catalyst support would be to try and get Arch Linux to work but that is simply too much work to pull off for most artists who are using Linux casually.

Legacy Linux Graphics Driver Tip:

Before we begin we need to go over a simple ground rule: Never ever ever ever apply a Linux update that will modify the video drivers if you value having working OpenGL based hardware viewports or OpenCL on a discontinued/legacy AMD graphics card!!!!

Also, don’t even think about installing Ubuntu 16 as your legacy AMD graphics card will only work in a software rendered OpenGL mode and you will loose hardware accelerated graphics support.

Graphics Driver Version Check

System Settings

The easiest way to look at the current GPU graphics driver information on Ubuntu is to open the System Settings window.

Then click on the “Details” button which has a gear wheel icon.

If you are running Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS and have working AMD Radeon HD graphics your Details preferences panel will look something like this:

If you are running Ubuntu 14.04.4 LTS and have upgraded past the default version and are running with OpenGL software rendering only MESA “Gallium” graphics drivers, your Details preferences panel will look like this:

If you are using the software OpenGL rendering based Gallium graphics drivers, the easiest fix is to do a default re-install of the OS and then skip updating anything at all.

glxinfo

You can check the video drivers are working with the glxinfo program by scrolling down to the OpenGL version line:

$ glxinfo

OpenGL version string: 4.5.13399 Compatibility Profile Context 15.201.1151

glxgears

Once you have completed a fresh install of Ubuntu 14.04.4 with the AMD proprietary graphics drivers active, the glxgears app can be used to show if you are getting hardware acceleration at 1000 fps+, or a locked 24 or 60 fps rate with software rendered OpenGL with the MESA fallback video drivers.

When the AMD Catalyst driver is at its default state (that has V-Sync turned off) you will get one of the two results:

glxgears with OpenGL Hardware Rendering

If you see performance in glxgears like this then your AMD GPU is working correctly with hardware based OpenGL rendering:

12424 frames in 5.0 seconds = 2484.768 FPS

glxgears with MESA Software Rendering

If you see performance in glxgears like this then your AMD GPU is not working correctly and you are on the MESA based software OpenGL rendering fallback mode:

303 frames in 5.0 seconds = 60.425 FPS