Best practice with AMD GPU on Ubuntu?

(Benedikt Steinle) #1

Hey guys!

I’m relatively new to Linux but plan on running my old xeon machine with a Radeon rx 580 on Ubuntu, switching from win 7 64 (because I hate it). I already have a partition with Manjaro Linux running, but all in all this distro is not all too user friendly for say to say work and not as widely supported for Blender work, so I parallel installed Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS last week.
As I knew from Manjaro, for gpu rendering one needs the Amd GPU pro driver with open CL running. So I installed the latest version from amd website. I think it’s 16.50 or so. Blender 2.8 recognizes the CL in prefs and I can select both CPU and GPU. But when I switch to render preview, the whole system freezes, leaving only the cursor movable and not even the keyboard reacts to input. Whe I uninstalled the amd gpu driver, I thought that Mesa would jump in again, but without that driver, the gui didn’t load and I had to reinstall it via command line.

Is there some kind of best practice for an AMD GPU setup on Ubuntu? Or what have I done wrong? Or is there even a properly working Mesa solution with open CL? I didn’t find anything.

I appreciate any help!

(Markus Mayer) #2

your problem is that 18.10 isn’t an LTS version of Ubuntu. AMDGPU-Pro is compatible with 18.04 which is the current LTS.
There are ways to make it run on 18.10 but since you are a beginner I advise to stay within supported spec.
And no, mesa doesn’t contain OpenCL.
If you want to fiddle more with Manjaro have a look in the migthy arch wiki. It’s not that hard to get OpenCL running.

Edit: I see you edited the version number.
Edit 2: Newest Version of AMDGPU is 18.50
Edit 3: Did you read the instructions that come with the driver? It contains two versions of OpenCL of which you have to choose the right one.

(Benedikt Steinle) #3

Hey Markus!
Thanks for the feedback!
Well… Unfortunately, my machine is out of reach atm, but I am pretty sure I chose the lts version. But will check that immediately tomorrow.
I read the instructions on the amd site and chose to install both variants with --opencl=pal,legacy
But let’s pause this conversation for a day and I Re-check that I installed the right version of Ubuntu tomorrow.
But nevertheless, thanks for pointing me in that direction! Maybe that was it already.
Thank you very much!

Edit: atm, manjaro is running pretty stable, also the driver. But in the beginning, I really had a hard time to find out how to connect my smb or afp server to the machine, with hfs+ USB devices not working at all (as I am exchanging files between the Linux machine and my Macbook frequently). With some help of the manjaro forum, I finally managed it, but with Ubuntu doing that out of the box and without the terminal, I feel for a beginner like me, Ubuntu is a bit more suitable. I am looking for a stable os setup for years and blender machines to come.

Edit 2: yeah, then I got 18.50 installed. Only downloaded it on Thursday.


IMO Debian based flavors of Linux are more user friendly than Arch based flavors. As the Arch Wiki states; Arch based flavors, you must be willing to invest time into learning a new system, and accept that Arch is designed as a ‘do-it-yourself’ distribution; it is the user who assembles the system. I was not in that mindset with my move 7 years ago. As I’m sure everybody does before installing a new OS on the drive; I use UNetBootin to create a Live CD (or Live USB) to give the OS a dry run and see if I like the taste of that flavor. By doing this, I can also see what drivers, etc. are recommended and research if they work well for me and my system. I’m currently running Linux Mint 18.1 Xfce and your post gave me a good thing to think about as I piece together a pc build for Blender 2.8 and 3D printing.

(Benedikt Steinle) #5

In the first place, Manjaro (the KDE version) seems pretty mature, but yes, I was kinda irritated when I learned that there is no real network drive mounting feature built in. And before, I tried to use the xfce version of manjaro, but that one had some serious glitches with my two monitor setup, both hooked up to the rx 580. Otherwise, the xfce gui really felt nice.

What are your experiences with mint?

(Markus Mayer) #6

That’s really based on the perspective. Ever tried to install a Ubuntu flavor without Grub or much of the bloat that comes with it? Let alone trying to setup using BTRFS. Arch is really the most userfriendly distro I encountered yet. It just has the prerequisite, that the user knows his way around Linux. It’s KISS principle is what empowers the user to do whatever he wants.

So userfriendlyness is top notch. It’s just not suitable for new Linux users.

But we shouldn’t drift into a distro war. I am fine with whatever does the job for anybody.

(Benedikt Steinle) #7

I get that. But that rather supports my perception that aech Linux isn’t perfect for people starting out with Linux, right?

Other question: how far away from Ubuntu is Mint? Is it just the gui (which seems way more contemporary than the one of Ubuntu) or are the differences also big under the hood? The installation process with grub was pretty simple on both manjaro and Ubuntu. That being said, I have been working solely with with OS X for 15 years now. Say what you want, but the OS X gui and user experience is still one of the best.

(Markus Mayer) #8

Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu. It’s mostly the looks and that it is maintained by the community rather than Canonical. But you won’t need to learn anything new compared to Ubuntu. Same package management, repos, everything…

And yes, that’s what I meant. Arch isn’t a good fit for new Linux users. While one can do it with enough dedication. It will take a while to get up and running.

But then Manjaro isn’t really the Arch way and I tend to think, that it just introduces another unnecessary level of abstraction. But then again everyone’s different and should use what suits him.

(Benedikt Steinle) #9

Yeah, I feel a bit tricked by the nice gui, having to learn that it isn’t that easy to use mj afterwards.

But concerning mint: is then the lts version directly tied to the Ubuntu lts version, but only with a nicer gui and community support? If so, I think I should give this a try :slight_smile:

(Markus Mayer) #10

They are not exactly tied. What you want is a 19 release. Go to the downloads page and make sure the release is based on Bionic Beaver (Ubuntu 18.04)
If you like KDE that much than just install it.

sudo apt install tasksel
sudo tasksel install kubuntu-desktop

that’s the easiest way. After a logout you can start a kde session at the greeter.
Or install Kubuntu.


I’ve enjoyed Mint. It’s installed on a computer that I purchased in 2008 and only replaced the hard drive. Upon recommendation from a more knowledgeable source than myself, Xfce was a good choice as it was not too resource heavy. It’s been great as a basic computer (web browsing, spreadsheets and some photo editing).

As I bounce between Linux at home and Windows 7 at work, I have Mint setup to mimic some of how Windows look. I tried to do this with Ubuntu a few years back and, personally, I was unsuccessful. Keep in mind I’m more of a novice than a programmer and this is based upon my experience level.

(Markus Mayer) #12

Just so that you get the whole picture. I also used Mint for a few years before switching to Arch with a short stop at Budgie (Which you should check out if you want a slick looking system). I mostly used Openbox and do so still because it doesn’t get in my way. Neither optically nor performance wise.


Very true. When I moved to Mint, it does have some bloatware, which was easy to remove. As I did not, and still don’t :frowning: possess the nice prerequisites of knowing my way around Linux, Debian has been my personal choice. I have much appreciation for the individuals who do have these skills and can guide me with my current skill level.

(Markus Mayer) #14

My migration to Arch wasn’t instant. I had it installed alongside Mint and learned all that I needed there. I won’t hide that I probably reinstalled it ten times or more in the first 2 months. It demands quite a amount of discipline. Best is to install just the base system and learn by reading a damn lot what is doing what on this poor ( read awesomely powerful) command line based installation you have there. Then read everything about anything you need to know about what you want to do with your system and add one component at a time. With time you will build a system that feels superior what are using for production now and you will switch for good.


I agree with chalybeum and not starting a distro war thread - What works for me doesn’t work for Hollywood or a programmer :stuck_out_tongue: As I researched flavors, I read reviews on the website. I had some familiarity with Kubuntu, so I preferred a derivative of Ubuntu to ease my move.

(Markus Mayer) #16

Funny your mentioning Hollywood. Most of them are using RHEL/ CentOS for it’s stability and I can see theyr point in that.
A little anecdote. I happen to have a Davinci Resolve Studio license and that is only supported on RHEL/ CentOS. At the same time I am on a Ryzen 7 1800x. Thanks to it’s ancient Kernel you can’t even start a RHEL/ CentOS installation on my machine. It’s relatively easy to get DRS to work on Ubuntu. That’s if you have a NVIDIA card. My VEGA won’t show clips in Fairlight. On Arch on the other hand I still haven’t any sound within DRS.
So you see, that not everything is golden.

I wonder how you would think about a tutorial series a la “Arch for creatives” on how to set up and maintain a multimedia/ productive Arch system. Something I have in mind for some time now.


also a funny incident that I really only made progress in my attempts to learn to program after I got the grips on Arch. It’s a very educational journey.

(Benedikt Steinle) #17

There’s actually two hearts beating in my breast. On the one hand I want to get stuff done creatively, on the other hand (heart) I’m always interested in learning new stuff, even though I never programmed anything since 5th grade (not counting a little bit PHP here and there), I am also interested in stuff happening in text editors and terminals. But I really would be interested in a thread telling everything about starting off a linux career with blender and others (did I mention that I really dig krita?). As always one thing leads to another, so imo there could be a second and third step in going deeper into Linux stuff (arch and so on), but everything needs to start somewhere.
What do you think?

(Markus Mayer) #18

Yes of course. It is absolutely the right decision to start with a Ubuntu derivative. Everything you can do in one of the more simple (read barebone) distros you can do there. For starters I’d advice you to stay away from file managers/ browsers as much as you can to get the hang of working in bash. Read about links, aliases and general shell scripting to get a feel for the real power of Linux.
Everything else you can still do in the GUI. I think it will all come naturally and you will feel the urge to take more ownership of your system when the time comes for you. Now we first have to make sure you can use Ubuntu to fulfill your creative wishes. Let us know how it’s working out with your drivers when you are back at the machine. We will get you there.


If you do make a tutorial series, please pm me with a link. I’m currently starting to research an OS for my build (obviously, favoring Mint due to my history.) MSI Mobo, Ryzen 5 2600 (upgrade later to mataintain cost), Corsair memory and power, video card - TBD.

You mentioned CentOS which has always sparked some interest. Never tried it in a live environment… I think you may have just sparked my interest for this weekend :grinning:

(Markus Mayer) #20

As I said. It won’t run on a Ryzen. The Kernel of CentOS doesn’t have the needed modules. Of course you can bootstrap a CentOS from another distro and then update the Kernel but I personally don’t think it’s worth the trouble and would most likely introduce a plethora of other problems.

Maybe a series like that doesn’t have to be that Arch specific most of the procedures are distro agnostic. If we don’t count the package manager specific commands. I’m going to make some plans and make sure you will know…