How to Install the Latest AMDGPU-PRO Drivers on Ubuntu

Install AMDGPU-PRO on Ubuntu Linux

AMDGPU-PRO is AMD’s proprietary driver for its latest graphics cards. That means that it mainly covers the Polaris cards, the RX 4XX series and the RX 5XX series. It does work with older cards too, but they won’t see as much continual improvement and development.

Like its name suggests, AMDGPU-PRO is intended for professional use. Don’t worry. You can absolutely game with these drivers. AMD branded them for workstation users. As a result, AMD only releases the AMDGPU-PRO drivers for long-term support (LTS) releases and “Enterprise” distributions. For Ubuntu this means that you can only install these drivers on the latest LTS release. In this case, it’s 16.04.2.

Running an LTS release has some drawbacks. For starters, you won’t get the latest releases of new software on your system. You will get security fixes and some backports. You can get around a lot of these constraints in other ways, like importing applications such as Firefox from other releases, but it can be a pain to do so.

If you don’t want to run the LTS release or you already aren’t, you can always install the open-source AMDGPU drivers. In the latest releases of Ubuntu, they may even work out of the box, depending on your card. The open-source drivers don’t get all the new features of the proprietary ones, though, and are lacking in Vulkan support.

So you’ve chosen the Pro drivers. How do you get them? Since these drivers are AMD’s territory, they aren’t available in the Ubuntu repositories. You have to go to AMD’s website to download them.

Download AMDGPU-PRO from AMD

Open your browser and head over to the release notes on AMD’s website. Once you’re there, scroll down to the section that starts with, “The AMDGPU-Pro Driver can be downloaded…” The link for Ubuntu will be right below. Click it to download the drivers in a tar archive.

Navigate into your download folder and unpack the archive.

Your version number may be different depending on when you’re reading this, so make sure to use the right one.

Unpacking the archive will give you a folder with the same name. Change into the folder and get ready to install.

Once you’re in the folder, take a look around.

Packages that come with AMDGPU-PRO

There are a lot of .deb packages in there. AMDGPU-PRO is odd when it comes to proprietary drivers on Linux. In the past proprietary graphics drivers just contained some Linux kernel modules to interact directly with the kernel and the drivers themselves. This is still the way that NVIDIA does it.

AMD took a very different approach recently. All of AMD’s drivers are tightly integrated with the open-source software that makes graphical displays on Linux possible. There are a number of parts in that chain including the kernel itself, the Xorg Server, and direct rendering managers. AMDGPU-PRO is the open-source AMDGPU but with added bits that AMD doesn’t want to open-source yet.

Because AMD doesn’t want to open-source all of this code, they had to take over maintaining their own versions of the open-source packages that the drivers rely on to ensure that everything works well. That’s why there are so many packages with the driver. When you install the AMDGPU-PRO drivers, you are replacing the Ubuntu versions of your graphics packages with the AMD ones. They’re essentially the same, but this gives AMD a controlled environment to ensure that the drivers work perfectly.

Now for the simple part: AMD has included a convenient script to install everything for you in the folder. Just run the script with sudo.

Installing AMDGPU-PRO with a script

The script will run and install all of the packages that are required for your system. If you want it to ask you questions during the install, leave the “-y” off the end. That’s just there for convenience, and it’ll work fine most of the time.

When the script is done, restart your computer and enjoy your new drivers!

8 comments

  1. Hi Nick
    Could you help – I am not advanced,
    1.What kernel number should be for ubuntu16.04? (I tried put on my mint 4.8.036) and some others 4.4…
    but have a message ‘Wrong kernel version’ from install script.
    I also try it on Live ubuntu usb but installation stop in the middle.

    • Hi Serjio,

      You need to use the default kernel that comes with Ubuntu 16.04.2. That’s what the entire AMDGPU-PRO is based around, and it’s the reason it doesn’t work on other versions of Ubuntu.

      I hope that helps.

      • As a follow-up, to help others: I installed 17.30 on 16.04.2 successfully. But only when:
        1) I didn’t allow distribution upgrades. 16.04.3 breaks it.
        2) Had to do a non-eufi install. Eufi installs break when trying to build around kernel 4.10 (about half way through), but it installs correctly in a non-eufi mode and is using kernel 4.8. Tried several times on fresh installs to verify this.

  2. The AMD guys should learn from NVidia – the proprietary drivers from NVidia tend to install cleanly and painlessly under Linux; those of AMD rarely do so.

    • Actually, AMD’s open source driver strategy is starting to work very well. It’s just taking some time to mature.

  3. Hey I don’t know if this is the right place to put this but I need a little help. I’m running ubuntu mate 16.04 and I’m pretty sure I’ve got an r9 270. But I may have an r9 270x. And here lies my issue, I installed flrgx from amd’s website (I installed the newest ones). But then when I reset my machine doesn’t see 2 out of my 3 monitors. So I tried to revert this but that didn’t do anything so I went and installed this amdgpupro following the instructions to a t. Amd still no luck I an only get it to see 1 monitor. The whole reason I did this in the first place was to try and get some better performance out of sc2 running in wine, but now that doesn’t even work it’s saying I’ve got the wrong direct x. I’m thinking I may be better off just reinstalling ubuntu mate, but that’s what I always do with Linux and I’m sure there’s a better way than wiping and reinstalling.

    • Hi Alexander,

      Well, there is a difference between the old fglrx driver and AMDGPU-PRO. They are built entirely differently and support different cards. Your card should be supported by fglrx, but those aren’t maintained anymore. I’ve never tested AMDGPU-PRO with any of the 2XX series cards, so I’m not sure if they’re supported or how well.

      You can consider using the open source AMDGPU driver, which does support the 2XX series and has very similar performance to the Pro drivers. Plus, if you’re willing to use Wine with Gallium Nine, you can run SC2 with native DX9 support. Most games in Wine show a massive performance jump that way. You can find the PPA here: https://launchpad.net/~commendsarnex/+archive/ubuntu/winedri3.

      The only downside is that the open source drivers require new software versions. If you upgrade to Ubuntu 17.04, you should be set out of the box. Otherwise, you need >= Kernel 4.8, >= Mesa 13, and the AMDGPU drivers. It’s best to get the newest versions available, since the drivers are in constant development.

      I hope that helps.

      -Nick

  4. If you’re trying to wget or curl -O the driver from the ATI website, it doesn’t work because you get “file format not recognized” on the .xz file. The reason is because the file link is a bunch of html and JavaScript that redirects to the download in a browser. I had to find, install and learn lynx and press d to download it. Giant pain on server with cli only.

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