Linux Step By Steps
Framebuffer with ATI Rage128 video cards
Submitted by Bill Davidson

This step outlines the steps I took to setup a framebuffer console using the atyfb kernel driver on a 2.6 kernel. This is the driver you use for ATI Rage128 based video cards. Older kernels probably work similarly, but the steps are slightly different.

For those that don't know what a framebuffer device is: it's an abstraction layer for the graphics hardware. It allows software to access the graphics hardware through a standard interface without knowing about the underlying video card. It also allows you to change the resolution of your console. I get 128 columns and 48 lines.

The steps:
  1. You may need to recompile your kernel to get this to work. Here's what I compiled into the kernel:
    Graphics Support --->
      * Support for framebuffer devices
      * ATI Rage128 display support
      Console display driver support --->
        * Video mode selection support
        * Framebuffer console support

    Note: If you don't enable framebuffer console support, you'll get a blank screen when you boot up.

  2. Next I edited my grub.conf and added the following kernel entry:
    kernel /vmlinuz-new root=/dev/hde6 video=aty128fb:1024x768-16@70

    For those using lilo add this to your image section:

    Now for an explanation. aty128fb identifies the framebuffer driver. 1024x768 is the resolution. 16 is the colour depth. 70 signifies the refresh rate. I had to tinker with the refresh rate to find something suitable. Feel free to do the same.

  3. And that's it. All that's left to do is reboot your system and let your changes take effect. However, if you already had framebuffer support in your running kernel, you can skip this test if you use the fbset program. I won't describe how to use it because I couldn't get it to do what I wanted. I will say however, that it can render you virtual terminal useless until you reboot. Trust me on that one. :)
Further reading: For more information see the following: