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Tentative summary of the AMD/ATI/NVidia issue (was: Finding a tentative bullseye release date)

On 24/04/21 at 09:25 +0200, Holger Wansing wrote:
> Hi,
> Cyril Brulebois <kibi@debian.org> wrote (Fri, 23 Apr 2021 15:13:15 +0200):
> > D-I Bullseye RC 1 was published a few hours ago. And at the risk of
> > sounding like a broken record: I have *absolutely no guarantee* to
> > have a fix or workaround for the amdgpu issue in less than a month,
> > that would be tested somewhat.
> > 
> > Can we please *not* release with black screens for AMD users?
> Moreover, it's not just an AMD issue.
> We got a confirmation just now on debian-boot, that also NVIDIA users can
> get affected by this:
> https://lists.debian.org/debian-boot/2021/04/msg00225.html
> Some months ago, I have confirmed with that user, that missing firmware
> is indeed the issue there!


Disclaimer: I read the "[AMD/ATI graphics] Missing firmware not declared
/ kernel modules not included in initrd" thread. While my understanding
of the issue is not complete, I'm trying to summarize what I undertood
so far in the hope that others can jump in and fill in the blanks or
correct me.

There are graphic cards whose in-kernel drivers require non-free
firmwares. Typically AMD/ATI cards that require firmware-amd-graphics[1]
to work with the radeon, amdgpu and r128 drivers; or NVIDIA cards that
require firmware-misc-nonfree to work with the nouveau driver.

[1] https://packages.debian.org/unstable/firmware-amd-graphics

With Debian 10, the behaviour was that the installation succeeded
without installing firmware-* packages, and then, and the first boot, X
would start in a "degraded" mode (using, for example, the vesa driver).
The user would generally then install the firmware package (or, in the
case of NVidia, switch to the proprietary drivers).

With Debian 11, the installation also succeeds, but then at first boot,
X fails to work correctly. What happens here is unclear: reports vary
between "black screen" (but does the system works if the user switches to
console mode?), "garbled screen", "system crash" (but maybe the user did
not notice that the system works in console mode).

It looks like the three open paths for resolution are:

A) understand and restore the behaviour from Debian 10, that is, get X
to work in a degraded mode after installation. How it worked with Debian
10 (and why it doesn't with Debian 11) is unknown.

B) In the installer, detect that firmware-amd-graphics or
firmware-misc-nonfree should be installed, and either install it (?),
or redirect the user to the unofficial installer that includes them.

C) Do nothing and document this in the release notes

The main blocking factor for progress seems to be that not enough people
have both hardware that is not supported (laptops/desktops with AMD or
NVidia graphic cards), and the knowledge and time to investigate this.


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