I have friends who have Radeons. My second
OS (BeOS) is supposedly beta testing Radeon
GL drivers. And I’m selling my RT2000 video
editing suite, which means the requirement
for a Matrox G400 goes away. What better time
to get a Radeon All-in-Wonder 32MB DDR?
First, I tried getting it mail order. Most
places, it was out of stock, but buy.com
was showing it as available. They even sent
an acknowledgement e-mail. However, the card
is now out of stock at their place, and my
order is “on hold in the warehouse”. So I
went out and picked one up at the local
Ripping out my old card, de-installing the
drivers, sticking in the Radeon, letting
Windows install the VGA drivers. Load the
drivers and tools from the supplied CD. So
far, so good. Screen looks nice, too.
Trying to start a game.
Oh, joy. A compatibility issue! This game has
just been patched, and has been mumbling
about new DirectX issues in the release
notes, so I three-finger salute my machine
and get back to the desktop. Okay, let’s try
DXDiag. Press the Test Direct3D button.
Okay, I fire up my current OpenGL project.
Hey, I do more error checking that those
choads down in San Diego! Or maybe just
DirectX doesn’t give enough error info back.
Okay, let’s go to the ATI web site and look
for drivers. Look! there’s a line of people
who have issues with “seeing a black screen.”
Sounds like me. I’ll download the newer
version of the driver, from the “tested and
Download. Unpack. Run. Reboot.
Wait! I didn’t even try to start a game yet!
Umm… how am I supposed to back out of this?
I re-start in safe mode, and try to run the
ATI Display Driver uninstall program. Too bad
Safe Mode won’t let you run installers or
Okay, so I remove the Radeon entry in Display
properties and re-boot.
“PCI VGA device detected” – yeah, I know.
I want 16 color graphics in 640x480 so I can
surf on over and get the latest beta drivers,
curiously prominent on the Radeon support
“Ah, this is a Radeon! Please insert the ATI
Radeon Install Disk.” – Damn those new-
fangled WDM INF files that actually makes
Windows recognize devices after you uninstall
them. Okay, I put in the CD.
“The CD was not found; please insert the
After a little searching, I realize that the
INF file they installed must have been for
some other CD, as my CD doesn’t have the name
(nor path) that the machine is asking me for.
OK, so I Cancel this file.
And the next.
And the next.
for (i=0; i<254; i++)
puts(“And the next.”);
It appears that they’re shipping one version
of each file for each language recognized by
the United Nations, and a few extra dialects
of Swahili for good measure. I may have a
case against ATI for repetetive streass
Anyway, I got through all that, and the
machine happily reboots, not having actually
installed anything. Windows logo… loading…
DAMN THE MACHINE!
I re-boot into “Safe Mode with Network
Support” to go online and download the next
version of the driver, an “unsupported” beta
which curiously was prominently featured on
their Radeon support page.
“Safe Mode with Network Support” does not,
actually, let you use the network, because
it will still disable your network adapter.
Silly me.I should have known better than to
Thinking hard, I remember I have an ancient
PCI Rage Pro in a closet. Ripping out the
Radeon, and sticking that card in, I again
have a working desktop, only two reboots
Okay, on to the web, download beta drivers,
unpack, and install.
“This machine appears to be incompatible with
this version of the ATI drivers.”
Okay, try running the ATI Display Driver
uninstaller again, which didn’t work in safe
“Unable to uninstall unknown or older version
of ATI drivers.”
I’m trembling by now. “I don’t want you to
uninstall my current display driver, I want
you to uninstall the display driver you
installed in the first place, you dumb piece
of code!” Did I say that out loud? Looking
around, I see I haven’t woken up my wife.
Okay, what if I remove the Radeon, and let
the INF auto-detector point at the unzipped
updated driver, rather than the CD that it
can’t find? Worth a shot.
Oh, no. That file doesn’t actually exist with
that name in the unzipped driver install.
It’s probably part of some .CAB or .___ or
God knows what else. Now I have to press the
cancel button 257 times again.
Yeah, well, what do you expect? Still the
same driver, of course I get the same result.
So I bring out the heavy artillery. I delete
every file named “ati*.*” from my windows
system folders (inf, system, drivers,
system32, you name it). “Hah!,” I think
loudly to myself. “Take that!”
Indeed, I do get a reboot which goes into
16-color mode. Only to display the “Please
insert the ATI Radeon Install Disk” alert.
What!? I nuked your INF files! I neutered
you! Why do you keep coming back!?
Luckily, I paid for this card with VISA.
After sucking up four hours of my life, it
is going back to the store tomorrow morning.
Now, what do I do? My favourite OS will not
have GeForce GL drivers, according to
reliable rumors. And while it will have
Voodoo drivers, those do not support HT&L,
and the voodoo series lost its cache soon
after version 3 came out. Heck, I’m still
using dual voodoo 2’s in one machine, and a
3 in anoter, and can’t tell them apart.
And if I ever stick another Radeon in my
machine, it will go black again, unless I
totally tear apart the machine and re-build
the hard disk from scratch.
I’m going into carpentry or something. This
computer thing is looking more and more
depressing every year that goes by.
PS, for completeness:
This machine is running Win98 SE on a Tyan
Thunder 400 motherboard (Via Apollo Pro 133E)
with AGP 4x enabled; a P-III 733 and 256 MB
or RAM. Running the latest drivers for all
the other components (mobo, sound, net etc).