Getting proper OpenGL driver for older AMD(ex. ATI) graphics cards on Windows 8

I have a not so new laptop that features ATI Radeon HD 3650 Mobility graphics cards. Which is quite fine for the usual tasks. According to AMD website it features OpenGL 3.2 which is, again, good enough. Nothing spectacular but fine.

Lately I’ve upgraded it to a SSD disk and at the same time I did a fresh Windows 8 install (previously it was Windows 7). Everything worked out very well. The laptop is usable again and quite fast now. Yesterday I tried to experiment with MonoGame, an open source implementation of, now legacy, XNA Framework – the framework that was supposed to run everywhere but Microsoft ditched it for some reason. Anyway, I’ve tried to run a sample MonoGame application and immediately faced a problem. First it was throwing an exception that OpenAL.dll is missing. Odd. I’ve found a standalone installation for OpenAL but the I run into another, more descriptive problem, something like: can’t find entry point for ‘glBindFramebuffer’ in OpenGL32.dll. That basically says that I had a pre-OpenGL 2.0 installed (MonoGame uses OpenTK which in turn requires minimum 2.0 version of OpenGL). How is that possible?

From what I understand the situation is that AMD isn’t supporting the Radeon Mobility HD 3xxx with Windows 8 and hence it doesn’t provide OpenGL drivers. So everything falls back to Microsoft provided OpenGL 1.1. That is nicely shown using GPU Caps Viewer application. This is ever more surprising because we had proper OpenGL drivers for it under Windows 7. If it was a desktop machine I’d consider changing the graphics card but that’s just not possible on the laptop. And I wasn’t quite happy to buy a newer laptop just for that, even more so because my laptop is doing just fine.

The solution

The solution is to install the latest drivers for Windows 7 manually. It is actually quick, easy and it works. You’ll find the procedure in Make Your Old Graphics Drivers Work in Windows 8article on Lockergnome. The only differences from article are that just right clicking on INF file doesn’t work nor the INF file is named exactly like the one in the article – it has higher number, probably because it is a newer one. Instead of the right click->install, which didn’t work, I had to go to Computer->right click->Manage->Device Manager->Display adapters->ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650->right click->Properties->Driver->Update Driver->Browser my computer for driver software->Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer->Select proper INF file.

And voila – now I have OpenGL 3.3 support and MonoGame runs like a charm. Happy OpenGLing!

The long path of installing Windows Home Server 2011 under Hyper-V R2

Here is my experience of Windows Home Server 2011 aka Vail installation under Hyper-V R2 server (Core2 Duo E7600, 8GB RAM, 500GB RAID 1 and 3TB RAID5). What could have gone wrong it actually went but let’s go by steps.

  1. During file copy at the very beginning I was experiencing couldn’t copy file XY. Problem: corrupt ISO file I was using. Solution: re-download the file.
  2. The setup make it further but I started experiencing random reboots and BSODs during install, this time it was happening soon after initial files copy finished. On the bright side I caught few of them and they were mostly mentioning memory corruption. Time for memtest86+ and for RAM test. It turned out that one of four Patriot DDR2 2GB CAS6 memory sticks was bad. Solution: Throw out the problematic stick and run the server with three sticks. Also donated to memtest86+, well deserved.
  3. Memory issues were still present during setup. Argh.  Solution: Throw out the third memory stick (they like to work in pair it seems and a pair and a third wheel obviously isn’t something one should use) and replaced it with two older 1GB sticks I had collecting dust.
  4. I’ve made it to the step when setup says “Waiting for installation to continue” and shows a marquee progress bar. Except it didn’t finish. Ever. Now what. After peeking into log files located at C:\Users\All Users\Microsoft\Windows Server\Logs I’ve more or less soon understood that it has something to do with the “waiting for a web page to show”. After more digging I’ve found out that there were problems connecting to the internet and the internal web page wasn’t showing. Problem: the network card didn’t get an address from my DHCP for some reason. Solution: I’ve set a fixed IP and DNS records.
    Hint: Type Ctrl+Alt+End to simulate Ctrl+Alt+Del from Hyper-V client. Pick Start Task Manager and File/Run. Run explorer.exe and you can browse around the file system.

It took me a couple of days to make it through but at least I did it. Hura. It took me that much because I was installing on a 1TB VHD disk on a RAID5 array and setup takes time each retry.

So, that’s it. Now it looks fine.