[ubuntu-us-ma] "Video Killed the Radio Star..."

Doc Kinne kinnerc at gmail.com
Wed May 6 15:33:18 BST 2009

Hi Guys:

Boy, that subject line really dates me, doesn't it?  :-)

I have to say that 9.04 is batting 0 for me at this point. I tried to  
upgrade my Xubuntu installation on my Dell Inspiron 7000 laptop and it  
would not boot up. Mike rolled his eyes at an "upgrade," and there is  
part of me that understands that. I re-installed 8.10 on it and its  
working as well as it ever did with Xubuntu. My next step there will  
be to install 9.04 and see if that makes a difference.

But that's a back-burner project to be honest. This particular email  
is about Ubuntu 9.04 on a desktop.

The desktop is an HP Vectra 550MHz PIII, 0.5GB RAM, an onboard VGA  
video port. It was, until last night, blissfully running Fedora 10. I  
decided to try to but Ubuntu 9.04 on it.

The install seemed to go as I expected it to with no problems.  
However, when the machine rebooted the video no longer worked.

The machine would boot up and give the "Ubuntu" logo with the "moving  
underline" indicating boot up progress. 90% the way through that line  
the monitor would ker-chunk as it tried to move to a different  
resolution (at least I think thats what its doing. It sounds like  
there are some heavy relays moving, and moving those relays is usual  
behavior for this particular Envision monitor). What gdm was doing was  
trying to find a resolution and scan rate that made sense to it. It  
would never find it and it would finally give up and throw up a dialog  
box saying that Ubuntu was in "Low Graphics Mode" and offer ways to  
debug the situation.

Going into console mode I checked /etc/X11/xorg.conf and found it  
either empty or having nothing of substance in it. Looking at the logs  
is how I found out that gdm was unsuccessfully trying to find a proper  
resolution and scan rate.

• I tried running "xrandr" but it consistently said it could not open  
the display.

• I tried reinstalling gdm. It would reinstall with no problem. The  
only question regarding the display it would ask me would be if I  
wanted to use the frame rate buffer or not. I tried both "yes" and  
"no" with no effect.

• I tried dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg, but that just seemed  
to give me a xorg.conf with basically empty entries in it.

• At one point, when I had killed the gdm process I just invoked  
"startx" from the console. And it came up! I thought I was getting  
somewhere. I went to the Display control panel and it said the monitor  
resolution was 800x600 with a 60Hz signal. OK, it wasn't the 1024x768  
that I was used to, but it worked. I applied the changes, and it  
seemed to take it. However upon rebooting the display no longer worked.

• I tried hand editing xorg.conf putting in a display resolution of  
800x600 and a driver of vesa (since in the logs it looked like it was  
trying to use that driver), but that didn't work either.

Any thoughts from you guys? I'm stumped at this point. I've not had a  
problem like this since the late 90s. It really confuses me that gdm  
cannot find a good resolution, but startx tries twice and does it. But  
I can't get those parameters to stick via the Display Control Panel.

The only thing *I* can think of right now is to try to install 8.04 or  
8.10 and see if I have better luck there.
Richard "Doc" Kinne • Rikardo «Dokĉjo» KINNE, BA, MSc., AMAAS
<kinnerc @ gmail.com>
"I'm the Doctor, and you're in the biggest library in the universe.  
Look me up!"
- The Doctor
"Forests of the Dead," Doctor Who

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