[UFO Chicago] Debian X11 problems

Paul Suda paul@manufaxure.com
Tue, 10 Jul 2001 21:05:23 -0500

On 2001.07.10 17:47:38 -0500 Sam Phillips wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 10, 2001 at 05:10:56PM -0500, Paul Suda wrote:
> > PPS. What do you debian veterans use to configure X? 
> I use XF86Setup usually with no problems.  What in particular did you
> have to hand tune?

First of all: I have installed Debian 2.2 Potato and have not done any
updates other than to get the stable Mesa GL developers package and
libraries using dselect. I have performed this install on two machines at
home. It has been recommended to me that I upgrade to the unstable releases
of some of the packages, I plan to do this with one of the machines soon. I
have not done this yet because I wanted to have "typical" debian systems
because I'm using them to test the software which I'm developing.

One of the installs was on a Compaq laptop (200mhz Pentium MMX, 32MB RAM,
NeoMagic video). I know that the card is supported with the SVGA server, I
have another partition with SuSE 7.2 on it and it detected the card and
setup the X server and XF86config for it just fine. Note that Suse has a
newer version of X11, and copying the config file over didn't work. In
debian I used XF86Setup, chose my card from the list, and was unable to get
anything other than garbage using the NeoMagic drivers. So, I restarted
XF86Setup and configured the SVGA server with the "Unsupported VGA" generic
support. Which worked fine when I tested it in XF86Setup. But then when I
tried to start xdm or startx from the console command line, it would fail.
The error messages indicated that now my monitor description did not have a
hsync in the range needed by the resolution I had requested. So, I edited
the range for the monitor by hand to include the frequency the, then it

The other install was on my desktop (1GHz athlon, 256MB, Geforce 2 MX
video). The video chipset was not supported with this version of the SVGA
server, so I chose the "Unsupported VGA" option in XF86Setup. I tried a few
of the pre-defined monitor frequency configurations, and got this to work
when XF86Config tests the configuration. So I told it to save the
XF86config file, and verified that it did. Then I had the same thing with
the frequencies as on the laptop. I had to hand edit the file to change the
horizontal frequency of my monitor to allow the resolution I wanted.

I guess my main complaint against XF86Config under Debian was that when it
tested my configuration, things worked fine. Then when I acutally used the
configuration it failed. This is no big deal, Debian in general seems
geared more towards those who prefer to edit files rather than use
configuration tools. And using XF86Config did help me get a good XF86config
to start out with. 

Generally, I don't really mind config file editing. But I've really come to
appreciate a good X configuration tool. Especially since when I don't have
one, for me, configuring X is the hardest and most labor intensive part of
a typical linux install.

I'll try to post a follow up to this when I do some updates and get to try
a newer X server on one of the machines. Maybe then I'll write up a little
Suse vs. Debian comparison of my experiences too, if anyone is interested.