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Re: X makes freeze (was your mail)

On Sat, Apr 20, 2002 at 10:30:43AM -0400, Dutch wrote:
> Well, what Ive got is really 2 problems.
> 1. It will freeze 
> 2. I am having a horrible time getting X to work at all.
> As far as X, I got the latest from XFree86.org and ran the install script
> - all went well (no errors reported).  Now it seems XF86config is for v3
> and XF86config-4 is the config file for v4. 

This is true.

> I dont know what "startx"
> tries to run, 

startx is a shell script.  Its job is to set the environment and tell X
what apps to run besides the display server (by making sure it knows which
rc file to get the first-clients list from)

> so I deleted XF86config to be sure, leaving the v4 config file.
It doesn't "run" XF86Config of either variety though, the actual display 
server (the binary named or symlinked to "X") uses it for information. And,
it's quite unhappy if the correct one is missing.

Also it is *not* harmful to have both varieties of config file, and even both
flavors of X, on your system.  My desktop does; for compatibility with roving
monitors it can be rather handy.  (My desktop doesn't roam as much as my 
laptop, but my laptop has the pleasant distinction of a wide enough refresh
range to head down into LCD-bits land as well as up into 1024x768-external 
realms.  So I haven't needed to say, switch from SVGA to framebuffer to make
some stupid device happy there.)

> I've even copied the XF86config-4 file from successful people at Linux on
> Laptops wiht my exact laptop and debian. No luck. 

Just to refresh me, are you able to get into X with the checkered screen and
a loose mouse cursor only, or are you completely unable to get into X?

If the former, then *X* works -- but, the sequence by which you are launching
it (*dm or startx or ...? ) is telling it something stupid.  Such as "eh, I
got no window manager, fake it y'rself, hahaha!"  what is the link for 

If the latter then, if you're using a dm (gui login app) you *must* turn that 
off.  Even if you have to apt-get remove gdm  (or whichever it is) to get it 
to shut the heck up while you fix X.  When you run X alone (purely by typing
X) you should get a stipple backdrop and a working mouse and, pretty much 
nada else -- you can use ctrl-alt-backspace to zap the display server and 
exit.  When you run startx it should set up the environment, and get your wm 
whatever it is.  If in either case X just dies on you, then you should see 
the last few lines of X's probing and setup logic, and maybe even a real 
error message ("can't find font fixed" or "no screens found" or something 
like that)

> I think when people tell
> me soemthing, they must be assuming I've done something else. They'll tell
> me, all I need to do to get it to work is switch "ati" for "vesa" and when
> I look at the XF86config-4 file I see several places. So I Switch every
> occurance and of course it doesnt work. I just dont know.

Hmm, maybe it would help if the section names made sense to you.

	is really kinda obvious, that's where it should look for loose
	extra bits

	(X3) the mouse :>

	(X3) weird input devices that need extra support, e.g. a wacom tablet.

	both Pointer and Input stuff, in X4.

	Many mousies which used to need exotic add-ons are set up much more
	simply now, or subsumed into basic stuff; e.g. my desktop system's
	USB Graphire2 Wacom tablet, acts better under the plain ps/2 mouse 
	driver (including the absolutism of the pen) than using a distro-
	suggested graphire setup in this section. 

	in case you feel like tweaking keys layout, int'l stuff, etc

	about the actual monitor.  you can have a huge stack of these
	as far as X cares, just so long as each has a dif't "Identifier"
		Identifier	"Living Room at Home" 

	This Identifier gets referred to later.  Anyways this is one possible
	section to put optimized modelines in.  It's harder than it used to
	be, to cook up optimized modelines though.

	(x4 only) modelines can be put in here for general use.  These are
	shared by all circumstances where a screen layout section tells 'em
	to go.  It doesn't have to exist though -- X4 will make up modelines
	based on VESA industry standard suggestions.

	The actual video card
	This is where you would tweak the Driver keyword
	and maybe also exotic options like clocks or videoram.

	you'll be sorry if you don't have this, it's the part important to
	-us- ... what display depth to start at, what -visible- modes to use.
	e.g. 1024x768.

	(only in X4) some side notes about X itself, and which of many possible
	mice and screen sections to use.
> > 1.  kernel driver and real hardware don't agree on something
> > 2.  kernel driver and userland utilities don't agree on something
> > 3.  kernel threads do something stupid, cause an important
> >     resource to go hungry.  (swap, spinlocks, whatever) 
> Im considering that but dont really know where to begin on those...
> >       video cards can occasionally cause serious headaches.
> oh I know it!
> > That is fine (sort of).  X works.  You got no window manager.  *something*
> > is session manager though, or X would bail.  I get this from just running
> I did get windowmaker and it -seemed- to install ok.
> > 	startx
> gives me errors, but xf86cfg is what brings up the mysterious-almost-X
> session
Oh, because it tries to test the X after it configures it.  I think you were
supposed to see a TCL dialog saying "hey, can you see this, do you wanna save
the config?"  ... or maybe that's XF86Setup  :D
	The most common cause for not really seeing that dialog is it 
	being around, but someplace "off screen" from your view, e.g. centered
	on a 1024x768 screen or worse 1280x1024, when you only got to see
	the 640x480 top-left portion of the view.

> > If it's staying at the checkered screen that's not a hang, it's just doing 
> > as it thinks it was told.   The real test though is, if you move the mouse,
> > does the X move?
> no! even checked XF86config-4 that is was /dev/psaux
Ok, if the mousie doesn't move then it's almost certainly got a wrong port
or wrong driver, and you just checked the port.

Could -maybe- be IRQ conflict, that's pretty darn rare on a laptop though!
(since we don't just go adding and subtracting parts)

> > hit ctrl-alt-backspace to "correctly" exit out of a unadorned X session.
> > if X restarts in the same way, it's your display manager (gdm, kdm, xdm, 
> > wdm or something like that) that is broken, not X.
> yes,I can break out that way and beack to the text-only console.
> > You mean you are at a GUI login and when it gets bored it goes "plain boring
> > X" on you?  I've never seen that, but, if you mention which dm you use I can
> > guess which file to poke around in.  (approximately: 
> > 	/etc/X11/(name of dm)/(some text file it uses for config)
> > 	)
> no, I never get GUI. 
okay, that's good to know

try running "startx" and when it bails or you make it zap, look at (in your 
home directory) .X.err

This textfile contains the capture of text messages the actual X binary wants
to say on the controlling terminal.

> > apt-get *update* as in just go get names from the servers?
> > or *upgrade* as in bring me up to date but don't work too hard at it?
> both, just saying it'll freeze any old time.

If you're living at a commandline mostly and apt-get update makes you freeze
up, that is *not* an X issue.   Do you have built in ethernet, or a card?

Ethernet does use IRQs...

The pcmcia setup can be told which IRQs to keep its grubby paws away from;
usually it is good about not stomping, but, the /etc/pcmcia/config.opts
has that.  I've often had to tell it to evade somebody's sound card IRQs.
> > If the latter, try
> > 	apt-get dist-upgrade

In your situation I would *not* try this.

More like, once I can get a clean run of apt-get update, I'd make *certain*
I have lots of room in /var/cache/apt/archives ... even if I have to symlink
to /usr/ or something... then:
	apt-get -d dist-upgrade

Which says, download only, don't do it yet!

This way you can do it as many times as necessary to get the parts... but
I do recommend a fast link, we don't want to take so long that the servers
get a new batch of files and make your update out of data again.

then, and only then, disconnect from the net, and run apt-get dist-upgrade
so it'll use the stuff in its cache.

Failing space for it (many of us don't change our hard disk either, though
I do)  I take the "pools" approach more literally than our developers do, and
I update a few things at a time:

	the package manager system itself
		apt-get install debconf
		apt-get install dpkg
		apt-get install apt
		apt-get install aptitude

My 'tude about aptitude varies, I was really fond of a very old rev of console
apt "apt-find" ... but aptitude exists in all the modern variants of debian so
this is a safe way to pick up an ncurses/textmenu interface so you can pick 
and choose your packages more sanely rather than needing to be a telepath or
something to learn package names :D

Inside aptitude, capital I on an item is the same as marking *only it* for
install, then you can use + to mark a few others to go with it if you want.

	perl and the really incredibly basics.
		apt-get install alien

since alien is a perl script kept up to date for reading rpms and slackware
tgz packages, and perl is deeply parked into everything, this tends to get
a reasonable base of stuff

	pcmcia and other hotplug stuff - laptop basics
for instance wireless-tools or irda...

	X and its idea of basics
which at minimum has to be some fonts, and x server.  I think there is a 
task- package to help this.  You want to definitely have a window manager

	I build my own kernels
My opinion on this has gone in print in 50 countries (or so) ... once you're
messing with things well enough to know what all your hardware is, at this
intermediate level you should no longer use stock kernels, they waste time
during bootup looking for crap like microchannel and server-room RAID, and 
the kit kernels are just plain *always* behind the curve.  Even in debian.

I normally use plain sources from www.kernel.org, but there are debian 
mechanisms for rolling your own too.

with these things tweak everything til it's okay, and make a tarball of your
/etc directory in case anything else decides to make a mess.

Then it's safe to dist-upgrade since pretty much the rest is userland apps
and not so dangerous when they get weird.

Given your description now I think I'd probably try

   A. checking the pcmcia options to see if one of my IRQs is being squished
   B. updating both kernel and pcmcia stuff from upstream source
   C. not mucking with X until I get the netcard stable enough to finish 
	interesting tasks like apt-get update.
   D. if the net stuff is a pcmcia card, try the card in another box (maybe
	a friend's) and see if it acts just as weird and flaky there.  I just
	had to toss out a d-link I'd been using for years because it went 
	south... in a way that made it look that the ide controller had lost
	its cookies, death for a laptop.  (It was hotbooting the machine and
	if it was stuck inside, then the system was stuck hotbooting. ugly.)

Good luck.  I've recopied the list;  the point of having the list is for us
to all be able to share the answers.

* Heather Stern * star@ many places...

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