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starting with X

dear folk,

i have had the weirdest luck with X, kde, what have you.  to wit:

performing a network install in dec 2003 was astonishingly easy.  since then, i
have had nothing but hairpulling and cursing trying to get anything other than a
command line prompt.  google has provided nothing but false leads.  local
library and bookstores have linux books exclusively for x86 architecture.

here's my situation:
ordinarily, typing in startx or xf86cfg (or any of their ilk) causes my screen
to flash four times and come back with a cryptic error message along the lines
of "error connecting to server...  explicit kill or shutdown".

last week, i decided to try "apt-get install apache" as part of a perl course. 
smooth, good, easy, (no, I'm not sure why I didn't choose apache in tasksel the
first time through).  out of habit, i suppose, i restarted.  imagine my surprise
to find myself with a GUI login to a kde desktop!  I was in heaven for about a
day, apache near forgotten, until I logged out and tried to log back in again as
root (yes, i know, 'su' is better).  my keyboard and mouse had no effect on the
login screen.  I muttered #!2e%*******, and performed a hard power cycle.  GUI
gone.  back to CLI.  apache works nicely, though configuring it for perl is
going to require a _lot_ of research from the looks of it.

why should installing apache cause kde to work correctly for one login?

i decided to re-install onto a wiped hard drive and keep a log of EVERY
decision, action, potentially relevant message.  much faster the second time
around, but still no graphical environment.

does anyone know how to get kde up and running on a 7600 (g3 upgrade card) ?

hopeful that others in similar boats will be able to offer guidance or moral support...


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