Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sometimes I just can't function

Dear Lazyweb: I have a mystifying Linux problem.

To begin the tale, I've been running Mandriva Linux on my laptop since last October with considerable satisfaction; I use KDE and the Metisse 3D window manager. However, I had to disable the ACPI power management support to get the thing working; eventually I grew tired of this and decided to sort it. Research suggested that the solution might be to update the BIOS; a check showed my machine was running version 4 and the current one was version 11. So I booted in Windows, got the new firmware, reflashed, and rebooted in Linux; and the ACPI CPU tuning, suspend-to-RAM, and suspend-to-disk began working. But later that night I had a crisis - the thing will not boot with ACPI enabled from the Mandriva console, and the KDE desktop wouldn't start.

Eventually I was able to uninstall the whole KDE and reinstall it, which got us working. But the Metisse desktop doesn't work; enable it, and the X server crashes on login. Trying to startkde from a command line gives what appears to be a common error, "$DISPLAY not set". Without Metisse, either no 3D or Compiz works; setting ACPI=ON at the kernel switch allows some but not all functions to work (still no brightness control, but CPU tuning, shutdown, and suspend).

There was an Xorg update on Friday which I hoped might change things, but no. Today saw a big KDE update, but I haven't experimented on it yet. Any ideas?


duaneg said...

What kernel are you running?

What video card do you have and which driver are you using?

When you say it won't boot, do you just mean that KDE doesn't start and you are stuck at a command prompt, or is there an earlier, more serious error?

It would probably help to take a look at your dmesg (the output from running the dmesg command), /var/log/Xorg.0.log and ~/.xsession-errors. Your kernel .config might also be helpful, if you have it. Not sure where Mandriva keeps it, but /proc/config.gz does the trick, if it exists, or check /boot.

"$DISPLAY not set" means that the program is trying to find X but can't. Sounds like it should be run by the X server.

BTW, it might be best to email me directly. Blogger's wretched comments support isn't really suitable for a remote debugging session.

Alex said...

KDE doesn't start; we are stuck at a default graphical login page. If you try to log in, KDE fails to start and the X server appears to crash and restart.

The kernel is desktop-i586- (Although it's a lappy; perhaps I should try the lappy kernel?) Videocard is an Intel 965; using the xorg Intel 810 and later driver.

Interestingly, when it didn't boot with ACPI, it hung trying to load fglrx, which is installed by default with the Mandriva distro but doesn't seem relevant to me.

So what's your e-mail address?

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