Grumpy Geek! T40 Radeon driver twitch

23 02 2006

Okay, I’ll admit it. This is a bit of a rant, as I’ve had a less than stable day, and coming home to annoying system problems is really not what I was up for tonight.
Faithful readers will know my pet laptop hunter intimately by now. Well, since I did my conversion to Kubuntu, I’ve been pretty ecstatic with stability, constant updates and upgrades, and general “This is a machine I don’t have to think about maintaining, it just keeps itself configured and clean.” And so things had been… until…. (“Quick Bob! Bad guy! Minor key!”) … something changed…
It took me a helluva long time to track it down. The symptons were the T40 wouldn’t sync right with the external monitor. In dock, out of dock, monitor off when powered up, monitor on but in ‘green’ mode, restarting kdm, some magic combination would make the external monitor come up in the right resolution when I asked it. This HAD been working flawlessly (see my posting on Xorg configurations for some tidbits about it). When I went to Kubuntu, it Just Worked. Now it wasn’t, and I wasn’t sure what was wrong.
It turns out somewhere in the last 2 weeks or so of constant apt-get upgrades, my driver settings in /etc/X11/xorg.conf got reset back to the opensource ‘ati’ driver. This driver is fully GPLed and opensource, but is not as robust as the driver provided by ATI, called fglrx. I KNEW I had been running fglrx, somewhere it got reset. One change to the ‘Driver’ entry in Xorg.conf, a restart, and voila! I had my external monitor back and functioning.
What changed, why it changed, and why the apt system didn’t nudge me before changing it, I’m not sure, but it sure made me grumpy. Really the first serious yak-shaving I had to do on this machine since I installed it, so I shouldnt’ complain, but I sure didn’t need it at the end of a yucky day.

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