[ Table Of Contents ][ Answer Guy Current Index ] greetings   Meet the Gang   1   2   3   4 [ Index of Past Answers ]

(?) The Answer Gang (!)

By Jim Dennis, Ben Okopnik, Dan Wilder, Breen, Chris, and... (meet the Gang) ... the Editors of Linux Gazette... and You!
Send questions (or interesting answers) to The Answer Gang for possible publication (but read the guidelines first)

(?) Shedding Light On A Monitor's Troubles

We're still in the dark, here.

From Joshua J. Wingstrom

Answered By Jay R. Ashworth, Robos, Ben Okopnik, Faber Fedor, Mike Ellis, Yann Vernier, Heather Stern, John Karns

This is reply to (http://linuxgazette.net/issue77/tag/2.html) -- Heather
I think you are looking in the wrong direction for the solution to this problem. The problem appears to be with Bill Rust's hardware. My brother is experiencing the exact same problem with a mandrake system (8.0, 8.1 and 8.2 -- it has occurred on all of them). We have swapped hardware in and out of the system and the problem only occurs when his Geforce 2 TI/AGP w/64DDR (same is in Bill's system) is installed. Something happens when the kernel boots that causes the screen to go blank until login. It has nothing to do with X-Windows or SysV init and it only happens with this video card. GeForce3's and TNT2's work okay in the same system.
I will try to recompile his kernel next time I see him, but that may not be soon as I live in Hawaii and he is in Indiana.
I hope this helps, sorry I don't have a solution.
Good-luck, Josh Wingstrom
If someone solves this problem could they e-mail me the solution at joshwingstrom@users.sourceforge.net. Thanks :-).
(!) [Heather] And you could send a copy to tag@lists.linuxgazette.net while you're at it, so we could publish what's really happening with that.
(!) [jra] I'd bet cash there is a PCI VGA chipset on the mobo, and the BIOS preference is not set to AGP.

(?) Do you know how to test for this?

(!) [jra] It's a switch in the bios setup. Not sure which screen...
(!) [Robos] Yes, hold <del> during bootup and look what it says in the menu ;-) There are also some bios-exploration tools (look at SourceForge) but I guess thats rather hard to do
(!) [Ben] To elaborate a bit further, you need to look at your BIOS settings. In some cases, as Robos says, you need to hit "delete" at the beginning of the boot; in some cases, though, it could be <F2>, <Alt-F10>, <Alt-S>... I've even seen a BIOS that required the <Ins> key (anybody know of others?). Hint: look for a message that says something like "Press $FOO to enter setup" (not all BIOSes do this, but most do).
Also note that there are a number of motherboards (despite Jay's bet) that require moving an actual jumper to enable/disable the on-board video, etc. There's lots of variation out there; The World Is A Very Big Place.
(!) [Faber] I've seen <F1> (old IBM 486) and the <DEL> key.
(!) [Mike E.] So I'll add <ALT-ENTER> on an old in-Compaq-ible machine, and <ESC> for my laptop. I'm pretty certain I've also used <F1>, but I can't place where.
(!) [Yann] And, of course, Ctrl+Alt+S. Compaqs are also liable to use F8. Dells go in the F2 group. This is one of the very messy points of PCs, but it has become better... used to be the setup program was a dos executable, usually misplaced and model specific. Toshiba's T1000 managed to pull off having a DOS executable in ROM... they also threw in DOS 2.11 there.
(!) [John K.] On most Compaq machines I've used including 2 Presario laptops, it was F10.
(!) [jra] Tosh laptop. On my Portege, it's ESC then F1...
(!) [Ben] You know, the above could be a useful little reference list. Not that it's guaranteed to be 100% complete, but still. If Heather puts this one into the "publish" queue, I know one thing that's going into the Knowledge Database for sure... :)
(!) [Robos] Yep, exactly my thinking. Didn't know that is was such a mess...
Mandrake comes with these neat magic wands to wave around, so a sweep of it and... -- Heather
(!) [Heather] Voila, if we can't really answer the question, at least we can offer a great cheat card for beating your head against the keyboard, err, finding your way into the BIOS by its idea of the front door. Also for reference, some people call it the CMOS (because that's the type of chip the options are stored in) and Macintosh fans have a tendency to call it parameter RAM or p-ram.
For anything where you suspect hardware to be more involved than software, it can be worthwhile to at least look at the CMOS settings. And I've had more than one encounter where simply telling it to save the settings anew fixed a checksum somewhere, and everything was happy after that.
(!) [Ben] Isn't it interesting how, as time goes one, the "trivial" ROM size becomes large enough to accomodate useful stuff? I'd actually read in a trade journal where someone managed to throw _Wind*ws_ (at least the parts required for booting it) on a ROM that simply replaces the BIOS ROM (well, perhaps "supplements" would be a better word; AIUI, there's still an accessible BIOS there.) Result: a PC that boots into a GUI in well under 10 seconds (ISTR 4 seconds being bandied about for one of the machines tested.) Whew.
<grin> Not that Linux needs anything like that - the time "cost" of a single boot in, say, a two-year period amortizes quite nicely - but it sure would be a cute sort of a thing. Yeah, there's plenty of ROMmed Linux-based stuff out there, but it tends to be dedicated hardware. A PC that boots Linux in 4 seconds... sweet.
(!) [John K.] I'm currently testing a configuration of LTSP, the Linux Terminal Server Project (www.ltsp.com) which works with etherboot pkg to boot Linux on a diskless client (using either a floppy disk or an EPROM on the NIC) in about 10 seconds, including POST. Very impressive - seems to work very well.
(!) [jra] Hmmm... is it worth my time investigating that as a mod for my VNCterminal on ThinkNIC project?
(!) [Robos] Well, actually Ben, it goes down to 3 secs. Take a look at http://www.linuxbios.org .
(!) [Ben] /Tres/ cool! I should have known.
(!) [Robos] They use it for a cluster, but it's also available for Elitegroups K7SEM (all in one mobo with sound, graphics and net onboard). I'm going to try that "real soon now..".
Funny thing on the side: They have to wait for the hdd to spin up ;-) Thats why they favor flash rom/card.
<Ben dons dark glasses and aims a pointer at the Answer Gang's crystal ball, which projects a refracted image on the white classroom wall.> -- Heather
(!) [Ben] "Our 'instant-on' technology features an osmium flywheel on zero-friction ceramic bearings; a 1mA current is enough to sustain rotation indefinitely. 15mS after a signal is sent to the coupling solenoid, your HD is up to full speed."
Don't laugh; this could be the next advance in HD tech. You heard it here first. :)
It'd be a choice bit of hell on the HD spindle (side loading) and the platters themselves might get a bit distorted after a while, but hey, you have to suffer in the name of Art.
Spindles are so yesterday, as soon as we come up with cheap power. Oh well, I can dream :) -- Heather
(!) [Ben] I've got an LTSP CD sitting at home (I'm in NYC teaching a class this week); never realized it could boot from floppy, I thought you were required to go with etherboot. I also never knew that it was that quick; the LTSP folks didn't mention it.
One thing I really liked, from checking out LinuxBIOS, was that they had it working on a number of laptops (including RMS's Thinkpad T22). I've been dreaming about that 15.7" screen on the new Dells and such... 'twould be nice. :)

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette Copyright © 2002
Published in issue 81 of Linux Gazette August 2002
HTML script maintained by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

[ Table Of Contents ][ Answer Guy Current Index ] greetings   Meet the Gang   1   2   3   4 [ Index of Past Answers ]