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I installed Linux Mint 13 xfce a while ago onto a friend's older PC. It had WinXP on there, and I installed dual-boot, as she still needed Windows for certain programs.
There have been no problems until recently, when she booted up and the Grub menu was "in big print", as she put it. Also when the PC finished booting Linux, everything on-screen was bigger than normal.
I suspected screen resolution issues, but was confused as to how the Grub screen would also display larger print.
Her Windows XP loads as normal. Checking there reveals that Windows is using a resolution of 1024x768 (the way it's always been, she says, for Windows on her PC). Higher resolutions are available, and indeed I could switch to a higher resolution - in Windows.
I remember when I installed her Linux, everything on the screen was smaller than usual, so I can assume the resolution Mint chose on installation was 1280x860, or similar. In Linux Mint display options now, however, no resolution above 1024x768 is available for selection. It's refusing to go above 1024x768.
Her PC is running an NVidia GeForce 6600 graphics card.
I am thinking that, somehow, the NVidia drivers are no longer loading, and the system is using alternative drivers that are only capable of 1024x768. Hence the large print in the Grub menu.
Googling this problem gives plenty of answers about installing NVidia drivers, but this may not be the problem here, since the higher resolution was working fine before. What could have caused the drivers to "kick out" like this?
I did find a piece of advice on screens generally to do "sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg", but I am loath to type in Admin-level commands on her machine like this, without knowing exactly what they do, as I'm afraid of making the problem worse!
I am also aware that Linux distros can use an alternative set of drivers called "Nouveau". How can I tell which drivers the system is using currently, and whether the NVidia proprietary drivers are already on the system, but not selected?
And when Linux Mint first installed, when it detected an NVidia card, would it have defaulted to Nouveau drivers, or invited me to download proprietary drivers? It so long ago that I installed, I cannot remember.
In /var/log/Xorg.0.log you should have information what goes wrong and which driver is currently used. Also "lspci -v" show you driver in use. I suspect that there was installed new kernel recently - after that you need to recompile NVIDIA module (if you used that), it can be done automatically by "dkms". About selection, it depends on your needs. Nouveau should be sufficient, but if you plan to use all graphic card capabilities and play 3D games, then proprietary is better.
The relevant bits when I typed in "lspci -v" was that the kernel driver in use was nouveau, but kernel modules (meaning presumably "available") were nouveau and nvidiafb. So does that mean the nvidia drivers are loaded, but not being used?
I tried to see if I could install them again (or for the first time). But Linux Mint 13 xfce has no menu option for "hardware drivers" or "additional drivers" under the system or system tools menus.
If I look up NVidia items in the Software Center, it does not let me install them. I click on install and it just ignores me and doesn't install.
Interestingly, the owner tells me that sometimes it will load up "with a smaller font", so I have asked her - next time this happens - to do lspci -v and let me know what the kernel driver in use says on that occasion - nouveau or nvidiafb.
I tried typing in "dkms", and it did nothing. Or did you mean dkms with a ton of options after it? If having a new kernel installed recently is the cause of this problem, how can I recompile any nvidia module present to be compatible for the new kernel?
/var/log/Xorg.0.log does show that it is trying to use the nvidia module on startup, but failing.
I have been fighting with nVidia drivers 304.xx drivers on a GeForece 6200 and have had a similar experience (Linux 2.6). However in my case the larger font would only show up after trying to hand-off X drivers to console drivers. The console would get larger fonts. Then the X screen would have 1024x768 size, and one driver I tired had that as the max size.
I could not cure it of this problem. The 1024x768 size can be set at many places, KDE for example. I would keep setting it to 1600x1200 and on the next use it would be tack to 1024x768.
I needed to get some work done, so I used console for a couple days. The next time I used X, it had stopped doing this and has not done it since.
The nVidia drivers seem to have been modified for Linux 3.x and may have flaws when applied to older systems now.
The use of the vga= setting in the boot is reported to be a conflict with some drivers, like nouveau.
More effects than those reported may be responsible.
Is it a AGP card or is it PCI-express, or PCI ??
There are some AGP driver options that have to be selected. It will run with default settings, but stability issues can arise. Both nVidia and the kernel have AGP drivers, and there is another one for Athlon CPU. Several combinations are possible, I use the kernel AGP driver and the Athlon CPU AGP driver.
You can see the video driver booted by doing dmesg.
If lazy then try
>> dmesg | grep "ideo"
>> dmesg | grep "6600"
If you did not install nVidia drivers then it is nv or nouveau, and nouveau is default for many distributions. But if nVidia and nouveau are both loaded then they will conflict.
You may see messages for both, depending on blacklisting, driver, and interactions.
Does this Mint have any auto-upgrade over the internet that may have changed something (thus provoking an instability) ??
Last edited by selfprogrammed; 08-02-2014 at 06:15 PM.
Does this Mint have any auto-upgrade over the internet that may have changed something (thus provoking an instability)?
Well, this is Linux Mint 13 xfce, and the updates, as far as I can see, are not supported anymore. When I load the update manager, I get a load of "Fail, Fail, Fail" when it tries to access and download virtually any updates. Although I notice the auto-updates are switched on, so I supposed it is possible the machine automatically downloaded a new kernel and installed it.
Is there any way that the updates for this version of Linux Mint are still available and accessible somewhere else on the internet, and I just need to tell the system where?
Is it a AGP card or is it PCI-express, or PCI?
Couldn't tell you off the top of my head - but when I get access to her system again, how can I tell? Is there a shell command that would tell me? I remember there is some kind of "hardware editor" option on the Mint menus... I could have a hunt through there.
Show us that error from Xorg.log with few context lines. If you prefer "nvidia" driver, you can download it from nvidia.com and install, but you need to kill X, and you can not be in runlevel 1, if you are using KDM there is option in login screen to temporarily use console for login.
I mentioned DKMS to notice that this is tool which automatically recompile modules after kernel changing. But if it was not worked you better reinstall drivers, it have some automatic features to uninstall older one or disable nouveau.
Thank you for your advice and for taking the time to reply. She has decided to stick with the enforced 1024x768 resolution, and at some stage before Christmas I might install the latest Linux Mint onto her PC, which will possibly give her a choice of higher resolution anyway.