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croxen 05-13-2013 08:50 AM

Slackware 14.0 but with kernel
I have two old Thinkpad T43s onto which I installed Slackware 14.0. One T43 has ATi graphics, and Slack 14 works perfectly.

The other T43 has the intel 915GM graphics chip which uses the increasingly awful i915 driver. The version of the driver in kernel 3.2.29 shows all the usual i915 bugs on this T43: frozen X screens, blank screen before login, inability to change or force the change of resolutions, etc. The usual solutions (enabling modeset in the kernel, editing modelines in the xorg.conf, etc.) could improve some of these issues on this machine, but not the inability to alter resolution/refresh rate. Nor could compiling/installing the most current version of the driver from Intel's site.

After noticing some Arch user's complaint that he began experiencing i915 driver trouble (a few years ago) when he moved to kernel 2.34.x, I installed kernel-huge-smp- (and its related module set) from Slack 13.1 into the Slackware 14.0 installation. This kernel includes the i915 1.6.0 20080730, and so far, the Intel graphics on this T43 Thinkpad have worked perfectly, with no additional editing, fussing, or tweaking beyond the simple installation.

But my question is this: is a very old kernel for Slack 14. It seems to work fine now, but am I courting ext4 filesystem, bootup, udev, or other disaster down the road by using it in an otherwise normal Slack 14 setup? My initial thought was to compile the older i915 driver on a current kernel, but a search of Intel's downloads doesn't seem to show any source from versions earlier than 2011. Nor do I seem to be able to determine from kernel source (short of compiling and running a particular kernel to check dmesg output) which version of the i915 it includes, in case i915 version 1.6.0 20080730 continued in use with kernels much more recent than Is it known when i915 version 1.6.0 20080730 was dropped?

cynwulf 05-13-2013 09:17 AM

Try enabling the shadow, by setting up your xorg.conf as follows

Section "Device"
    Identifier "card0"
    Driver "intel"
    Option "shadow" "true"

Restart X - you will get no 3D acceleration.

If that fails, have you tried the vesa driver yet? Blacklist the i915 and related modules and try it. You will need a simple xorg.conf with a device section to suit.

croxen 05-13-2013 01:54 PM

Thanks, but I don't think I can blacklist the i915 on this machine, since the 915GM northbridge functions as the motherboard chipset and also incorporates the integrated media adapter. On other T43s with the 915PM chipset, the graphics are handled separately by the ATi adapter.

I have not tried enabling the shadow in 3.2.29 and may try it at some point, but my major interest is in continuing to use the full features of the known-good i915 1.6.0 20080730, and whether a) it is reasonably safe to continue to use with this i915 version in an otherwise unmodified Slack 14; b) it is known which 2.6.x (or 3.x.x) kernel version was the last to incorporate this version of the i915 driver, so that I may compile and install a more recent kernel with i915 1.6.0 20080730 and use it with Slack 14 on this machine, or c) whether the source for this version of the driver alone may be obtained somewhere, so that I can try to compile the older driver source on the default 3.2.29 kernel to see whether it continues to function correctly.

The Thinkpad has been running this OS/kernel combination for about 3 days so far without any incidents I can see, but I'm keeping the backups fresh and frequent, just in case.

cynwulf 05-14-2013 04:43 AM

i915 is a kernel mode video driver. You can blacklist it safely and try the vesa driver.

If you want to continue with a 2.6.x kernel you would be better off just sticking with Slackware 13.x on that machine.

croxen 05-14-2013 09:22 PM


Originally posted by caravel
If you want to continue with a 2.6.x kernel you would be better off just sticking with Slackware 13.x on that machine.
You must, generally speaking, be correct. But on a pure 13.1 system I'll end up having to back-level much of the application software I use on the machine. I suspect from Slack 13.37 includes a considerably later problematic version of the i915 driver, but I guess I'll need to try it to find out.

When I get an opportunity, I'll also try the vesa driver on the 3.2.29 kernel. But in the meantime, the kernel continues to handle everything without instability or issues, and its i915 is working fine, so I suppose I'll leave everything as is for the moment, unless a fatal problem suddenly pops up.

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