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mosca 08-01-2004 09:36 AM

change tty => system crashes (ati driver/tty resolution)

When I am in X and try to change tty, my system hangs really bad and I am forced to reboot using the power button. I am running debian, kernel 2.6.4 with ati drivers (installed using the guide at I believe it is some problem with the drivers in combination with the fact that I use a 1280x1024 resolution at my tty's. The ati drivers are working very good otherwise. I can't give much specific detail what I changed causing the crash. I rarely change tty, I found the problem when I rebooted (which I do once a month or so).

I can't find where I set the resolution at the tty's. Maybe changing it back to the default (is it 640x480?) might help....

Thanks in advance.

PS. This is not really debian related, but I didn't know a better place to post it. If anyone have a better suggestion, please let me know.

abcdefghij 08-02-2004 02:57 AM

Could you give more info about your hardware? I'm using Debian Sarge with kernel 2.6.6, XFree 4.3.0, and ATI's fglrx 3.9.0 driver (I have an ATI 9200 SE I think) and I can change to a tty and back to X without problems. I'm using a framebuffer at 1280x1024 for the ttys.

Do you use a framebuffer for the tty's, or do you use SVGAtextmode?

For framebuffer, you can configure it via the kernel command line (in lilo.conf if you use LILO). It might help if you post your curren kernel command line here.


mosca 08-02-2004 04:29 PM

Thank you for your answer.

Like you, I am using deb sarge, XFree version and fglrx 3.9.0, but I've got a 9800 pro and the 2.6.4 kernel. I've seen that one can specify the resolution using a vga line in lilo, but this is not how I've done it. Iirc, I think I enabled an obvious flag when compiling the kernel (called sth like enable_framebuffer) and then a configuration program was run where I was able to set the resolution. If I just could remember which one.... I could upgrade the kernel if you think that would help, but I feel like the problem is elsewhere (but I don't have a clue, really).

I'm a bit careful when modifying lilo, 'cause this comp doesn't have a floppy (yeah, yeah, got a 9800 pro but no floppy - good priority :-) )

Any suggestions welcome!

abcdefghij 08-03-2004 03:14 AM

If you have a framebuffer, the resolution is (afaik) always stored in /etc/lilo.conf. Could you look there for a line starting with "append" or "literal" and post it here? Maybe that gives a clue about your framebuffer config (eg. whether you are using the standard VESA framebuffer driver or the atyfb driver).

If your PC doesn't have a floppy drive anymore, you can use a bootable linux cdrom instead; personally I use Knoppix (, but there are many other Linux-Live-CDs.

Btw. what do you mean exactly by "system hangs really bad"? Probably it's "only" ;) the X server that crashed; then you might be able to log in from another computer via network (with SSH or telnet) and kill the X server...
Also, in this case your problem might be the same as posted in this thread as issue #2: (ATI Linux Issues Thread)


mosca 08-03-2004 05:00 PM

Thanks again Oliver, but I'm pretty sure there is nothing in lilo which has do to with the framebuffer... but it doesn't cost anything to post it anyway:


Regarding the boot cd, I've got a bootable debian net-install cd. That'd probably work, don't you think?

I thought (hoped) too that it was only X that crashed, but unfortunately not. The screen goes black and white, all distorted. Hence the result is similar to #2 in your rage3d-link. However, I am running fluxbox, not KDE (although KDE is installed on the system). But it is easy to give Gnome a try.


mosca 08-03-2004 05:02 PM

Testing Gnome:

1. Logging out of fluxbox => system freeze (I am using GDM graphical login screen)
2. Rebooting, and this time into Gnome
3. Resets Gnome with ctrl-alt-backspc => system freeze again.
4. Rebooting into Gnome again, selecting GDM non-graphical login screen.
5. Exit Gnome properly (logout from the menu) => system freeze BUT with no signal to the monitor (i.e. the little lamp changed from green=on to orange=off).

Hum hum... What does this imply?? :confused:


The boot message when changing the resolution reads "Console: Switching to colour frame buffer device 160x64"

abcdefghij 08-05-2004 07:37 AM

Actually I don't know any other reason about what might cause this problem :((

Generally you could try:
-fiddling with the "Device"-Section in your /etx/X11/XF86Config-4 (try disabling acceleration, or change the chipid - see, #14.2)
-disabling the framebuffer in the kernel (see for more info about framebuffers)
-installing an older driver (3.7.6 was the one before 3.9.0 I think)
-do you use the internal or the external agpgart module? For me, only the external module + nvidia_agp (for AGP support on nForce2 boards) worked. Again, the Howto at has more info about that.

Maybe these hints are solving your problem, but they're just "random shots".

About the boot cd: yes, the Debian installer disc should work; but anyway I'd recommend using a "real" Live-Linux on CD, which comes with more tools.


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