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Old 02-18-2014, 02:54 AM   #1
Registered: Apr 2013
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 32

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Bug in xf86-video-vesa

I have two questions? Is there anyone out there that still uses the xf86-video-vesa driver? My second question is, am I the only person out there that has experienced this the bug that I am describing?

I found a bug in the vesa video driver that causes the screen to go dim. At first, I thought that it was just a defective video card, but I don't see how that could be, because I have two different video cards and two different monitors both experiencing this thing. When the bug is activated there are no messages in either the Xorg.0.log or the dmesg log.

The bug has revealed itself on both my Neomagic card and my Rage card but not my Radeon card. I first noticed the bug using my Rage card over 14 months ago using a different version of the driver and X11 server. The bug reveals itself in one of three different ways...

1. Switching between the TTY and the X server.

2. Switching from one X server to a different X server

3. running a program that uses SDL video

Once I switch to from a TTY back to the X server the screen is so dim that it barely readable, all the colors are half as bright as they would normal be. I once thought that it something to do with the back-light. However after examination, I can be sure that the back-light is not effected. In the Rage card, I have experimented with the xgamma command and I was able to increase the brightness by playing around with the settings. I can get a sort of washed out look that is bright enough to read. The Neomagic card does not seem to be effected by the xgamma command at all.

Is there anyone out there with any ideas?

Bug   Video Card

Yes   Neomagic Corporation NM2160
Yes   ATI Rage 128 4X AGP 4x
No    ATI RV410 [Radeon X700]
Current version. (I also experienced this with earlier versions)
Kernel          : 3.4.77 & 3.4.48
xf86-video-vesa : 2.3.3 
xorg-server     : 1.14.3
Old 02-18-2014, 03:09 AM   #2
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Have you tested this against the latest kernel and x-server?

There is a chance this isn't actually a bug but possibly an intended function since vesa is more or less a very basic level driver. Since it doesn't do this on the Radeon then possibly you should test this against the actual drivers for those graphics cards as well to be certain as well. A bug should be reproduced on all hardware so since it doesn't seem to happen on one leads me to believe this is just a function.
Old 02-18-2014, 01:55 PM   #3
Registered: Apr 2013
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 32

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Rep: Reputation: Disabled
Originally Posted by ReaperX7 View Post
Have you tested this against the latest kernel and x-server?
I used kernel 3.4.77, which is the latest kernel. Longterm Stable 3.4 is well maintained and any main line bug fixes are quickly pulled in by the Greg Kroah-Hartman team.

I use Gentoo as my main distro, although I use Knoppix and finnix as my secondary distro. Gentoo seems to be a bit backwards in the X11 department. 1.14.3 was current for Gentoo in October 2013 (when I installed), As of Jan 20th it was still the most advanced "Gentoo stable" xorg server. Although there is an "Gentoo experimental" 1.15.0. I also experienced it so long ago that I don"t think it would changed in a short time.

I also can't get the rage driver to work for Gentoo. I think it does use the rage driver for Knoppix. I have never experienced the dimming problem in Knoppix. I might experiment to see what happens if I force Knoppix to use the vesa driver. I was going to swap out the rage card, but wen I went to Goodwill I bought the wrong card.

I also fool around with an Amish laptop. Just for sound recording and sleuthing hotspots. It has built in Neomagic card. The xf86 Neomagic specific driver is so old, it will not work with newer xorg servers.


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