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Old 09-09-2014, 02:48 PM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: Sep 2014
Distribution: Fedora 26
Posts: 5

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Torn down screen output

Hi everyone, Debian (and GNU/Linux) newbie here.

Some months ago I decided to replace Windows with a fresh Wheezy installation in an old computer of mine (~9 years old). Everything had gone well up until a few days ago, when suddenly I got a pretty nasty, torn down screen output. This is a picture of it, taken just 10 minutes ago.

However, I find that, apart from the unreadable screen, the PC remains functional and I can (barely) locate the cursor and click my way into rebooting the system. However, if I fiddle around with the cursor for a while without restarting the PC, the entire system will eventually freeze (I guess at this point the kernel might have gone kaputt) and then I have to do a hard reboot.

There is no obvious trigger for this issue. All the times it's happened so far (3 times) I was just checking Gmail on Chrome with a few more tabs on the background maybe. Essentially nothing else. When I reboot the computer, the problem goes away.

I suspect it might be an issue in the graphics card or its attached drivers. To see if that could solve something, I installed the 'firmware-linux-nonfree' libraries and incidentally obtained a much better desktop rendering, which is alright, but that didn't solve the issue at all.

Here is an overview of my system hardware configuration:

H/W path               Device      Class          Description
                                   system         Aspire 1650
/0                                 bus            Crane II
/0/0                               memory         97KiB BIOS
/0/4                               processor      Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor 2.00GHz
/0/4/8                             memory         16KiB L1 cache
/0/4/9                             memory         2MiB L2 cache
/0/13                              memory         1017MiB System Memory
/0/13/0                            memory         SODIMM DDR Synchronous [empty]
/0/13/1                            memory         SODIMM DDR Synchronous [empty]
/0/100                             bridge         Mobile 915GM/PM/GMS/910GML Express Processor to DRAM Controller
/0/100/1                           bridge         Mobile 915GM/PM Express PCI Express Root Port
/0/100/1/0                         display        RV370 [Mobility Radeon X300]
/0/100/1c                          bridge         82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) PCI Express Port 1
/0/100/1c.1                        bridge         82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) PCI Express Port 2
/0/100/1c.2                        bridge         82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) PCI Express Port 3
/0/100/1d                          bus            82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #1
/0/100/1d.1                        bus            82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #2
/0/100/1d.2                        bus            82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #3
/0/100/1d.3                        bus            82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB UHCI #4
/0/100/1d.7                        bus            82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller
/0/100/1e                          bridge         82801 Mobile PCI Bridge
/0/100/1e/1                        bridge         PCIxx21/x515 Cardbus Controller
/0/100/1e/3                        network        PRO/Wireless 2200BG [Calexico2] Network Connection
/0/100/1e/8            eth0        network        BCM4401 100Base-T
/0/100/1e.2                        multimedia     82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) AC'97 Audio Controller
/0/100/1e.3                        communication  82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) AC'97 Modem Controller
/0/100/1f                          bridge         82801FBM (ICH6M) LPC Interface Bridge
/0/100/1f.1            scsi0       storage        82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) IDE Controller
/0/100/1f.1/0.0.0      /dev/sda    disk           120GB WDC WD1200BEVE-0
/0/100/1f.1/0.0.0/1    /dev/sda1   volume         243MiB Linux filesystem partition
/0/100/1f.1/0.0.0/2    /dev/sda2   volume         111GiB Extended partition
/0/100/1f.1/0.0.0/2/5  /dev/sda5   volume         111GiB Linux LVM Physical Volume partition
/0/100/1f.1/0.1.0      /dev/cdrom  disk           DVD+-RW SDVD8441
/0/100/1f.3                        bus            82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) SMBus Controller
/1                                 system         
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1:        +51.0C  (crit = +97.0C)

Adapter: Radeon i2c bit bus MONID
temp1:         +0.0C  (low  =  +0.0C, high =  +0.0C)  ALARM (HIGH)
                       (crit =  +0.0C, hyst =  +0.0C)
temp2:          FAULT  (low  =  +0.0C, high =  +0.0C)  ALARM (LOW)
                       (crit =  +0.0C, hyst =  +0.0C)
OS information:

Linux localhost 3.2.0-4-686-pae #1 SMP Debian 3.2.60-1+deb7u3 i686 GNU/Linux
Here is some graphics-oriented output:

01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] nee ATI RV370 [Mobility Radeon X300]
drm_kms_helper         22738  1 radeon
drm                   146387  6 drm_kms_helper,ttm,radeon
i2c_core               19116  6 i2c_algo_bit,drm,i2c_i801,drm_kms_helper,radeon,lm90
BOOT_IMAGE=/vmlinuz-3.2.0-4-686-pae root=/dev/mapper/Debian-root ro quiet
options radeon modeset=1

direct rendering: Yes
server glx vendor string: SGI
client glx vendor string: Mesa Project and SGI
OpenGL vendor string: X.Org R300 Project
[    22.145] (II) LoadModule: "extmod"
[    22.226] (II) LoadModule: "dbe"
[    22.235] (II) LoadModule: "glx"
[    22.255] (II) LoadModule: "record"
[    22.257] (II) LoadModule: "dri"
[    22.281] (II) LoadModule: "dri2"
[    22.283] (II) LoadModule: "ati"
[    22.298] (II) LoadModule: "radeon"
[    22.380] (II) LoadModule: "vesa"
[    22.404] (II) LoadModule: "fbdev"
[    22.448] (II) LoadModule: "fbdevhw"
[    22.471] (II) LoadModule: "exa"
[    22.540] (II) LoadModule: "fb"
[    22.572] (II) LoadModule: "ramdac"
[    25.112] (II) LoadModule: "evdev"
[    25.270] (II) LoadModule: "synaptics"
Apparently the graphics controller is Gallium 0.4. I have the open source 'radeon', 'libgl1-mesa-dri', 'xserver-xorg-video-ati' packages installed and updated too. I'm on GNOME.

I performed some more tests and here are the results.

- Ran memtest. Here's the output: RAM passed the test so it seems to be fine.

- When the display became scrambled again I tried switching to a virtual console on CTRL+ALT+F1 and even there I could notice some graphic hiccups. Here's a picture of it. In this state, the system becomes usable again. It doesn't crash, but as you can see, it's obvious that going to the terminal doesn't completely solve the issue.

- I restarted the 'gdm3' (GNOME 3) service.

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm3 restart
- Switched to Gnome Classic (fallback) mode.

- Reconfigured x11 and xserver packages,

# dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low x11-common
# dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low xserver-xorg
- Booted from a Ubuntu LiveCD. The graphic display got messed up as soon as I resumed from suspension/hibernation, like in the host OS, Debian.

All the tests and fixes above mentioned failed completely. I also ran gsmartcontrol shallow and deep tests. The HDD passed them both. Here's the output from the deep one if you wish to have a look.

One thing I've also noticed is that the error is extremely more prone to show up right after a system boot-up or when the system resumes from hibernation or suspension.

The only two things left for me to try out are reinstalling/reconfiguring the graphics drivers and reinstalling the OS from scratch. If none of that worked either I guess I'm dealing with a hardware issue then but I'd appreciate a second opinion from you guys.

If you need anything else to better understand the issue, just let me know. Again, I think the problem might lie on the graphics department but I might be wrong. Any sort of pointers or advice is very much appreciated. Should I just give up or do you guys have any more ideas?
Old 09-11-2014, 11:13 AM   #2
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Registered: Jul 2006
Location: London
Distribution: PCLinuxOS, Debian
Posts: 6,137

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I suspect a hardware problem. If the problem were the driver, then it should be constant rather than sporadic.

Nevertheless, I'd try the official driver rather than the open source one:
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