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Old 07-01-2010, 07:31 AM   #1
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nVidia FX 5600 problems

One possible approach to the problems described below would be installing the nouveau X driver in Mepis. I haven't a clue how. The description on the nouveau website is way outside my understanding.

Is anyone using nouveau in Mepis 8.5? Can you describe how?

Otherwise, any ideas on how to get one of the drivers Mepis includes to operate this display properly?

I just set up a triple boot (XP, Mepis 8.5 and Kubuntu 10.04) on an old computer (Pentium 4, 1GB ram). It has an nVidia FX 5600 graphics card with two ports CRT-0 and DFP-0. I have an Apple LCD connected to DFP-0. That has a native resolution of 1920x1200 at a 155MHz dot clock. I have an old CRT connected to CRT-0. That has a max resolution of 1280x1024@60Hz.

I installed Mepis 8.5 before connecting the CRT. It defaulted to using the nv driver, which gave a black screen and didn't let me ctrl-alt-F1 back to text mode. Then I forced it to use the vesa driver, with exactly the same results. Then I tried the fbdev driver, which worked but wouldn't offer any resolution other than 800x600.

I think I tried the correct legacy nvidia driver first, using the Mepis X windows assistant. That failed. Then I tried a newer nvidia driver which gave an error message indicating I need the 173.14 nvidia driver.

I installed that a few times using the Mepis X windows assistant and/or Synaptic. I think that installed all the right software, but none of it ever made any changes to xorg.conf. So unless I manually changed xorg.conf it continued to use the fbdev driver.

With manual changes to xorg.conf, the nvidia driver loaded and thought it was working, but thought the Apple LCD is limited to 140.4 MHz and rejected all modes and I think tried to come up in 640x480 but the LCD stayed black.

After I connected the CRT, the nvidia driver seems to ignore the twinview option and use only the CRT. It sees the Apple LCD and still reports it is limited to 140.4MHz, even though when I set logverbose=5 it reports the EDID details of the requested 1920x1200 mode using 155MHz immediately after reporting the 140.4MHz limit. But all that is just in reporting what is connected. It doesn't seem to even try to use the LCD. It just uses the CRT. It seems to think it initialized the CRT at 1280x1024. But actually it was 800x600 panning around a 1280x1024 image.
If I launch the Display settings GUI in System Settings, just launching that changes the CRT to true 1280x1024 from 800x600 panning within 1280x1024. But I need to redo that each time I restart X.

The nvidia-settings program sees the second display and thinks it is able to enable the second display but has no actual effect.

I also retried fbdev with both displays connected and both show the same 800x600 image.

Windows XP properly operates both displays and allows selecting the correct max resolution on each and extending the desktop so the displays are side by side.

Kubuntu used the nouveau driver by default, which selected the correct max resolution for each display by default. The CRT duplicates the upper left portion of the LCD. The display settings let you select changing the displays from overlapping to side by side and no error is displayed, but it never actually happens. The CRT always displays a duplicate of the upper left of the LCD regardless of settings.

I'm not sure I really even want to leave the CRT connected. I mainly want to use the LCD at 1920x1200, which I can do in Kubuntu but not in Mepis 8.5. I'd also like to know why I can't get side by side working in Kubuntu. But that isn't as important to me as getting the 1920x1200 working in Mepis.
Old 07-02-2010, 12:23 AM   #2
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Mepis is based on Debian stable which doesn't have nouveau.


Why not install the nvidia driver? The 173.14.xx driver supports your card.

Install nvidia driver - MEPIS Documentation Wiki -

Kubuntu uses a newer kernel and it has nouveau.
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:31 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by craigevil View Post
Why not install the nvidia driver? The 173.14.xx driver supports your card.
It's hard to be clear about every detail in a post that is already too long and has lots more relevant facts I couldn't reasonably fit in.

But I tried to be clear about the fact that I did try the 173.14.xx nvidia driver and I have been unable to make that driver display anything on my LCD display. I tried that without also having a CRT connected and got no GUI at all. I tried it with both CRT and LCD and got only the CRT working.

Also, using the Mepis X Windows assistant program (as described in your second link) seems to install that nvidia driver, but even trying again after the reboot, it doesn't seem to ever enable that driver. Until I manually edited xorg.conf, X continued to start every time using the fbdev driver. After I manually edited xorg.conf to use nvidia, that worked for the CRT but not for the LCD.

I changed many options following the instructions in the nvidia README file. But even using logverbose, I can't get anything in the log file that tells what options it thinks it understands or why it seems to ignore all the important ones.

The Edid info from this LCD seems to be flawed. It lists a min and max horizontal freq that are equal to each other (I forget the exact value) and a min and max vertical that are both 60. Then it provides suggested modes most of which are different from that single horizontal frequency and a few different from 60 vertical.

From other systems, I already know X doesn't properly handle a min and max that are equal to each other. Even a mode chosen to hit that value will be rejected because of floating point rounding differences. So I tried a number of options to override the Edid frequency limits.

Remember, both Windows and Kubuntu/nouveau can configure this LCD at its native resolution with no user tweaks to Edid at all. Also, further testing with Kubuntu showed me that it sometimes obeys changes requested in the dialog that controls whether the displays are side by side vs. overlapped. It won't change directly from its initial fully overlapped state (after each X startup) to side by side, but it does let you switch the second display to a partially overlapped mode via "absolute" position and from there the switch to side by side usually works.

Last edited by johnsfine; 07-02-2010 at 06:55 AM.


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