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Slackware 14 64 bit
ATI 5970, current ATI driver
From time to time the dislay will freeze. It usually happens when I'm running a gave via wine, and usually when I've run one game, terminated it, and run another. IOW the second time I run a game, the display will frequently freeze. I can still here the sound of whatever is going on. I can ssh into the box from another box, kill all processes for that user, but the display remains frozen. Once this happens, the system is still operational but the display remains frozen. Rebooting is the only solution I've found.
I'm not sure if this is the video driver, wine, or both. I can run, for example, half-life source with dxlevel of 70 and it never freezes. If I set directX to use 8 or above, it freezes every time.
So my question - when this happens, is there a way to force a reset of the video card? As I said I can ssh in from another box and as root kill all of the processes for the user, but nothing I do changes the frozen display. If I login as the user and try to startx again, it won't start - no errors, it just won't start.
If I understand correctly, you are saying your video driver is frozen. I can't see how you can perform a reset if you are depending on the frozen driver to talk to the video chip for you. You could try to rmmod the driver and re-modprobe it, but that assumes that everything will still land back into a usable state. Now you did kill X (and Wine) completely right? I wouldn't rule out that either, since you are using a proprietary driver. If X hung, I'm not sure if killing it completely will always work for the proprietary driver. I think you would have a better chance with a kms driver, since if it was X that had a problem, then you are more likely able to recover since the kernel has more control.
In summary, if you are sure you killed X completely, and you did not restore your screen, then the easiest is to restart the machine. Report the bug to try to find an actual fix.