Torn down screen output

Liam Mayfair's picture

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

Some months ago I decided to replace Windows with a fresh Wheezy installation in an old laptop of mine (~9 years old), an Aspire 1654. 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.

http://i.imgur.com/CFItBOY.jpg

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
acpitz-virtual-0
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1: +51.0°C (crit = +97.0°C)

adm1032-i2c-2-4c
Adapter: Radeon i2c bit bus MONID
temp1: +0.0°C (low = +0.0°C, high = +0.0°C) ALARM (HIGH)
(crit = +0.0°C, hyst = +0.0°C)
temp2: FAULT (low = +0.0°C, high = +0.0°C) ALARM (LOW)
(crit = +0.0°C, hyst = +0.0°C)

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
/dev/fb0
/dev/dri/card0
/dev/dri/controlD64
BOOT_IMAGE=/vmlinuz-3.2.0-4-686-pae root=/dev/mapper/Debian-root ro quiet
/etc/modprobe.d/
/etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base-blacklist.conf
/etc/modprobe.d/radeon-kms.conf
/etc/modprobe.d/fbdev-blacklist.conf
/etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf
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.

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.

Re: Torn down screen output

IntnsRed's picture

> 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.

That's odd. I'd be surprised if the actual kernel is getting hosed (it's possible, but rare). When this happens, can you do a Ctrl-Alt-F1 and get to a pseudo terminal? (The screen may still be scrambled, but the pseudo terminal doesn't use X so it usually will reset the video since it's not using any X drivers.) If you cannot get to one of the pseudo terminals then the kernel or keyboard may indeed be hosed. Either way, that's an easy test.

You may wind up having to reconfigure X with dpkg-reconfigure and/or to manually modify X's config file.

Thanks a lot for your help so

Liam Mayfair's picture

Thanks a lot for your help so far. I performed some tests, including those you suggested, and here are the results.

- 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 going to the terminal doesn't completely solve the issue.

http://i.imgur.com/xTwOg4h.jpg

- 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

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.

http://pastebin.com/txpDtPyk

One thing I've also noticed is that the error is extremely more prone to show up right after a system boot-up, but not a reboot.

The only two things left for me to try out are reinstalling/reconfiguring the graphics drivers and reinstalling Debian from scratch. If none of that worked either I guess it will be a hardware issue then.

Should I just give up or do you guys have any more ideas?