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.
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
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1: +51.0°C (crit = +97.0°C)
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)
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.
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.