My old and aged Dell Latitude C800 has just finished some needed maintenance. For the most part, the laptop is being used by the proprietor of my local coffeehouse. I received a frantic email from her last week complaining that Ubuntu’s updates had failed and she was unable to login to her machine.
I picked up the laptop this evening to resolve the problem, and when I booted the machine I was able to see what the problem was immediately. I had not had the problem for some time, primarily since it had been a while since I had built the machine. Essentially, when the machine is booted, the display looks similar to the image below:
The display is garbled and useless. It took some bit of Googling to refresh my memory, but the problem had to do with a misconfiguration of the xorg.conf file that drives the xserver settings for my laptop. My Googling turned up the following post: Help with screen resolution on Dell Inspiron 8000. The problem has to do with how the graphics card in my laptop identifies the driver, an ATI Mobility M4. Adding the lines in the above post helped correct my problem.
Finally, once I was able to successfully boot into my profile, I was able to easily adjust the resolution of the display panel to 1600×1200. Nonetheless, I am including the xorg.conf I am using below that appears to be working just as expected.
# xorg.conf (X.Org X Window System server configuration file)
# This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
# values from the debconf database.
# Edit this file with caution, and see the xorg.conf manual page.
# (Type “man xorg.conf” at the shell prompt.)
# This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
# if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
# If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
# again, run the following command:
# sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg
Identifier “Generic Keyboard”
Option “XkbRules” “xorg”
Option “XkbModel” “pc105”
Option “XkbLayout” “us”
Identifier “Configured Mouse”
Identifier “Synaptics Touchpad”
Option “SendCoreEvents” “true”
Option “Device” “/dev/psaux”
Option “Protocol” “auto-dev”
Option “HorizEdgeScroll” “0”
Identifier “ATI Technologies, Inc. Rage Mobility M4 (AGP)”
Option “AGPMode” “4”
Option “AGPSize” “32”
Option “EnablePageFlip” “true”
Option “Display” “BIOS”
Option “SWCursor” “true”
Option “CCEusecTimeout” “20000”
Identifier “Configured Monitor”
Identifier “Default Screen”
Monitor “Configured Monitor”
Device “Configured Video Device”
Identifier “Default Layout”
Screen “Default Screen”
InputDevice “Synaptics Touchpad”
I spent way too much time than I needed on this, so this should save my (and someone else’s) bacon in the future.