Dell OptiPlex GX260 (Vince)
Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 was installed from a Debian CD-ROM (15 Apr 2003).
This desktop machine is considered a production machine and so needs
to stay with the stable release. However this machine requires XFree
4.3. The XFree86 documentation said the video chipset (Intel i845)
was only supported in version 4.3.0, which is only available in Debian
packaged for the unstable distribution.
The vesa driver in XFree86-4.1.0 is an option but has serious
problems. Even with the Debian testing release there were problems
with the vesa driver.
The solution was better kernel support of the devices. But before
considering this option think about buying an extra video card.
A first attempt was to install XFree86 4.3.0 from the tar files
provided by xfree86.org. This works but it lives outside the Debian
package system and might break your package management system at some
stage down the track, although this is usually easily managed.
Intel does provide some information from
indicates that xfree86-4.2.0 is required, which means using Debian's
testing distribution at the moment. See the
for how to upgrade your distribution from stable to
Some BIOS changes:
Video DAC Snoop = ON
Legacy Video Memory = 8Mb
AGP window max = 256Mb (the maximum available)
Get the appropriate drivers from Intel at
http://support.intel.com/support/graphics. The tarball
Before compiling the drivers
Get the kernel-headers. This is needed so the Intel driver code can
fit correctly into your running kernel. The testing distribution of
Debian uses kernel 2.4.20. For kernel 2.4.20, debian changed the
layout of the headers package -- it is no longer
kernel-headers-2.4.20-686, but kernel-build-2.4.20/<arch> and you get
all the relevant architectures.
# cd /usr/src
# ln -s kernel-build-2.4.20/686 linux
Build the drivers
Now unpack the Intel driver tarball, anywhere you like. The tarball
unpacks to a directory called dripkg.
# cd dripkg
# sh ./install.sh
The install script prompts you for the information it needs, and
keeps a log of what it does. You need to run it as root.
The compilation can fail if the /usr/src/linux link is not pointing to
the right place (see above), or the kernel version is too old (less
As part of the install script, the newly built files are installed
at the locations shown below. Any preexisting files are moved to
a file of the same name with a ``.dri-old'' suffix.
(Note that the set of files and the locations will likely be different
on your system.)
The fact these modules replace ones provided by the packaging system
may break the packaging system to some extent, but to a far smaller
extent than installing XFree86-4.3 from a tarball or from source.
Configure your X server
This is quite simple once you have the correct hardware support. All
you really need is the line Driver ``i810'' in the Device section. In
the Screen section, start with a default graphics depth of 16. This
is what Intel recommend. It may help to specify a VideoRam size, but
it's not required. Resolutions 1024x768 and 1280x1024 work at 16 and
24 bits and seems to do the 3D graphics things (running glxinfo and
glxgears to verify this).
Messing around with VESA modes in XFree86 4.2.1 did not help with this
chipset. The drivers only work for a little while. The failure was
that once you switch VTs or restart the X server, the screen goes
black. Sometimes the card seems to go into the correct video mode
(verify this using the menu buttons on the monitor) but when the
screen is a uniform black you can't do much useful work. There was
one other mode of failure, where the screen had strange colours. This
may have been an incorrect pixmap depth problem, or possibly a bad
video modeline (though I find it hard to accept the latter, I let
vbe/ddc do its thing.)
The upgrade described in this note makes no real difference to these
problems with the vesa driver. Presumably this is because the upgrade
doesn't affect the relevant bits of the system.
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