Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The i915-Debian Ordeal is over

Phew!!! Finally, the ordeal is over! For past few weeks I've been struggling to get my X window working on my new mobo, a.k.a. i915. Thanks a zillion to my mate, Amit, who endlessly answered all my stupid (and some intelligent) questions and always promptly gave me right pointers to go ahead. And not to forget numerous users who, over hundreds of mailing lists, have tried to solve the very same problem. Though I found no fixed solution, I gathered bits-n-pieces and BANG! It worked!

For those who don't have a clue of what I'm talking about and have come so far, I owe them an explanation. I installed Debian Sarge, a Linux distro, which didn't have support for my 915G chipset. Due to this, my graphical interface wasn't working, I then had just a console based linux. No so good. So I had to google & read manuals like hell to get things working, I virtually tried every possible combination and just before I was about to quit. Then I discovered something... a hidden script (yes, it was !@#$ing damn hidden since it was named 'rules' and who on earth was to guess that it's a script to install stuff!!!). I now have KDE 3.2 working at a SEXY 1280x1024 resolution! Here's the screenshot.

For people still struggling with how to get X working with Debian Sarge on i915, here's how I went about it. See if it rings any bells.

1. If you have i915, you probably will have SATA HDD, so install kernel 2.6, default installation will NOT install kernel 2.6. Type linux26 when installation prompt appears.

2. Get the sources for latest 2.6.x kernel (2.6.11, in my case) , compile it and install it.

3. Boot into this new kernel.

4. Get the sources for XFree 4.5.0. Build (hell, it takes about an hour and unending dependencies to get it built!) and install it. This might not be necessary, but this just what I did. You might want try skipping this step.

5. Get the xfree 4.5.0 debian packages from this site:
Install every single .deb you have, again, might not be necessary, don't know for sure.

6. Now comes the most tricky part...
I thought I was done, but to my disappointment it WASN'T! Hell, I came to cursing myself for opting for debian, because other distros like FC3 already support i915! Then I went reading every damn file I could. No readmes or files called install.sh, or alike. Just then file called 'rules' caught my attention.
When I opened it, I found following shebang:
#!/usr/bin/make -f
Holy Crap, I muttered!!! And some commands that looked like setting up things to get going! How on earth am I supposed to GUESS that a file called rules is to be used for installation!

7. dpkg-reconfigure for xserver-common & xserver-xfree86 got things rolling.
Another trick is that you won't find i915 in cards list yet. So select i810 and go ahead.

And this is how things went rolling for me!!! Phew, I know you are as exhausted reading this by now, as I was till yesterday!!!

BTW, one of the SEXIEST feature that I liked about debian is this... I wanted to install latest kernel and Amit suggested me to opt out of old method:
make menuconfig; make; make modules; make install; make modules_install
followed by few file movements and editing grub file. Just give one command, and it generate a debian package for your new kernel image! You then JUST have to install this package. The best part is you can even uninstall it CLEANLY whenever you want to! It works GREAT when you reinstall the base distro and you are spared the task of recompiling the kernel!
Just execute this from your source directory:
$ make-kpkg --initrd --rootcmd=fakeroot kernel_image

Things are not done yet, I've yet to get my sound working. Will spend today night doing so! Any pointers/help is MOST welcome!


Amit Shah said...

The reason why the i915 isn't supported is that Debian's the most stable distro... and they don't add things easily. Now, Sarge, the distro you installed, is in freeze, just about to be released, so changes are just not made. For a recent-distro experience with Debian, use Debian Sid (aka unstable). It's called unstable, 'cos it's the bleeding-edge Debian. In this distro, you'll find all the new programs and patches and support for everything. i915 most probably would not be supported even in Sid yet, as Sarge is to be released... once it's released, Sid will be open to all new commits.

Have fun with Debian, it's a great system and I'm sure you'll save a lot of time doing stuff with it.

Sheetal said...

I have dell notebook and i face problem opening commandprompt there (XP).. and even console based linux comes in a small window..
In xp even if i maximize the whole window will maximize but still the actual working area would be same.. any idea what might be the reason.. i tried all sorts of settings... but no luck...

Suhas said...
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Suhas said...
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Suhas said...

I don't much about Debian. Is it for required for Win ( i.e. Intel hardware ) for KDE ?

By the way, When I installed KDE on Solaris (8) on my machine, I just search for "KDE 3.2 Contrib" ( Contrib is for some one has already done the exercise on the similar hardware and put installable binaries ) and found all packages required to install one by one. And that's it ... So may be You can get Contrib to install KDE + other applications such as Open Office etc.........

Nakul said...

just one question :P..
why unix/debian :( ??

The Shaolin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Shaolin said...

Unix because:
It is THE programmer's OS!
Unix because:
Computers are like air conditioners...
They stop working properly if you open WINDOWS!
Unix because:
Given enough time and money, eventually M$ will re-invent UNIX!!!
I can go on...
And Debian because:
Friends (AmitS http://www.livejournal.com/users/amitshah/ & Aditya http://adityag.blogspot.com/) insisted it's better of many Linux distros...
And guess what, I have almost come to believe them!
And secondly because I have tried RedHat & SuSe and wanted to experiment with something new!

Anonymous said...

Hi *,

I've a VAIO FS640/W (with integrated 915GM chipset) running Debian Testing. I've installed the last kernel source ( and the newest xfree86 version (4.5.2 I think).

As I image, I get the same results as you when the X server try to up: a black screen. Xfree86 logs appears to be well; no major error was encountered.

could you give me some hacks to resolve this problem?

Any comments? any suggest? I'll appreciate your help

Best regards