Geek / Technical

Stupid Video Card…

Long story short: I don’t have a working GNU/Linux system at the moment.

Long story long:

Two days ago, my Debian GNU/Linux system worked fine.

Yesterday, the video card was acting up.

The display was a little off, as if the monitor cable was getting interference. I switched cables with the Windows 98 machine I have, so I eliminated the monitor and the cable as the culprits. The GeForce2 GTS that I had won in my first ever eBay auction years ago had finally started to fail.

Just to make sure, I tried to reinstall the Nvidia drivers. For those of you who don’t know, driver installation on a Linux-based system is not a matter of downloading an executable and running it. Nvidia actually does provide something like that, but the drivers have to be made part of the kernel, usually by making a module, and you do that by compiling it.

Well it complained that the compiler used to make the kernel isn’t the same as the compiler I currently have on my system. It’s been awhile, and I’ve upgraded Debian a few times, so that made sense. I decided to try to recompile my kernel since I haven’t done that in a long time and I have been meaning to get some extra features such as USB drive support anyway.

Recompiled, rebooted, and voila! I upgraded the kernel from version 2.4.24 to version 2.4.27, and I was surprised that it only took a few minutes to do so since I’ve had older/slower machines take a half hour or more. It turns out that it was a good thing it was so fast. I apparently forgot to add network support for my onboard ethernet. Whoops.

I attempt to recompile, but then I get strange errors about modules not existing, even though I did the same exact steps to recompile. So I try to install one of the older kernels since I still have some of the packages I had created in the past. Still no network support? ARGH!!

I’ve been meaning to do a fresh install of Debian on this machine anyway. The hard drive partition scheme is more limiting than I had originally anticipated years ago (who thought it was a good idea to make /tmp only 50MB?!).

Since the video card was failing, I decided it was time to get a new one. So I went to Fry’s which was 20 minutes away from my house. I bought a GeForce FX 5500 (w00t!), as well as a Western Digital 160GB drive and some quieter case fans. I bought the drive because I don’t want to end up like Lachlan Gemmell. I already have a 120GB drive that holds a lot of my files. Some of it is backups from my main drive, but a lot of it is made up of data that doesn’t have a copy anywhere. I would hate to lose the .ogg files I’ve ripped from CD or bought from Audio Lunchbox, the games I’ve reviewed for Game Tunnel, pictures of me and my friends, and of course my Subversion repositories for the projects I have been working on. I opted for a second huge hard drive since it would be easier and faster to make at least a second copy of my data. I can decide to get a DVD burner later.

And the fans? My system sounded like a jet engine starting up. I’ve been meaning to fix that problem as well.

Last night I installed the fans, and it was definitely a lot quieter. I decided to leave off the video card and hard drive until today since it was getting late and I needed to figure out how to setup the drive in the first place.

So at the moment, I have a system that can’t connect to the Internet. It still can’t display anything, so it is rendered useless for the most part. All because I tried to fix it when the video card acted up.

The good thing is that I’ve made it quieter, and when I am through with it, it will be even more powerful than before. Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 2004 are now more easily within my grasp. And I will finally get around to designing an automated backup system. Phoenix rising, indeed.