Xorg X11R7

It’s funny, the “/usr/X11R6” directory name (and of course X11R6 itself) is such a mainstay that it’s hard to think of changing it, even if technically the new release is R7. I’ve finally moved to it, mainly because my old system decided to die on me recently and I ended up purchasing a new motherboard (Gigabyte again, despite minor annoyances previously, thankfully the onboard audio is not automatically disabled when I plug a PCI card in – hooray…) and processor (Core Duo). The system is much quieter than the old one (those old P4’s ran way too hot, and consequently the fan was always whirring away like a mad thing trying to cool things down a little).

The motherboard has an onboard intel graphics chip; I figured it was either that, or buy a new Nvidia to replace my aging TNT2 (which was AGP anyway and therefore unusable in the new system, which has PCI-Express slots instead). I initially tried the VESA BIOS driver with my old X version (6.8.1) but it just froze the system, and it wouldn’t have been accelerated anyway. So I figured I may as well upgrade to the modular X11R7.2 release.

It all went fairly well (it’s now running, at least) except the lack of build documentation is appalling. I eventually found a shell script which could be used to compile all the modules and therefore yield a working X11R7.2, well in theory anyway; I was missing a few dependencies (for one, xcb, which isn’t part of X, apparently) and even when those were resolved the xserver kept failing to build. Firstly, it’s configure script rejected my attempts to use the most recent versions of Mesa (7.0.1 and 6.5.3); older ones (6.4.2 for instance) caused the build to bomb out in mysterious ways (which didn’t seem Mesa related and which thus kept me scratching my head for a while). No, it turns out that building the server requires one very specific version of Mesa, and that for some obscure reason this fact is not documented, anywhere. Except, now for here. It’s 6.5.2.

Fortunately I was able to download the latest version of the intel video driver and it supported my G33 chipset with no problems, except for lack of 3D acceleration. For that I needed DRI and that meant upgrading my kernel (not such a big deal) and using a git snapshot of Mesa (very annoying, especially as it conflicts with the version used to compile the xserver and thus prevents AIGLX from working).

Also, although it initially worked fine, at some point the intel driver decided that it would ignore all previous convention regarding which resolution to start with and began running in something like 1152 by 768 which is way too short vertically (I use 1280 by 1024 normally) and also, gallingly, not directly supported by my LCD monitor which then needs to stretch the image itself so that it can display it the native 1280 by 1024, causing pixel artifacts and looking generally quite shit. I eventually discovered that using the “PreferredMode” option in the Monitor section of my xorg.conf configuration file could solve the problem, the main issue was that this setting isn’t documented in the man page that comes with the server in R7.2.

Ah well. Now I guess I wait for R7.3 and hopefully I can get AIGLX working…


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