As I mentioned previously, the ATI drivers (fglrx-control and fglrx-driver) work with UP4's xserver-xorg-core 2:1.11.4-1 but not with UP5's 2:1.12 (See http://wiki.debian.org/ATIProprietary).
This is what I did to "solve" the problem...
NOTE: I figured this out by trial and error; I don't really understand why any of it works or doesn't so please feel free to offer explanations or alternate solutions.
First, I installed LMDE (UP4) with latest and updated all its packages.
Second, I installed and configured the ATI drivers. To simplify the process, I made the following script that I simply run from a Ctrl-Alt-F1 environment:
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# Run script outside of DE: logout, Ctrl-Alt-F1
# Get root
[ "`whoami`" = root ] || exec sudo "$0"
# Install ATI drivers: **Adjust the kernel version first.**
aptitude -r install fglrx-control fglrx-driver linux-headers-3.2.0-2-all-amd64
# Stop graphic interface
invoke-rc.d mdm stop
# Stop current modules
modprobe -r radeon drm
# Create /etc/X11/xorg.conf
# Start X windows
invoke-rc.d mdm start
# For more details, see:
The fan speed lowered right after the script finished running, and I didn't need to restart the computer.
Third, I replaced the repo sources to incoming and refreshed (NOT ready to update just yet).
Before updating, I excluded some packages to keep them back because they seem to conflict with fglrx-control and fglrx-driver. From the Update Manager, I added the following to Edit -> Preferences -> Ignored packages:
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Note that the new kernel doesn't really "conflict" with fglrx-control and fglrx-driver but the drivers don't seem to work when I run my script (and yes, I changed the kernel version number in my script). So it looks like I'll be done upgrading my kernel with this older laptop.
Finally, I performed the update to UP5. (Make sure that it doesn't offer to remove fglrx-control or fglrx-driver)
Everything worked, but does anyone see an obvious (long term) problem with this scheme? Other than staying with the 3.2.0-2 kernel until the end of this laptop's life?