Desktop problem on install - Dell GX 270 (closed-unsolved)

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Desktop problem on install - Dell GX 270 (closed-unsolved)

Postby Aging Technogeek on Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:29 pm

Been trying to install Felicia (dual boot with XP pro) on a Dell Optiplex I recently acquired. When I load from CD, everything is fine until the desktop appears. All I have is the lower right quadrant of the desktop in the upper left quadrant of my monitor.

Tried compatibility mode and got it to install but resolution was stuck at 800 x 600 on a 19 inch monitor with a native resolution of 1400 x 900. Rebooted into recovery mode and ran "xfix - try to fix x server" from the repair menu.

Now I have the correct resolution but I am again stuck with only the lower right quarter of the desktop. I tried right clicking on the desktop and selecting "open a terminal". The terminal opened but I couldn't access the input line. All I had was the very bottom right edge of the window.

System specs:
Dell Optiplex GX270 (SFF)
Pentium 4
2.4 Ghz
2 Gbyte RAM
120 Gbyte HDD (90 G XP: 30 G Mint)
Video card: Intel 82865G Graphics Controller

Can't get to terminal to run "lspci" and "lsusb" or to check syslogs for error messages.
I've gone as far as I can on my own so I'm asking for help.

Thank in advance too anyone whd answers this post.
Last edited by Aging Technogeek on Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Husse on Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:57 pm

I've seen a few reports like this and I think (not sure though) that it is Intel that does this
I think modelines is the solution - a description here
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1022011
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Aging Technogeek on Thu Feb 26, 2009 9:48 pm

Husse,

Thanks for the pointer. Yhe system in the thread is the same as mine, with the same graphics card. If I can get to terminal, I'll definitely try it and post my results.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Aging Technogeek on Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:01 pm

Husse wrote:I've seen a few reports like this and I think (not sure though) that it is Intel that does this
I think modelines is the solution - a description here
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1022011


I used the procedure detailed in the link you cited and I got the resolution I wanted. The only problem is that the desktop is offset to the upper left so that only the lower right corner is visible. I can read the time and date, and connect to a network but that"s all. Even right clicking on the desktop and selecting "open a terminal" does no good since the terminal opens in the area of the desktop that I can't see.

Tried a reinstall and the same thing happened. When the desktop loaded from the CD, the resolution was fine but only the lower right corner was visible. Rebooted in compatibility mode and was locked into low resolution. Tried the patch - ended up with one fourth of a desktop at good resolution.

Even tried to install Ubuntu. Same results.

I think this computer just doesn't like Linux.

[edit] 6 hours later. Freespire installs like silk, but I don't care for their desktop, network manager, or download manager. I prefer Mint.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Husse on Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:13 am

To be honest I have never heard of, let alone seen, something like this before - this and one or two other reports are the first
I'll try to dig something up and return to you
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Husse on Sun Mar 01, 2009 4:15 pm

I have noticed that X seems to write the screen in four quadrants...
You write
the resolution was fine but only the lower right corner was visible.

Does this mean that 3/4 of the screen is black?
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Aging Technogeek on Sun Mar 01, 2009 6:40 pm

Husse wrote:I have noticed that X seems to write the screen in four quadrants...
You write
the resolution was fine but only the lower right corner was visible.

Does this mean that 3/4 of the screen is black?


That"s correct. The visible part of the desktop is in the upper left quadrant of the screen, The rest of the screen is black.

This happens when booting from CD and when booting from hard drive in Mint and Ubuntu 8.10 when resolution is 1440x900 but not at 800x600 resolution.

Also, Freespire works fine either from disk or when installed.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Husse on Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:42 am

I'm sorry but I am nowhere near a solution
The explanation is as I wrote above that X draws the screen in four quadrants and for some reason it goes nuts and draws it all wrong. I have discussed this with a few knowledgeable persons and like me they have never seen or heard of this before (there are one or possibly two more in the forum with similar problems, but that's with dual monitors)
Something like this can happen on Solaris where you can move the desktop on the screen and out of it, but that's a different story
I have not found anything useful about this - that is not to say there is nothing only that it drowns in other kinds of problems. It's not made easier being Intel - you get all sorts of info on chipsets....
However I will keep on looking
Can you boot in 800x600 and use the terminal?
If so run lspci -v
This should give lspci with the added info which kernel modules are used
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Husse on Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:17 am

I remembered xvidtune which I recommended earlier when lots of monitors were out of range, that is no problem any more
This can be used to move the screen in different directions see man xvidtune
This is a very powerful tool so take care, but it's the closest thing to a solution I've found
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Aging Technogeek on Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:13 pm

Checked man xvidtune and it could work, except that when the screen offset occurs the terminal window is completely hidden and I can't enter any commands.

Is it possible to relocate the terminal window to the lower right screen corner while in the low resolution condition and keep it there while I fix the resolution?
Then I could open the terminal and run xvidtune to correct the offset problem.

Even if this glitch is not resolved, thanks a lot for sticking with me through the process.

edit
Wrote the above in response to your last post before I saw the post above it. Will run and post lspci-v in the morning - to tired to type straight right now.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Husse on Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:31 pm

Well - Intrepid, and thus Felicia has a lot of sound and X problems and problems that are worse "than normal"
Can you select the low resolution, put the terminal there and then change back to the failing resolution?
Note that I don't know how to make this persistent ...
You could also try xrandr another CLI tool
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Aging Technogeek on Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:42 pm

Husse,

It will be a few days before I can do any more tinkering with this unit, I've got a fairly full schedule right now.

Also, I committed the ultimate mistake. I lent my copy of Felicia 32 bit to a "friend" and it came back scratched. I'll have to get another copy before I can do any more experimenting.

I will keep at it whenever I can find the time. This is an unusual problem and I would really like to solve it.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Aging Technogeek on Tue Mar 10, 2009 7:17 pm

I tried to set up the terminal in low res so I could see it when I lost 3/4 of my desktop. The problem is that in low resolution terminal fills the entire desktop.

Can't post lspci - I don't have an internet connection on the Optiplex.

I have noticed that Windows will not set resolution on the monitor to 1440x900. It will set higher or lower resolutions, but not that one even though that is the native resolution as specified in the documentation. Also, Windows is using a 75/sec. refresh rate. When I had the monitor connected to my main computer both Vista and Mint used a 60/sec. refresh. I'm beginning to wonder if there might be a compatibility problem between the computer and the monitor. (The computer is several years older than the monitor.) I must see if I can borrow an older monitor from a friend and check it out.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Husse on Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:48 pm

I read your latest post again and now I recall that something happened around the turn of the millenium - suddenly some vga cables could not be used - no connection. We never found anything about it though.....
So if possible use another vga cable
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Aging Technogeek on Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:33 pm

Tried 3 VGA cables - all new or nearly new - same result.

Thought I might have a clue when Freespire installed and ran with no problems and Ubuntu Intrepid acted just like Mint. Aha, sez I, maybe its Gnome. So I got a copy of Mint 6 xfce CE and tried it. Same result as Mint 6 main and Ubuntu - one fourth of a desktop.

I'm about ready to give up. I have a buyer for the computer who wants Windows Xp installed. I think I'll just sell it and be done with it. Some mysteries are not meant to be solved by mere mortals.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby rivenought on Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:37 pm

On a lark, have you tried using a non-Debian distro such as PCLinuxOS / Mandriva or openSUSE? Perhaps it has something to do with being Debian or Ubuntu-related. Did you try Mint 5 or Mint 4? I just thinking out loud again.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Aging Technogeek on Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:41 pm

Rivernought;

I installed the latest version of Freespire with no problems (except that I'm not a fan of Freespire). Puppy Linux also installs perfectly and I've known Puppy to be very picky about the condition of the hard drive I was trying to put it on.

It's kind of a moot point anyway as I've sold the computer so we could say this thread is closed if not solved.
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Re: Desktop problem on install - Dell Optiplex GX 270

Postby Husse on Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:37 am

Yeah - we simply have to accept that there are some problems we can't fix - some hardware that does not like some software
My guess it that Freespier and Puppy has an older version of X than Mint (we have 7.4 in Felicia)
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