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(?) X server crash when starting up RH9 for the first time

From Claudiu Spataru

Answered By: Mike Martin, Ben Okopnik, Thomas Adam, Heather Stern

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

This is naughty, please send e-mails in plain-text ONLY. -- Thomas Adam

(?) Hello

My X server crashes with the following error messages (see attached log).

My system is an Athlon 2500+, GeForce FX 5200 graphic card, A7N8X deluxe mainboard (not sure how relevant this info is, but added it anyway).

The font server can be stopped and restarted by using '/etc/init.d/xfs start|stop' without any problems. When eliminating the Fontpath line that points to unix/:7100 from the XF86Config file, it complains about a different fontpath that it cannot find and crashes once again. (There is also either no path set to run Xconfigurator or there is no such thing in my installation of RH9.)

Any known solution to the above problem?

(!) [MikeM] dont do this - put it back. If you dont use the xfs server then you need to hardcode the fontpath into /etc/X11/XF86Config
X wont start without xfs running, when X fails to start, is xfs running?
(!) [Ben] That's inaccurate. Either a font server _or a hard-coded font set is sufficient, and there's no advantage that I know of to a server if you're not doing X over a network. My system has run without "xfs" for years now.
(!) [MikeM] I know this is generally true, however the querent is using Red Hat 9
Red Hat does a fair bit with the font server, including dealing with easy adding of fonts, TTF fonts etc.
(!) [Thomas] That's inaccurate -- TrueType fonts are handled by the xtt server, NOT by xfs itself. There are two different servers. I still fail to see how RH find running another process to handle fonts an advantage
(!) [Heather] Smaller part to kick if it needs a restart? But within X this is often false economy, yanking live font servers is rather like pulling the rug out from under you. It can be done - I've done it (read the 'xset' man page if you're crazy enough to mess with this) - but I think the split is a holdover from an earlier time (only a year or two ago) when the X server did not speak Truetype on its own. You needed an external fontserver for it, and that was usually xfs patched for freetype access (the way I did it) but there was a competitor from the asian countries, who had a real need for readable letters.
(!) [MikeM] So to avoid other problems/questions IMHO, it is safe to say that the querent is better off using the installed font server. (ie: dont add unnecesary complications), especially as it sounds like it is actually working.
(!) [Thomas] I disagree with this -- X11 and fonts is rarely, if at all, distro specific. Just because RH uses a font server initially, doesn't mean to say that you have to continue using it. That is one of the ideals of Linux -- it is your OS. Do whatever you like :)
(!) [MikeM] just did a quick google - its possible that the card is not recognised properly
so try this (as root)
edit the file /etc/X11/XF86Config look for the device section eg:
Section "Device"
	Identifier  "Videocard0"
	Driver      "nv"
	VendorName  "Videocard vendor"
	BoardName   "NVIDIA GeForce 4 (generic)"
	BUSID	    "PCI:1:0:0"
and experiment changing the Driver entry to vesa or nv, depending what is there already

(?) Thank you very much for the replies! It was indeed the fact that my graphic card did not get recognized properly and the generic vesa driver did not work in my case. After changing the values for 'BoardName' and 'Driver' as per Mike's suggestion, I was able to start X Windows.

(!) [MikeM] Generic X error problem solving
There are a few very common reasons for X not starting
1. Not enough disk space in / or /var
(!) [Thomas] If this is the case, then I doubt one would be able to login anyhow, since /var/log/wtmp would have to be written to so that the "last(1)" command can keep a log of who has logged in.
(!) [MikeM] 2. Font server not starting (can be caused by 1.)
(!) [Heather] More accurately, "fixed" or some font needed by your window manager isn't available, so the session manager dies -- taking X with it.
This may be a dead font server, or some other buggy FontPath.
(!) [Thomas] RedHat like to use xfs/xfs-xtt to issue fonts. The truth is that a font server is NOT necessary, no matter which distribution one uses. The only time I can think when you might want to use it is when one is having to share fonts over the network.
In anycase, if the font server fails to load, the default fonts listed in /etc/XF86Config (under other distros: /etc/X11/XF86Config-4) are used as the "fallback".
(!) [MikeM] 3. Mouse not being initialised
(!) [Heather] This is actually quite rare, much more common is it being incorrectly initialized, due to incorrect protocol being specified for the input device -- which will get you into X, but with a mouse that doesn't move, or does something crazy as soon as you touch it, like race to one edge of the screen and flutter there like a trapped moth.
(!) [MikeM] 4. If you use the Nvidia binary module, the kernel module not being loaded.
(!) [Heather] i810s and other "memory sharing with CPU" video cards can have this problem too. It may also matter to embedded designers. In short if you can't see the video without kernel help - it needs to be loaded.
5. Generic error "No screens", often a problem with the video driver.
(!) [Thomas] Yes, either that or the wrong video driver has been selected. In that instance, a new one should be chosen. Under Debian, the fix for that would be to run:
dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86
Commonly, the "no screens" error can also be caused by FrameBuffer options turned on. If one comments these out, the problem may also go away.
(!) [MikeM] points 3,4 and 5 will show an error in the X error log (or on the terminal that starts X)
(!) [Thomas] They'll only show a message assuming point 1 above is false, otherwise, how is it to write to the log file?
(!) [Heather] It will show the same message on the controlling terminal, if you launch X as a command at a shell prompt instead of allowing anything automatic to try it. And while we're at it, disable any attempt whatever to launch X automatically if X isn't tuned up and happy. The infamous message "ID x respawning too fast" is a common symptom of that. The "ID" in that case is an /etc/inittab entry for your GUI login prompt.
(!) [MikeM] What can often work as a quick fix is to run the script xf86config (all lower case)
This will wipe out the config for the font server though.
(!) [Thomas] In any case, adding the line:
FontPath    "Unix/:7100"
as the first line under: Section "Files" should work.

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Published in Issue 95 of Linux Gazette, October 2003
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