So here’s the deal: I’m “supporting” this older lady who’s using an i386-type Compaq (Pentium III – Coppermine) with 384MB of RAM. She says that the machine is being slow, and I decide that she needs a leaner OS than what she has (which is Ubuntu 09.10).
OK, so I do some research and conclude that openSUSE is the best OS for both the machine and for the older lady. I use Bittorrent to download 11.3 and check the md5 checksum. In my own room I install on a machine that is identical to hers 11.3 and everything checks out (I ultimately conclude that GNOME is large for the machine and spend a number of days trying to swap it out with XFCE, but that’s another story.). So I figure that everything’s great and I use the same (GNOME) live disk to install 11.3 on her machine. As soon as GNOME fully boots up it crashes. I reinstall and it crashes again. I swap out hard drives (remember, these are identical machines that I’m “supporting”, here) and as soon as GNOME is fully loaded 11.3 then promptly crashes. Finally, I swap out her entireMACHINE with the identical one that I’ve been working on in my room. The f—er crashes when GNOME is fully loaded! By now, I’m fully pissed (because by this time my regularmachine has ALSO gone down (possibly because of openSUSE, but I cannot say definitively so at this time).
Finally, I’m able to narrow down the suspects to three peripherals:
The keyboard (my prime suspect);
The mouse (seems unlikely), and finally;
The CRT (even more unlikely).
I swap out her keyboard with my keyboard and 11.3 crashes when GNOME is fully loaded – scratch the prime suspect. I swap out her mouse with my mouse – same result. Finally, I swap out her monitor, and GNOME works like a charm.
But my adventure for that weekend is not over – not by a long shot; you see, that monitor that I swapped out is a flat screen that I use when I’m working on computers in the kitchen. I need to dig out a CRT – but that won’t be a problem, right? WRONG. I dig out a MAG Innovation CRT from my room, and GNOMEcrashes 11.3 AGAIN! Next I bring up a * 7500 Compaq*-branded CRT (thinking that surely it would work) and GNOMEcrashes 11.3 AGAIN! Finally, I bring out the last CRT; this one is the most difficult to gain physical access to – ***and it’s the bulkiest ***AND HEAVIEST of the lot!
GNOME decides to play nicely with this one.
So I think that I’m justified in saying that with certain CRTs that 11.3 (GNOME) has a bug (and by the way – before anyone mentions it – yes, I am aware that I am dealing with a lot of older computer equipment. Bite me.
If anyone has any hypotheses that don’t involve bugs, then I’d be glad to hear them.
How do you know who crashed ? Gnome or X ?
You should start X with some light weight wms (icewm and twm should be already installed) and see what happens, before deciding that Gnome has a bug with monitors (which seems hard to believe … but who knows).
BTW Gnome needs at least 256MB to run. I would not install Gnome on a machine with 384MB of RAM, not even XFCE. You should install icewm or LXDE on those old computers.
The xorg session controls the interface to the monitor settings not gnome. gnome merely requests the window manager to display/return actions. The xwindow settings of xorg.conf (which I understand isn’t in 11.3 anymore) are likely the problem. Many CRT and LCD displays communicate thru the video card to the OS. Thusly, it may indeed be a mismatch of settings between the monitor and card or card and driver.
If xorg.conf is present, it will be evaluated (and has priority over the files in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d, as far as I can tell). ATI and nvidia drivers might create one. If anyone (or anything) has written modelines and monitor frequencies anywhere, switching old monitors won’t help solving the problem (provided they survive the test!)
I started X with startx and cleared the memory cache between each session (I certainly have more stuff running in the background than your patient.) Here’s the amount of used memory in MB with the different wms :
So you can get an idea of what would be better to run with 384 MB of RAM. I’m afraid that even if you get Gnome to start, it won’t take long until it becomes very slow: Firefox, screensaver., packagekit …
> So here’s the deal: I’m “supporting” this older lady who’s using an
> i386-type Compaq (Pentium III – Coppermine) with 384MB of RAM. She
> says that the machine is being slow, and I decide that she needs a
> leaner OS than what she has (which is Ubuntu 09.10).
that machine doesn’t meet the minimum hardware requirements, so no
wonder it is “slow”…