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#1 2023-08-17 04:30:35

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

[SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

Hi, I am interested in moving over to Devuan from Debian. I am a web developer and have been on Debian Stretch for some years, but find it necessary to finally upgrade due to software rot. So I am trying out Bookworm, but it is bitter-sweet - on the one hand, it looks very nice, and does a lot of detection automatically now in terms of hardware. However I am finding getting all my various software components that go to making up my website very problematic. I'm not sure if it's all (or any) to do with systemd or just later version of Perl (I use mod_perl, Embperl on my site), but it's all quite broken. This is code that has worked fine for over 20 years (website started in 2000).

So I am looking for alternatives that might give me a more friendly upgrade path, and Devuan caught my eye - it's Debian, but without systemd, sounds great!

However, when I tried doing a test install on my rather old workstation (built circa 2011 by me, based on M4A89GTDPro motherboard), the installation came up in a very weird resolution of something like 640 - obviously it didn't detect my graphics card or monitor or whatever. Rather than get into all that (I'm frankly tired of messing with such things, sorry, just being honest) I went back to Bookworm. However however the issues with my code not working are piling up. So now I'm looking elsewhere again.

Question - why would Devuan not recognize such old hardware? Is there some difference in the way Devuan does hardware detection than Bookworm? I thought Devuan was based on Bookworm, but I tried both the latest (which just became stable) and the previous stable, and they both did the same thing. I thought, if it can't even detect my monitor, what else is gonna go wrong or is missing, but now I'm desperate enough to try again.

Is there some switch I'm missing, to enable nonfree or whatever, at install time? Anything to make this smoother? I really want to get a working system that isn't too painful to configure. I'm man enough to admit that messing with drivers just doesn't excite me any more. At a certain basic level I'd like the system to "just work", if possible. But I can do a certain amount of tweaking if there's a clear path and it makes sense. Would appreciate any advice.

Thanks,

Neil

edit - sorry, maybe this should have gone under 'Installation', if so then my apologies.

Last edited by neilgunton (2023-08-17 04:33:13)

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#2 2023-08-17 05:00:13

ralph.ronnquist
Administrator
From: Battery Point, Tasmania, AUS
Registered: 2016-11-30
Posts: 1,189  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

Try: at the installer splash screen, push TAB so as to go to the boot installer line, then move back with the arrow key to change vga=788 to be vga=785.

That would select the old VGA standard, which was 640x480 and all monitors & graphics supposedly should deal with that. The "modern" choice of vga=788 instead configures an 800x600 display and perhaps your setup doesn;t like that.

An alternative/additional boot line fix could be to remove nomodeset although that should only concern graphics mode, which the installer doesn't use.

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#3 2023-08-17 15:30:47

neilgunton
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Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

Thanks. My monitor is a Samsung 23" 1920x1080 (16:9). It's fairly old now, some years, can't even remember when I got it. The video is AMD  RS880 [Radeon HD 4290] according to lspci, not sure if that's relevant or useful. I just tried changing my display to 800x600 and it did indeed look like Devuan looked on rebooting after install. However the 640x480 looked pretty much the same, so I'm not sure why that would make any difference to the final result? When I went to the display settings in Devuan, as I recall it didn't have any other resolutions available. It was like it just didn't recognize something about my graphics or the display. It is odd since you usually see stuff like this on new hardware, but this is quite an old setup.

I'm seeing other things with Bookworm, e.g. I have always used tripwire and when I tried it on the new Bookworm install, it goes for a bit while building its database, then segfaults. Other things are strange, my website code (Perl/mod_perl/Embperl/Apache) which has worked for years is now behaving strangely (e.g. login doesn't work any more). There are strange errors on make test for Embperl, and lots of warnings. What I'm trying to decide is whether any of this would actually be fixed by switching to Devuan. If the issues are related to systemd, then of course it would be worth going back to square one and reinstalling. But if the issues are more due to the big jump in versions in Perl (24 to 36) between Stretch and Bookworm, or maybe the different libc versions, or even how gcc and g++ work, all sorts of other differences apart from systemd could be causing the issues I'm seeing, in which case going through the pain of yet another reinstall wouldn't really fix anything. I'd love to get rid of systemd, as far as I can tell it's a PITA and doesn't really give me anything back in return except for a whole lot of having to learn new ways of doing things, but... WHY? Why did they do this, it seems to be nothing more than some programmer thinking "I can do it right this time" and rewriting everything, but all it has done is introduce new bugs and hassles. So stupid. And it's been forced on everybody, and here I am sitting here trying to figure out if my troubles are actually due to systemd or what else.

Sorry for the rant. I've just spent a week dialing in Bookworm, it just makes me groan to think about going back to square one again with a new install. Somehow it's never as easy as just restoring files from backup, there's always a ton of little things you need to go through manually to get everything working properly. At least that's my experience. So I'm just trying to figure out what my next step should be here.

Thanks for your help.

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#4 2023-08-17 15:39:56

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

One other thought - I read somewhere that Bookworm is the "easiest" Debian to install yet, as it automatically includes nonfree packages and drivers at install time. So it automatically finds proprietary wireless drivers that previously you would have to hunt around for manually (e.g. I was unable to install Debian Bullseye on a recent laptop, due to it not detecting the wifi card, but Bookworm sailed through flawlessly). I don't know if that's an accurate memory, but could that be accounting for the difference I'm seeing between Bookworm and Devuan? Does Devuan have access to all the same nonfree drivers etc that Bookworm has? If not by default, is there any way to enable that during install? Just curious, this feels like a simple case of "driver not found" but it all works fine with Bookworm, so not sure if video drivers and monitor stuff is tied tightly to systemd (and thus maybe not there yet for Devuan). Why isn't there any graphical install in Devuan, for example? The lack of graphical install would seem to point to there being SOME difference when it comes to graphics. Sorry, just pondering out loud here.

Last edited by neilgunton (2023-08-17 15:41:20)

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#5 2023-08-17 16:27:03

rolfie
Member
Registered: 2017-11-25
Posts: 1,112  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

Devuan literally is a Debian minus systemd related packages. Look at the list of banned packages to get an impression. On top of the forum page there is a link to Devuan.org. There you can find this list.

All the rest like drivers, firmware, kernel, desktops, most programs is pure Debian. The sources.list to 95% uses the same syntax as Debian, i.e. Daedalus also requires the non-free-firmware to be added, same as Bookworm.

To the graphical install: that was abandoned a while ago by the Devuan team due to resource issues. Nothing to do with drivers. Due to the lack of manpower maintaining a parallel branch in the installer wasn't possible any more.

The Daedalus installer already includes usage of non-free stuff. That does not mean every hardware combination is working perfectly. There is too much HW out there that has bad bios or other bugs and glitches.

Last edited by rolfie (2023-08-17 16:29:55)

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#6 2023-08-17 16:34:31

rolfie
Member
Registered: 2017-11-25
Posts: 1,112  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

neilgunton wrote:

However, when I tried doing a test install on my rather old workstation (built circa 2011 by me, based on M4A89GTDPro motherboard), the installation came up in a very weird resolution of something like 640 - obviously it didn't detect my graphics card or monitor or whatever. Rather than get into all that (I'm frankly tired of messing with such things, sorry, just being honest) I went back to Bookworm. However however the issues with my code not working are piling up. So now I'm looking elsewhere again.

I do own such an old mainboard based PC. Got it working alright with Chimaera, legacy install with onboard graphics and a 1920x1200 monitor. The PC is sitting somewhere in a corner in my basement, not being used very often.
I guess Daedalus should also work on such hardware.

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#7 2023-08-17 17:49:00

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

rolfie wrote:

I do own such an old mainboard based PC. Got it working alright with Chimaera, legacy install with onboard graphics and a 1920x1200 monitor. The PC is sitting somewhere in a corner in my basement, not being used very often. I guess Daedalus should also work on such hardware.

Then why did it not work for a clean install? I tried both Chmaera and Daedalus about a week or two ago. Did everything by the book, standard install, and it came up with that weird low resolution after booting into the new system.

Last edited by neilgunton (2023-08-17 17:49:33)

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#8 2023-08-17 17:56:50

rolfie
Member
Registered: 2017-11-25
Posts: 1,112  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

Don't know without looking at details, its not the hardware itself. Except for: do you use the onboard graphics or a separate card?
Edith: just read post #3 again, sounds like you are using onboard as I do. Same lspci output.

I am using the onboard graphics. If the hardware still is good a Chimaera install should fire up fine.

Which medium did you use? How was it put on a stick? Did you use the Install or the Expert install? I am only using netinstall media and the expert installs nowadays. 

How does your sources.list look like? One guess is that non-free and due to that firmware is missing.

Have pulled the PC and fired it up, it still works ok.

Last edited by rolfie (2023-08-17 18:01:41)

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#9 2023-08-17 18:04:15

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

I use onboard graphics, plain vanilla. Install was netinstall from usb stick, copied the .iso to the /dev/sdx as per instructions. I think I used the standard install, not expert, though tbh I'm not sure. I believe it was standard, because that's what I would have tried by default (just to see if it would work) and I don't recall any issues with the whole installation process. That went very smoothly. So probably standard install. I don't know what the sources.list looked like at this point, since I have since reinstalled Bookworm and that's what's up right now.

Sorry for the back and forth, I know it must be something stupid and simple. Maybe I should have done Expert install, perhaps that's the magic ingredient I was missing.

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#10 2023-08-17 18:19:27

rolfie
Member
Registered: 2017-11-25
Posts: 1,112  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

netinstall and a LAN cable should be fine.

When Bookworm shows the resolution of your monitor, there is no reason Chimaera or Daedalus shouldn't. Debian and Devuan share kernel, firmware and most software. Low resolution is mostly due to non-free firmware missing, in this case firmware-amd-graphics.

When trying again make sure the sources.list looks like this one:

deb http://deb.devuan.org/merged chimaera          main contrib non-free
deb http://deb.devuan.org/merged chimaera-updates  main contrib non-free
deb http://deb.devuan.org/merged chimaera-security main contrib non-free

Use apt list to find out if this firmware-package is installed.

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#11 2023-08-17 18:38:33

alexkemp
Member
Registered: 2018-05-14
Posts: 309  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

An important difference between Chimaera & Daedalus where firmware is concerned (affecting graphics, bluetooth & all the rest): the Chimaera sources.list is as rolfie set out, but Daedalus is different:

$ cat /etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://deb.devuan.org/merged daedalus                  main non-free-firmware non-free contrib
deb http://deb.devuan.org/merged daedalus-updates          main non-free-firmware non-free contrib
deb http://deb.devuan.org/merged daedalus-security         main non-free-firmware non-free contrib
deb http://deb.devuan.org/merged daedalus-proposed-updates main non-free-firmware non-free contrib
deb http://deb.devuan.org/merged daedalus-backports        main non-free-firmware non-free contrib

Comment-out the last two lines whilst you install.

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#12 2023-08-17 18:46:50

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

This is very helpful, thanks again. I will use Expert next time I try the install and pay closer attention to the sources.list.

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#13 2023-08-17 19:07:18

rolfie
Member
Registered: 2017-11-25
Posts: 1,112  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

Give us a shout if further questions or problems come up. Good luck.

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#14 2023-08-17 22:49:37

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

SUCCESS! I tried again using Expert installation option, and sure enough this time it prompted me for nonfree packages. I don't think it did that during the regular install. So I selected that, but then when I booted into the new system, it still came up with the horrible low resolution. I did notice something go by at the start of the boot messages, something that might have been related to Radeon, but it was gone too fast. The first thing I tried was to install firmware-amd-graphics, and then reboot, and voila - now it works with the monitor's native resolution. All good!

Thanks again for the help, it feels good running a system without systemd. I know that might be irrational, I don't know, but it just didn't sit right with me. The added hassle of things like systemctl and binary logs etc were all part of it, but just in general it felt like there was something alien living in my computer which I didn't ask for and didn't want. I hope Devuan can keep this little rebellion going down the line, because I for one don't want to drink that Kool-Aid.

Ok, so... now to start rebuilding from scratch, yet again... but this is par for the course, in my experience every new install requires several iterations, it just seems to be the karmic fee for doing this stuff. At least I can do it with a smile on my face knowing that systemd no longer has a stranglehold on my system processes. :-)

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#15 2023-08-17 23:31:49

neilgunton
Unknown
Registered: 2023-08-17
Posts: 25  

Re: [SOLVED] New install gave me a basic 640 resolution on older PC

Also, tripwire works again... it was segfaulting on Bookworm. Things are looking up. :-)

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