Hi and welcome to my very first post here!
One of my tasks is to recycle old donated PCs for a charity. I'm considering using VectorLinux 6.0 Standard Gold or Light for that purpose, but I'm having some serious problems getting started.
I keep an old Dell Dimension around because it's "a real problem child." I know that if I can get a distro to run on it, then I feel pretty confident that I can get it to run on any of the other old donated PCs.
But, true to form, the old Dell is giving me video problems with Vector.
As soon as the VectorLinux 6.0 Standard install CD first comes up, it tells me that I'm using an undefined video mode. Then it lets me choose between several text modes and 800x600 and 640x480. That behavior is NOT unique to VectorLinux -- it has occurred on that PC with every distro I've tried on it except for Puppy Linux, which for some reason didn't have any problems at all with it.
When it gives me that list of video modes, I can choose Mode C (800x600) and the VectorLinux installer starts up and does the install, and it tells me that it has tested X successfully -- but once the install is finished, the PC boots up to a completely black screen on every boot after that.
If I install xvesa, then I get an error message, saying that X wasn't able to start, and the error log says that I'm trying to use an unknown xvesa mode.
If I install xorg, then I get an error message, saying that X wasn't able to start, and the error log says either "device not found" or "incomplete xorg.conf" or something like that -- I've gotten different messages on different tries.
One of the "automatic" choices lets me choose a few things, but when the PC reboots, it goes to a completely black screen.
The other "automatic" choice doesn't appear to be doing anything at all, and when the PC reboots, it goes to a completely black screen.
Probably the most frustrating part is that it feels like the intaller is forcing me to set up my PC's video at least 2 or 3 times each time I do a reinstall, and there are different, confusing choices at each of the 2 or 3 config screens.
Several times, I've gotten the PC to boot up without any error message at all -- X seems to actually start, but it dumps me straight to the completely black screen.
Here are some basic specs:
CPU: Celeron 2.4 GHz
RAM: 256 MB
Hard Drive: 40 GB
Graphics: Onboard Intel 7xx or 8xx (I don't remember which, but it's always a big pain to get it to work)
I've reinstalled VectorLinux 6.0 Standard Gold on it several times, choosing several different combinations of video modes, but NOTHING is working consistently.
The most frustrating part of trying to solve this problem is that I can't even remember everything I've tried to fix the problem.
At one point, I figured out that if I pressed TAB when LILO came up, and typed the command "VectorLinux vga=normal" the system would boot and it would give me 1024x768 (my chosen resolution).
So I did that for several bootups, to make sure it would keep working. And it worked fine -- as long as I pressed TAB at the LILO screen and typed "VectorLinux vga=normal" as the boot line.
But then it stopped working when I tried to logoff as user and logon as root. Instead of bringing up the login screen, it went to complete black -- no cursor, no nothing -- and all I could do was shut off the PC.
When I turned the PC back on, it booted normally until it tried to start X. At that point, it dropped me into a complete black screen again. No error messages. No prompt. No nothing.
I had to shut off the PC. I waited 30 seconds and turned it back on. Nope -- X is still dropping me into a completely black screen.
A related problem -- no matter what I changed in lilo.conf, I couldn't get it to add the "vga=normal" to the boot line itself. It either told me that "vga=" was not allowed in an append statement, or it ignored it when I put in at the end of the kernel line. Either way, it would boot up to a complete black screen unless I manually TABbed at boot and added "vga=normal" to the boot line.
I can still boot into text mode (I've done that at least 20 times today) -- which also requires me to add "vga=normal" to its boot line or I can try to reinstall VectorLinux from scratch all over again (which I've done at least 10 times today), hoping that I accidently hit on the correct combination of graphics settings. BTW, it's really confusing and frustrating that there are there so many different video choices, including at least 2 "automatic" choices and none one of them seems to work reliably on this PC. Both of them drop me into a complete black screen on the next boot.
I'm sorry that this post is ranting and rambling -- it's the result of me trying to distill 5 hours of frustration into a few paragraphs.