13 July 2012

208. Weird things with desktops -- nvidia cockup?

Just in case someone else is having an equally entertaining Friday the 13th (of July 2012).

So, I had a little gnome 3 crash. You know the ones with the frowny screen and a message saying that "yeah, we probably could have let you save everything you're working one but screw you 'cos we're logging you out"? (hmm...don't remember seeing that with gnome 2/metacity -- have we in fact been turned into Metro/Win8 guinea pigs?!)

Well, anyway, I had one of those and rebooted.

I got to gdm3, logged in and...nothing. I mean, I saw the desktop background, but no menus, nothing. Nothing at all. Moving the mouse to the top left corner would give me the typical gnome-shell splash pattern and make the screen a bit darker. I didn't get anything else though (like a list over programs, icons or anything). Oh, and the conky stuff briefly flashed by each time (but in the top left area instead of flush to the right side of the screen)

Given that I played around with testing different desktops recently I figured I might have upset the update-alternatives balance, and played around with --config x-window-manager and --config x-session-manager. I mean, I was hoping that the lack of a menu of some sort was due to having the wrong window manager, in spite of all the signs pointing to me actually using gnome-shell.

That not working I spent another hour playing with installing and uninstalling nvidia. For some reason smxi pulled in the 173 driver, before replacing it with 302. Every time. Finally, I managed to get everything to the point where I could do startx with the nouveau drivers installed.

Not that things were perfect -- in fact my screen was scaled to 1024*768 (supposed to be 1920x1280), and the flicker whenever I moved my mouse was not funny, but at least it kind of worked.

So back to the terminal, sudo rmmod nouveau, sudo smxi, install the nvidia driver again -- but this time selecting nvidia current instead of debian-nvidia, and then startx

Huh. This time I kind of got the icon panel and the bottom panel, and the gnome-shell hot corner worked ok. It's almost like...no way...is it pretending I have two displays???

I then went to System settings/Displays and the bloody thing had set it up so there were two active display (I don't OWN two displays and certainly did not set this willingly).

Here it's been deactivated. But seriously, wtf???

So if you find yourself in a similar situation without panels and stuff: check your settings. Now how the hell did this come about? And who can I blame? Debian? Nvidia? Nvidia has been the cause of most of my more severe problems with debian...I just wish nouveau was a better alternative than it currently is for my setup.

PS I do realise that some of the language in the post above is more fitting for a valley girl, but screw this: I'm a busy person with a tight schedule (semester starts in two weeks and still hammering away on lectures, not to mention research) who lost three valuable Friday afternoon hours on a stupid thing. Not happy.

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