Re: Newbie Setting up xserver

From: Edward S. Baiz Jr. (
Date: 09/27/05

Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2005 20:19:30 +0400 (MET DST)

>Oh, but 256 is enough to get started. What else I said in my post
>has little relevance if you have that much. Unless, of course there
>is something special that eats memory in you case.

Could be, but now that I know that low memory is causing the problem, I will
be to locate the problem.

>> I do have a swap parition, I believe about 70meg. How do I enable it or check
>> to see if it is enabled?
>70 meg is easily too little.

You are correct. Infact, I stated that wrong. I actually have 500meg. I
started with 70meg, but increased it when I bought my 9GIG hard drive.

>ON my computer, right now, I have:
>Mem: 385740k total, 374680k used, 11060k free, 7028k buffers
>Swap: 1048568k total, 128872k used, 919696k free, 128304k cached

I see. How did you bring this up?

>Don't let the high usage of the 384000k memory fool you, the kernel
>will always gobble up what there is of physical memory to use it for
>buffercache. If I start more processes the kernel just kills som cache
>buffers. But the swap usage is real. Processes nowadays have a lot
>of baggage. Also, those processes I just leave around, like Emacs and
>the Acrobat Reader, they get their pages stolen and written to swap
>when I don't use them. In other words the memory usage stats you see
>above are inflated, but the swap stats are not.

The kernel gobbles up the rest of the physical memory huh. Glad to know that.
Maybe that is part of my problem.

>How to enable it?
>First enter it in /etc/fstab, unless it is already there.
>Something like "/dev/hdb7 swap swap defaults 0 0".
>Then "swapon -a -e".
>This latter command is usually run by the bootup scripts.
>I am not sure if Debian has a ver different organization of
>the bootup scripts, in my case /etc/inittab says:
> si::sysinit:/etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit
>that is the very first script the computer runs after mounting the
>roo file system. But if you did not have the swap partition
>in /etc/fstab, then rc.sysinit does not know how to find it.

Thanks for this information.

>But I think that your X display should start even without swap.
>256 Mbyte ram is enough. Is there any chance that you believe
>you have 256 Mbyte but the kernel thinks otherwise?

Yes, I do think the kernel thinks otherwise. Actually my RAM is split into two
kinds of RAM, TT Ram and ST ram. It is an Atari thing. I am told that Linux
runs better in ST ram. I have to make sure all the ram is being seen and used
by Linux.

>> That may be happening since I have an older kernel (version 2.2.8)
>Wow! That's another antique! It makes me fear that things I say
>may not apply to a kernel that old. I have run Linux 2.2, I just
>don't remember much of it.

Yeah it is old, but it is the only kernel that works right now with my
machine. The newer ones (2.4 and 2.6) work, but I get no video. I want to get
Linux up, so I can compile a newer updated kernel.

>I feel "attracted" toward something you wrote that might seem minor
>compared to not having X, you told your computer's clock was running
>six hours early. I somehow feel there is something alarming about it
>and investigating that could lead to the real cause of the problems.

When I installed the slink version of Debian, it asked me my timezone, but
gave me an option of GMT-6 which is what I chose and the resulting time was
correct. Debian version Sarge did not give me that option.

>I would try to have the timezone set and the clock set correctly
>before doing much with the X server. This is in principle very simple
>while the X server has such ample opportunities to go wrong.

>If there is something that prevents your computer from using its memory,
>it could be that some of the processes related to setting the timezone
>were unable to run, but that is a guesswork based on weak foundations.

Ok. Sounds logical. I will give it a try and see if that helps.

>I supposse you know that Linux tries to work with Greenwith Mean Time
>GMT, or its modern heir, UTC. I guess that your timezone is -6.

Correct, but I do not get that as a choice. I chose Central, because that is
what timezone I am in now.

>On the other
>hand, when it gave you a time six hours off, how did that happen?
>Is it possible that it accepted the time zone you said, and set
>the time accordingly when you installed, but later your shells are
>running without the timezone set?

Could be. All I know is when the time first appears, it is correct. Then Sarge
loads some other things and then the time re-appears, but then it is 6 hours
behind with the correct date.

>How come you run such an old kernel? Compiled it
>yourself following advice from other owners of Atari clones?

I have an ATI Mach64 video card and the newer Atari kernels do not have that
support which is why I want to compile my own.

>A stronger way is this: find the size in bytes:
> size=$(set -- $(ls -l /etc/localtime); echo $5)
>Find all files the same size and see which have identical contents:
> find /etc/localtime /usr/share/zoneinfo -type f -size ${size}c |
> xargs md5sum | sort
>The names of the matching files should say it all.
>If you are using a modern glibc, and this file is in order, then
>"date" shall print the date with the time zone name, like
>"Tue Sep 27 05:09:26 CEST 2005" (but that was my zone).
>Then you should set the time using e.g.
> date -s "6 hours 7 minutes ago # Likely the right one
> date -s "now + 6 hours 7 minutes # The other direction

Ok. I will try it out. Thanks much.

Edward S. Baiz Jr.
HADES 060: 256meg Ram, Yamaha & Sony CDRW Drive, 1 gig
 Jaz Drive, MicroTek E3 Scanner, Mach 64 w/4meg Ram, Epson
 Photo 700 printer, PCI Networking Card, ICQ#91257633
PROGRAMS: Extendos Gold, Cab 2.8, ScanX, GlueStik, aFTP,
 Calamus SL2002, Newswatch, Okami, PlayMyCD, Papyrus 8, Smurf,
 Nova Driver 2.67, NVDI 5, Mint(Net), Magic(Net), N.AES, Geneva

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