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Re: [vox-tech] Debian configuration: X and modem and zip]
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Re: [vox-tech] Debian configuration: X and modem and zip]

Quoting Ashleigh Smythe (absmythe@ucdavis.edu):

> Well I've made some general progress but haven't really solved either 
> of the remaining 2 problems (X/video card configuration and the 
> non-functional modem).

Well, I'm sorry that you ended up having a couple of hard-case problems
inherent in your Dell Dimension 2400, but that's just the way it is.
You have an i845 embedded video chipset and (seemingly) a Conexant

Flamewars have erupted in both areas, because people who've bought such
things and struggled through the work of setting up $DISTRIBUTION_OF_CHOICE
for them will tend to defend to the death the worthwhile nature of those
efforts -- while those of us who carefully avoid acquiring them keep
being tempted to say "Save your effort and get a cheap replacement
card", or actually chance doing so.

To get a winmodem working, to the extent it works, you need to muck
around with retrofitting some (usually proprietary & binary-only) driver
into your kernel.  If you're not an expert Linux user, this becomes a
big, frustrating hassle.  It seems you're discovering this.  ;->
(Some of us would say that if you _are_ an expert Linux user, you know
enough to punt the question of Linux drivers, and get a real modem.
But, as I said, Views Differ.<tm>)

I'm feeling a little brave this afternoon, but not a lot, so let me tell
you a little about your video, to the best of my understanding:  Intel
decided, starting with the i810 video chipset, that it could save
manufacturing costs by integrating a really cheap video chip right into
the motherboard, with a couple of serious performance tradeoffs inherent
in their design:  (1) the "video card" in question had no RAM of its own
(unlike traditional video cards), and therefore had to steal from the 
pool of main system RAM.  That has both hardware and software
ramifications.  On the hardware level, it congests the memory bus and
DMA controller, uses less-well-performing system SDRAM instead of
getting the advantages of specialised and local RAM types next to the
video chip, and (of course) reduces the amount of system RAM available
for other reasons.  On the software level, it means you must load a
couple of special drivers into your OS kernel.  The symptoms of not
having those drivers are that (a) XFree86 thinks (expressing its views
into /var/log/XFree86.0.log) that the "card" has only a miserably tiny
amount of RAM (1 MB, or like that) rather than something more
standard like 8 MB, and (b) you mysteriously fail to get 3D support
going, regardless of what you try.  The driver to resolve the first
problem is agpgart; the driver to solve the second one is (I think) dri.

(2) The video chipset offloads a lot of its processing to the
motherboard's CPU, instead of doing the work itself, as in traditional
video cards.  Because it can.  Again, this congests the local (North
Bridge) bus and bogs down the CPU a bit.

You might wonder:  What's the advantage to Intel's video chip design
(i810, i830, i845, i850, i852, i855, i865, i915, etc.), given the
disadvantages?  Well, it reduces costs (and thus has become very common
in the "home PC" market, where price is paramount).  That's about it.

People online say to read this:

Caution:  You don't necessarily want to follow its recommendations to
the letter.  Where it says "download this thing from Intel", in
particular, you might be a whole lot better off in the long term,
instead, using the matching thing that you receive directly from the
Debian package repositories.  In general, departing from having your
software managed by your distribution's package system is a mistake, if
it can be avoided.

Read that document, then, as a _general_ guide to the topic.

Reminder:  You haven't said what XFree86 package versions you have
installed.  This makes it difficult to help you further.

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