[conspire] Knoppix-v3.3 flickers

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Oct 7 14:45:59 PDT 2003

Quoting Bill Stoye (skiffworks at earthlink.net):

> I've been using Knoppix 3.1 & 3.2 on the fly for awhile without any
> problems; I downloaded and burned the recent 3.3 version, booted into it
> and find the Window does not fill the screen, it has about a one inch
> border and the screen constantly flickers.

Please forgive me for possibly being unbearably literal-minded; it's a
bit of an occupational hazard.

When you say "booted into it", and report subsequent video problems, are
you referring just to the X Window System (graphical) display, or does
the problem manifest before the switch from console video into X?

If unsure, you can try booting just into console mode (no X graphics).

knoppix 2,vga=normal

...at the boot prompt.  If Knoppix starts fine in console mode, then you
have an X11 (X Window System) support problem.  (When solving problems,
it's nice to know _what_ problem you're trying to solve, first.
Accordingly, it's difficult for others to help you without clearing up
that ambiguity, first.)

Here's the list of all "cheatcodes" (boot options) you can start Knoppix
with:   http://www.knoppix.net/docs/index.php/CheatCodes
Notice that you can do all manner of overrides at the boot prompt,
including at times when Knoppix's hardware autodetection goes wonky and
you need to guide it with a firm hand.  E.g., you can specify the name
of the specific XFree86 module to use for your video chipset; you can
specify the screen resolution and monitor refresh rate to use; you can
say "noapic", "noagp", "nodma" or "nomce" if you suspect those parts of
hardware detection might be going wrong.

Odds are, you'll have to do a little experimentation.  Most likely,
Klaus has introduced yet more aggressive hardware-detection tricks in
the 3.3 series, and it's somehow frobbing your hardware the wrong way.
It happens.  Knoppix's hardware detection isn't perfect, but it's very
good.  It's inevitable, though, that Klaus's attempts to improve one
part of that feature will occasionally brain-damage some other part.

> I gave the CD to a friend along with the 3.2 version, to expose him to
> Linux, both CDs work fine in his PC.

Odds are, the CDs are uncorrupted, then.

> Could the problem be the speed of my processor or DVD-ROM?

Sounds unlikely, but, if you want to test that hypothesis, you know what
to do:  Step down the CPU speed temporarily, and/or slip in a cheap
ATAPI CD reader. 

By the way, if that were _my_ DVD burner, I'd not be using it for
everyday CD reading.  Why?  Because DVD and CD burners have heavy
voice-coil armatures to support the burn lasers they have to carry
during seek operations.  The weight is hard on the bearings and other
mechanical parts.  Therefore, burner units have fairly low MTBF (mean
time before failure) ratings.  Do you really want to chew up the drive's
service life reading CDs?  Wouldn't it be smarter to use a $20 CD reader
for that?

Cheers,                       Ah, September, when the sysadmins turn colors
Rick Moen                     and fall off the trees....
rick at linuxmafia.com                                     -- Dave Van Domelen

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