Upgrading Xorg 7.2 -> 7.4, black screens, evdev and all that

Ken Moffat ken at linuxfromscratch.org
Sun Apr 12 17:02:38 PDT 2009

On Sun, Apr 12, 2009 at 11:30:16PM +0100, Jeremy Henty wrote:
> I've been  using Xorg 7.2 on  my LFS 6.3 system  without problems, but
> when I upgrade  to Xorg 7.4 I get  a black screen and a  lockup when I
> start X.   My video card  is an ATI  Radeon 9250 PCI.  Looking  at the
> xorg.conf.new I  see that the server  has failed to  identify the card
> (yet Xorg 7.2 identifies it without any problems).
> Now I've noticed this paragraph from the manual:
>     Recent versions of xorg-server force the use of the evdev input
>     driver, and ignore legacy input devices definded in xorg.conf.
>     This will result in an X display that seems to lock up if you are
>     using legacy input devices and do not have the proper input
>     configuration files in place (added later).
> Does this mean  that I *must* install the  xf86-input-evdev driver for
> Xorg 7.4 to work?  If so,  must I also enable CONFIG_INPUT_EVDEV in my
> kernel configuration?  How does all  this relate to using HAL and DBUS
> (I use neither)  and the --disable-config-hal and --enable-config-dbus
> options to the xserver configure  script (neither of which I currently
> specify)?  What  are the "proper  input configuration files"  that the
> manual refers to?  Are they HAL configuration files or something else?
 I don't have a keyboard or mouse with 7.4 (although MagicSysRQ
_does_ work).  Adding the following to xorg.conf fixed it:

Section "ServerFlags"
        Option  "AllowEmptyInput" "false"

 ISTR I got my normal desktop, so you seem to have a problem with
the video driver.  Note that I _have_ installed evdev :
xf86-input-evdev-2.0.7 and with 7.4 I'm using xf86-video-ati-6.9.0.
About a year ago I had a lot of problems with different versions of
the ati driver, and several times I saw lockups on one or other of
my radeon boxes.

 If you have an xorg.conf from 7.3, try using that in case the
immediate problem is unrelated.  I build evdev before the other
drivers, so if your ati version is ok you might need to build evdev
and then rebuild all of the drivers you use.

 For me, dbus is a build-time-dependency : it doesn't do anything
useful for me, but it isn't too onerous to build (and I build it
some time _after_ xorg).  I do not build hal.

 Also, I haven't upgraded to 7.4, I've only built it on recent
systems, with pre-existing xorg.conf files.  I don't _think_
gcc-4.1.2 is likely to screw things up (unlike the gcc-4.2-series on
some architectures), but I can't confirm that an old toolchain
builds the current xorg correctly.

> Sorry for the blitz of questions, but at the moment I can't see what I
> should be  doing to get  this working.  I've  used the LFS  search but
> haven't found anything to clear up my confusion.
> Regards,
> Jeremy Henty
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