Linux 2.6.38 and VIA Chromotion HD 2.0 combination results in blank/black terminal

screen_shot_2011_12_06_at_8_36_20_.46vahpriunmsks84444c0g88g.17ldmg3f9ou8088wk04c40sgo.thAt work, we use HP Thin Clients with a Debian distribution on top. We sometimes buy new hardware and when faced with discontinued models, we of course have to find new ones. Last time we decided on the HP t5550 Thin Client, which were to prove a bit of a challenge when we had to upgrade our Debian installation with a newer kernel.

In this particular situation, we needed a very new kernel. One that would support some wireless hardware, which we had also just bought. The newest kernel available to us in Debian 5.0 (using backports) was the 2.6.38-bpo Linux kernel.

Unfortunately, I quickly discovered, that using this kernel with the t5550’s VGA-chip (VIA Chromotion HD 2.0) resulted in a totally blank terminal immediately after the boot-loader. Also, if using a window-manager like “X”, it would display the desktop without problems, but as soon as you would try to access one of the terminals (e.g. CTRL+ALT+1) the screen would go blank once again.

A Workaround

I have yet to find a solid solution to this problem, though I have found a workaround that suits my needs. Adding “pci=nocrs” to the kernel arguments seems to do the trick.

In my example, i first added the argument to the “/boot/grub/menu.lst” file, like so:

title Debian GNU/LINUX, kernel 2.6.38-bpo.2-686
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.38-bpo.2-686 root=/dev/sda1 ro vga=791 splashy pci=nocrs

Lastly I executed the following command to apply the changes:

sudo update-initramfs -u

Now, after rebooting I was able to see my terminals (and my splash-screen) again.

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