As luck would have it…

Things seemed to be going so badly. I did a really stupid thing – the nVidia graphics card failed in one of my desktop machines. The one I use all day during the week. It was producing blue artifacts on the screen and it definitely wasn’t software related. So I bought a new card, but like an idiot, I bought the wrong type. I was sure that this machine was old so I got an AGP card. Only when I came to fit it did I realise that it was a PCI-E slot! Bugger. PCI-E cards are cheaper and better than AGP cards, so I got one with HDMI and VDPAU for £25.

I decided to keep the AGP card because they’re getting hard to come by and will fit in my old MythTV box, which is still plodding along. I seem to go through quite a lot of graphics cards on boxes which are left on all the time. Especially passively cooled cards.

Anyway, a few weeks later, without me making any changes to it, my MythTV box suddenly started playing up. The only change really is that it’s now connected to a HD TV, so it’s putting out full HD resolution, which must put extra strain on the card. X would go really slow, even in lightdm straight after bootup, and there were weird artefacts on the screen. Also, and this is weird, when typing at a console, the odd letter would not appear! Plus, the mouse and keyboard were unresponsive and it would not switch to the F1 console. It spewed out these messages into kern.log:

Sep 3 20:59:03 ripley kernel: [ 159.488221] NVRM: Xid (0000:01:00): 13, 0002 beef3901 00000039 00000328 00000000 00004000
Sep 3 20:59:23 ripley kernel: [ 177.448028] NVRM: os_schedule: Attempted to yield the CPU while in atomic or interrupt context

I tried all sorts of nVidia drivers, nvidia-current, nvidia-current-updates and even the latest x-swat driver. All of them gave the same results.

It really did not look like a hardware fault, but I tried blowing and reseating the existing 6200 card. Then, as a last resort, I stuck in the new 6200 card which I accidentally bought a month earlier and, hey presto, it worked perfectly.

As the 2 cards are pretty much identical, I can only assume that it really was a hardware fault. So it just goes to show, when life deals you a bad hand – stick hold of it – it may come in useful in the future!