Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Disappearing or Invisible Fonts on Debian/MintPPC

It seems a lot of people besides myself have had a slight problem lately when updating our Wheezy installs. All fonts in GTK apps render as a very light purple making them invisible. This only seems to affect people using the Radeon driver and the solution for me was ultimately a simple one. First generate a xorg.conf file if you don't already have one by switching to a console and entering:

sudo /etc/init.d/slim stop

Replace slim with gdm or lightdm or whatever your login manager is. At this point all the text in your console might be jumbled. That seems to be another bug. Just type the following commands blind:

sudo Xorg -configure

and then:

sudo cp /root/ /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Next, edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf in a text editor by adding the following line under the "Device" section where you see the "radeon" driver:

Option "AccelMethod" "XAA"

You also want to tab in the Option and make sure it lines up with the section. Then save and exit, type startx or restart the computer, and you should have your fonts back.

At first I tried to fix this with the xorg option "NoAccel" "True", but that turned off all acceleration and made my desktop unacceptably slow. But changing the "AccelMethod" from EXA (default) to XAA, it preserves 2D desktop acceleration and fixes the font issue. There's more information in these threads here and here.

Just thought I'd leave this here in case anybody googles, "WHERE THE HELL DID MY FREAKING FONTS GO LINUX WHEEZY HELP."

UPDATE: Peter S. reports he can get fonts back with EXA acceleration using the following xorg.conf edits:

Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
Option "RenderAcceleration" "false"

And you may also need:

Option "MigrationHeuristic" "greedy"

He also says he can now use Compiz without it "lagging like crazy" on his G3 :)

UPDATE II: Here's a bug report, Bug #702480 xserver-xorg-video-radeon: GTK fonts are invisible on PowerPC

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for bringing the solution to this problem to our attention, Dan. The Debian Wheezy (and MintPPC) installer has been broken since Dec. 24, at least. That's when I first started noticing it on my PM G4 Quicksilver with a Radeon 9000 graphics card. Thanks also to Jeroen Diederen for leading MintPPC users to a fix.