Kernel Mode Setting on Debian

April 2, 2009

The new kernel mode setting feature in Linux 2.6.29 is relatively easy to enable, although at this point there does not seem to be much in the way of documentation.

Ingredients

You will need:

  • linux-image-2.6.29-1-686 or similar (or later)
  • The xserver-xorg and related packages from Debian experimental, unless you're reading this in the distant future, at which point X.org 7.4 will be in unstable.
  • An intel graphics card which uses the i915 driver. I used an Asus eeepc 1000.
  • A willingness to break your system in the name of seeing something cool.

Method

First, install the new kernel and the experimental x.org packages. Add 'i915 modeset=1' to /etc/modules. Ignore instructions elsewhere on the web about adding stuff to kernel boot lines - I reckon these have no effect, unless they were/are necessary for Fedora. You can either reboot, or stop X and reload i915 with the right option.

Now enjoy the fast VT switching and nice framebuffer console for five minutes before you notice that the experimental X.org packages broke your keyboard layout!

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