Compiz Killed My Video Card

Having recently installed a new version of Linux I thought I'd see how progress on Compiz, the compositing window manager, was going. I tried it first on a system with an ATI video card and was met with a wonderful blank screen. Since I really didn't want to spend a bunch of time trying to figure out what was going on I just put things back to normal and got X working again.

However, before I gave up completely I thought I'd try it on a system I have with an NVidia video card. Set things up on it, and... same result, blank screen. And this is where it gets interesting: I put things back as they were before and I still got a blank screen. So, I figured I needed to try the Windows solution: reboot. I shut the system down, unplugged it for a few seconds just to be sure and booted. And... still a blank screen, and I mean blank, no BIOS screen, no nothing.

Checked the monitor on another system and it was working fine. Seemed unlikely that Compiz had actually fried the video card but that's what it was looking like.

Since the video card had both a DVI and a VGA output I thought I'd try a monitor with a VGA connector rather than a DVI connector. That worked! Booted, got the BIOS screen and X. Figured maybe whatever had been boinked on the video card was now reset so I tried the DVI again. Now the DVI worked, although the BIOS screen was horribly stretched across the screen, but it booted fine and started X without problems and everything has been fine since.


Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.


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C'mon, people, get a life...

El Perro Loco's picture

First of all, I want to apologize for "almost double posting". I posted a similar comment that only appears buried in the n-th level of the replies to some other comment below this one.

The thing is: *relax*! The title is catchy, not misleading!

Do you people remember that uptight, fastidious I-know-everything smart-ass in school that was always correcting everybody else? Wasn't (s)he annoying?

So, cut Mitch some slack and try to understand that the title is also intended to be a bit humorous. (It is a pity you didn't get it, anyway.)


Presumptous title

Carl's picture

You are assuming that Compiz killed it, but your title makes the assertion that you are certain about the cause, but you then clearly point out you aren't even certain about the result, as "killed" implies that it will never function again (at least not without replacing something), and yours clearly does. It is at least as likely (if it had been killed) that something just finally failed, and no software was actually to blame.

Depending on how old the card is, how it was handled (and you don't know how it was handled, since someone handled it before it ever got to the store you bought it from) components can be damaged before you ever get it. Static electricity can shorten the life of electronics without destroying them instantly after all. Case in point, the poster above who had a very similar problem with a Windows XP box.

Blank screens under Compiz are usually...

Dino2gnt's picture

The issue usually lies with OpenGL. if you check your Xorg.log and the last entry listed is "(II) Initializing extension GLX", then typically you'll have Mesa OpenGL libs clobbering nvidia/ati OpenGL libs (or vice versa) resulting in the blank screen. It can be a pain to diagnose, but its fixable.

The title should probably

Anonymous's picture

The title should probably read "attempted to murder", rather than "killed".

And, YES, I too have similar experience with the DVI/VGA display card but nothing to do with Compiz, plain old Windows XP!!!

Shutting OFF the machine completely, including electrical mains (no power to motherboard, etc) does do the trick when switching between DVI and VGA.

Lol this is such rubbish!

Michael's picture

Lol this is such rubbish!

Same here.

Daniel's picture

I had the same problem after upgrading to Ubuntu Hardy. I found my answer here:

Works great on my laptop now. No issues with Nvidia on my desktop.

Good luck!

These instructions are for

Anonymous's picture

These instructions are for ATI cards. What about NVIDIA?

Help!!! my computer is on fire!! Oh just kidding

info-please's picture

A new version of Linux? the kernel number should be given along with the distribution name and version number
And please will you bloggers stop using misleading headlines? I understand the need to attract readers but my god!! This is getting out of hand now.

First, what is the purpose

Anonymous's picture

First, what is the purpose of this article? There is nothing in it to interest the reader nor help a potential Compiz user from ending up with the same error.

Second, Compiz works fine for many people. Try DreamLinux if you want it out-of-the-box with AWN.

Also, don't forget the compiz-check script ( which will tell you whether Compiz will run on your system.

Keep up the good work at Linux Journal!

First and Second

Mitch Frazier's picture

First, it's a "blog" entry, so you don't really need a purpose, right? :)

Second, what's the purpose of stating it works for other people?

But more seriously, the purpose is to see if others have had similar experiences, which some have if you read the other comments, and to see if somebody perhaps has an explanation for the phenomenon. Implicit purposes, but not that hard to imagine.

Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.

Buried for misleading headline

bria's picture

Try to resist the temptation to use misleading headlines to get more readers.

Not really all that misleading

Mitch Frazier's picture

True, in the end it didn't kill my video card, but it tried.

Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.

Please refrain in the future

Anonymous's picture

Please refrain in the future from the misleading headlines. It's incredibly aggravating.

I Give, You're Right

Mitch Frazier's picture

I should have titled it: "I installed Compiz on an ATI system and an NVidia system and it didn't work and the NVidia card become unusable until I changed from the DVI connector to the LCD connector and then back again."

Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.

Poor Attitude

Anonymous's picture

How about "Display problems using Compiz with ATI and Nvidia Graphics Cards", that would be eye catching and not misleading, such poor attitude with a poorly written blog entry, you should be ashamed of yourself.


El Perro Loco's picture

Looks like somebody - some 'Anonymous' - needs to get a life...

Don't be so uptight! That's waaaaay more aggravating than a "misleading" headline!

Compiz and AWN

khurt's picture

Never worked for me.

I had a problem with a

Anonymous's picture

I had a problem with a current ATI driver that left the internal LCD in my laptop blank. The external VGA worked. The customer service fixed it with a BIOS update/reinstall.

Not it works fine, but erratically my BIOS Password screen (even before POST) is the time I get to GRUB everything is fine.

So yes. If that happened to me again, I would try a BIOS update.

Now I feel better

Mitch Frazier's picture

Glad to know (well not really glad) that I'm not the only one that had something like this happen.

I should also note that on the second and subsequent reboots the BIOS screen is fine also.

Strange stuff indeed.

Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.