messed up my linux desktop display

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A few months back I finally renewed my RH subscriptions on five outdated (years without updates) RH installations, that ranged between 5.1 and 5.4. Over the last few weeks I have finally gotten around to trying to register these systems again with the RHN to take advantage of the updates with the ultimate goal of installing 6.3. I did manage to renew the subscription on the 5.4 box and connect to RHN (classic) without too much problem, using Registration_Update-rhel-5.tar.gz and maybe requiring one other rpm. (epel-release-5-4.noarch?) However I was having problems getting/creating certificates to complete the process (via rhn_register) on two other systems running 5.1 and 5.3. (the actual history of what I've done is kind of sketchy since spread out over weeks)

Long story short, having some time yesterday I went back to try to tackle the registration on my office PC (RH 5.3) attempting to load rpms base on the bug fix I think needed the in RHBA-2010:0270. The only issue left was tying to run rhn-client-tools rpm to install by resolving several dependency issues. I had only one complaint left: hal-0.5.8.1-52.el5.x86_64. I noticed the errors in installing this rpm was because another version of hal existed, and naive me figured maybe I just needed to uninstall the older version first via the load software interface. Bad move I guess as I noticed it updated lots of things afterwards and things were a little wonky on the desktop. Bad Move number 2: was thinking maybe I needed to log off and back in to update the desktop. You know the answer- can't get back to the display desktop. I do have the command line, and my files seem to be there. (Fortunately this is my office PC and not one of the boxes that operate instrument systems in daily use!) And I must confess that while I have had my oldest Dell running RH5.3 since 2008, I really don't know my way around linux too well! (as you can probably tell)

So what should I do- attempt to fix this botched up system (with your suggestions on how to do so, of course), or attempt to just copy/backup my files and go straight to the planned upgrade to RH 6.3? (6.3 is the latest tested/supported version of RH by instrument manufacturer for its own software - I guess technically I could go newer on my office PC) Thanks in advance....

Responses

Hi Neal,

1) I would encourage you to upgrade to newer versions if you can. At the very least, update your systems to the latest 5.x version.

2) If you decide to tackle the problem with the non-functioning graphical desktop environment, more information is probably going to be needed. Assuming (for now) that the problem lies with the X server not starting (you're left with a functioning command line), try to look at the /var/log/Xorg.0.log file. There should be an error message stating the reason why the X server failed to start at the very end of that file.

Hi Robert,
Thanks for the input. I checked the Xorg log file, but didn't seem to notice any error messages anywhere. There were bunch of lines mid-file that went on about "not using default mode "640x350" vrefresh range of of range and/or bad mode clock/interlace/doublescan and went on and on using about every screen size resolution imaginable, but I bet that's not it. Unless I get other suggestions, I'll probably just try to install an upgraded version. Thanks again.

No errors at the end of the Xorg log file would suggest that the X server is not even attempting to start (you can confirm this by looking at the date when the log file was last written to). There can be number of reasons for this. Considering that the system has been 'neglected' for so long, it could probably really benefit from a fresh install of a new(er) version.

Update- I backed up my files so went ahead and installed 5.4 yesterday (using the upgrade option). The installation appeared fine until the reboot and instead of the normal RH login screen, I got a blank blue screen and the error "No greeter widget found, check configuration file". Couldn't get to console login as clicking "OK" in the error window would just wind back at that blue screen again. Booting up in single user mode and comparison to the other 5.4 system allowed me to check the error messages in the log and ultimately copy files in /usr/share/config/kdm and now I boot to a red RedHat screen, I get the same error message, but now at least the "OK" on the error message window gets me to a console login. So the problem with kdm_greet not finding the proper file still exist, and was looking into maybe installing kdebase-workspace as suggested by some, but after reading and looking at my other RH installations I noticed they are running gnome desktop anyway. So here's the current head scratcher- yum grouplist shows that the GNOME and KDE desktop environments exist, but when I try to run yum groupinstall "GNOME Desktop Environment", it loads a plugin (kmod?) , then comes back and says no group or package available to install. Is there some thing I'm missing here?

PS: whether related or not, I do get an error (red fail?, not green OK) during boot up about python-dbus