I had been putting it off, and putting it off, but I finally decided to update my Thinkpad today, from the out-of-date Arch Linux software I installed fresh a few months ago.
I knew it was time because some of the programs I had installed way back then were having library errors here and there, because shared dependencies had been updated by other programs. I had been itching for a few days, knowing full well that if I did that, I would end up tripping over a cruddy interstitial space caused by the newest versions of xorg-server and the xf86-video-siliconmotion driver, in their newer versions.
And of course, when I did, it did. And because the server has been changed repeatedly under Arch, and because the video driver is still kind of iffy even in its released state, recompiling is a huge hit-or-miss proposition.
I reluctantly installed the vesa driver to get my machine working again. That driver is a mixed blessing on this machine: For one thing, the siliconmotion driver always shows color banding in gradients, but the acceleration is an improvement, and so I just use solid wallpaper or paint the desktop one color.
vesa doesn’t have that banding problem, but vesa can’t do a lot of the graphical shazam that I need (yes, even at 550Mhz), like mplayer for my movie collection, or some video effects.
So in short, I needed the old version of xorg-server, and the old version of siliconmotion to run alongside it, and I couldn’t compile either or both because of the changes in the package files since they were current.
I needed old binaries.
And I had no cached files, because I needed the space after my ftp install, and had cleared them out.
So it appeared I was doomed to hang in that half-dead, half-alive area where you find yourself when you’re waiting for those talented people to make the improvements and shuffle them down the pipe. Purgatory. Limbo. That … gray area.
Well, I can’t have that. So I poked my head into #archlinux and the kind folks there (thanks, bugger_ ) pointed me at this site, which had both the 1.5.1 version of siliconmotion and the 1.4.2 version of xorg-server. Bonus!
A pair of downloads, a couple of forced installs, and I’m back in business. Insert sigh of relief here.
When the next version of the driver appears, I’ll give it another try alongside the newest xorg-server, and see if there’s any joy. But I’m keeping those old binaries, just as an insurance policy.