Living with legacy hardware

In case your hardware still consists of very legacy NVIDIA chips like GeForce2 or GeForce4 and you are experiencing some problems running X server on Fedora 13 with the now and for some time default nouveau driver (like screen freezing after a period of time with an apparent need to hard restart), you can still switch to the old nv driver and refrain from using either an extremely basic VESA driver, or a legacy proprietary driver produced by NVIDIA. (Which, looking at, doesn’t seem to be packaged for Fedora 13 to provide a support for GeForce2 etc. I’ve read something about compatibility issues with version 1.8 of the X server, but I haven’t looked into that further.)

One of the drawbacks is that you will have to live without hardware acceleration, since only software acceleration is provided. (Okay, these chips weren’t GNOME Shell-ready anyway.)

A quick memo on how to accomplish that switch on a fresh Fedora 13 install:

First, you need to create your own xorg.conf file, since this isn’t delivered anymore by latest distribution releases. In order to do that, install the system-config-display package, and then run:

system-config-display --set-driver=nv

Simply setting the desired driver in the xorg.conf file, however, is not enough, because the nv driver is interfering with nouveau, so you will likely get this error message when trying to run the X server:

The PCI device has a kernel module claiming it.
This driver cannot operate until it has been unloaded
(EE) No devices detected.

Fatal server error:
no screens found

That means you need to disable the nouveau driver e.g. by modifying your /etc/grub.conf file and adding the following at the end of the line starting with kernel:

rdblacklist=nouveau nomodeset

Then you can simply reboot your system and that’s it, you should be done.