New Lenovo 3000 N200 and Debian Lenny

Since my first laptop (named cycnus) has serious problems with its video card, with financial support from my parents I have now a new laptop, a Lenovo 3000 N200.

Yesterday I got a fast Internet access and installed on it Debian Lenny. But so far I’ve been quite unlucky, I have to say. Because if you look on Linux on Laptops you’ll see that about 10 people have installed various GNU/Linux distros on this machine, even Debian Lenny itself. Furthermore, also Ubuntu seems to install without any problem. However, it took me sometime to realise that something went (and still is) wrong, because the installation process went all fine (it was a netinstall, obviously).

What happens is that when the GDM login screen appears, no characters are shown as I type my username into the text box. And if I (blindly) supply the right username and password, the desktop even loads, but doesn’t show almost anything other than the wallpaper and the (empty) panels. No visible menus, no icons, no applets. Actually, menus and launchers and applets ARE there, because if I move the mouse I can see tooltips (again, with no text inside), and where there should be menus, they open even if there’s no label, and they show the menu tree, still empty.

With some try and error, I can even start a browser and point it to a website, but all I can see is images. In place of text I get just empty whitespace, or underscores. In some cases I can even see placeholder characters (for Asian languages e.g.).

I’m still digging the Debian Bugs to see if there’s something similar. Bug #493746 looks somewhat related, but it seems that at least in that case window titles are rendered.

If someone has had similar problems… let me know.

UPDATE: looks like xterm is not affected by this problem (gnome-terminal of course is). I also tried installing KDE and kdm but with no success.

On the other side, I confirm that I can read (or at least, see) Japanese and Chinese characters, for example on Wikipedia. No, I’ve not chosen Japanese as my language during the installation. But it’s strange that GNOME/GTK+/X/whatever is to blame for this bug doesn’t find Latin characters but does find CJK ones…

UPDATE: I have filed this as Debian Bug #495684.

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Stefano Costa

Archaeologist, I study the Late Antique and Early Medieval/Byzantine period on the northern side of the Mediterranean, focusing on pottery usage patterns. I'm also involved in open source and open knowledge communities, like OSGeo, the IOSA project and the Open Knowledge Foundation.


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