Black borders around windows fix (ATI)

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The Issue

This document aims to provide detailed instructions to fixing a display issue under XGL & AIGLX. Under certain ATI drivers (both OpenSource radeon and ATI binaries) an issue may arise whereby black borders or black boxes will appear around windows that are unfocused and or dialogs and icons. Adding the option

 Option "XAANoOffscreenPixmaps" "true"

to the graphics device section of the xorg.conf file fixes the problem in many cases. Note this does not fix the other issue of shadows being displayed as black borders which appears at this time to be a MESA rendering issue.


WARNING: Improperly editing you xorg.conf file may result in a temporary inability to use your x-server. Please be careful while making changes and make a backup of it in case this change fails.

The Detailed Solution

The following is a step by step proceedure.

 Step 1: Open a console
 In the KDE desktop environment you would click on the KDE button and click Run Command...
 and then type konsole
 In the Gnome desktop environment you would click the Gnome "foot" button and click Run..
 and then type gnome-console
 Step 2: Become root so you can edit the file
 [email protected] ~ $ su root
 Step 3: Backup the file you will edit. (Just in case)
 # cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf  /etc/X11/xorg.zbackup
 Step 4: Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf
 # nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf

The nano text editor will start and the xorg.conf file openned will look similar to this.

 GNU nano 1.3.12           File: /etc/X11/xorg.conf
 Section "Files"
   #FontPath   "/usr/share/fonts/local/"
   FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/misc/"
   FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/Type1/"
   FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/TTF/"
   FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/75dpi/"
   FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/100dpi/"
   FontPath    "/usr/share/fonts/corefonts"
 # **********************************************************************
 # Module section -- this is an optional section which is used to specify
 ^G Get Help  ^O WriteOut  ^R Read File ^Y Prev Page ^K Cut Text  ^C Cur Pos
 ^X Exit      ^J Justify   ^W Where Is  ^V Next Page ^U UnCut Text^T To Spell

Notice where it says Section "Files" above in the next step you will be looking for another section.

 Step 5: Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf
 Using your arrow or page keys get down to where it says                                                
 # **********************************************************************
 # Graphics device section
 # **********************************************************************
 # Any number of graphics device sections may be present
 Section "Device"
   Identifier  "ATI Technologies, Inc. Radeon Mobility 7500 (M7 LW)"
   Driver      "radeon"

Hint: You can press the CTRL and Y keys together to move up and CTRL and V keys to move down.
Your Identifier will likely be different. Don't worry.
The | Driver "radeon" | section is the opensource xdriver.

 Step 6: Create a new line and add an Option
 Move down to the line below it and press Enter on your keyboard to create a new line.
 Type the following
 Option "XAANoOffscreenPixmaps" "true"

The new section would now look somthing like this...

 # **********************************************************************
 # Graphics device section
 # **********************************************************************
 # Any number of graphics device sections may be present
 Section "Device"
   Identifier  "ATI Technologies, Inc. Radeon Mobility 7500 (M7 LW)"
   Driver      "radeon"
   Option "XAANoOffscreenPixmaps" "true"

Be sure the new line you typed is correct.

 Step 7: Save Your Changes
 Press the CTRL and X keys together.
 The following will appear
 Save modified buffer (ANSWERING "No" WILL DESTROY CHANGES) ?
 Press the Y key to save the file
 The following will appear
 File Name to Write: /etc/X11/xorg.conf
 Press the Enter key to save this file

Congratulations you have just used nano to edit a file and hopefully fix your black border / black boxes issue. But there is a catch. Your xserver is likely still running so it doesn't know about your new changes.

 Step 8: Reload Your Session
 You could logout and then restart the computer.
 Others will log out of KDE/Gnome etc. and press the 
 Ctrl Alt Backspace keys together
 once at the same time to stop the xserver.
 In any case log back in and hopefully the boxes are gone.

Help! Now I Can't Get Into KDE/Gnome etc.

If you are looking at a black blank screen try pressing the Ctrl and Alt and F1 keys together.
You should get a login prompt. Type root and press Enter.
Now type the root password and press Enter again. Now either edit the file (start with Step 3) or reload the file from the backup. To restore the file from the backup type the following and press Enter

  # cp /etc/X11/xorg.zbackup /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Reload your Xserver as described in Step 8.