About an hour later, the laptop was ready to be rebooted.
Restarted the machine, and waited in anticipation. The boot screen flicked to the text console (as normal, because fsck always has something to say about my two FAT32 partitions), and after that, blackness...
Uh oh... problems with X. The keyboard was non responsive (Caps Lock didnt toggle the LEDs), so the only alternative is to reboot into the recovery state.
Good chance to test out the bulletproof X, I thought, so I renamed /etc/X11/xorg.conf to something else, and rebooted. This time it worked, except that after logging in, the brownness of ubuntu changed to the harshness of raw X (cursor and all). Then the computer hung there for quite a while. I broke into another console (Ctrl-Alt-F2) and tried to dig around, but after about a minute, the familiar sounds of the ubuntu drums indicated that things were ok again. (Ctrl-Alt-F7) brought back the familiar gnome desktop.
But things were very different. Windows were very slow. Scrolling through webpages was actually painful! It was like running Windows XP without the appropriate video card drivers. I downloaded the new displayconfig-gtk tool to set the "Screen and Graphics Preferences", which created a new xorg.conf file. That didnt help much either. I tried using some settings from my fiesty xorg.conf, but certain Options would kill X (blank black screen).
Did a google, and found this: "ATI Radeon 9200 extremely slow in Gutsy" which described my situation to the dot. One recommendation is to disable Xgl, which is not a default install. To do so, do this:
Make sure the "xserver-xgl" directory is created as well, because usually it isnt.
Rebooting made the performance of 2D X similar to the fiesty days.
Things are still not entirely back to normal: my Mighty Mouse is not scrolling sideways, and compiz isnt working. Need to allocate some time to dig into xorg.conf yet again. Also the timelag between logins and desktop appearing is very annoying.
[Update: I just found out that my xorg.conf was removed because in an hour of desperation, I tried to install the ATI proprietary drivers, fglrx. One of the steps involved was running aticonfig --initial, which clobbers the xorg.files. That core dumped and I gave up on that. So I have been running without an xorg.conf file all this while. So bulletproof X really works, and part of the delay in showing the gnome desktop was because of this.
My xorg.conf from fiesty still gives a dead black screen on bootup, so I have to work on a cut down version. I will have to slowly work on this to get my dual screen back up. Wonder how easy that would be ... ?]