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I'm running Xubuntu 14.10 on a Dell Optiplex 7020 Tower and I've been encountering issues with text being rendered as odd symbols instead of the actual characters.

This behavior is rather inconsistent in terms of how and in what programs/environment it manifests itself. For example, today there may be a couple hours where g's show up as some random symbol in all of my Firefox windows. Tomorrow it might be a's and k's doing the same thing in all terminal windows, etc.

When it occurs in the web browser, zooming in or out typically resolves the problem and makes the characters render correctly. However zooming isn't possible in the terminal, settings dialogs, etc, so it's not a real solution.

I've uploaded some screenshots that demonstrate the behavior in this imgur album: http://imgur.com/a/2wNVu

The first two screenshots are from a Firefox window with plain HTML. Notice how zooming in (2nd photo) makes the problem obvious, but zooming out seems to resolve it.

The one scenario in which I haven't experienced the problem ever is with PDFs - they always render clearly no matter the zoom.

Some system information:

The graphics card is the standard "Dell" Radeon 240. I use either two or three monitors. Adding/removing the third monitor makes no difference in the context of this problem.

lsb_release -a command returns:

alex@alex-7020:~$ lsb_release -a
No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID: Ubuntu
Description:    Ubuntu 14.10
Release:    14.10
Codename:   utopic

Here is my graphics information:

alex@alex-7020:~$ lspci -k
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 4th Gen Core Processor DRAM Controller (rev 06)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: hsw_uncore
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor PCI Express x16 Controller (rev 06)
    Kernel driver in use: pcieport
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 06)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: i915
00:03.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor HD Audio Controller (rev 06)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: snd_hda_intel
00:14.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB xHCI (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: xhci_hcd
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: mei_me
00:16.3 Serial controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family KT Controller (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: serial
00:19.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation Ethernet Connection I217-LM (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a4
    Kernel driver in use: e1000e
00:1a.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB EHCI #2 (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: ehci-pci
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: snd_hda_intel
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #1 (rev d4)
    Kernel driver in use: pcieport
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #2 (rev d4)
    Kernel driver in use: pcieport
00:1d.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB EHCI #1 (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: ehci-pci
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Q87 Express LPC Controller (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: lpc_ich
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family 6-port SATA Controller 1 [AHCI mode] (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
    Kernel driver in use: ahci
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller (rev 04)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 05a5
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Oland [Radeon HD 8570 / R7 240 OEM]
    Subsystem: Dell Radeon R5 240 OEM
    Kernel driver in use: radeon
01:00.1 Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] Cape Verde/Pitcairn HDMI Audio [Radeon HD 7700/7800 Series]
    Subsystem: Dell Device aab0
    Kernel driver in use: snd_hda_intel
03:00.0 PCI bridge: Texas Instruments XIO2001 PCI Express-to-PCI Bridge
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  • Have you found a solution for this? I am having the same issue
    – Niroshan
    Mar 18, 2015 at 4:48
  • It works like normal if I'm on only one monitor. But with two or three I still experience the same problems. I have Windows 8 on the same machine and everything looks perfect, so I don't thi nk it's a hardware malfunction, more likely a bad/missing driver. Mar 18, 2015 at 5:08

1 Answer 1

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I managed to solve it by installing drivers according to instructions is AMD website.

NOTE: If packages were not installed properly, Ubuntu would not let you go beyond login screen. In such a case, switch to Console mode by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1; login to you account; uninstall fglrx-dev, fglrx-amdcccle, fglrx; and restart the computer. This will bring your system back to current state. (I assume you know how to uninstall packages and restart in command line)

Here is the link: http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/Catalyst-Linux-Installer-Notes.aspx

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  • Interesting thank you. I won't have access to the computer until Monday but I will try it then and post back. Mar 20, 2015 at 12:04

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