Ok, thanks. Will rerun without drm and post the X log to my bugzilla ticket.
It's true that I may have picked up some bad advice, but it begs the question why so many people are thrashing around with these problems. Getting working 2D out-of-the-box for linux should be as easy as for Windoze. Especially in the case of Debian Etch one of the most stable distros on the planet.
Why do I say that I feel horn swaggled? Because ATI has generated the impression that they make a usable driver available via package generation. Unless there is a 100% distro neutral way of distributing the driver ATI cannot absolve itself of the responsibility of testing the results of the distribution mechanism they provide, i.e. test the results of generating packages. If that doesn't yield a problem free install then for all intents and purposes it's the equivalent of a buggy driver. It just shouldn't be that difficult!
For instance, the packages could include pre and post install scripts that validate the driver environment (libraries, kernel source, tools, etc.). Frankly I'm surprised that this seems to be missing from the generated Debian packages as the Debian packagers tend to be very thorough on that count. What exactly have they made available to ATI in the way of packaging?
Despite my irritation with the driver (or lack thereof) your help is greatly appreciated. I'll post my X log ASAP after I get home from work.