Nouveau driver fails to load, monitor resolutions limited
Greetings from a first time Linux installer.
I recently decided to try running an old piece of hardware using Linux, and after research and some testing I settled on xubuntu 12.04.2. The system is a Gateway 486 machine running an nvidia Riva TNT. For the most part, this is actually working well and I am happy with my choices thus far. Now for the issue. The screen resolution is limited to 1024x768 or lower, which although somewhat useable for what I am doing with this machine, is a bit annoying when trying to work with just about any website. The card and monitor (Samsung SyncMaster 204bw) are capable of more, although I would be happy with 1280x1024 if I can get it there.
I first tried installing the nvidia driver 71.86.15 from their website, and that led to all sorts of new issues but no improvement in resolution. Next came a variety of attempts at an xorg.conf file using modelines and setup suggestions that seemed to do more harm than good. I backed out of that, but I couldn't seem to completely clear the nvidia driver's influence, so I reinstalled xubuntu and messed up my Grub setup. I fixed that problem, so I am running again but still at a limited res. I did a lot more research this time and after digging through many posts and logs, I can see in the Xorg.0.log that the nouveau kernel fails to load and the system defaults to vesa. Further digging with modprobe shows errors inserting wmi, mxm_wmi, i2c_algo_bit, drm, drm_kms_helper, ttm, and the Fatal error inserting nouveau. Per the nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/troubleshooting information, running ldd indicates:
desktop:~/ sudo ldd /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers/nouveau_drv.so
linux-gate.so.1 => (0x0096d000)
libdrm_nouveau.so.1 => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libdrm_nouveau.so.1 (0x00961000)
libudev.so.0 => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/libudev.so.0 (0x00c50000)
libc.so.6 => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/libc.so.6 (0x0014d000)
libdrm.so.2 => /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/libdrm.so.2 (0x00a05000)
librt.so.1 => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/librt.so.1 (0x0043c000)
libpthread.so.0 => /lib/i386-linux-gnu/libpthread.so.0 (0x00e69000)
which I believe shows a difference between the libdrm_nouveau.so.1 and libdrm.so.2, although I am not certain if this matters nor can I discern how to correct it as I did not compile the kernel. Additional searches thus far have failed to show the way out of this (or at least in a method that I can understand). I have log files that I can upload if that helps, but figured I would start this way.
My question then is can this ever work on the setup I have (i.e., 1280x1024 resolution), and if so what would be my next steps to get there. I do like the operation of xubuntu, and the education thus far has been quite a mind stretch.
Many thanks in advance.