After much fuss including a ill-fated adventure to get bumblebee working, I discovered something:
The tip-off was nouveau not loading from bumblebee, and while visiting the nouveau TS wiki, I found out that kernel mode setting was an essential ingredient for a happy nouveau install. Who knew?
That is where 'cat /proc/cmdline' came to play. There it was, 'nomodeset' on a kernel boot line. How did that get there? Oh yeah, f17's default installer no workie; using the vesa one probably introduced this and it has been stuck in there ever since.
A manual boot & edit via grub2 and I verified that this indeed resolved a few things (but not bumblebee with nouveau), including vga out. Here is how I fixed it, permantly:
- expunge nomodeset from /etc/default/grub
- rolled back all my bumblbee stuff (no directions for you, since I had never shared any in the first place).
- re-instated the blacklisting of nouveau and reset bbswitch to disable nvidia graphics on boot.
- cd /boot
- stumble around some as I knew enough about grub to do some basic to intermediate stuff, but this new grub2 is different animal.
- found about grub2-mkconfig
- grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg
- dracut --force /boot/initramfs-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r) #rebuild initramfs with kms and no nouveau
Now, I was where I wanted to be: my chaos 1212 running well with vga out support totally usable and detected by gnome3's "Display setting's" application.
The nvidia stuff nicely disabled and tucked away for different project or another try with bumblebee.