So, 6 months ago I decided to upgrade the old tower, new fancy motherboard with sata2, fast disk drive, and a generic Nvidia GT520 graphics card, with an hdmi monitor. Too fancy for the current Linux!
Now, I can finally say it all works. Wow! Yes kiddies, Linux will never rule the 'Desktop for Dummies' game! These people shall be happy with whatever gets shoved at them, with all the wonderful exploits.
Those of us who believe in open source tread a harder path. My fancy disk drive has been getting bus errors and my graphics chip was unrecognized, but at least it sort worked on my fancy monitor, except it only worked on a smaller patch within the monitor, which was driving me nuts. That was a result of the eternal conflict with device makers and open source. Nv wants its 'secret sauce'. Oh, they have this horrible 'binary blob' driver for Linux, but life with that is terrible, since every update screws it up.
So, some enterprising people were forced to reverse engineer the Fermi chip and come up with the open Nouveau graphics drivers. That's what took the 6 months! My poor Debian system could not handle it with the normal upgrades, so I had to compile a new custom kernel. Not too bad since I was using the Debian Kernel 3.2 source. There are lots of instructions on that!
The tricky part involves the settings for Nouveau. You just follow these instructions.
In the end, my monitor was finally beautifully full, and the sata2 bus errors cleared up. Paradise!