It happened after upgrading from 14.04 to 16.04. I did this when
prompted by Software Updater, so presumably it was the first version of
16.04 released through Updater. It didn't happen right after, or soon
after, that upgrade, and I don't think there were any updates to 16.04
in the days immediately before the problem started. - I can't swear to
that, as, naturally, I wasn't paying that much attention to all the
little updates one gets almost every day.

If there's a way to check my update history, you'll have to tell me how.
I do remember when the problem hit, as it was Christmas day, so I have a
definite date to search back from.

>From what I was able to find online, I gather that ultimately the
problem originates with 16.04 no longer using fglrx, although my video
card is still supposed to be supported in 16.04 - and for awhile, it
was.

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https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/1743797

Title:
  [HP Compaq nc6400] Blank screen on boot

Status in xorg package in Ubuntu:
  Incomplete

Bug description:
  A few months after upgrading to Ubuntu 16.04, I got a black screen
  after booting.

  WORKAROUND: Use kernel parameter:
  radeon.modeset=0

  ProblemType: Bug
  DistroRelease: Ubuntu 16.04
  Package: xorg 1:7.7+13ubuntu3
  ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 4.4.0-104.127-generic 4.4.98
  Uname: Linux 4.4.0-104-generic x86_64
  .tmp.unity_support_test.1:

  ApportVersion: 2.20.1-0ubuntu2.15
  Architecture: amd64
  CompizPlugins: No value set for 
`/apps/compiz-1/general/screen0/options/active_plugins'
  CompositorRunning: compiz
  CompositorUnredirectDriverBlacklist: '(nouveau|Intel).*Mesa 8.0'
  CompositorUnredirectFSW: true
  Date: Wed Jan 17 10:15:32 2018
  DistUpgraded: Fresh install
  DistroCodename: xenial
  DistroVariant: ubuntu
  ExtraDebuggingInterest: Yes, if not too technical
  GraphicsCard:
   Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. [AMD/ATI] RV515/M52 [Mobility Radeon X1300] 
[1002:714a] (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
     Subsystem: Hewlett-Packard Company RV515/M52 [Mobility Radeon X1300] 
[103c:30ac]
  InstallationDate: Installed on 2014-04-10 (1378 days ago)
  InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS "Precise Pangolin" - Release amd64 
(20140204)
  MachineType: Hewlett-Packard HP Compaq nc6400 (RB523UA#ABA)
  PccardctlIdent:
   Socket 0:
     no product info available
  PccardctlStatus:
   Socket 0:
     no card
  ProcEnviron:
   LANGUAGE=en_CA:en
   PATH=(custom, no user)
   LANG=en_CA.UTF-8
   SHELL=/bin/bash
  ProcKernelCmdLine: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-4.4.0-104-generic 
root=UUID=123f436f-0331-4097-8a8e-54cc927298c4 ro radeon.modeset=0
  Renderer: Software
  SourcePackage: xorg
  UpgradeStatus: No upgrade log present (probably fresh install)
  dmi.bios.date: 12/18/2006
  dmi.bios.vendor: Hewlett-Packard
  dmi.bios.version: 68YCD Ver. F.08
  dmi.board.name: 30AC
  dmi.board.vendor: Hewlett-Packard
  dmi.board.version: KBC Version 56.34
  dmi.chassis.type: 10
  dmi.chassis.vendor: Hewlett-Packard
  dmi.modalias: 
dmi:bvnHewlett-Packard:bvr68YCDVer.F.08:bd12/18/2006:svnHewlett-Packard:pnHPCompaqnc6400(RB523UA#ABA):pvrF.08:rvnHewlett-Packard:rn30AC:rvrKBCVersion56.34:cvnHewlett-Packard:ct10:cvr:
  dmi.product.name: HP Compaq nc6400 (RB523UA#ABA)
  dmi.product.version: F.08
  dmi.sys.vendor: Hewlett-Packard
  version.compiz: compiz 1:0.9.12.2+16.04.20160823-0ubuntu1
  version.ia32-libs: ia32-libs N/A
  version.libdrm2: libdrm2 2.4.83-1~16.04.1
  version.libgl1-mesa-dri: libgl1-mesa-dri 17.2.4-0ubuntu1~16.04.2
  version.libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental: libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental N/A
  version.libgl1-mesa-glx: libgl1-mesa-glx 17.2.4-0ubuntu1~16.04.2
  version.xserver-xorg-core: xserver-xorg-core 2:1.18.4-0ubuntu0.7
  version.xserver-xorg-input-evdev: xserver-xorg-input-evdev 1:2.10.1-1ubuntu2
  version.xserver-xorg-video-ati: xserver-xorg-video-ati 1:7.7.0-1
  version.xserver-xorg-video-intel: xserver-xorg-video-intel 
2:2.99.917+git20160325-1ubuntu1.2
  version.xserver-xorg-video-nouveau: xserver-xorg-video-nouveau 
1:1.0.12-1build2
  xserver.bootTime: Wed Jan 17 08:23:08 2018
  xserver.configfile: default
  xserver.errors:
   open /dev/dri/card0: No such file or directory
   open /dev/dri/card0: No such file or directory
   Screen 0 deleted because of no matching config section.
   Screen 0 deleted because of no matching config section.
   AIGLX: reverting to software rendering
  xserver.logfile: /var/log/Xorg.0.log
  xserver.outputs:

  xserver.version: 2:1.18.4-0ubuntu0.7

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