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I had the same problem; no laser data is shown in rviz unless the laser's frame is set as the fixed frame.

I found a thread on the ros-users list that suggested it had to do with the time_increment field being too large. I noticed there is an error in the LMS1xx package I'm using as a driver for the laser. The fields time_increment and scan_time are ten times as high as they are supposed to be.

I think this was the cause of the error message. What's annoying is that it took 20-30 minutes after I fixed this for it to actually start working. I don't know why it didn't start working immediately. It's possible I restarted rviz at that stage, or managed to reset its laser module. I sure didn't change anything else, at least.

Here's the list thread I mentioned: