Monitor and Video Cards

In the old days of Ubuntu (up to the 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon release), the Screens and Graphics utility was included so that you could manually change the video card and monitor settings for X.Org.

Because the Ubuntu developers are striving for automatic detection of the video environment using the Screen Resolution utility, the manual Screens and Graphics utility has been removed from the menu system. However, for the time being it's still included in the Ubuntu distribution, and you can use it to customize your video environment.

First, you need to add the Screens and Graphics utility to your menu. Follow these steps:

1. Select System O Preferences O Main Menu from the top panel. The Main Menu editor appears, as shown in Figure 16-9.

Figure 16-9: The Main Menu Editor window.

2. Click the Applications section drop-down arrow, then select the Other section heading. The list of other applications available appears on the right side of the window.

3. Select the check box next to the Screens and Graphics entry, then click the Close button.

This process adds the Other section to the Applications menu area and places the Screens and Graphics menu item in that section. To start it, just select Applications O Other O Screens and Graphics from the Panel menu. You'll see the main Screen and Graphics Preferences window, as shown in Figure 16-10.

Figure 16-10: The Screens and Graphics Preferences window.

Now you're ready to manually configure your video card and monitor. The Screen tab shows the monitors detected on the system. You can manually set the features for each monitor, including its model and resolution capabilities. If you have multiple monitors, you can designate the default monitor and the secondary monitor. You can also indicate whether they should be cloned or, if you extend the desktop, which part of the desktop each one handles.

The Graphics Card tab, shown in Figure 16-11, lists the graphics cards detected on the system.

Figure 16-11: The Graphics Card tab.

This tab allows you to select the specific driver X.Org uses for the video card. You can select the driver by name used in the X.Org configuration file Driver entry, or you can select it from a list of video card manufacturers and models.

Once you've selected the video card and monitor settings, you can test your selection by clicking the Test button. X.Org will temporarily switch the desktop into the mode defined by the settings. In the new mode, a dialog box appears, asking whether you want to keep the new settings or revert to the original settings. Don't worry if your desktop is inoperable with the new settings. If you don't respond to the dialog box within 20 seconds, X.Org automatically reverts to the original settings.

Try to configure your desktop video settings using the Screen Resolution utility, if at all possible. Using the Screens and Graphics utility may (and usually does) break the default xorg.conf configuration file generated by Ubuntu. However, if X.Org can't automatically detect your video card or monitor, you have no choice but to resort to the Screens and Graphics utility.

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