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Hi, I have recently been given an elderly computer (Intel 686 and intel graphics) which I have been using to play about with different distributions and having a go at ...
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  1. #1
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    Difficulty with screen resolution


    Hi, I have recently been given an elderly computer (Intel 686 and intel graphics) which I have been using to play about with different distributions and having a go at some command line stuff on a machine that doesn't matter.

    I have installed at different times Debian, Mint, *buntu, peppermint, and several others and they all worked fine, up to a point. That point is screen resolution. The computer has a fairly old flat screen vga monitor (Dell E173FP I think) which runs best (according to Dell) at 1280x1024. None of the dozen or so distributions I have tried seem able to detect anything about this monitor and so just default to 1024x768, or similar. The only installations on which I have managed to get 1280x1024 are Puppy, which just lets you choose screen resolutions from a list and works brilliantly and PClinuxOS which took a bit of fiddling about but also was persuaded give me that resolution.

    I have asked Google, read articles and edited xorg.conf files to add resolutions and other things but it still doesn't seem to make any difference, I cannot select a higher resolution than 1024x768.

    Getting the screen resolution I want would be nice, but if possible, I would really like to understand what is going on here. It seems that whatever process is setting the screen resolution is not looking at the .conf file, or over riding it. Indeed some distributions don't seem to use one at all.

    Can any of you good people point me in the right direction? I have very modest understanding of linux though I have been using it as a day to day desktop system for about 10 years but at a fairly superficial level and I have never had such trouble with screens before.

  2. #2
    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    My experience has been, in order to get higher resolutions (in Linux), I have to install a video card capable of such. Not saying your Intel graphics can't achieve this but I know a decent Nvidia card can without problems. On older machines, you should be able to pick one up pretty cheaply. Then, install 3d graphics driver which will also include the handy nvidia-settings utility. From that, choose the resolution you want. Thought I'd throw this out there as a possible option.
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  3. #3
    Linux Newbie slw210's Avatar
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    I agree. Sounds like the Intel Graphics combined with that particular monitor, maybe. I run some old computers and have had similar with the one laptop I have that has on-board graphics (fortunately it looks good at 1024x768 ), the ones with nVidia always give me options, no matter the monitor.

    Have you or can you try another monitor?

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    Dapper Dan and slw210,

    Thanks for the replies. Well, another graphics card is certainly a possibility, I might have one that would fit, but as far as I can tell it is the monitor, or rather the way that X system interacts with it, that is the problem. I can pop the Puppy 5.5 disc in the drive and it starts up and gives me 1280x1024 because, when the auto-configure bit of X can't detect the monitor, it gives you a list of res and frequency to choose from (and then lets you test it). No other distro I have tried does that, they all seem to have some inbuilt value to default to and that's what you get.

    I have read stuff on Xorg's site about auto detection and adding .conf files to it but I didn't really understand it and it seemed to relate to directories that didn't exist on my installation.

    At the moment I have SolydX installed (following its mention on this forum) and working well apart from this. I tried using Xorg -configure to create the file xorg.conf.new and moved/renamed it /etc/X11/xorg.conf and that seemed to stop it booting at all at first but after a bit of tweeking, adding resolutions, etc it started but just seemed to be over ridden but the auto function.

    I would like to understand what this auto configure thing is actually doing and either find a way of disabling it or changing the value it defaults to but perhaps I'm asking too much, particularly of my old brain.........

    I could certainly try another monitor if I lug one up to the attic - the task for this evening perhaps.

  5. #5
    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    ... but perhaps I'm asking too much, particularly of my old brain.........
    Some of us here have old brains too. Mine's 55. I've never researched it but it's possible Intel has special drivers that Puppy is including in their kernel which allows for higher resolutions. If you are placing a file called xorg.conf in either /etc/X11 or /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d, you could go to the end of the file and edit out all resolutions except the one you want, save and see if it will default to it. That nvidia-settings utility is really nice though...
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