Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ubuntu Hardy Screen Resolution Hell

Ubuntu Thinktank: "How can we make Ubuntu easier to use?"

Satan: "Well, you could completely automate screen detection so people don't have to manually configure xorg.conf. In fact, you should just stop using xorg.conf. You might also get rid of the Screens and Graphics tool replace it with a single dialog box that allows the user to view his screen resolution and pretty much not do anything else. After all, an automated solution that works for all is the best solution."

Ubuntu Thinktank: "Interesting... but should we really believe that our one solution will work for every hardware scenario? I mean, easy is great but what about the people for whom it doesn't work right, won't they be..."

Satan: "SILENCE FOOLS! ONE WAY FOR ALL IS THE WAY AND IT IS MY WAY FOR I HAVE SPOKEN! (Just make sure it works on my Compaq laptop or there'll be HELL to pay. Hehe, I kill me.)"

-----

So this morning I boot my Ubuntu Hardy machine and behold: 640x480 awesomeness. No real reason for it that I can think of. It's kind of odd because I have a similar problem with my Vista machine "forgetting" it's screen settings, but at least in that case I can CHANGE THEM BACK.

Seems like this is a common problem. Here are a couple reference threads: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=766879 , and http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=771810 .

I have a Geforce 6200 video card in the machine and a pretty basic 1024x768 LCD. Not an abnormal configuration by any means. I'm using the proprietary nVidia driver.

I installed nvidia-settings and ran it, but guess what? It's not usable at 640x480. How about that! To all you designers at Gnome who thought: "hmm, is there any way that we can make buttons and stuff like that bigger?", go to hell.

I manually edited xorg.conf to add a line forcing the display to 1024x768, and the display came up at 800x600. That was pretty awesome.

Finally I read a post about adding "Screens and Graphics" back to the main menu. Apparently they didn't get rid of it, they just hid it because the devil made them do it. Running Screens and Graphics I was able to change my monitor type and get back to 1024x768. (Note that if you add Screens and Graphics, it will show up under "Other", and if you run the menu editor at low resolution you'll have to use the tab and arrow keys to move around because the mouse will just scan around the virtual screen instead of clicking on what you want to be clicking on)

Oh, I should note that you can edit your menu by right clicking on it and choosing Edit Menus. I believe it should be the Applications menu that you right click on, but I can't remember. My menu is just a little Ubuntu icon because I couldn't stand all the space the default menu took on the panel.

As I wrap this up, I'd like to offer a bit of advice to the Ubuntu Thinktank:

There are two things that I need more than anything out of an easy-to-use graphical operating system:

1) The ability to enter stuff into the computer with the keyboard and mouse.

2) The ability to see the stuff I entered.

Any sort of screwups in those regards are showstoppers. Don't take away the user's ability to easily make changes to his configuration. You want to automate things? Cool. Do both.

29 comments:

Chris said...

Amen, brother!

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