Setting your screen resolution in Kubuntu Hardy

Posted by Flo in Tech, Tricks on August 12th, 2008.
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When upgrading to Kubuntu Hardy, I found that the maximum possible resolution I could use seemed to be 800×600… Not being able to select my preferred 1024×768 resolution, I had to figure out how to be able to select this resolution. This took me about 6 hours… and the solution for this problem is quite easy. So here’s my newbie (it’s me who is obviously the n00b…) guide in fixing this problem.

I won’t promise you that this IS the solution for the problem, but my problem seemed to be that it registered my monitor als a "plug ‘n play" monitor. This really limits the possibilities with your screen resolution. Luckily, the solution can be quite simple… that is, if you’re lucky and it works. Otherwise you’ll have to do some command line codes, and that’s quite nasty…. so, are you willing to face the consequences of failure? Well, I’m not, so here: IT’S TOTALLY ON YOUR OWN RISK TO USE THIS GUIDE, IT CAN WORK OUT IN A VERY WRONG WAY. here we go…

First READ the guide. There are some parts in it where you may have to do some research for yourself, or when it can go totally wrong… and you can come in serious problems if you don’t have a second computer. Next to that, you may want to know if it really is your problem that I’m solving.

Normal Fix

  1. Go to the K Menu (lower left corner if you haven’t changed this).
  2. Now go to system configuration (it’s called systeeminstellingen on my computer, so I don’t know if it’s the right name, but it should look like that).
  3. Find the icon ‘monitor and display‘ and open it (you can normally configure your screen resolution right here).
  4. Open the tab `hardware` and look what it tells you at the monitor. If it’s not plug ‘n play, this trick might not work for you… but you can always try.
  5. To edit these settings, you must go to `system manager mode` it’s in the lower right corner.
  6. Again, go to the hardware tab, and press `configure` behind your first monitor.
  7. Try to select your monitor from the list. Make sure it’s the EXACT monitor you use. If it’s not there, choose the right one from the generic drop down menu (it really works if you select the right one). If you have a CRT monitor, select a monitor, otherwise select a LCD monitor. If you don’t know what your monitor resolution is, search for your monitor’s specs on the internet.
  8. After selecting the right monitor, press `OK` and after that `Apply`.
  9. Because you need to reboot, but it CAN go wrong, you might want to print this page… If you feel sure you know what to do if it goes wrong, you don’t have to.
  10. Now reboot.
  11. If everything worked, you’ll be able to change the screen resolution in the same window that we used to change the monitor settings to the resolution that you prefer.

If that goes wrong…

  1. First of all, I’m very sorry… but it did happen to me. And this problem is fixable, but again, I won’t guarantee this will work. We will try to overwrite the settings we made last time with the (hopefully) automatically created back up file =). If it doesn’t exist, you’ll have a bigger problem, but you can solve it. Just follow the guide.
  2. I guess you will boot in the command line interface. If that’s not the case, and your screen is black, try to press ctrl+alt+F1 a few times, this should get you into the command line interface.
  3. Log in
  4. enter the commands:

    cd /etc/X11/
  5. You can now check if you have a backup file. It looks like: xorg.conf.yeardatetime for example: xorg.conf.20081208103. Try to find the newest one, because they probably contain your last settings.
  6. I would love it if you could just copy this file to xorg.conf using the cp command. But you probably can’t do that, because you can’t login as root =) I hate that. So…
  7. manual reboot! (press the power button for a few seconds). (if anyone knows the command to reboot in the non-user command line interface… please share this knowledge with me =) )
  8. Now, here’s the tricky part, you’ll need to reboot in recovery mode, so stay sharp. I hope that you’re using GRUB, so you can just select the recovery mode when you boot up. Otherwise, you’ll have to do some research yourself.
  9. Now you can choose between several options:
    – If you DON’T have backup files (step 5), go to XFIX, and follow the steps, the guide will end here for you now, there’s nothing more I can tell you.
    – If you HAVE backup files (step 5), go to ROOT.
  10. While in ROOT, you’ll see this great command interface. Now do step 4 and 5 again (the commands).
  11. Now we are gonna copy the backup file over the present settings. You do it with the following command:

    cp name-of-backup-file xorg.conf

    so it will look like:

    cp xorg.conf.20081208103 xorg.conf

  12. Now have your fingers crossed, and type the command `reboot’
  13. On boot up, boot normal. You will probably see the GUI again. And you’ve wasted some precious time… since you are at the point where you were at step 1 from the normal fix. You might want to check if you’ve changed to the right type of monitor in the Normal Fix. Otherwise, you may want to search for an alternative solution.

I hope this guide has fixed your problem. If it doesn’t work, I can recommend the ubuntu/kubuntu forums (and google of course).

NOTE: Another solution for this problem is to follow the if that goes wrong steps till step 9, and choose XFIX, although this didn’t work with me. Besides that, you’ll throw away a lot of xserver settings that you may have edited before…

3 Responses to “Setting your screen resolution in Kubuntu Hardy”

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for this guide. After searching several Kubuntu and Linux forums with no success, the “Normal Fix” is what worked for me.

    Don’t feel too bad about being a newb. So am I, and you’ve just helped this little newblette out. That means good ‘net karma for you! 😀

  2. I connected a second monitor to my PC. I went to the monitor settings and set second screen to “clone”. It said need reboot to take new settings. I rebooted and now it just runs the Kubuntu startup screen (with the bar) and just as Kubuntu starts the screens go fuzzy then blank. The settings don’t recognize either monitor anymore.
    Any suggestions on how to fix it?
    After the screens go blank it goes into a “terminal” mode and OS text comes on, then it hangs.
    I have ubuntu 8.04 and KDE 3.5 and a Dell and a LG monitor.


  3. Flo says:

    I must first admit that I don’t have any experience with dual monitors, but if you just want to be able to edit your xorg.conf file, that’s where your monitors are listed if everything is OK, you should restart in recovery mode as described in the “if that goes wrong” section. You can than copy your xorg.conf file to a manual backup version of it (code: cp xorg.conf xorg.confbackup), restart again and run xfix (as described above) so you can get back into the graphical interface where you can check your corg.confbackup file for errors in your favorite editor. Of course, if you are pretty sure it works, you can copy it back and reboot to test if it works.

    As for the solution of your problem: it might be that you’ve selected the wrong types of monitor while making your monitor settings, and you can try to make those settings again with generic monitors… or your graphics card drivers may be the problem (here’s my guide how to install the right ones)… but I don’t know enough about your problem to solve it for you, just guessing a few things now. You should try the ubuntu forums (search them first ^_^). If you ask for help, they probably want that not-working xorg.conf file.

    btw, you used a guide like THIS?

    I hope I’ve helped you a bit further, good luck!

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