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It is a common way to set the resolution of a text consoles (that are usually available by Ctrl-Alt-F1 thru Ctrl-Alt-F6) by using a vga=... kernel parameter. I'm using Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid, output of uname -a is:

Linux 2.6.32-33-generic #70-Ubuntu SMP Thu Jul 7 21:13:52 UTC 2011 x86_64 GNU/Linux

To identify modes available i use the sudo hwinfo --framebuffer which reports:

02: None 00.0: 11001 VESA Framebuffer
[Created at bios.464]
Unique ID: rdCR.R1b4duaxSqA
Hardware Class: framebuffer
Model: "NVIDIA G73 Board - p456h1 "
Vendor: "NVIDIA Corporation"
Device: "G73 Board - p456h1 "
SubVendor: "NVIDIA"
SubDevice:
Revision: "Chip Rev"
Memory Size: 256 MB
Memory Range: 0xc0000000-0xcfffffff (rw)
Mode 0x0300: 640x400 (+640), 8 bits
Mode 0x0301: 640x480 (+640), 8 bits
Mode 0x0303: 800x600 (+800), 8 bits
Mode 0x0305: 1024x768 (+1024), 8 bits
Mode 0x0307: 1280x1024 (+1280), 8 bits
Mode 0x030e: 320x200 (+640), 16 bits
Mode 0x030f: 320x200 (+1280), 24 bits
Mode 0x0311: 640x480 (+1280), 16 bits
Mode 0x0312: 640x480 (+2560), 24 bits
Mode 0x0314: 800x600 (+1600), 16 bits
Mode 0x0315: 800x600 (+3200), 24 bits
Mode 0x0317: 1024x768 (+2048), 16 bits
Mode 0x0318: 1024x768 (+4096), 24 bits
Mode 0x031a: 1280x1024 (+2560), 16 bits
Mode 0x031b: 1280x1024 (+5120), 24 bits
Mode 0x0330: 320x200 (+320), 8 bits
Mode 0x0331: 320x400 (+320), 8 bits
Mode 0x0332: 320x400 (+640), 16 bits
Mode 0x0333: 320x400 (+1280), 24 bits
Mode 0x0334: 320x240 (+320), 8 bits
Mode 0x0335: 320x240 (+640), 16 bits
Mode 0x0336: 320x240 (+1280), 24 bits
Mode 0x033d: 640x400 (+1280), 16 bits
Mode 0x033e: 640x400 (+2560), 24 bits
Config Status: cfg=new, avail=yes, need=no, active=unknown

It looks like many hi-res modes are available, like 0x305, 0x307, 0x317, 0x318, 0x31a, 0x31b (by the way, what does the plus-number means in the list of modes?). However, setting any of these modes in kernel option string, line vga=0x305, results in either pitch black text console, or screen filled by blinking color/bw dots.

What is the 'modern', 'robust' way to set up high resolution in text consoles?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Newer kernels use KMS by default, so you should move away from appending vga= to your grub line as it will conflict with the native resolution of KMS. However, it depends upon the video driver you are using: the proprietary Nvidia driver doesn't support KMS[1], but you can work around it.

You should be able to get full resolution in the framebuffer by editing your /etc/default/grub and making sure that the GFXMODE is set correctly, and then adding a GFXPAYLOAD entry like so:

GRUB_GFXMODE=1680x1050x24

# Hack to force higher framebuffer resolution
GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD_LINUX=1680x1050

Remember to run sudo update-grub afterwards.

[1] https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/KMS

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I've got Driver "nvidia" in my xorg.conf, so it's probably a proprietary driver. I'll experiment with grub anyway. By the way, how to work-around the proprietary driver? –  mbaitoff Jul 20 '11 at 8:34
    
I use the proprietary driver and the above method (on a 10.10 box) and it is fine. You could always try a nouveau driver if you wanted: nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/UbuntuPackages –  jasonwryan Jul 20 '11 at 8:42
    
Looks like GFXPAYLOAD approach worked, but only with set gfxpayload=keep in grub2 configuration files. –  mbaitoff Jul 20 '11 at 9:07
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But I still have a suspicion that my video mode is not native. I provided GRUB_GFXPAYLOAD=1920x1080 with GRUB_GFXMODE=1920x1080x24, but I still see the blurred letters in console as if I were in non-native resolution. –  mbaitoff Jul 20 '11 at 9:09
    
You could use vbeinfo in the Grub2 command line to see what resolutions are available and choose the closest to your monitor. help.ubuntu.com/community/Grub2 –  jasonwryan Jul 20 '11 at 9:18
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