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I've searched high and low for an answer to this. What I find odd is that the only person on the internet who seems to have had a similar issue (or even recognised this as an issue) was one photographer (who referred to the colour as "magenta"). Of course, as a photographer he had access to colour calibration equipment and was able to solve his problem that way: a luxury I don't have.

What's puzzling is that no one else seems to recognise this as a problem. Other people's graphics card issues always seem much more serious i.e. nothing works, which isn't the case here. Yet it's the same for every Linux installation I do, with whatever distro and on two different computers.

The problem is that the colours are sickly, slightly blueish, anemic etc. It's "useable" and some non-photo images e.g. icons look ok but as soon as I view something with humans in it or lots of colour, it just looks wrong and it makes using Linux a chore. Even the grey of the windows in Gnome 3 and Linux Mint looks wrong (cold/alienating) and no amount of fiddling with xgamma will get it anywhere close to the quality of images in Windows 7. I've even tried to adjust the colours via xgamma with a PC running Windows 7 next to it, so I can use the same photo with the right colours as a reference. The same distro always looks fine in VirtualBox.

The main PC is using an ATI Radeon HD 5470 and the other is using something like an ATI R200 Express (no longer supported by ATI). However, even though a quick look at the internet reveals a huge quantity of ATI/Linux-related misery, none of it is of the kind I describe. The current distro is Linux Mint Debian. Previously I have had Ubuntu, Fedora 17 and Debian 6.0 installed, all with the same "sickly colours" problem.

Am I being naïve to expect the colours of a PC running Linux to be anywhere near those of the same PC running Windows 7?

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closed as too localized by jasonwryan, jw013, Tim Kennedy, Stéphane Gimenez, Ulrich Dangel Oct 1 '12 at 0:29

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I'm assuming you've tried swapping the monitor+monitor cable between your Windows and Linux boxes, to ensure this isn't a hardware issue on the display end? – ire_and_curses Sep 20 '12 at 11:20
Unfortunately they're both laptops. – Simon Hoare Sep 20 '12 at 11:29

What i would try:

Download a "Live" version of a distribution like ubuntu, make 2 cds/dvds/usb-sticks and start both notebooks with them.

Now you can make a side by side comparison, and you should see if it's linux or if it's a problem with the hardware of one of the notebooks.

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I think the problem is poor color depth. The Windows graphics driver allows 32-bit true colour. The Linux ones (free or proprietary) don't.

Sadly this means that for the time being I'll be going back to Windows.

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Please use the "flag" link on either the question or this answer, select the "Other" option and explain that you've lost the cookie to your original account. Moderators can merge or otherwise repair this type of issue. – Mat Sep 23 '12 at 16:58
Even if the Linux driver were limited to 16-bit colour, I wouldn't expect that to cause a blue cast across the board (which is what I think you're suggesting). Did installing Windows on the first laptop fix the problem? – Useless Sep 23 '12 at 18:30
Ok, Mat thanks. Windows is set to "32-bit true colour" so I will try a worse setting and see if the quality is comparable. – Simon Hoare Sep 24 '12 at 8:49

Of course, as a photographer he had access to colour calibration equipment and was able to solve his problem that way: a luxury I don't have.

What's your budget? The ColorHug is about $100 new. You can often get a Pantone Huey or Colorvision Spyder for less than $50 on Ebay. Even better: borrow one from a friend, or split the cost. You only need to use it once!

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