I am using Linux Mint 16 and I have two questions.

  1. For some reason I appear to have a screen resolution way larger than my screen. When I was opening settings, the settings were appearing in an inaccessible part of the screen. Why wasn't this detected automatically and how do I fix it?

  2. I have a VGA port on my laptop I use to connect to my monitor. How can I divert the signal to the monitor?

  • How can you have a screen resolution larger than your screen and still have a display shown? Surely the resolution is smaller and stretched to fit the screen, making everything look larger?
    – Graeme
    Apr 1 '14 at 20:02
  • It's great that you decided to switch to Linux. Mint is a good distro for beginners. However, you need to bear in mind your laptop was probably designed and tested for Windows. The problem you describe is usually related to the monitor not being detected correctly or your video card using the wrong drivers (card detected incorrectly). Could you please give the exact model of your laptop?
    – UnX
    Apr 1 '14 at 20:19
  • @Graeme if I moved my mouse off the visible screen it wouldn't stop (as what happens when you reach the resolution boundary), it would keep going- just I couldnt see this. So the resolution was wider than my physical laptop screen.
    – user997112
    Apr 1 '14 at 21:10
  • Hmm, does this happen in all directions or just particular ones. Is everything else on your desktop in the right place or partially cut off, if so can you add a screenshot?
    – Graeme
    Apr 1 '14 at 21:36

Unfortunately the Free Software display drivers that most distros ship with won't give you the full range of resolutions available with most display cards. Most likely this is the problem and the way to get around it is to use the proprietary drivers for your display card.

Linux Mint introduced MintDrivers in Linux Mint 15 to simply the task of finding and installing these drivers. You should be able to find this in the menu. With the proprietary drivers there should be another GUI configuration tool (most common are the NVidia and AMD manufacturers, each provide their own) to write a valid Xorg.conf file with your desired settings.

If you are new to Linux, then your best bet will be to use these tools and to post another question if you run into specific difficulties. Otherwise if you add the output of the lspci command to your question, someone here should be able to advise what to install.

As for managing an external display, there are a few options. First, if the display is always connected, you could just set this up at the same time as the Xorg.conf is set up. However, this will cause issues when the display isn't connected. Another option is to run xrandr when the display is plugged or unplugged. Here is an example command to set up a VGA monitor to the left of a laptop with a LVDS monitor:

xrandr --output VGA1 --auto --left-of LVDS1

There are also various GUI front ends to xrandr. Examples are arandr and krandr which will be available in the Linux Mint repositories (there will likely even be one installed by default).

Unfortunately, AFAIK, none of these tools are smart enough to adjust settings every time the monitor is plugged or unplugged, so the settings need to be manually applied each time. If you find this is the case, it is possible to set up a udev rule to automatically run a script which changes the display settings. If you are interested in doing this I can add some advice on that.

  • I get "xrandr: cannot find "VGA1". How do I know which display to type? "VGA" and "VGA2" give the same results
    – kurdtpage
    Jan 22 '17 at 20:41
  • @kurdtpage, use xrandr on its own to get information about attached displays and available resolutions. Do you even have VGA? DVI and HDMI are more common these days.
    – Graeme
    Jan 23 '17 at 9:46
  • Thanks Graeme. In my particular case, I'm using a VPS with QEMU. "VGA-1" worked for me (note the dash)
    – kurdtpage
    Jan 24 '17 at 19:13

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