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How To Set a Monitor Resolution Not Available in Ubuntu’s Display Settings

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In this article, we’ll explore how to set a monitor resolution that’s not readily available in Ubuntu’s Display Settings. This can be particularly useful if you’re using a monitor that doesn’t support the standard resolutions offered by Ubuntu, or if you want to customize your display settings for a specific application or task.

Quick Answer

To set a monitor resolution not available in Ubuntu’s Display Settings, you can use the cvt and xrandr commands in the terminal to generate and add a new mode. This allows you to customize your display settings for specific applications or tasks.

Understanding Monitor Resolution

Monitor resolution refers to the number of pixels displayed on your screen. It’s typically represented as the width x height in pixels. For instance, a resolution of 1280×1024 means the display is 1280 pixels wide and 1024 pixels high.

Sometimes, you might want to set a specific resolution that’s not available in the Display Settings of your Ubuntu system. This could be due to various reasons such as compatibility issues with certain applications or specific requirements for your work.

Prerequisites

Before we begin, make sure you have the following:

  • A Ubuntu system (we’re using Ubuntu 13.04 x64 for this tutorial)
  • Access to a terminal
  • Basic understanding of Linux commands

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Get the Modeline

First, we need to get the Modeline for the desired resolution. The Modeline is a string that defines a specific video mode for your monitor. It includes information about the resolution, refresh rate, and various other parameters.

Open a terminal and use the cvt command to generate the Modeline. For instance, if you want a resolution of 1280×1024 at 60Hz, you would run:

$ cvt 1280 1024 60

This command will output a Modeline string that you’ll need for the next steps.

Step 2: Create a New xrandr Modeline

Next, we’ll use the xrandr command to create a new Modeline. xrandr is a command-line tool for managing and configuring display outputs in Linux.

Use the Modeline output from Step 1 to run the following command:

$ xrandr --newmode "1280x1024_60" 109.25 1280 1368 1496 1712 1024 1027 1034 1063 -hsync +vsync

In this command, --newmode is used to define a new mode with the Modeline parameters.

Step 3: Identify Your Display

Now, we need to identify which display we’re modifying. Run the following xrandr command:

$ xrandr

This will output a list of connected displays. Look for the display marked as “connected”, for example, VGA1.

Step 4: Add the New Mode to Your Display

With the display identified, we can now add the new mode to it. Use the display name from Step 3 and the mode name from Step 2 to run the following command:

$ xrandr --addmode VGA1 1280x1024_60

In this command, --addmode is used to add a new mode to a specific display.

Step 5: Change the Screen Resolution

We’re now ready to change the screen resolution. Use the display name and the mode name to run the following command:

$ xrandr --output VGA1 --mode 1280x1024_60

In this command, --output is used to specify the display, and --mode is used to set the new resolution.

Step 6: Adjust Your Monitor Settings

If your monitor has an “Auto Adjust” button, press it to automatically center and scale the output. If it doesn’t, use the manual buttons on your monitor to adjust the display.

Step 7: Make the Resolution Settings Permanent

To make the resolution settings permanent, you can create an xorg.conf file. This file is used to configure the X.Org Server, which is responsible for the graphical display in Linux.

Open a terminal and run the following command to edit the xorg.conf file:

$ sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Enter the following information into the file, replacing the Modeline with the one from Step 1 and the driver name with the correct driver for your graphics card/chip:

Section "Monitor"
 Identifier "My Monitor"
 Modeline "1280x1024_60" 109.25 1280 1368 1496 1712 1024 1027 1034 1063 -hsync +vsync
 Option "PreferredMode" "1280x1024_60"
EndSection

Section "Device"
 Identifier "Intel"
 Driver "intel"
EndSection

Section "Screen"
 Identifier "Default Screen"
 Monitor "My Monitor"
 Device "Intel"
 Defaultdepth 24
 SubSection "Display"
 Modes "1280x1024_60"
 EndSubSection
EndSection

Section "ServerLayout"
 Identifier "Default Layout"
 Screen "Default Screen"
EndSection

Save the file and exit the text editor.

Please note that this answer assumes you are using an Intel graphics driver. If you are using a different driver, make sure to replace “Intel” with the correct driver name in the xorg.conf file.

Conclusion

Setting a custom monitor resolution in Ubuntu might seem daunting at first, but with the right commands and understanding of how display settings work in Linux, it’s a straightforward process. By following these steps, you’ll be able to set any resolution that suits your needs, even if it’s not available in the Display Settings dialog.

Remember that changing monitor resolution can affect your display quality and performance, so always ensure that your chosen resolution is supported by your monitor and graphics card.

Can I set a monitor resolution that is not available in Ubuntu’s Display Settings?

Yes, you can set a monitor resolution that is not available in Ubuntu’s Display Settings by following the step-by-step guide provided in this article.

What is monitor resolution?

Monitor resolution refers to the number of pixels displayed on your screen. It is typically represented as the width x height in pixels. For example, a resolution of 1280×1024 means the display is 1280 pixels wide and 1024 pixels high.

Why would I need to set a custom monitor resolution?

There are several reasons why you might need to set a custom monitor resolution. It could be because your monitor doesn’t support the standard resolutions offered by Ubuntu, or you may want to customize your display settings for a specific application or task.

What are the prerequisites for setting a custom monitor resolution in Ubuntu?

The prerequisites for setting a custom monitor resolution in Ubuntu are: a Ubuntu system, access to a terminal, and a basic understanding of Linux commands.

How do I get the Modeline for the desired resolution?

To get the Modeline for the desired resolution, open a terminal and use the cvt command followed by the desired resolution and refresh rate. For example, cvt 1280 1024 60. The command will output the Modeline string that you’ll need for the next steps.

What is xrandr?

xrandr is a command-line tool for managing and configuring display outputs in Linux. It allows you to create a new Modeline, identify your display, add the new mode to your display, and change the screen resolution.

How do I make the resolution settings permanent?

To make the resolution settings permanent, you can create an xorg.conf file. This file is used to configure the X.Org Server, which is responsible for the graphical display in Linux. You can follow the step-by-step guide in this article to create the xorg.conf file and save it in the correct location.

What should I do if my monitor doesn’t have an “Auto Adjust” button?

If your monitor doesn’t have an "Auto Adjust" button, you can use the manual buttons on your monitor to adjust the display. These buttons are usually located on the front or side of the monitor and allow you to manually adjust settings like position, size, and sharpness.

What should I do if I am using a different graphics driver than Intel?

If you are using a different graphics driver than Intel, you need to replace "Intel" with the correct driver name in the xorg.conf file. Make sure to consult the documentation or support resources for your specific graphics driver to determine the correct driver name to use.

Are there any potential drawbacks or risks to changing the monitor resolution?

Changing the monitor resolution can affect your display quality and performance. It’s important to ensure that your chosen resolution is supported by your monitor and graphics card. In some cases, using an unsupported resolution can result in a distorted or unusable display. Always test and verify the compatibility of the resolution before making it permanent.

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