Dr. Jón Þórsteinn Petúrsson (ironlord) wrote in linux,
Dr. Jón Þórsteinn Petúrsson

The latest story in my doomed attempt to understand Linux...

To set the scene, I am working with an eleven-year-old Compaq Armada 7400 laptop (£3,437 when new...) which I have recently tried to revive by trashing the Windoze XP Pro installation which was already installed when I bought it (£200, end of 2004), and switching to Xubuntu, on recommendation of a Linux-head I've known for years and who knows how to get Slackware to work. He's always told me Xubuntu is the one to go for on an old or slow machine, due to the lower system requirements of the XFCE desktop.

With ridiculously low resources available (a 10 GB hard drive, Pentium II 300 MHz processor, 128 MB RAM - which was probably brilliant for a laptop in 1999), I gave Xubuntu 10.10 a shot - using the alternative CD, as the system specs were too low to run the live CD - and it was as if time had frozen on it. So that was junked and I tried Xubuntu 9.04 instead - the oldest version I had easy access to. That worked... just. While searching the all-knowing oracle I found Lubuntu, which I'd never heard of before - so I gave that a go. Live CD only, but it worked, and what a pleasant surprise, it runs... really quite smoothly!

Only one problem, though: the screen. Whether it was either of the versions of Xubuntu I tried, or the Lubuntu live CD, or the permanent installation of Lubuntu 10.10 I've got going now, it cannot get the screen resolution right. It's a nasty 800×600 screen given as maximum, when I know full well that the old Windoze installation had it set at 1024×768, which is the actual pixel resolution.

What I've tried so far is advice from a couple of troubleshooting guides (1) (2) which mention using the xrandr command. Here's the raw output:

xrandr: Failed to get size of gamma for output default
Screen 0: minimum 320 x 240, current 800 x 600, maximum 800 x 600
default connected 800x600+0+0 0mm x 0mm
800x600 60.0* 56.0
640x480 60.0
400x300 60.0 56.0
320x240 60.0

I notice that the mode is called "default" rather than LVDS or LVDS1 or something similar that indicates a laptop monitor. Whether this has anything to do with failing to get the size of the gamma or not I have no idea. Still, I pressed on:

$ cvt 1024 768


# 1024x768 59.92 Hz (CVT 0.79M3) hsync: 47.82 kHz; pclk: 63.50 MHz
Modeline "1024x768_60.00" 63.50 1024 1072 1176 1328 768 771 775 798 -hsync +vsync

Which then goes into xrandr:

$ xrandr --newmode "1024x768_60.00" 63.50 1024 1072 1176 1328 768 771 775 798 -hsync +vsync

And it all comes crashing down again:

xrandr: Failed to get size of gamma for output default

...and that's where the advice runs out, and as I have yet to understand what a single error message actually means, here is where I have to give up.

(1) Is it supposed to be showing an LVDS or LVDS1 screen type rather than "default", and
(2) Is there any way to make it not fail to get the size of the gamma?

Once that's sorted, then I can have a go at putting it into .xprofile...

...and did I mention that the "delete the ~/.config/monitors.xml" trick won't work, because the file isn't there anyway?
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