Sunday, 14 October 2007

Screen resolution on HP 8510p is wrong

I run Gnome 2.20 desktop on the machine. Ubuntu 7.10 recognized a screen resolution of 1400x1050. This produces a blured image (as the native resolution is 1680x1050).

Here is what my xorg.conf says:
Section "Device"
Identifier "ATI Technologies Inc ATI Default Card"
Driver "vesa"
BusID "PCI:1:0:0"

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Generic Monitor"
Option "DPMS"

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Default Screen"
Device "ATI Technologies Inc ATI Default Card"
Monitor "Generic Monitor"
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection "Display"
Modes "1680x1050"
Under System -> Administration -> Screens and Graphics -> Screen I have selected:
  • LCD Panel 1680x1050 (wide screen)
  • Resolution = 1400x1050 (cannot be changed), 60Hz
  • Default Screen selected
On the Graphics tab:
  • Graphics Card VESA driver (generic)
  • Video memory = automatic
Under System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution:
  • Resolution = 1400x1050
  • Refresh Rate = 60Hz
  • Rotation = (disabled) Normal
  • Make default for this computer only = not selected
Steps to fix the screen resolution
  1. Changing xorg.conf I tried several hint offered on the internet:
    a. changed the graphics driver to "ati" in xorg.conf Section "Device". Restarting the X-server provides an obscured logon screen (horizontal sync does not work)
    b. added
    Screen 0
    Option "MergedFB" "off"
    to the Section "Device". Still the same effect.
    c. added
    Vendorname "Generic LCD Display"
    Modelname "LCD Panel 1680x1050"
    Horizsync 31.5-65.5
    Vertrefresh 56.0 - 65.0
    modeline "1680x1050@60" 147.14 1680 1784 1968 2256 1050 1051 1054 1087 -hsync +vsync
    and removed
    Option "DPMS"
    to and from Section "Monitor". Still the same pattern after restarting gmd.
  2. Then I tried setting the screen resolution in Gnome:
    a. from the recovery dialog at the start of Gnome I set 1680x1050. Gnome starts with 1400x1050 resolution.
    b. tried several other ways but no resolution other than 1400x1050 and a vesa driver.
  3. Tried to install xserver-xorg-video-radeonhd package. I could not find the correct driver in the control panel and the driver was not selected during startup of the X server.
Installed ATI proprietory drivers

Next I took ATI proprietory drivers. I followed the installation instructions:
  • Download the driver from the web site
  • chmod o+x to make the driver file executable
  • ran the file as sudo user
  • answered the following dialogs by selecting a default installation
  • The final dialog informs you that you have to run aticonfig --initial to create a suitable xorg.conf configuration file and reboot the machine
If you do not follow the procedure exactly as described you still run into the situation described above. If you reboot (hey, are we back to Windows) you are welcome with the correct screen resolution.

OK, now it works

Having a suitable screen resolution of 1680x1050 I tried to enable desktop appearance enhancements (compiz). As described in the Readme of the ATI installer, compiz is not supported.

Further, the graphical performance of the driver leaves a lot to be asked for. I have never seen anything that sluggish. I'm left with the choice of having a screen with a readable resolution where I do not even want to move windows or have a decently fast GUI with an unreadable resolution.

The driver prohibits the machine from entering sleep mode (suspend to RAM). The machine stays in a semi-suspended state, consuming full power but with a blank display. To wake up the machine you have to force reboot it, as the driver never wakes up again.


If you have the choice of not getting an ATI card, then do so. NVidia seems the far better choice. It works out of the box and has support for visual enhancements

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