Novell is now a part of Micro Focus

Basics: Set the Display from the Command Line using SaX2

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
By Stomfi

Digg This - Slashdot This

Posted: 27 Sep 2005

Questions from Uganda: I recently installed SUSE's so great, BUT How can I make KDE fit my monitor just like Windows? I am using a 17-inch EIZO monitor. And how can I get back KDE GUI from the prompt? If I change CDs how can I change them in KDE or command prompt, same applies to the flash disks! Thank you for your time! I am learning C programming....I want to be like you.

Answer: For SUSE

There are a lot of questions dealing with quite a few subjects here. Some may be better answered by SUSE support and I'll indicate it when I think that is the case.

Question 1: Picture size on the Monitor.

I've not had that problem for quite a while, since Linux got so much better at recognising plug and play monitors and automagically configuring the display adapter video system.

Since the display system includes both display adapter and the monitor, the problem could be in the former.

Having a dual boot machine in my repertoire, I notice that MS Windows usually has a different size than Linux.

I normally use the resize buttons on the monitor case to maximise my Linux screen, but being that you have such a large area of black, your problem seems more likely to be in the vertical and horizontal refresh rates or the screen resolution you are using under Linux. Because many of the video card drivers have been reverse engineered (hacked), they sometimes work better or sometimes worse than their closed source MS windows counterparts. I have found that inexpensive 32MB PCI nvidia cards are a good drop in replacement for some older on board or card hardware as nvidia do closed source drivers for Linux which give you 3D graphics.

Before I tell you how to get your GUI back, the first place I suggest you try for a newbie solution is the SUSE screen setup tool "sax2" which you can start from the command line as the root user.

(You can start sax2 even if you are currently running a GUI as it will start up in virtual X terminal F8, whereas you will be using F7. You can click between them by Ctrl-Alt-F7 or F8.)

When the screen starts it will usually give you a message about whether to accept what is displayed or change things. Click the change button anyway, to explore the changes you can make.

I have to apologise for the quality of the pictures, but not having a snapshot tool while inside of sax2 is a bit of a problem to get a good pic.

Here is a picture of the main sax window:

Click the plus sign at the left of the "Desktop" icon and you will see a list of items with "Monitor" the first in the list. Click on "Monitor" to change your monitor setting.

VERY IMPORTANT ? Do not change settings to be different from those recommended in your monitor manual for the exact same model number. You could blow it up, start a fire, or cook your motherboard.

If you don't have a manual, surf the web to find the correct horizontal and vertical frequencies for your model number.

When you have the necessary facts about make, model number, and frequencies either as a comma separated list, or as a range, for each vertical and horizontal, click "Change Configuration" and in the next screen click "Properties".

The Model tab lets you choose your make and model. If it is not in the list, then you will have to either pop in your manufacturer's disk and see if that works!! or choose Vesa from the top of the list and the maximum resolution you want to view, or choose a similar monitor and click the tab called "Frequencies", entering the frequencies you obtained from the manual.

You may find it beneficial to lower your maximum resolution to say 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768, just to see if that works.

The vesa driver bypasses your video card and works everything out in software. I always use it when testing new hardware as it is a sure fire way of getting a picture on the screen.

Check that your graphics card is properly recognised:

Also check that your maximum resolution is initially not greater than 1024 x 768. You can go back and increase this in steps until you find one that causes problems. The screen should only list those that it recognises are OK for your monitor, but things don't always behave according to specs, so beware.

At this stage you should not activate "Virtual Resolution" or "3D acceleration". Wait till everything is working.

Lastly, you should click "finalize", even if you have changed nothing, as this step will let you interactively change the position and size of your picture, and will let you see what happens as you bring it in and out of its capabilities.

You will probably find that the change size tab has more effect. After you have saved these changes, you will have to restart the X server before they will be applied.

If all doesn't go according to this plan, then you can find out exactly what resolutions and parameters are being used by having a look in "/var/log/Xorg.0.log" although you will have to put your tech head hat on to understand all the messages. Just look for those with screen resolutions.

You can find some more help on this subject in the SUSE Linux ? Administration Guide: Chapter 2. System Configuration with YaST / 2.4. Hardware.

Question 2: How to get from the command line to the GUI.

This question was answered in the newbie answer at

There is also a Stomfi simple document management system which should help all you newbies categorise and reference all my newbie documents at cool solutions so you can type in a search term and find if I have already given the answer.

Question 3: How to recognise and access removable media and devices in KDE and the command line

This is another one of those areas where computer technology and peripherals have a lot of trouble recognising each other. I really need more information to give you an informed answer.

I don't know how the individual components are attached to the computer, or whether you are using a desktop or laptop. Just shortly, combination DVD/CD player/writers are so cheap that I suggest one unit would be better than two, as even some MS windows desktop users I know with access to closed source drivers have problems with your combination.

One of the problems is the lack of IDE cables and connections. Usually the hard drive is on one, and the CD/DVD player/writers on the other. The interaction of the two devices on the same cable can cause recognition problems, but unless your hard drive is modern, putting one of the players on the hard drive cable could cause a loss in read/write speed.

The flash cards area is another problem which makes me suspect that you may have a laptop, as I use those 1GB USB Ram sticks on a desktop.

Basic rules for asking hardware related questions.

When sending in questions that deal with hardware of any type, it is helpful to me to be told the computer and the peripheral hardware specs, and any relevant network hardware specs and cabling layout, all including brands, model numbers, and relevant parameters, as I won't have the same as you've got, and may be able to use the cbq lab equipment to emulate your situation as close as possible in my quest to give you an informative answer.

Being like me

I'm not a programmer, I'm a shell hacker. I believe that too much formal education can brainwash you into narrow thought patterns, not something you need when dealing with a developing technology. Lots of experience in all sorts of endeavours, living and working with differing cultures in different countries, lateral thinking practice, learning from manuals and how tos, using effective problem solving techniques, good time management, never saying I'll do something that I can't or won't be able to do, applying scientific and professional practices, trying to think like my audience, and integrating intelligence and emotion to the whole of wondrous life, are what makes me me.

I was pretty good at it at age 26 having lived and worked in four or five countries by then. Travel definitely gives you an edge, as you end up thinking like a world citizen and can easily take on new ideas and mores.

Certainly working in a development laboratory with your C programming for about 5 years would expand your problem solving abilities, but working with end users has got to be the most frustrating and eventually most satisfying endeavour, as it gives you the ability to think how others do, so that your solution can fit their needs rather than your ego.

This Newbie answer has covered:

How to set up and test the display components using sax2 from the command line.
Basic rules for asking hardware questions
How to be like me

Novell Cool Solutions (corporate web communities) are produced by WebWise Solutions.

© Copyright Micro Focus or one of its affiliates