[clug] 2 Monitors - Advice

Matthew Hawkins matt at mh.dropbear.id.au
Mon May 26 14:15:00 EST 2003

Andrew Donehue (andrew at donehue.net) wrote:

> Hi All, 
> I currently have a 19" Monitor, and I was thinking about 
> getting a second (the same), and also purchasing a PCI TNT2 
> video card...  The distribution of choice for the desktop is 
> Gentoo - any advice (warnings, hints, etc) - when trying to 
> get two monitors going under linux? :)

Hi Andrew,

First of all, I'm not aware of any TNT2 card that has two monitor plugs
on the back (or, moreover, dual head support on chip) NVIDIA didn't
start doing that until later GeForce2 models when they realised they
were still losing a lot of their marketshare to Matrox.

There's basically two ways to support dual head under XFree86 - the
traditional two screens method, and the newer Xinerama.  Xinerama
basically fools X11 into thinking it has one screen that's simply twice
as wide ;)  My personal preference has been for two screens as usually
my second head hasn't been the same capability as the first head hence
I've had to diddle with refresh rates and resolutions and all that.
Also lots of software doesn't like to play nice with Xinerama .. for
example some window managers will simply segfault when you maximise
a window as the screen dimensions they're given are ... dumb.  If you
like to limit yourself to Xinerama-aware software, by all means use
Xinerama while the rest of us get on with real work ;)  The only
practical difference between the two is that Xinerama lets you easily
move windows between the monitors.  I think there's a few hacks 
that'll let you do it with a 2-screen setup too, I simply prefer to 
apps on the monitor I want them on ;)

In any case, to get either method to work its simply a matter of
configuring XF86Config-4 appropriately, and there's ample documentation
both in the XFree86 manuals and online.


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