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Old 09-21-08, 08:38 AM   #1
SamNSane
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 7
Default Ubuntu - Restricted vs. Open Source Drivers

Hello. This forum looks like a fantastic resource. I'm wondering if I might get a little advice.

Short Version: I want the restricted drivers to use my notebook's external monitor when it's docked (lid closed) and its "internal" monitor when it isn't docked. Automatically. Can it be done?

Long Version:

I have a notebook computer that I use for performing remote system administration and general research. It is a Dell M70 with 2 GB of RAM and two hard drives (one modular bay). I've just switched from Windows to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS last week. It was an easy experience, except for one minor fly in the ointment.

The Open Source drivers work extremely well from a basic functionality standpoint. They know when to use the external monitor (notebook docked, lid closed) and when to use the notebook's own display (undocked, lid open).

When I installed the restricted drivers I ran into the same issue I've run into every time I've experimented with Ubuntu / Mint / Debian -- the display behavior suddenly becomes "stupid", for want of a better word. I start the computer in docked mode with the lid closed, and the external monitor remains blank. I hear the Ubuntu login prompt come up. I have to open the lid, hit the Fn-F8 key combination to force the video to be displayed on the external monitor (a 2005 fpw, 1680x1050, as opposed to the 1920x1200 display on the notebook).

The desktop resolution is handled automatically by the native Ubuntu distro desktop resolution tool. But no automatic switching between displays happens with that restricted driver in place.

I install nvidia-settings via Synaptic in the hopes of getting things sorted out that way. This results in no improvement in the way the system behaves, but considerably more complication, so I dispense with nvidia-settings. (I got REALLY tired of dinking around with xorg.conf in Breezy. I learned a lot, but none of it got me what I wanted.)

That's where I'm at now. I've been around this block through three versions of Ubuntu / Mint. This time I'm not nearly as ambitious as I was the first time. I don't care about having Twinview working. One monitor is just fine. I just want it to be the right monitor -- automatically!

I would rather not do the admittedly minor surgery on the OS to get the latest, greatest drivers installed. I'm trying to restrict software and driver installations to what's available from the distro's standard repository. The point is that I do admin work with this system. I don't want to turn it into a test bed for unsupported (by the Ubuntu community) drivers. I'm satisfied with the performance of the drivers I have, just not their ability to decide where to send video.

Can someone help me?
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