[kde-linux] 2 monitors with nv

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Sun Oct 2 01:33:26 UTC 2011

James posted on Sat, 01 Oct 2011 15:16:31 -0400 as excerpted:

> I switched from the proprietary nvidia driver to nv and I can't my
> desktop to work like it did before.

> I have two monitors 1920x1200 and 1680x1050.
> I want one desktop.
> As soon as I change DVI1 to be "Position: Right of DVI0", it changes
> back to "Position: Clone of DVI0".
> http://lockie.ca/test/X.png
> $ sudo more /etc/X11/xorg.conf
> # nvidia-settings: X configuration file generated by nvidia-settings
> # nvidia-settings:  version 1.0  (root at Gentoo-desktop)
> Tue Aug  4 22:59:39 EDT 2009

Hello fellow Gentooer. =;^)

FWIW, I run a Radeon (hd4650, the rv730 graphics chip) here, and ran an 
old Radeon 9200 (r2xx series chip, old, as I said) before that.  I 
haven't had an nVidia card, since they fail to cooperate with the 
freedomware folks and at least provide the specs necessary to write free 
driver, since I switched to a Radeon in 2002 or so.  (I purchased that 
nVidia while I was still on MS.  At the time, I was planning to switch to 
Linux and knew enough to verify Linux drivers, but unfortunately did NOT 
know enough to verify freedomware drivers. =:^(  But at the next hardware 
upgrade I switched, and have never gone back.)

As such, the amount of help I can be will be somewhat limited.  However, 
I believe I can be of /some/ help.

#1 main point: The nv driver is deprecated.  It has basic 2D acceleration 
only, little or no 3D/OpenGL, and is crippled in a number of other ways 
(including the dual monitor support that's the basis of this thread).  It 
was viewed by many as the bare minimum that was shippable with 
distributions that couldn't directly ship nVidia for legal reasons, to 
get the system installed and up and running enough to download the 
proprietary drivers, and since there's a far better alternative now, one 
that is actually good enough that many find they prefer it to the 
proprietary nvidia drivers for freedom or simply freedom from hassle 
reasons, nv is deprecated in favor of the newer driver. =:^)

This newer freedomware driver is the reverse-engineered (given no 
cooperation from nVidia) nouveau driver. On older nVidia hardware (I've 
no clue what the nVidia model numbering scheme looks like, so couldn't 
tell you what's "older" and what's "newer"), it is said to be very close 
to the nVidia driver, performance-wise, and even to exceed it in certain 
cases.  It falls behind on newer hardware, unfortunately, in part due to 
having to reverse engineer, and in part due to simply not having the 
resources to keep up.  However, most distros now ship it and it is more 
and more often considered "good enough" for people who dislike the idea 
or hassle of running the proprietary drivers.

(By comparison, the freedomware radeon driver is also behind the 
proprietary version, even with AMD/ATI's cooperation, entirely due to 
lack of resources.  But both the radeon and nouveau drivers continue to 
improve.  Intel, meanwhile, has /only/ native freedomware drivers on 
Linux, no proprietary drivers available.)

So I'd highly recommend emerging and switching to the nouveau driver, 
xf86-video-nouveau .  It's also possible that you'll want a newer xorg-
server, mesa, and kernel, along with dependencies, depending on the age 
of your hardware.  Since this driver is reverse engineered and still 
under intense development, the support for particularly newer hardware is 
*VERY* version dependent, with newer versions often offering *MUCH* 
better and more stable support.  This is particularly true since you're 
coming from the proprietary nVidia driver, which often lags in support 
for newer versions of the above, so the best version to run with it tends 
to be older than the best version to run with the native freedomware 
nouveau driver.

Also, I believe that the nVidia driver is user-modesetting only, UMS, 
while with most native drivers the emphasis is now definitely on kernel-
modesetting, KMS.  So I'd recommend switching to KMS, as it's likely to 
provide a far better and more stable experience for you.  Doing so will 
certainly require a bit of kernel config change, etc, however, and 
perhaps some other changes as well, for instance in the font you run at 
the text console, since KMS gives you framebuffer as opposed to vgacon, 
with native resolution as opposed to svga compatible 800x600 or whatever, 
so your console fonts will appear smaller due to the higher resolution.

Similarly, taking a look at your xorg.conf, many of those settings are 
seriously dated and no longer needed.  In fact, a modern setup doesn't 
have an xorg.conf at all, but instead, a collection of files under
/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d or similar (that's the Gentoo location, tho).  And 
you'll actually only need a few files/sections there, since xorg does 
quite a good job of "just working" without a config, using just hotplug 
detection and built-in defaults, these days.  The only exceptions are 
where you want something other than the default.  For instance, you don't 
say, but the fact that your xorg.conf is configured for two monitors 
indicates that you're probably running a desktop system with both plugged 
in more or less permanently.  As such, you'll probably want a file with 
Section "Device" (the graphics card settings) in it, listing the monitor 
sections, and then another file (or one for each, but I use a single file 
with both my monitor sections in it) with the Section "Monitor" sections, 
since with RandR, that's how you configure (at least for monitors that 
normally stay attached) monitor positioning, etc.  Without that, xorg 
will still work, but the way it positions the monitors by default might 
not be the way you have them actually setup.

At some point you'll probably also want to switch to evdev (xf86-input-
evdev, note that there's a kernel option to enable as well, and that it 
uses different devices in /dev, altho you may wish to keep /dev/mice for 
gpm if you use it at the text console) for both mouse and keyboard input 
as well, altho that's nothing at all connected to graphics and should 
work with either nouveau or nvidia (or nv, for that matter).  With evdev, 
you can probably omit the Section "InputDevice" sections entirely, since 
it normally "just works" and you can set the mouse acceleration (the only 
thing different from the autodetected defaults, here) via kde instead of 
in an xorg.conf.d file.

Meanwhile, since you're a Gentooer, it can be noted that there's 
documentation for most of this in gentoo.org's documentation section.  In 
particular, see the X Server Configuration HOWTO, which I just checked 
and it seems quite upto date regarding nouveau, KMS, evdev, xorg.conf.d, 
etc, pretty much everything I've mentioned here.


Well, it looks like you have some work to do.  If you have any questions 
as you do the upgrades, you can ask either here or on the gentoo-desktop 
list (which is more appropriate for this sort of topic, actually, but you 
didn't know that it wasn't a kde issue when you posted), where I'm also a 
regular.  I'll try to help if I can.  The good news is that the nouveau 
drivers are very much closer to generic X than the proprietary drivers, 
using kms, randr, etc, so I'm far more likely to be able to help there, 
than with the proprietary drivers.  But of course there's always driver-
specific settings and driver and hardware specific bugs that I'll know 
little or nothing about.

If you'd like and believe it might help, I can post my actual xorg.conf.d/
*.conf files to gentoo-desktop.  As I said, it's radeon not nouveau, and 
of course there will be minor differences in detail like monitor 
resolution, but the nouveau drivers are standard enough that the 
parallels should be pretty high, and it would give you an idea of just 
what a modern xorg.conf.d config looks like.  Just ask if you think it'd 
be helpful.  OTOH, the documentation link above may well provide all you 
need, once you get started.

One more thing. If there's any chance you may wish to return to the 
proprietary drivers, I'd recommend binpkging your xorg-server, etc, 
before you upgrade (if you don't already have FEATURES=buildpkg set and 
thus already have binpkgs auto-built when you emerged the packages in the 
first place), and backing up your existing xorg.conf, so it's easy to 
downgrade and switch back to the proprietary drivers if you decide to do 

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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