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Kludging Lucid Lynx Video Problems

This entry is mostly for my benefit. I keep running into frustrating [video display issues] (

with Ubuntu Lucid Lynx.

There are basically three problems: The new graphical splash system Plymouth is a disaster, GRUB hides menu options by default and very common Intel video chips just don't work. Here are some workarounds.

Disable Plymouth

Here is the easiest way, which I learned about from an excellent post by Cameron Miller:

First, edit /etc/default/grub as root

Next, change the line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT to read

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT ="nomodeset init=/sbin/init -v"

(The blog post indicates that you should put in a lot of other options, but they did not work for me. In particular noplymouth does not do anything.)

Finally, run update-grub . The next time you reboot Plymouth should be disabled.

Display GRUB

I also like seeing the GRUB menu. You can supposedly activate it by pressing the Esc key at exactly the correct time, but this is error-prone.

Again, edit /etc/default/grub as root, and comment out the GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0 line. Then run update-grub again.

Use VESA display driver

The VESA display driver is pretty bad: it maxes out at 1024x768 resolution, and it does not support graphics acceleration. But I have found it more reliable than the Intel drivers in many cases.

Create a file /etc/X11/Xorg.conf with the following contents:

Section "Device"
    Identifier      "Configured Video Device"
    Driver          "vesa"

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier      "Configured Monitor"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier      "Default Screen"
    Monitor         "Configured Monitor"
    Device          "Configured Video Device"

You might also need HorizSync and VertRefresh lines in the Monitor section if the refresh rates are off on your diaplsy. Get the proper values by reading your monitor documentation.