Restoring your previous xorg.conf file

September 15, 2006

Resurrecting your xserver by restoring your previous xorg.confA few days ago I installed Cedega on my portable with Ubuntu Linux installed on it. After installation I customized the application options / preferences and ran the test utility. The test revealed that my 3D Acceleration wasn’t working. I found that a crucial part to have working so I started fixing it.After a while I made a mistake and my (already highly customized) xorg.conf got re-written by all kinds of default settings. Since the xserver uses the file in order to start-up correctly you can imagine that my xserver crashed.In Ubuntu Linux the xorg.conf file makes a backup of it’s current state before it accepts getting edited or rewritten. This does not apply when you edit xorg.conf yourself though (editing with Vi or Gedit). So I got an backup waiting to be restored, with all my setting related to resolution, drivers, AIXGL/Compiz and so on. I’ll use my own example in order to explain how you can restore the previous xorg.conf file.After I rebooted Ubuntu Linux started up correctly until it came across xserver section. There the xserver crashed and I was presented with a terminal screen which kindly asked for my username.I logged in with my normal account and entered:

djons@tosh-empire:/$ cd /

This command brings you to the root of your system. If you enter:

djons@tosh-empire:/$ dir

You will see you are at the beginning point of the system.We need to proceed towards the xorg.conf location. Hit the following path in order to get there:

djons@tosh-empire:/$ cd /etc/X11

Note that X11 is with a capital X. All Linux distributions, UNIX variations and thus also Mac OS X feature this.When you are in the X11 directory you will see a file structure similar to this:

djons@tosh-empire:/etc/X11$ dirapp-defaults gdm xorg.conf Xsession.dapplnk rgb.txt xorg.conf~ Xsession.optionsconfig susewm xorg.conf.20060807011320 Xwrapper.configcursors X Xresourcesdefault-display-manager xinit xserverfonts xkb Xsession

You should pinpoint two files, they are the files with which we are going work:


The question marks represents year, month, day and some more info. But the date is the most important since you can easily pick the most current back-upped version of xorg.conf before things went sour. So now it’s time to replace our corrupt xorg.conf with a previous working version.First of all we have to delete the current corrupted xorg file. To make this happen do the following terminal work:

djons@tosh-empire:/etc/X11$ sudo rm xorg.conf

Now we have to rename the back-upped version in order to get our installation working with icons and mouse. Do the following terminal work:

djons@tosh-empire:/etc/X11$ sudo mv xorg.conf.????????????? xorg.conf

We’re done. The only thing you have to do is restart your machine and wait till it’s done booting up the installation. In order to get your machine rebooting hit the on/off switch once or use the following command:

djons@tosh-empire:/etc/X11$ sudo shutdown -r now


Absolute Beginner Guide: 915resolution

August 20, 2006

For those who own Intel graphical chipset it might happen that the maximum resolution can’t be set. Why this problem still isn’t solved I don’t know. It might have something to do with Ubuntu Linux or Intel drivers.Earlier in my blog I wrote how to install drivers for a Intel Graphical card. I took my own graphical card as an example. You can read the guide here.But even I have to apply an application to patch or set the resolution to the maximum. In my case that is 1400 x 1050. The application to achieve that is called 915resolution. So let’s get started then.

  • Know your max. resolution

This is really important. In case 915resolution displays resolutions your monitor / LCD can’t bear. Otherwise you will risk xserver-xorg failures and in the worst case damage your monitor / LCD. In my case the max. resolution is 1400 x 1050.

  • Download and install 915resolution

This is also very simple to do. 915resolution is an application which is located in your package manager. But first you must add the ‘universe’ and ‘multiverse’ repositories since it’s located there.System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager -> Settings -> Repositories.After you have added them you’ll be asked to reload your Package Manager information. If not, click the reload button on the left. After that’s done it’s just selecting 915resolution and hitting the apply button which will install the application on your hard drive.

  • Setting up 915resolution

The application is a CLI (Command Line Interface) one. But don’t worry it’s really easy to use. Let’s discuss how 915resolution works.915resolution has the ability to recognize Intel Graphical Chips and determine their max. resolutions and bit depth. But except recognizing 915resolution is able to patch the system so that the real maximum resolution can be used. The user has to run the application with a parameter. Then when choosing a mode from the output, the user has to edit a config file. This file will be addressed to every time the user logs in. After editing the file 915resolution has to be used one more time to set / activate the mode. So it’s quite simple.

  • Determine the Intel graphical chipset

In order to apply the correct resolution and bit depth 915resolution first has to know with what kind of Intel Chipset it has to deal. Perform the following terminal work to find out:

$sudo 915resolution -l

The output displays mode for you to choose from. I will stick to my own chipset in order to make the example as easy as possible.

Intel 800/900 Series VBIOS Hack : version 0.5.2Chipset: 855GMBIOS: TYPE 2Mode Table Offset: $C0000 + $36fMode Table Entries: 21Mode 30 : 640×480, 8 bits/pixelMode 32 : 800×600, 8 bits/pixelMode 34 : 1024×768, 8 bits/pixelMode 38 : 1280×1024, 8 bits/pixelMode 3a : 1600×1200, 8 bits/pixelMode 3c : 1400×1050, 8 bits/pixelMode 41 : 640×480, 16 bits/pixelMode 43 : 800×600, 16 bits/pixelMode 45 : 1024×768, 16 bits/pixelMode 49 : 1280×1024, 16 bits/pixelMode 4b : 1600×1200, 16 bits/pixelMode 4d : 1400×1050, 16 bits/pixelMode 50 : 640×480, 32 bits/pixelMode 52 : 800×600, 32 bits/pixelMode 54 : 1024×768, 32 bits/pixelMode 58 : 1280×1024, 32 bits/pixelMode 5a : 1600×1200, 32 bits/pixelMode 5c : 1400×1050, 32 bits/pixelMode 7c : 1024×600, 8 bits/pixelMode 7d : 1024×600, 16 bits/pixelMode 7e : 1024×600, 32 bits/pixeldjons@tosh-empire:~$

Note that I have found my max. resolution and bit depth (Mode 5c). Also note that my output has another max. resolution of 1600 x 1200 (Mode 4b and Mode 5a). I know for sure my LCD does not support that. Remember not to choose resolutions which are higher than your max. since it can or will damage your xserver-xorg or monitor / LCD.

  • Editing the 915resolution file

The configuration file of 915resolution makes sure your setup won’t be lost the next time you reboot the system. Editing the configuration file is also a breeze. It asks you to specify the Mode, bit depth and max. resolution. That’s it!Do the following terminal work to open the 915resolution for editing:

$sudo gedit /etc/default/915resolution

Below here I’ve copy / pasted the content of the file with the options I had to write down for my Intel Graphical Card and type of LCD.

## 915resolution default## find free modes by /usr/sbin/915resolution -l# and set it to MODE or set to ‘MODE=auto’## With ‘auto’ detection, the panel-size will be fetched from the VBE# BIOS if possible and the highest-numbered mode in each bit-depth# will be overwritten with the detected panel-size.MODE=5c## and set resolutions for the mode.#XRESO=1400YRESO=1050## We can also set the pixel mode.# Please note that this is optional,# you can also leave this value blank.BIT=32

It is possible to let the 915resolution file alone keeping it on auto. But in my case every time I rebooted the system it switched back to 1280 x 1024. Also this way you ensure 915resolution by accident or whatever does not select a resolution which will wreck.

  • Applying / Patching / Setting the Mode

After you have saved the configuration file and closed it there is one last thing we have to do with the terminal. We have sought for modes, we have specified one and now we have to let 915resolution know what our choice will be. Do the following terminal work to apply the Mode.

$sudo 915resolution 5c 1400 1050

Note that the mode 5c and the resolution 1400 x 1050 are part of my own Intel Graphical Chipset in combination with my own type of LCD Panel. If everything goes well you should receive a message which looks like this:

Intel 800/900 Series VBIOS Hack : version 0.5.2Chipset: 855GMBIOS: TYPE 2Mode Table Offset: $C0000 + $36fMode Table Entries: 21Patch mode 5c to resolution 1400×1050 complete

You are done! The only thing rest to do is restart the xserver (ctrl + alt + backspace) or restart the system. When you login it should be the maximum resolution. You can always open:System -> Preferences -> Screen ResolutionIn order to check if the application works.

How-to Install XGL/Compiz on Ubuntu (the easy way).

August 8, 2006

Some time ago I wrote that I had tried XGL/Compiz using an Intel 855GM onboard chip and Ubuntu Linux. The guide I’ve used however wasn’t a right one or wasn’t good at all. Richard Querin replied with a comment saying he used a much simpeler guide which should work.Having being busy with all sorts of things, only today I found an opportunity to install and test XGL on Ubuntu. What a surprise after having used SLED 10, with XGL ‘Out Of the Box’ and a community wiki guide, which failed. Using the link and the information behind it Richard Querin supplied I had XGL up and running in no time and it even works quite fast on my Intel 855GM onboard chip.If you wish to install XGL, which with this guide will be a breeze, I encourage you! I thank Richard Querin for providing me with this information.

Simple Desktop Enhancements

July 27, 2006

Ubuntu Linux comes with brown. Why brown you might ask? This color fits more with what the word ‘Ubuntu’ means. It reflects humanity and mother earth better than any other color. For those reasons I’ve used the default theme for weeks back then with 5.10 Breezy Badger. But after a while, consistently using my portable, consistently modifying applications, preferences and configuration files I found it was time to use other themes, colors and backgrounds.Who ever read my previous posts knows by now that Ubuntu Linux is a very transparent distribution. It doesn’t takes ages and doesn’t requires you to be a whiz kid in order to understand it’s workings. Though it’s so transparent I didn’t find it a reason to be modifying appearance with the terminal. I wanted to be able to change as much as possible while hardly using a terminal, The Gimp and other tools.In this Absolute Beginners Guide I will explain how you can easily change things as:

  • Backgrounds
  • Window themes
  • Login Manager themes
  • Splash screen themes

But no only that. I will also tell you how to find them. With this information you will be able to customize your Linux installation in no time. As for me, Ubuntu is in my heart and my contribution efforts. So I don’t feel sorry abandoning the colors.

  • Where to find them?

The most popular form of Desktop enhancements are backgrounds. Now, while a lot of people find backgrounds being plain pictures or digital creations I’ve made an hobby out of it. By checking numerous websites almost daily I search and save backgrounds I like. For me a background must apply to certain criteria. Why? Because I don’t want to get hyped by a background and it must match with the rest of my enhancements.For instance I hardly download backgrounds which are mostly white or light-gray. This color, when using only the terminal or some small view size application burns your eyes out after a while. So almost all of my backgrounds are a combination of dark and or neutral colors.Where do I find them? I mostly download them from DeviantArt. This by far the largest community which features a configurable gallery sorting resolutions, subjects and more. For people who can think logical or just know enough French to navigate around Hebus is also a nice resource. Being the same type of community as DeviantArt, Hebus is a bit smaller and a lot of backgrounds are not available in high resolutions. But also Google can help find you specific artists. Pixelgirl Presents is an artist website I found. There you can find a lot of very high resolution wallpapers.But it would be a sin to forget about our own community. Also Linux related websites provide wallpapers and other Desktop enhancements, so let’s name them!When it comes to downloading it all our own community resources have more of everything rather than more of one specific subject. offers not only backgrounds but also Application themes, Window Border themes, Icons, Login Manager themes, Splash screens and even whole GTK+ is a much larger gathering. But the downside is… it’s indeed more KDE oriented, rather than Gnome. But you will still be able to find quite some enhancements only please note that not all enhancements are usable for Gnome.

  • How to install them?

After you have found some interesting stuff of everything it’s time to get them installed. Don’t worry about terminal commands and difficult CLI interpretations. These enhancements are going to be installed using special applications.Installing another background shouldn’t be a problem. When you are looking at your desktop it’s just clicking right with your mouse and selecting ‘Change Desktop Background’. This is usually one of my first enhancements when reinstalling Ubuntu or getting bored of my theme.My second step is almost always changing the Login Manager theme. There’s really no need to follow the enhancements in an particular order anyway. In order to change a Login Manager you have to open a terminal. There execute the following command:sudo gdmsetupAfter a couple of seconds waiting a graphical application appears. This is your Graphical Display Manager setup utility. In the ‘local’ tab you can add and select Login managers to be activated. After adding one and selecting it you are done. You can test your new Login Manager by logging out. It will bring you right up to it.In order to be able to select and switch from Splash screens we need to download a small application using Synaptic. If you are more skilled, try the Terminal and use ‘apt-get install <filename>’. The application we need to add is being called ‘gnome-splashscreen-manager. It might be Synaptic won’t find it at first. In that case not all your included Ubuntu repositories are enabled. If so, go to: settings -> repositories -> addMake sure you select both Universe and Multiverse when (re)adding channels to the repository. After you’ve done that, try again to search for ‘gnome-splashscreen-manager’. Once you’ve downloaded it you will find it under:System -> Preferences -> Splash ScreenThe application works very simple. So it shouldn’t be a problem.If you like the Human Gnome Theme but you’ve had it with brown? Let’s open the Themes:System -> Preferences -> ThemesWhen you scroll down you will see various themes including the Human theme. You can always select a totally different theme. But the Human theme remains one of the newest themes. A lot of other themes really let you see how Gnome looked a few years back. On the right you can always choose ‘Theme details’. There you can choose how windows should look like, which icons should be used and Window Borders there should be used. Within one minute, you’ll have it customized.You can also add more themes for Gnome, Screen Splashes and Login Managers using Synaptic. But that’s your homework.So now let’s see. The login manager looks way better. When logging in a totally different Splash Screen greets us and the background rocks. These are some Absolute Beginner tips on enhancing your Ubuntu installation.

Installing Intel 815/852/855 graphics controller drivers on Ubuntu / Debian

July 26, 2006

If you are new to Ubuntu it may happen that devices won’t work. That’s new, for Windows users. Microsoft Windows is an universal Operating System. That’s why hardware manufacturers have developers working for them to write the drivers. But it doesn’t means those drivers also end up in Linux!. There are various reasons for that:- Linux isn’t being recognized as a grown-up Operating System by certain companies and manufacturers.- Propriety still plays a big role. By default hardware manufacturers are not keen on releasing their product specifications.- Not enough developers in the community to write a driver which sometimes can be complex.These are the most important reasons why driver support sometimes fails under Linux. Also I had to live with that until today. I finally got the puzzle solved in my case.The Intel onboard graphics such as the 810/852/855 family haven’t always been working properly under GNU/Linux distributions. The first stage was a simple driver which made it possible to use your portable with a maximum resolution of 1280×1024. After a while 8xxresolution came into the repositories. With this CLI-application (Command Line Interface) it was possible to configure a pre-made script to use the real maximum resolution your portable and onboard chip supported. In my case that is 1400×1050.As I said before on this blog I’m a beginner myself in many factors and forms. My only advantage compared with an Absolute Beginner is the fact I’ve have been using GNU/Linux distributions since 1999. While writing an other article for my blog (about the happiness of Debra and Ian) I’ve came across an interesting piece! I knew that the Intel 855 drivers where bundled with the drivers for the 810 and 915 chipset drivers but the whole problem was they were only available in .rpm. The Wiki article stated that ‘Alien’ (a small application) is able to create .deb files out of .rpm and other archives. That was exactly what I needed!I did the following terminal work to to install the drivers with enabled hardware acceleration :

  • sudo apt-get install alien

In the meantime I downloaded the driver and browsed in the terminal to the location it would be downloaded to. After the download was complete I used the following commands.

  • sudo alien <filname.rpm>
  • sudo dpkg -i <filename.deb>
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get upgrade

If, in your case you still can’t switch to the maximum resolution you should install 915resolution from the repositories. Please note that you might have to enable the multiverse / universe repositories to download and install this application. 915resolution works exactly like 855resolution, only it supports more (new) Intel onboard chipsets. But even without the maximum resolution your onboard chip should now be as fast as under Windows again. I installed and played Planet Penguin Racer to test the graphics card. It worked as it should even configured at a resolution of 1400×1050 or 1280×1024.