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How To: Configure Multiple Monitors in Ubuntu

muti-monitors

About six weeks ago I did a tutorial on configuring multiple monitors in the Microsoft Windows operating system using the built-in monitor configuration tool as well as a couple of third-party tools that offered more features.  This tutorial was not done on my personal computer, however, because the article revolved around Microsoft Windows – an operating system that I do not personally use.

So today I’m going to cover the same process of setting up multiple monitors, however this time I am going to show you how to do so in the Ubuntu Linux operating system.  While this tutorial is demonstrated in Ubuntu, the same process can be done in pretty much any Linux distribution.

To configure multiple monitors, you’ll want to open up the “Monitors” configuration tool.  This can be found in the “System” menu under “Preferences.”

In many cases you will be brought to a screen such as the one below.  This is the typical monitor configuration, and all you need to do is drag and drop in order to configure the layout to be respective of where the monitors reside on your desk.

However, in some cases, opening up the configuration tool for the monitors will  return a message stating “It appears that your graphics driver does not support the necessary extensions to use this tool.  Do you want to use your graphics driver vendor’s tool instead?”  What this message is telling you is that the manufacturer of your video card has their own configuration tool for configuring the monitor configuration.

In my case, I have an Nvidia video card.  So, configuring my multi-monitor configuration was as simple as opening the “NVIDIA X Server Settings” tool from the “Administration” menu under “System.”

From there, I simple moved to the “X Server Display Configuration” tab and was able to use the drag-to-position tool in order to correctly configure my monitor layout.  As you can see, this tool is very similar to the one that ships by default with Ubuntu, and like with Windows it is important to align your monitors correctly to ensure that it looks correct from a viewer’s perspective.  In many cases, this just takes a bit of tweaking.

From here, it’s more or less a matter of configuring your layout to meet your needs.  I recommend that you use the “TwinView” configuration in order to gain the ability to drag between screens.  From there, it’s a matter of hitting “Apply”, “Save to X Configuration”, and “Quit”.  Once you’ve logged out and back in, your shiny new multi-monitor setup will be awaiting.

Whether you’re using the built-in configuration tool or a third-party tool from your hardware vendor, it’s just a matter of using setting up a drag-and-drop layout for your monitor configuration.  While the tool that ships with Ubuntu is easily a simpler utility to use, you will likely have more options when you use a third-party application to configure your monitor settings.  If you have any questions or tips for setting up a multi-monitor configuration in Ubuntu (or any Linux distribution for that matter), head over to the Linux section of the BestTechie forums or leave a comment.

  • pete


    Not so helpful :( First of all I don’t have “NVIDIA X Server Settings”, second what about people who don’t have NVIDIA?
    Damn linux! How am I supposed to move from Windows if I can’t get basic stuff working.