Ubuntu 8.04, ATI, & Big Desktop

First off, we got some new computers at work that have the ATI Radeon 2400 HD Pro video cards. I wish I would have done some research when I had the specs for the new machines because I would have found out that ATI cards don’t get along with Ubuntu, that may have saved me all this time I’ve spent fighting with them.

I cannot even begin to think of how much time I spent trying to get them to work in Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy). It kept telling me there was no hardware that required the restricted drivers, but this graphics card does. I tried editing the xorg.conf file based on what I was finding online and what we had on our old machines, nothing worked. I spent hours and hours looking around online but things other people said worked never did for me. I made sure I had the correct drivers installed, checked that multiple times, it was all what it should have been. I tried doing it the easy way too, by using aticonfig. But every time I tried using that it nuked the xorg.conf file and never recreated it.

Then 8.04 (Hardy) came along. I was hoping it would somehow make things magically work or, you know, at least make things a little easier. It took me about 10 minutes after installing it to get the dual monitors working properly, aticonfig actually worked in 8.04. After spending a lot of time searching around online I found this website that I used to compare the appropriate sections of the xorg.conf file to. I think I had to add a couple things although I can’t remember what. Anyway, using a combination of aticonfig and that website I got it working perfectly. I felt like an idiot though because I forgot I had to adjust the resolution so that it added the two monitors together. Once I did that it worked like a charm. So for anybody who is having issues here’s the xorg.conf file.

Update: So I had to reinstall Hardy because the panel disappeared and I couldn’t get it to come back. This time to get Big Desktop working all I did was enable to restricted driver and type

aticonfig --dtop=horizontal

and it worked perfectly after I restarted the session. I didn’t have to adjust the resolution this time or edit the xorg.conf.

Section “ServerLayout”
Identifier “Default Layout”
Screen 0 “aticonfig-Screen[0]” 0 0

Section “Files”

Section “Module”
Load “glx”

Section “InputDevice”
Identifier “Generic Keyboard”
Driver “kbd”
Option “XkbRules” “xorg”
Option “XkbModel” “pc105”
Option “XkbLayout” “us”

Section “InputDevice”
Identifier “Configured Mouse”
Driver “mouse”
Option “CorePointer”

Section “Monitor”
Identifier “aticonfig-Monitor[0]”
Option “VendorName” “ATI Proprietary Driver”
Option “ModelName” “Generic Autodetecting Monitor”
Option “DPMS” “true”

Section “Device”
Identifier “aticonfig-Device[0]”
Driver “fglrx”
Option “DesktopSetup” “horizontal”
Option “OverlayOnCRTC2” “1”
BusID “PCI:1:0:0”

Section “Screen”
Identifier “aticonfig-Screen[0]”
Device “aticonfig-Device[0]”
Monitor “aticonfig-Monitor[0]”
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection “Display”
Viewport 0 0
Depth 24

If you are using 7.10 and having problems with an ATI card then I suggest trying out 8.04, it definitely made things easier for me.

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  1. #1 by Cory Thompson on March 3, 2009 - 10:27 PM


    I’m having the issue that once i plug in my monitor nothing happens. If i then reboot my computer with the second monitor still in i get a black screen then after about 1 min it reboots.

    Would this be because of my drivers or what?

    • #2 by jen3ral on March 4, 2009 - 9:11 PM

      It sounds like you might have conifgured the xorg.conf file incorrectly making it so the x-server isn’t loading properly and forcing a reboot. If you didn’t mess with the xorg.conf file manually then it could be that the wrong driver was installed. Are you running 8.04 and what graphics card do you have?

  2. #3 by Chris on May 23, 2008 - 10:43 PM

    Thanks for this! my dual monitors worked right away!!

    However, I cannot seem to get compiz working, it worked before I ran the aticonfig command, but now nothing. I have options turned on in the advanced desktop settings, but nothing seems to work. Any ideas?


  3. #4 by davetweed on April 30, 2008 - 3:10 PM

    I’ve been using multiple monitors for a couple of years but with X setups that required mucking about with xorg.conf by hand. So one thing I never realised when coming across this aticonfig for the first time: aticonfig writes its xorg.conf file the CURRENT directory rather than automatically into /etc/X11. I didn’t spot this for about twenty minutes, so maybe mentioning it’ll help others.

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