I've been using the recent Linux Mint Debian Edition with the XFCE desktop environment for a while now. I'm not an advanced / poweruser, so this problem is beyond my experience or knowledge so it qualifies for a "newbie" label.
I had an old 16-inch CRT Sony Triniton monitor hooked up and displaying my LMDE OS. It worked perfectly well and did the job. The only issues with the Sony monitor were that it was very heavy, it gave off a lot of heat after a few hours of use, and that the screen size was a bit too small. By mere chance, I found someone selling a pretty nice, functional generic 19-inch LCD monitor for a very cheap price. So I bought it and simply plugged it into the computer while it was turned off. Once plugged in, I started the computer up and the machine went to GRUB, selected the LMDE install from available choices, and began the boot process. However, this is where everything goes bad. In the middle of the loading of the LMDE OS, the screen just goes blank. It's totally black with no text or command prompt. So after realizing nothing is happening, I do a manual reboot of the computer by holding down on the power switch. Once I push the power button, a bunch of text pops up and it seems to be similar to how Linux usually gives text lines as it traditionally closes down and halts. I tried this overall process over a few times and the same things happened.
The new 19-inch generic LCD montior works I can assure you. I have it connected to an old computer using Windows 2000 OS and Puppy Linux (the Mac version of Puppy to be precise) and both of those machines see the monitor and use it properly. The issue seems to be either with the current version of Linux Mint Debian editions or something beyond my knowing. As of right now, I have installed the old Linux Mint 9 Isadora OS onto the machine is question and it sees and uses the LCD monitor well enough. I tried installing the new version Xubuntu 11.04 and also Linux MInt Katya with GNOME but they failed to install. In both instances of those installs, the installation would stop about a minute in and go into a command prompt and nothing else which would force me to reboot the machine.
By the way, the LCD 19-inch monitor is using a VGA port and the computer in question is an old Pentium 4 2.0GHz machine with 1GB of RAM and decent harddrive. To be exact, the computer is Compaq EVO D500 small-form-factor workstation
I was completely surprised that LMDE and other current versions of Linux were having issues with this monitor, yet these less-powerful versions of Linux did use the same monitor. Hell, even Windows 2000 OS was able to. I figured monitors were a non-issue in hardware installation.