Effective use of external display with a netbook ? [SOLVED]

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Effective use of external display with a netbook ? [SOLVED]

Postby ron_h on Fri May 02, 2014 6:22 am

LMDE 201403 Cinnamon, Update Manager says system is up to date.

I am running on an Acer netbook, Aspire ONE D257, screen resolution is 1024 x 600. The screen is quite usable but with only 10" approx diagonal measurement it means my not-so-young eyes need reading glasses to read it. So I plugged in a 20" external LCD display with nominal resolution 1600 x 900 which is much the same aspect ratio as the internal screen, and I can read it without the use of reading glasses (at least when it's attached to a desktop). What happens is the external display shows about one quarter of what is on the internal screen, in quadruplicate. Not very usable. If I power up with the external display connected and powered on, I get a duplicate (mirror) of what shows on the internal screen, however at a resolution of 800 x 600. Not very effective as for many websites, 1024 x 600 is pretty marginal anyway and 800 x 600 is worse. If I set the internal screen OFF in Display, and select a higher resolution for the external screen, then Cinnamon crashes and needs to be restarted. And after it restarts, what shows on the external screen seems to be a subset of what should be there, as the panel (bottom line of desktop) is not visible. And I end up powering off.

What I would like ideally is to automatically use a higher resolution on the external display (when connected and powered on) and to automatically to use the native 1024 x 600 on the internal screen when it is the only display in use.

I've looked at the forums and it seems people have been trying to do that with various netbooks for at least the last 5 years but it is not clear to me that anyone has been successful. There are references to using a randr utility, which is not in the Synaptic Package Manager list, so that is not very helpful to a newbie. LXRANDR is there and I've installed it but the results are the same as using Display - see above.

btw, I have to say that Windows 7 Starter, on this netbook, does what I want, no fuss. But I don't want to use Windows.

Ron
Last edited by ron_h on Tue May 06, 2014 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Make effective use of external display with a netbook ?

Postby passerby on Fri May 02, 2014 8:05 am

Hm, I have a netbook (the exact some one as you, actually, though I've upgraded the HDD and RAM), and I'm currently using it to play movies on the television.
There was no need to turn its screen off or have it connected during boot. I just connected it and set the display though Displays or Monitors or whatever it's called.
However, I have the netbook running Mint 13 MATE rather than LMDE Cinnamon. Have you tried this with any other desktop environments or distros?
(eg. you could install the mate-desktop-environment package, log out, choose MATE from the session menu, log in, then try to configure the displays)
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Re: Make effective use of external display with a netbook ?

Postby ron_h on Sat May 03, 2014 3:45 am

I really am a newbie at Linux. The only distro I've installed and used is LMDE 201403 Cinnamon, and I installed it for the first time about 2 weeks ago. I am very reluctant to start trying other distros or desktops as (for the most part) LMDE Cinnamon gives me a reasonably friendly environment to use (that isn't much of a culture shock for someone who's been using DOS then OS/2 then Windows for longer than I like to think about).

The netbook is mostly for travel (where the internal screen is acceptable) and I'm only using it at home at the moment as the old desktop I first installed LMDE on decided to die (fail during POST) and it's not worth paying to get someone to look at it. I'll probably get another desktop to run LMDE on but not for a while and that means using the netbook for LMDE till then.

Ron
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Re: Make effective use of external display with a netbook ?

Postby darethehair on Sat May 03, 2014 9:33 am

I'm not sure that I can assist in this discussion, but I can confirm using two different netbooks (ASUS and HP) for portable presentations (LibreOffice Impress) on external video displays (older VGA video projector and newer flat-screen TV). Both of them worked fine for this purpose, though there were a few 'gotchas':

- ASUS worked fine on video projector, but HP had left edge cut off (even though it did not do this connected to my flat-screen monitor at home)
- trying to drive too high of a resolution did not work

What I suggest is that you try *lower* resolutions (to see if any of them work), and also to try *different* external displays (perhaps just the one you are using has this problem)

Now that I have a Google Chromecast, I am wondering/experimenting with it for connection to an HDMI-connector TV monitor.
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Re: Make effective use of external display with a netbook ?

Postby bobafetthotmail on Sat May 03, 2014 9:49 am

I have a netbook with same hardware (more ram but does not matter) + LMDE and it worked fine with two screens last time I tried (his own and a bigger one).

Did you try unchecking the option called "mirror displays" in Display? If it is checked the system will mirror the primary display on the secondary displays, and if resolutions aren't the same (as 99% of the times) there will be distortions, fuzzy text, it will look like trash.
If the option is unchecked, all displays are independent and usually run at their native resolution or the highest resolution supported by hardware (which is rarely an issue).
Moving stuff from one display to the other works by dragging the windows beyond right-left screen boundaries like with Windows. Might need to disable second "workplace" first (a virtual second screen, useful to keep different apps open and switch faster between), by moving the mouse arrow at a top corner of the screen (either right or left) to open the graphical workspace change screen. Then move the arrow over the second "screen" called "workspace 2" (the one without windows) and then click on the circled X in its top corner to remove it. Adding workspaces happens by clicking on the tab with the + you see at the right, in case you want it back/more.

Then if you want to turn off the smaller display, or if you want to use mostly the bigger screen without having to drag windows around all the time, you need to select the bigger one and click on "set as primary". Then you should be able to turn off the other screen without cinnamon crashing. You cannot turn off the primary display, system needs a primary display.

On reboot it should adjust automatically if the bigger screen is no more connected, and it should theoretically remember the settings if you connect the same bigger screen again after a while it wasn't connected, but I can't say for sure.


Are you sure that the desktop pc is actually dead (hardware damage) and not just just trying to run a failed installation (which is easy to fix by reinstalling or doing some tweaks)? Try posting your issues with it in another thread, maybe someone can help resurrect it. Since you say you are a newbie and the desktop is old, it might require a bit more involved setting up to work fine.
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Re: Make effective use of external display with a netbook ?

Postby ron_h on Tue May 06, 2014 8:37 am

OK, now working, thank you. Selecting the external as primary then switching off the laptop screen allows selection of higher resolution on external.

As to the old PC, it fails during Power On Self Test, before the BIOS recognises what hardware is present. There were no hardware changes between powering down, working OK, and failing to power up again. It now consistently fails to power up, doesn't get as far as asking for power-on password, let alone the GRUB menu.

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