Hello, Mr. Langa. I am a Plus! subscriber who moved to Linux last summer. Due to the fact you are covering more Linux issues as this OS becomes more popular, I thought you could help me to solve some annoying behavior in my computer.
My M/B is Intel D865GBF with sound, NIC and VGA embedded, a well-known system, I think. On Windows XP I can get 85 Hz at 1024*768; this matches the info displayed by the OSD (my monitor is Philips 107X2) and it’s comfortable to vision. I installed Linux Mandrake 10.0; the display properties are configured the same, 1024*768 at 85 Hz, but the OSD shows 1024*768 at 60Hz, with an annoying flicker. So something regarding the driver is not working properly.
I checked and posted at the Mandrake forums and many others, with no response; Intel answered they provide support only for RedHat 8.0 and Philips said the problem lays on the software, not concerning them.
So I tried other Linux distros but only Knoppix and LinEx (a Spanish distro), both based on Debian and running live, worked and the OSD displayed the right refresh rate, 85 Hz at 1024*768. (I also tried to install Debian but I was unable to setup the XWindows; too hard for me to find why). Then I tried to set different and common elements among the distros, but I couldn’t find too: several Linux kernels (2.4.X and 2.6.X), XFree86 versions, desktop environments– all I’ve got was a mess :)
Then, what the refresh rate depends on? I am stuck, my eyes strained while I am writing this :) and it is really sad because the rest of my new Linux system works quite well and smoothly, a kind surprise for me after years working with MS Windows.
Any help would be very much appreciated.
Regards, Salvador Badia, Plus! subscriber, Valencia – Spain
The refresh rate is controlled by (1) the hardware’s innate abilities and (2) the software driver’s abilities.
As your hardware’s working fine, the problem would seem to be— as you surmised— a limited driver. This is, alas, one of the gotchas with Linux: Not all hardware is supported (not by a long shot) and much of what is supported is done so only in a generic way.
You tried manually setting your refresh rates, and that didn’t work, so there aren’t many options left. One thing I’ve sometimes gotten to work in the past is to fool the system into thinking it has a different monitor that the drivers know how to handle. For example, if Monitor Brand X *is* supported in the resolutions and refresh rates you want, you may be able to tell your OS that your Philips monitor is really a Brand X. The OS will then use Brand X drivers, which may also work just fine on your Philips at common rates and resolutions. But this is clearly a messy approach and can even run the risk of damaging the hardware if you pick refresh rates way outside what the real hardware can handle.
Your only other options are (1) replace the hardware with something your preferred Linux is known to support; (2) switch to a Linux that supports your current hardware; or (3) write a custom driver. (And good luck with that, if you try… 8-( )