PrimitiveType

Connecting a CRT screen to your Ubuntu Linux Laptop

The screen on my Ubuntu "Gutsy Gibbon" Linux laptop (a Dell Inspiron 6400) has gone faulty, with one side of the screen not displaying as brightly as it should. Therefore I decided to try connecting an external monitor to the laptop via the VGA connector on the back.

When I first tried this with a Dell monitor, all I had to do was plug the monitor into the VGA connector, make sure it was switched on and press the function key and the F8 key (labelled CRT/LCD) together on my keyboard and the display switched to the external monitor. However, when I tried this on a different monitor that was the identical Dell model, it didn't work!

For a while the external monitor set up worked on the original monitor, but not on the second, until several days later it didn't work on either. Perplexed, I did some research and found that some Linux laptops have an issue that can be resolved by putting the machine into stand-by, and trying the CRT switch again when resuming the session. I tried this and it did the trick. Since then switching between displays has worked without needing to go into stand-by.

Despite that problem, there are no other issues after I switch the display, even though my laptop has a wide-screen display and the external monitor does not.

UPDATE

I upgraded Ubuntu to "Hardy Heron" hoping to fix the issue mentioned above (so that the CRT/LCD switching would work every time without needing to suspend & resume), but in fact the situation is now worse! The FN+F8 key does not respond at all (nor do other similar combinations that other laptops sometimes use for the same purpose) and the external screen never displays unless I suspend & resume, upon which it displays automatically, mirroring the display of the laptop's LCD screen. So far I have not figured out how to fix this, but will update this article with the solution if I find one.