How to setup Dual Monitor in Ubuntu 10.04 using nVidia driver

Yesterday I was installing Ubuntu 10.4 for my new project and everything went smoothly until it finished installing and I logged in. My screen resolutions was terrible, so I went to System->Preferences->Monitors and the first thing i saw was:

When I clicked on “Detect Monitosr”, nothing happened.

It’s a new computer given to me so I didn’t know what Video Card was on. So my question was:

How to find out in Ubuntu what Video Card is used ?

I knew that there is a command lscpi that gives the list of all devices installed. Because I needed to know only information about Video Card I used grep to pick only the lines I needed.

 lspci | grep VGA 

02:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation Device 06c4 (rev a3)

I realized that if it is nVidia there should be Drivers to Install.

So my second question was:

How to install nVidia drivers in Ubuntu ?

So I went to System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers

There was one driver waiting for me to Install:

When I installed the driver I went to Monitors Again and it showed me the message box :

Before it let me to go to the nvidia-settings, it kindly asked me to run nvidia-xconfig as root and restart X server.

How to run nvidia-xconfig?

So I opened Terminal again and typed:

 sudo nvidia-xconfig 

Nothing was shown to me so i assumed that everything went well.

So I got to one more problem:

How to restart X server in Ubuntu?

When I “googled” how to restart X server, people were writting to use key combinations like CNTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE – it doesn’t work for me. So what I decided to do is to look at the Keyboard layout. And “BOOM” here it is -> System -> Preferences – > Keyboard -> Layouts -> Options

I checked the box and used CNTR+ALT+BACKSPACE. Than I logged in again to nVidia and the driver’s screen was much more descriptive than it was before:

I asked myself:

How to detect  dual monitors in Ubuntu ?

I clicked on “X Server Display Configuration” –> Detect Displays and it detected me two displays. I selected Auto Resolutions on both. There were also a select box on how I wanted them to work, I chose TwinView.

and in the end here is what I’ve got:

About Anatoly Spektor

My name is Anatoly Spektor (originally Anatolijs Spektors) I am Software and Web Developer. I have worked in Seneca Center for Development of Open Technology on Big Blue Button Add-on - Polling Module, Red Hat and some other places :) I am an author of the book 'Eclipse Debugging How To', Muay Thai fighter and amateur photographer ;)
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16 Responses to How to setup Dual Monitor in Ubuntu 10.04 using nVidia driver

  1. News On Apps says:

    I like your post thanks for sharing.

  2. Francesco says:

    You are a star!!!! I followed your post step by step and I resolved my issue! THANK YOUUU!!!!!!!!!!

  3. You’re welcome man πŸ™‚

    • Francesco says:

      Damn, I had to format my HD to remove a windows partition, when I get back to your blog to follow the steps I cant get the NVIDIA XServer Settings open after CNTR+ALT+BACKSPACE like I did before!! … What do I do wrong? Do I miss something? When I go to System–> Amministration–> NVIDIA XServer Settings, I get the following error:

      “You do not appear to be using the NVIDIA X driver. Please edit your X configuration file (just run `nvidia-xconfig` as root), and restart the X server.”

      I went to “Ubuntu Software Center” and I searched for “NVIDIA X driver” and I found Driver binary etc… version 185, version 173 and version 96

      I will really appreciate your help.


      • Did you set a keyboard combination by going to “Keyboard” (Its somewhere in Preferences, I am not at work so I don’t have Linux with me) and finding restart X Server combination and checking that option ? and than restarting ? I had the same issue. Restarting X-Server helped me. Also what does Hardware Driver –> Nvidia Driver says is it activated> or it is awaiting to be installed and gives error when you are installing it ?



  4. Francesco says:

    Hi, thanks for the reply and sorry for the late response.

    The problem seems to be fixed now, but, the main screen, which is connected with DVI, has a resolution max 640×480 ?? I am not be able to change it as it is the second option (the first is 800×600) on the drop down menu! The second screen, connected to the VGA, is fine, he is on 1680×1050.

    My graphic card is a ENGTS 450 nvidia and a very big question mark in my mind is : why it was working fine before ???? I didnt change anything, I have just formatted my HD, but the OS is still the same, ubuntu 10.10, cables and hardware still same! I dont understand?! May I do something wrong?

    Thanks, any help will be appreciated!


    • Most Ubuntu updates are installed from the repository, so there is a big chance that installing the same Ubuntu, packages that are installed, have different versions. (new versions come out and they put it in repo) So unfortunately, there is possibility that some of the packages are broken, or maybe incompatible with current hardware. What I suggest is to try looking for the HardWare Drivers (if you didn’t try so already) in System Administration – > HardWare Drivers. Coz if it does not recognize resolution it most probably means that Video Card drivers are not properly installed. So try to reinstall VideoCard Drivers. Also restart X server, maybe it would help for OS to recognize VideoCard. Also, maybe it sounds silly, but sometimes “Restart” button is help of many problems πŸ™‚

      And keep me updated πŸ™‚



      • Francesco says:

        Anatoly, thanks for your reply.

        Unfortunately the rebooting of X server and the restart of the system didnt help 😦

        I have tried to upgrade to ubuntu 11.10 and the problem is now different: both screens as now a max resolution of 1024×768 😦
        However, I have noticed that on ubuntu 10.10, the problem was coming out only from the screen connected via DVI, from the VGA he gave me a resolution of 1920x etc..!
        Is still drivers problem or it is just the DVI that needs to be configured? perhaps manually? I am getting mad, believe me!

        And btw, do you think that this device will solve my issue?:

        Many thanks!


      • Hey again Francesco! I feel you pain, and before got things work I spend a lot of time configuring all the stuff.

        I still think that is a driver problem. When you go to Administration do you see NVIDIA X SERVER Settings ? When you click on Administration -> Monitors do you see standard Ubuntu Monitor options or Nvidia Options ? I am asking because if it is standard Ubuntu, it does not know what monitors are connected, if it is NVIDIA’s than it either need to be configured (better to put it to “Auto” it usually configures itself) or you are right and there is cable/videocard/monitor/compatibility problems, and than it need some investment.

        I Look Forward Hearing From you!



  5. Francesco says:

    Hi Anatoly,

    I have just ordered a TripleHead2go Digital Edition as I have 3x 22″monitors, lets see whats next πŸ™‚

    Thanks for your help


  6. Syndog says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Definitely easier than trying to figure out things on NVidia’s site. πŸ˜›

  7. Pingback: connecting a second display

  8. Pandian says:

    Thanks man,
    How did you connect dual monitor to a single CPU? Do I need to have double VGA CARD?

  9. Pandian says:

    or, whether a VGA split cable is suffient to connect two monitors?

  10. Clint says:

    Wow this was a huge help. Thanks!

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