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    BASIC X-Windows Tips for Newbies

    Know Your System
    I guess this subtitle should really be "Know your monitor and video card!" Let's face it, if you don't have at least the basic specs on the monitor and video card of your system when installing X, you're going to pay a heavy price. Right now, when you may still have Win98 or WinME installed, go and check out exactly what the video card and monitor specs are. Don't wait! Save yourself! Stop reading this and do it!

    BIOS Setting may help
    Okay, if you don't have this option available, but you're still having problems with XWindows, then one of the big steps that may help is to restart your computer and change a BIOS setting and rerun the configuration.

    On most computers you would press the Del key to enter your BIOS setup features. This may be different for your PC and you'll need to verify with the manufacturer's documents. Once you're in the BIOS setup, look for something labeled Plug&Play or PNP or Plug'n'Play. The setting usually offers two options, either software or hardware. On your computer the two options may be named OS vs. System.

    The key difference is that one option forces your system to figure out your machine's plug'n'play devices like monitor, modem etc. The other option will force your OS to figure out plug'n'play devices. For better results when installing X-Windows or configuring it, set your Plug'n'Play BIOS option to hardware or system NOT for OS!

    If this entire section only confused you more, please forgive me and move on to the next section! :)

    How to Exit?!
    How in the world do you exit XWindows if there's a problem?

    To get the heck out of XWindows when a failure occurs press these 3 keys:
    Ctrl Alt Backspace

    HELP, X Doesn't Work Right!
    Sometimes, installing X for the first time is like having your nails trimmed using an UZI 9mm. On occasion it's going to hurt, and it'll cost you some blood! Even though solid distributions including Mandrake and RedHat are pretty good at guiding you through XWindows configuration, I have to say it is sad that they too have left out some update files from their CDs. A number of hardware profiles are just not available on the CD you get and the best bet is to get hold of your specific distribution's technical help and ask them what to do.

    Here are some trouble shooting tips:

    • Again, to get the heck out of XWindows when a failure occurs press these 3 keys: Ctrl + Alt + Backspace
    • Remember that in Linux, you can find files you're looking for by using the locate command. This is a BIG help for identifying where the certain file or directory is!
    • If you are using a registered RedHat then you may call 1-800-348-2451
    • The XWindows files that you should be aware of and likely use:
      /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/XF86Config = the configuration file you may spend time editing
      SuperProbe = video clock probing
      = configuring X manually

    Can't Get to X Windows
    Okay, so you run startx and end up with nothing at all, or worse an error! Arggg. Yes I've been there. I feel your pain!

    You have a couple of options that might resolve the issue quickly:
    1st, try to see if the issue is hardware compatibility related by simply reducing the resolution you were trying. You can do so with any of the options mentioned above, or try these commands:
    system-config-display when using Fedora
    drakconf or harddrake2 when using Mandrake

    2nd, try a reinstall (I know it's a pain but may be needed) and this time choose a very basic and generic video setting. For example choose "generic" for video or "svga" and choose something basic like 800x600 for the resolution. This will quickly validate whether there is a hardware compatibility issue.

    3rd, if there is a hardware issue, often it is because the Linux version you are installing has not yet included the right driver. Try getting a hold of a more recent version or a different flavor, or run Linux from the CD as a Live-CD using Knoppix, or Suse etc.

    Oh, and don't forget when making configuration changes to reboot! Let's face it, if we were using known name brand video this is unlikely to happen!

    I plan to write a new article with more details for using the Linux desktop shortly!

    For personal help or answers to questions, please visit our message boards.

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    Copyright 2014 Mark Rais   All Rights Reserved.

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