Lars turned me on to the benefits of a dual-monitor desktop (and the Kinesis keyboard) in the Collaboraid office, and when I set up my home office I wanted the same. Having wasted more than a few Danish weekends struggling with X driver problems, I determined to do a lot more research. After wasting less than a day or two net, I’ve been working on my dual-monitor setup for almost a month without any problems, so I am documenting it on the internet for anybody else who was equally frustrated at how hard it was to find out what to buy.
The key features of my setup are:
- Two flat-panel monitors, each with 1600x1200 resolution
- digital connections from the video card to the monitors
- Both monitors driven from the same video card
- the correct video driver for Linux kernel 2.6
- Excellent performance
The hardware that provides this is:
- Debian Linux, sid distribution
- NVidia’s binary driver, as per the Debian-nVidia HOWTO. There are two main ways to do multiple monitors in Xwindows; one is to use two or more video cards and have X span them, and the other is to let the video card manage the monitors and present X with a single workspace. In my experience, the second approach works much better.
- The relevant parts of my XF86Config-4 file are:
Identifier “PNY NVS 280”
Option "SecondMonitorHorizSync" "28-80"
Option "SecondMonitorVertRefresh" "43-76"
Option "MetaModes" "1600x1200, 1600x1200"
Option "TwinViewOrientation" "LeftOf"
Identifier “Default Screen”
Device “PNY NVS 280”
Monitor “Generic Monitor”
Modes “1600x1200” “1280x1024” “1024x768” “800x600” “640x480”
- For high-resolution screen backgrounds at 3200x1200, PlasmaDesign.co.uk., £7
- The KDE Desktop includes Multiple Monitor support, which ensures that dialog boxes pop up in the middle of a monitor instead of splitting themselves in the middle and lets me maximize windows to just one monitor.
Since I type with the keyboard in my lap, the KellyRest Clamp-on Mouse Platform
(US$20) was very helpful in getting the mouse tray close to the keyboard. My desk is an IKEA Ivar
shelf unit (US$105 for two sides, five shelves, and a brace), which provides an adjustable monitor shelf, foot rest, and storage shelves above the monitors.