Dual Monitor Setup – Ubuntu ATI

I wanted to get my dual monitor setup working at work. I have the latest veresion of Ubuntu (6.06 LTS – the Dapper Drake).

This is a really easy way to get it working. I have a Dell Optiplex GX620 with a ATI graphics card. The card can support a dual monitor setup.

It turns out that ati have supplied a program (aticonfig) that inspects your current xorg.conf file and then changes it to allow for dual monitor setup.

Here is what you do in a terminal window :

sudo aticonfig –initial=dual-head –screen-layout=left

You may want to change the left to be right, dependendant on where your main monitor is (monitor 0).

As I have two monitors that support diffrent resolutions, the setup was using 1024×768 on both screens and I could not drag windows accross screens (I could drag the mouse 🙂

To address the dragging window issue, I did this after I executed the first command :

sudo aticonfig –dtop=horizontal, reverse –overlay-on=1

If you look at the help page for aticonfig, you will see that dtop can take different parameters. Because my second screen was to the left of monitor 0, I had horizontal, reverse But if it was to the right I would have used horizontal only.

To address the screen resolution do this (please see note)

sudo aticonfig –resolution=0,1600×1200,1280×1024,1024×768

This now sets my monitor 0 to be able to support 1600×1200 resolution. My smaller monitor (monitor 1) will use 1024×768, which is what I want. You can simply change where it says 0 to be 1 This will now change monitor 1.

Now simply restart gdm to see the effects. Or if you can’t do that, just restart the machine.

Before you start changing the resolution, you need to know which is defined as monitor 0. As in my case monitor 0 supports a higher resolution then monitor 1. The easy way to find this out is to do the first two steps, start up and then the monitor with the menubar on top of it is monitor 0. If it is not the monitor you wanted, you can simply swap around the vga cables that go into the back of the video card
There is a way to do it by editing the xorg.conf, but this is supposed to be a simple way of doing it 🙂

I hope this helps someone!



35 comments so far

  1. […] Dual Monitor Setup – Ubuntu ATI […]

  2. Dan on

    This was a great help! I’m currently running from the live cd and it worked from there.

  3. Sean on

    sudo: aticonfig: command not found

  4. Hamza on

    Hi Sean,

    You need to install the xorg-driver-fglrx package :

    sudo apt-get install xorg-driver-fglrx


  5. Christopher Murray on

    You are a god! 🙂

    I’ve been trying to pull this off for a week … using my Ubuntu laptop and a second monitor. I blew up my configuration more times than I can count. I found your example and in minutes had it working perfectly. Thanks so much. Perhaps I can be of help to you one day too.
    Christopher Murray

  6. Christopher Murray on

    I do have one question, alas …

    Because the two monitors are different resolution … my mouse works fine on my external monitor … but on the laptop it is off by about and inch … meaning i try to click something and the mouse action is far off from where it needs to be … I did do the resolution=0,1600×1200,1280×1024,1024×768
    lines … but still I’m not sure how to correct. Any advice is truly appreciated.

  7. Hamza on

    Hi Christopher,

    I am glad this helped you.

    In regards to your question, I am not sure how to fix that, as I do not have the same problem.

    You may be able to edit your xorg file and amend the mouse settings there.

    The only thing I can suggest is to try using a different mouse (i.e. a usb mouse if you are using your laptop trackpad)

    You could also try and change the monitors around, i.e. monitor 0 becomes monitor 1 and vice verse. Although I am not sure if this is possible in your case 🙂

    Sorry I can’t be more help.


  8. l30n on

    great help, thx

  9. Danny Gile on

    sudo aticonfig –initial=dual-head –screen-layout=left
    aticonfig: Writing to ‘/etc/X11/xorg.conf’ failed. No such file or directory.
    No ATI fglrx device was found in the file: ‘/etc/X11/xorg.conf’.
    Please run ‘aticonfig –initial’ or change the ‘Driver’ part of your configuration
    file to “fglrx” and run aticonfig again.
    shat do i do to take care of this so i can have dual monitors i have already ran these commands sudo aticonfig –initial=dual-head –screen-layout=left
    sudo apt-get install xorg-driver-fglrx
    any help is appreciated

  10. mig on

    Can you post your xorg config file please?

    I’m having minor issues with my setup and would like to compare your working config file with mine.

  11. Hamza on

    Here is a link to of my xorg file :

    My Xorg.conf file

  12. Hamza on


    You could try and change the driver file in your xorg.conf file manually.

    Open it up and make sure have fglrx as the driver and not ati or something else.

    Have a look at my xorg file posted above.


  13. JZ on


    Thank you very much for the dual monitor set up instructions. I have a COMPAQ laptop with ATI card running Ubunto 7.04. The two commands set up my dual monitor in a few seconds.

    Really appreciated.


  14. Matt on

    If you have and ATI Radeon <9500, the fglrx driver does _not_ work. Once you have completed the above steps, do this:

    sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

    Scroll to the “Device” sections, then change “fglrx” to “ati”. Press Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to quit X, then type “startx”. Do not be alarmed if your monitor says “Input our of range” or similar, it will go. If not, press Ctrl+Alt+F1, and reinstate your backup xorg.conf.

  15. Joseph on

    I’ve been working on this for 2 weeks now and this tutorial got me the closest to getting my dual monitors working. Everything is good except i cannot get my external monitor to the correct resolution (1440×900) It is a HANNS G 19″ monitor. When i use the sudo aticonfig –resolution=1 command, it says, SCREEN 1 not found. matter of fact, if i put resulotion=0 it says screen 0 not found too. Both of my screens are working, but i just can’t get the resolution set right. Help will be greatly appreciated.

  16. Eli on

    Need a little help too.. been trying this for ever.. did everything you said.. worked.. but not really.

    My laptop needs to be 1280×800, and my second monitor needs to be 1440 x 900. For the life of me i cant get both on there resoloutions… for some wierd reason the second monitor will stick at 1280 x 768…

    Also is there a way not to have everything stretch accross both monitors? just to have the panel on my laoptop only?

    Will honestly do anything for some help…

    In desperate need,

  17. jher on

    After much tweaking this is what I do

    aticonfig –initial=dual-head –screen-layout=left –dtop=horizontal,reverse –overlay-type=Xv –resolution=0,1920×1200 –resolution=1,1680×1050 –overlay-on=1

    20″ lcd on left, 24″ lcd on right

  18. danzinger on

    I get this error with the config of last comment :S

    Error: Could not parse resolution format. Expected W1xH1.
    aticonfig: parsing the command-line failed.

    What i am doing is this:
    sudo aticonfig –initial=dual-head –screen-layout=left –dtop=horizontal,reverse –overlay-type=Xv –resolution=0,1680×1050 –resolution=1,1280×1024 –overlay-on=1

  19. fred on

    Using a laptop with a Radeon X200, the resolution is 1280×800. The external monitor is 1280×1024. I can’t get it to recognize anything about the external monitor… I get dual screen with a horizontal layout, but can’t get more than 1024×768 on the external monitor.


    results in “screen1 does not exist”

    Any help appreciated, of course.

  20. […] the restricted drivers that come with the distro, but when trying to use aticonfig (using this and this guide combined), it all went […]

  21. Steve on

    Dude you are the man, Optiplex 745 with ATI card.
    Ubuntu Hardy Heron
    Here is what worked for me.
    aticonfig –dtop=horizontal –overlay-on=1


  22. viktor on

    Hello Hamza!

    I’ve been reading and doing what you wrote about 2 almost years ago and I only partly succeed in making a dual-head monitor setup. I own a compaq nx6125.

    I use the commands as shown, but the setup only works while gdm shows me the login screen. After that it readjust itself to “Clone”. While login screen shows I can go with my mouse to the other screen.

    Apreciate any help! Thanks

  23. BaroqueW on

    I did the following:
    aticonfig –dtop=horizontal –overlay-on=1
    and I got the same problem as viktor: gdm shows the login screen with dual screen and then Ubuntu reverts to clone mode once I am logged in.
    I solved the issue by reusing my previous xorg.conf, it’s for an Acer Travel Mate 8000 (ATI Radeon Mobility) but it could help:

  24. Coop on

    Thanks for putting this guide up, I am hoping to get my monitors set up correctly. I have a laptop that needs to run at 1440×900 and a 26″lcd that i want to run at 1366×768. But when trying to run your code I receive this error message.
    “Invalid option: –initial=dual-head –screen-layout=right ”
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  25. icadothat on

    I keep getting this error message

    Warning: Could not find configuration file
    Please copy configuration file template to /etc/X11

    I have an xorg.conf file at /etc/X11 I’m not sure what it’s looking for.

  26. Nick on

    Anyone with invalid option or invalid resolution messages needs to ensure that the — characters are used for the option tags, and also that the x character is right in the resolution – copying from this forum will cause issues.


  27. Will on

    You need to use TWO hyphens now, so
    blahblah –initial blahblahblah
    blahblah -initial blahblahblah

  28. tom on

    I did as explained. I have ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3450 and changed the driver from “fglrx” to “ati”. However, I still have the dragging window issue.

  29. KedCoedia on

    hm.. 10x.

  30. lcd panel on

    lcd panel 15.4 12.1 13.3 14.1 15.0 15.6

  31. thankful on

    thanks for this–works great!

  32. Daniel Rodrigues on

    Awsome! thanks 🙂

  33. Zoilo Máximo on

    I have an ATI graphic card and a second monitor (CRT) and only in few times is able to use the second monitor. Almost always the screen is green with the ghost of the windows in different tones of green. With Windows XP in the same PC I have no problem. If you have a solution, please, I’ll appreciate.

  34. Zoilo Máximo on

    I forgot, I’m using Ubunu 12.04. Thank you.

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