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The Answer Guy

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

(?)X Window with two monitors...

From Mark Thomas Mercado on Tue, 30 Jun 1998 in the comp.unix.questions newsgroup

I've looked around on the web, and couldn't find any documentation on setting up X with two monitors (myhost:0 and myhost:1)... I would love to RTFM if anyone could point me in the right direction...


(!) This would usually be called "multi-headed" mode and the different screens would be addressed as "myhost:0.0" and "myhost:0.1" -- "myhost:1.0" and "myhost:1.1" (etc) would refer to a different server or instance running on the same machine.

I don't know what this means on other forms of Unix --- but I think you'd usually see it on a system that was hosting multiple X Terminals via XDMCP. On my Linux boxes I usually see it as an extra instance of the X server running on a different virtual console (so my wife and I can each have a running copy on any of the systems around the house without having to disturb the other's).

In our case we run startx -- :1 to start the 2nd instance of our X server. We can then switch between them with the [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Fx] sequence (or the [Alt]+[Fx] sequence to get to either of them from any of our text mode virtual consoles. (If you don't use a PC Unix that supports VC's this probably won't make any sense -- don't worry about it).

Getting back to multi-headed support:

This depends on your X server. Last I heard XFree86 servers (the suite of X servers that's most commonly used with Linux FreeBSD, NetBSD (PC) etc) don't currently support multi-headed operation.

I know that some of the commercial X servers for Linux (and presumably FreeBSD, etc) support it. Unfortunately I've never used a PC or Mac Unix that was configured this way. So, I don't know how it works. I've used an old Sun system set up this was --- but I didn't configure it or even look at it very closely --- it was just used for some compatability at a place where I was working, so I barely touched it.

I've used Macs that were multi-headed. That was a piece of cake to configure. I also noticed that Win '98 has this feature available --- so it might become much more common in the next year or so.

Anyway, check out the XFree86 FAQ at http://www.xfree86.org/ for more pointers.

Copyright © 1998, James T. Dennis
Published in Linux Gazette Issue 31 August 1998

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