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I have just installed Ubuntu 12.04 on an HP Laptop with Nvidia Graphics hardware. This machine used to run Ubuntu 10.10 and I have to use an external monitor as the internal screen on the laptop is broken and cannot be read. Using the LiveCD to install 12.04 and erase the previous 10.10 installation, all worked fine while installing from the live CD and the external monitor was detected and could be used. After finishing the install, and rebooting, the laptop will not recognize the external monitor and since the internal screen is unusable I cannot configure displays as one normally would. I think I may be able to alter my /etc/X11/xorg.conf file to use the external monitor instead of the default device, but I am unsure of what to change in the file. My /etc/X11/xorg.conf file looks like this:

Section "Device"
        Identifier         "Default Device"
        Option "NoLogo"            "True"
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Install the proprietary driver will still using the Live CD (should work if you have enough ram) this will install nvidia-xconfig which you will need to run as root so type the following:

sudo nvidia-xconfig -o ./xorg.conf

This will give you a more detailed xorg.conf file that should have both the broken and working monitor listed.

Below is what it added on my system. I doubt our systems are similar enough to just copy and paste what I have, but you can see in the "Screen" section it lists Monitor0 connected to Screen0 I would suspect you could change this to Monitor1.

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier     "Monitor0"
   VendorName     "Unknown"
   ModelName      "Unknown"
   HorizSync       28.0 - 33.0
   VertRefresh     43.0 - 72.0
   Option         "DPMS"

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"

Section "Screen"
   Identifier     "Screen0"
   Device         "Device0"
   Monitor        "Monitor0"
   DefaultDepth    24
   SubSection     "Display"
     Depth       24


When you've made the changes copy ./xorg.conf to your harddrives /etc/X11/ directory.

Reboot and hopefully its fixed.

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I'm thinking this might work. I assume you mean using the LiveCD to install the NVIDIA drivers on the installed system, is this correct? Also, does the LiveCD need to be rewritable in order to do this? – Shawn May 15 '12 at 19:17
Also, the command to install the proprietary driver would be sudo apt-get install nvidia-xconfig? – Shawn May 15 '12 at 19:18
I am unsure of how to install the proprietary driver from the Live CD. – Shawn May 15 '12 at 19:25
Not exactly, you can install the nvidia drivers while still in the live CD system using the "additional drivers" program or via the command line sudo apt-get install nvidia-current. Though you can install the driver on the harddrive via the live-CD (not easy though) how would you execute it with a broken monitor... – SomKit May 15 '12 at 19:27
user63668: the external monitor works when the liveCD is running. If i can get the config file like above and edit it to only use the external monitor I will not have this problem. – Shawn May 15 '12 at 19:31

The system will still need to have the nvidia driver installed which the above answer fails to mention. Here is how it is done.

From the live CD Open a terminal window ctrl+alt+t or drop to a console ctrl+alt+f1. Now type:

sudo apt-get download nvidia-current

once complete make sure your harddrive is mounted it will be under /media/"whatever" type:

sudo dpkg --root=/media/"whatever" -i ./nvidia-current*

This should install the driver on the harddrive.

Reboot the system

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Encountered lots of errors while processing, could not create /dev/null access denied. No change after reboot either, and I verified that the file was still edited before rebooting. – Shawn May 15 '12 at 20:57
We'll get it fixed one way or another. Try hitting ctrl+alt+f1 once ubuntu has booted on the laptop. Not the Live CD. Oh and does it display the splash screen as its booting? – SomKit May 15 '12 at 21:09
Logging into the laptop with only the (broken) internal display is almost impossible. I can't tell what's going on on the laptop screen at all. It's either purple or black. – Shawn May 15 '12 at 21:11
So the external display doesn't initialize at all when the computer is booting? – SomKit May 15 '12 at 21:20
Negative. The external display only shows up when booting from the liveCD. – Shawn May 15 '12 at 21:23

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