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I'm building myself a nice setup with a massive amount of screen real estate. Since I had/have problems with video drivers in the past. I'm asking for advise here first.

I want to connect at least six screens. like this: 6 screen setup

What are the best options? What are the pitfalls? I preferably would not like to use closed binary blob drivers.

usecase scenario: I'm writing a piece of software that has to interact with other systems. I would like to be able to see all of those systems, my code, lots of log files and documentation without the need to swap windows/screens. To just better see what im doing.

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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You could try an ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 card or similar. Being a single card, it should be easier to configure.

The card requires that your monitors support DisplayPort, or that you use active DisplayPort to DVI/VGA dongles. This is because the card can not drive the clocks for 6 individual outputs, and DisplayPort doesn't require separate clocks for each port.

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I'm interested as to whether this particular card works with and without blobs. Upboat. –  hbdgaf Jun 29 '12 at 8:39
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I have a 3 monitor rig working with both blob and OSS drivers(blob performance is marginally better and supports opencl much better). That's not a solution to a six monitor quandry.

Dual monitors cards with 2 triplehead2gos should be more than adequate to achieve 6 monitor screen real-estate.

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I have wasted two years trying to get a six screen setup working.

What I have
3 GeForce GTX 550 Ti cards

What I use:
• LXDE with KDM
• Nvidia 310.14 driver

Run each screen as separate x display.
I could only get twinview working for two displays.
Use xinerama to create one big desktop.

What works:
• spanned wallpaper one panel for all the screens (one big desktop)
• maximise window over one screen, not all six

Not working:
• 3D hardware acceleration on the desktop (I can actually play some games with a bit of tweaking)
• xrandr generates errors
• compiz is right out
• unity had horrible multi-monitor support the last time I checked (anything more than two screens and it goes pear shaped.

My xorg.conf file:

# nvidia-settings: X configuration file generated by nvidia-settings
# nvidia-settings:  version 310.14  (buildd@komainu)  Tue Oct 16 22:20:47 UTC 2012

Section "ServerLayout"
     Identifier     "Layout0"
     Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0
     Screen      1  "Screen1" 0 1080
     Screen      2  "Screen2" 1920 0
     Screen      3  "Screen3" 1920 1080
     Screen      4  "Screen4" 3840 0
     Screen      5  "Screen5" 3840 1080
     InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
     InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
     Option         "Xinerama" "1" EndSection

Section "Files" EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
     # generated from default
     Identifier     "Mouse0"
     Driver         "mouse"
     Option         "Protocol" "auto"
     Option         "Device" "/dev/psaux"
     Option         "Emulate3Buttons" "no"
     Option         "ZAxisMapping" "4 5" EndSection

Section "InputDevice"
     # generated from default
     Identifier     "Keyboard0"
     Driver         "kbd" EndSection

Section "Monitor"
     # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
     Identifier     "Monitor0"
     VendorName     "Unknown"
     ModelName      "Samsung SMB2330H"
     HorizSync       30.0 - 81.0
     VertRefresh     56.0 - 75.0
     Option         "DPMS" EndSection

Section "Monitor"
     # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
     Identifier     "Monitor1"
     VendorName     "Unknown"
     ModelName      "Samsung SMB2330H"
     HorizSync       30.0 - 81.0
     VertRefresh     56.0 - 75.0
     Option         "DPMS" EndSection

Section "Monitor"
     # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
     Identifier     "Monitor2"
     VendorName     "Unknown"
     ModelName      "Samsung SMB2330H"
     HorizSync       30.0 - 81.0
     VertRefresh     56.0 - 75.0
     Option         "DPMS" EndSection

Section "Monitor"
     # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
     Identifier     "Monitor3"
     VendorName     "Unknown"
     ModelName      "Samsung SMB2330H"
     HorizSync       30.0 - 81.0
     VertRefresh     56.0 - 75.0
     Option         "DPMS" EndSection

Section "Monitor"
     # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
     Identifier     "Monitor4"
     VendorName     "Unknown"
     ModelName      "Samsung SMB2330H"
     HorizSync       30.0 - 81.0
     VertRefresh     56.0 - 75.0
     Option         "DPMS" EndSection

Section "Monitor"
     # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
     Identifier     "Monitor5"
     VendorName     "Unknown"
     ModelName      "Samsung SMB2330H"
     HorizSync       30.0 - 81.0
     VertRefresh     56.0 - 75.0
     Option         "DPMS" EndSection

Section "Device"
     Identifier     "Device0"
     Driver         "nvidia"
     VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
     BoardName      "GeForce GTX 550 Ti"
     BusID          "PCI:2:0:0"
     Screen          0 EndSection

Section "Device"
     Identifier     "Device1"
     Driver         "nvidia"
     VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
     BoardName      "GeForce GTX 550 Ti"
     BusID          "PCI:2:0:0"
     Screen          1 EndSection

Section "Device"
     Identifier     "Device2"
     Driver         "nvidia"
     VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
     BoardName      "GeForce GTX 550 Ti"
     BusID          "PCI:1:0:0"
     Screen          0 EndSection

Section "Device"
     Identifier     "Device3"
     Driver         "nvidia"
     VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
     BoardName      "GeForce GTX 550 Ti"
     BusID          "PCI:1:0:0"
     Screen          1 EndSection

Section "Device"
     Identifier     "Device4"
     Driver         "nvidia"
     VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
     BoardName      "GeForce GTX 550 Ti"
     BusID          "PCI:3:0:0"
     Screen          0 EndSection

Section "Device"
     Identifier     "Device5"
     Driver         "nvidia"
     VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
     BoardName      "GeForce GTX 550 Ti"
     BusID          "PCI:3:0:0"
     Screen          1 EndSection

Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen0"
     Device         "Device0"
     Monitor        "Monitor0"
     DefaultDepth    24
     Option         "Stereo" "0"
     Option         "metamodes" "DFP-0: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24
     EndSubSection EndSection

Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen1"
     Device         "Device1"
     Monitor        "Monitor1"
     DefaultDepth    24
     Option         "Stereo" "0"
     Option         "nvidiaXineramaInfoOrder" "DFP-2"
     Option         "metamodes" "DFP-2: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24
     EndSubSection EndSection

Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen2"
     Device         "Device2"
     Monitor        "Monitor2"
     DefaultDepth    24
     Option         "Stereo" "0"
     Option         "metamodes" "DFP-0: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24
     EndSubSection EndSection

Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen3"
     Device         "Device3"
     Monitor        "Monitor3"
     DefaultDepth    24
     Option         "Stereo" "0"
     Option         "metamodes" "DFP-2: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24
     EndSubSection EndSection

Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen4"
     Device         "Device4"
     Monitor        "Monitor4"
     DefaultDepth    24
     Option         "Stereo" "0"
     Option         "metamodes" "DFP-0: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24
     EndSubSection EndSection

Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen5"
     Device         "Device5"
     Monitor        "Monitor5"
     DefaultDepth    24
     Option         "Stereo" "0"
     Option         "metamodes" "DFP-2: nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24
     EndSubSection EndSection

Section "Extensions"
     Option         "Composite" "Enable" EndSection
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As this question is still missing a fully working solution, I'll provide mine:

I would go with a ASUS EAH7970 DC2T/3GD5. Those cards are extremely silent and you can attach six monitors.

For monitors I would use the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM. Those are really inexpensive but have an IPS-Panel and all the inputs you need.

I currently run four of those with the GPU equivalent from the 6xxx series. It's running perfectly, although the closed source driver is causing some flickering.

Since last week I'm running the Ubuntu daily image because of the 3.11 kernel, which is featuring the new AMD open source driver. Since then the flickering problem is gone and this setup really runs perfectly.

There should be no problems running this with as many monitors as you like, as long as you can attach them to one card. Unfortunately the open source driver isn't supporting crossfire, but maybe this could also work across multiple cards without crossfire.

Just for clarification, I'm running a stock Ubuntu 13.10 daily. In my opinion Unity is the best System for multi-monitoring.

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Windows.

If you can afford 6 Monitors you can afford decent enough hardware to run your IDE in Ubuntu on a Virtual Machine. What you cannot afford is tinkering for weeks with Linux poor multi-monitor support with no stable solution in sight.

Please prove me wrong, I gave up.

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and I've wasted enough time on nasty closed source issues with windows that I don't mind spending some time fixing my linux, which are again mostly caused by closed source stuff. (at least the hard to fix stuff). –  Stephan Jul 14 '12 at 16:49
    
Actually, the X-server is the real problem and closed source stuff (e.g. Nvidia's driver) work around it. Don't get me wrong, I love Open Source and I'm a developer, too. Multi-Monitoring is just Linux' Achilles' heel. You can spend weeks researching but the only thing that achieves is that you know exactly why it won't work the way you want it to and you have found hundreds of user complaining about the exact same thing. –  Valentin Klinghammer Jul 15 '12 at 12:50
    
Ubuntu plans to replace/improve the X-server with wiki.ubuntu.com/Wayland. –  Stephan Jul 15 '12 at 16:23
    
Can't wait to see that, though I don't read anything relating to better multi-monitor/multi-graphics-card support. But there is hope. –  Valentin Klinghammer Jul 16 '12 at 6:30
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