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I am very interested in getting a quad monitor setup using Ubuntu 12.04. Is this possible with Unity? Will Nvidia X Server automatically detect and configure all 4 monitors making things easy?

I have dug up some bits and pieces of information here and there but don't know what to make of everything.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Quad monitors are certainly possible, here's my setup driven by 2 NVidia cards (using the proprietary NVidia driver):

enter image description here

although, in my particular setup, I wasn't able to make 3D acceleration work, but, as I remember, this was more a requirement of having two of the monitors rotated than having 4 monitors.

Also, I'm not using Unity, the window manager is XMonad, which I would recommend very much for such a setup unless you want to spend hours dragging windows from monitor to monitor and arranging them manually.

I'm using a custom xorg.conf file because, as I remember, I had to specify individual PCI bus IDs for each card to be able to use them - you may be luckier, but generally setting up a multi-monitor machine is an exercise from the "advanced" chapter of the book, do not expect full plug-and-play. Again, in my case, rotated monitors complicated the matter a bit.

Here's my xorg.conf:

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier     "Layout0"
    Screen      0  "Screen0" RightOf "Screen3"
    Screen      1  "Screen1" 0 0
    Screen      2  "Screen2" RightOf "Screen1"
    Screen      3  "Screen3" RightOf "Screen2"

    Option         "Xinerama" "1"
EndSection

Section "Files"
EndSection


Section "Monitor"
    # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
    Identifier     "Monitor3"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "SamsungSyncMaster"
    HorizSync       30.0 - 84.0
    VertRefresh     56.0 - 76.0
    Option         "DPMS"
    Option         "Rotate" "Left"
EndSection


Section "Monitor"
    # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
    Identifier     "Monitor2"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "Dell 2007 WFP"
    HorizSync       30.0 - 84.0
    VertRefresh     56.0 - 76.0
    Option         "DPMS"
    Option         "Rotate" "Left"
EndSection

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

Section "Monitor"
    # HorizSync source: edid, VertRefresh source: edid
    Identifier     "Monitor0"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "BenQ FP222W"
    HorizSync       30.0 - 84.0
    VertRefresh     56.0 - 76.0
    Option         "DPMS"
EndSection

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device3"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce 210"
    BusID          "PCI:3:0:0"
    Screen     1
EndSection

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device2"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce 8400 GS"
    BusID          "PCI:2:0:0"
    Screen          1
EndSection

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device1"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce 210"
    BusID          "PCI:3:0:0"
    Screen         0
EndSection

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce 8400 GS"
    BusID          "PCI:2:0:0"
    Screen          0
EndSection


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


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

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen1"
    Device         "Device1"
    Monitor        "Monitor1"
    DefaultDepth    24
    Option         "TwinView" "0"
    Option         "TwinViewXineramaInfoOrder" "CRT-0"
    Option         "metamodes" "nvidia-auto-select +0+0"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24
    EndSubSection
EndSection

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

Now I'm pretty confident it is possible to plug another video card and extend this to a 6-monitor setup, but I feel the limited flexibility of my neck would not allow me to make a good use of 6 monitors :)

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Thank you. Does Unity still work with 4 monitors? This looks helpful. –  Michael Clare Aug 20 '12 at 22:33
    
If you manage to keep 3D acceleration working then Unity should work, although having portrait-mode monitors is much more useful than having Unity :) To be honest, I didn't even tried Unity on that machine because it is a Kubuntu box. And, as I said, a tiling window manager is much better anyway on a multi-monitor setup. –  Sergey Aug 20 '12 at 22:41
    
Ok, I did not realize this. Maybe I will need to use kubuntu instead of Ubuntu. –  Michael Clare Aug 20 '12 at 22:43
    
Does the choice of graphics card matter? Or will any dual-head nvidia cards work fine? –  Michael Clare Aug 20 '12 at 22:44
1  
@MichaelClare: I don't assemble multi-monitor machines for living, in fact this is the only machine I've set up this way, so I can't say if it'll work with any possible combination of nvidia cards. But for me it worked with the first two cards I tried. –  Sergey Aug 20 '12 at 23:00

I was also able to get quad monitors setup. I did use unity, though I was stuck on unity 2d. The setup was not perfect, there were flaws, but having the extra screen real estate made the hassle worth it.

What kind of flaws? each pair of monitors were treated like a single monitor. Therefor, hitting the maximize button would cause the window to span across two monitors instead of one. Also the feature where you can drag windows to the edge and have it fill up half the screen was broken. Once in a while if I was trying to play a video on monitors 3 or 4, the video would freeze up even thought the audio would keep playing. There were some other glitches like that.

The setup was painful! I spent HOURS digging through blog posts and searching here before I finally figured it out with trial and error.

As Sergey said, you have to use the proprietary NVidia drivers. I don't remember where I found them, but you will not get this to work with the nvidia drivers that auto install. believe me, I have tried! Then you have to build your xorg.conf manually, identifying the hardware and setting the proper settings.

Sadly, back in the Ubuntu 10.x days, this was actually pretty easy... almost plug and play. That all went away with 11.04. =( Things have gotten better little by little since then, but it's FAR from perfect.

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That's exactly the problem I have, and it's very annoying! I just posted a question. –  Marjeta Apr 15 at 23:32

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