Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My laptop committed suicide. Is there a way I can boot into my ubuntu using an external screen?

Ubuntu 10.10 video: Nvidia 9500 gm i think

I can get dual screen upto and until the ubuntu login screen at which point it goes back into laptop display only. Then I can just type and enter my password. The system (i assume boots into ubuntu) but I got no way of going onto the x or nvidia settings to change my display to external monitor


well I booted into terminal using control shift F1 i think, and now I'm trying to reporgram, but strangely it seems bland with not a lot of settings in it

EDIT 2 xrandr returns "Can't open display"

EDit 3

after some messing around with xrandr and xinit ... my only displays one monitor instead of two in its settings although both, i.e. the laptop and external screens are both connected.

EDIT 4 it seems that now has a "screen" and "monitor" section, I can't seem to be able to boot linux into monitor. I get a "Monitor is not a valid keyword" in this subsection

share|improve this question

Just plug in a monitor, and the monitor will mirror what the laptop screen ought to be showing. You can use System -> Preferences -> Monitors to get the resolution right, and turn off the laptop screen (so Ubuntu doesn't try to render everything twice).

share|improve this answer
The screen mirrors just for the login, once it goes to ubuntu it goes away. I tried doing fn + split screen, but that didnt' work – dassouki Mar 6 '11 at 16:37

Ctrl+Alt+F1 should get you into a terminal. In there, install openssh-server so you can log into the machine from the network, which will be more comfortable:

sudo aptitude install openssh-server (from memory)

Then, log in locally (you will lose your screen initially).

Also, log in remotely via ssh.

Set your remote ssh session environment so you can affect the X server:

export DISPLAY=:

Now you can play around with variations on xrandr --auto etc on the remote ssh session, and you will be driving your desktop login. For example:

xrandr -q

... which should tell you the current status.

xrandr --auto

... which might Just Work. Or maybe (as a guess from memory)

xrandr --output LVDS1 --off --output VGA1 --auto

Good luck ;-)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.