My Lenovo X200 laptop has developed a problem recently whereby I get a blank internal screen on booting into Ubuntu 11.10. Display works normally during boot, after which the desktop is displayed momentarily before blanking out. The gnome-shell menus are not visible during this brief flicker of desktop.

It seems that the laptop is behaving as if there is an external monitor connected and set as the primary display, without mirroring or extending to the internal display.

Here are some observations:

  1. If I connect an external monitor, my desktop appears on it.

  2. I can then successfully use Displays (system settings) and xrandr to turn on the internal display (which is set to off), and can then mirror or extend across both displays.

  3. Once I've turned on the laptop screen and set it as primary, I can disconnect the external monitor and use the laptop display independently.

  4. If I boot the laptop without an external display (in which case I get the blank screen), I can switch to an alternative terminal, e.g. tty1, at which point my internal display functions correctly, but if I return to tty7 it blanks out again, and at this stage I can no longer switch to tty1, tty2, etc.

  5. I can boot into Windows without problems.

I think it's possible that I meddled with some settings somewhere in the past in order to set the external monitor as the primary display when the laptop was docked. In this case I wonder if someone might direct me to potential files that I might have modified (and remind me of the changes that I may have made), so that I can revert to the original settings. This would have been a while back though, I think, in Ubuntu Maverick or Natty (and I don't know whether such modifications would persist on upgrade). This is a recent development, though, so I think there's more to it than that.

I can't think of any software installation or changes to system files that might coincide with the problem appearing.

Does anyone have any ideas for what's going on here, or how to diagnose the problem? If there's a command I can use to print out relevant system info, please let me know and I'll update the question with the details.

  • I had a comment here saying this was was a duplicate of askubuntu.com/q/83678/43477, and that the (manual) solution provided by @int_ua did the trick for me. I was wrong... this problem is still occurring. A couple of times the display has worked correctly without an external monitor attached during boot (although I haven't been able to determine anything special/consistent about those events that would explain it). So I would still appreciate any advice on this one. – jbaums Feb 10 '12 at 21:42
  • After #3, do you inform the computer that the external is gone before shutting down? (such as by running xrandr --auto with it unplugged or using your graphical tool for screen configuration to disable it) – maco Feb 10 '12 at 22:15
  • @maco: Yes, I've tried both through the gui and with xrandr --auto. I should also add that connecting the external monitor after booting into Ubuntu does not reveal the display on the external. I've been resorting to sudo reboot via tty1 in these instances. Another option, if I'm lucky (no typos or popups e.g. updates) is to blindly type my password, followed by CTRL + ALT + T and xrandr --auto, which outputs the display correctly to the laptop screen. Obviously this is not ideal. I've also tried Fn + F7 (X200 shortcut to switch output devices) to no avail. – jbaums Feb 10 '12 at 23:01
  • Try having that xrandr command be the first thing run when X starts? wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Config/… – maco Feb 11 '12 at 2:11
  • @maco: thanks for the tip, but unfortunately, adding xrandr --auto to /etc/gdm/Init/Default didn't work. – jbaums Feb 12 '12 at 23:14

We use a lot of Lenovo's in our business but most have a Nvidia display card as opposed to an Intel like the X200. We use a secondary external monitor as the primary monitor and in the beginning experienced the same problem as you are currently experiencing.

The way we resolved the problems was a two step process, firstly in the BIOS under Display, Graphic Device we changed 'Integrated' to 'Discrete'. Then secondly, and unfortunately this is where the solution veers off your path, is that we downloaded & installed the latest drivers from the Nvidia website, this provided an additional Nvidia configuration utility like the one you would find in Windows and the management of primary & secondary monitors was easily achieved.

That's about all I have for you unfortunately, there are a few additional settings under the Display heading in the BIOS that may also help.

Best of luck.


  • Thanks for taking the time to post a solution. The Display options in my BIOS are a little different from yours, and 'Thinkpad LCD' was already selected as the Boot Display Device (other options were Analog (VGA) or Digital (DisplayPort)). AFAIK Intel graphics drivers should be included in 11.10, and I assumed would update automatically. – jbaums Feb 17 '12 at 0:09
  • Pleasure, just glad that you found the solution! – kingmilo Feb 17 '12 at 5:22

Open the run dialog by typing Alt+F2

Then type rm ~/.config/monitors.xml and press Enter

  • 1
    Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts necessary for the OP to understand why would this work as an answer for his issue. – Bruno Pereira Feb 16 '12 at 0:14
  • Thanks for the suggestion, @Patrick, but unfortunately removing monitors.xml didn't solve the problem for me. (Also, to remove the file successfully via the ALT+F2 run dialog, I needed to remove the ~/.) – jbaums Feb 17 '12 at 0:20
  • "Also, to remove the file successfully via the ALT+F2 run dialog, I needed to remove the" -- funny - because i tested this and it works here in ubuntu oneiric releasee – Patrick Feb 18 '12 at 0:34
  • It is strange... The command works as you suggest via terminal (as expected), just not via ALT+F2. I'm on 11.10 as well. I wonder if Unity vs gnome-shell might make a difference? Anyway, thanks again. – jbaums Feb 18 '12 at 2:10

In my case, the root of this problem was Jupiter, which I'd installed some time ago for power management. Jupiter has some options for adjusting display settings, including output device, and these are saved and restored on startup. Changing the Jupiter 'Video Displays' to 'Internal Display Only' has corrected the problem. I might switch this to 'Enable Both Displays', as it's probably necessary to have my external operating when connected.

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