I just recently re-installed Ubuntu (went from 11.10 32bit to 11.10 64bit) and got a new monitor and video card (nvidia, vga and hdmi outputs). So, since I have two monitors connected to the computer, I decided to try the different multi-view setups (TwinView and separate x screens). TwinView works fine, but isn't what I want to use right now. However, when trying to setup separate x screens (from nvidia-settings), when I logout/login it does set it up, but the following problems occurr:

  1. When I login, the second display (display/monitor 1) shows the desktop for a split second and then goes completely white. I did some research and found that this is caused by nautilus, which, if killed, shows the desktop in the second display again (which it does, but the white screen comes back as soon as I open up another program [such as nautilus or gedit], also there is no toolbar in the second screen).

  2. The second screen seems to be almost completely non-interactive. I say almost as there are two things I can do (though not very helpful): if I right-click it gets rid of the white background, but does not bring up a menu (nor do further right-clicks accomplish anything). Also, if I force a program to open in the second screen (via opening a terminal and running a command in the first screen, such as gedit --display :0.1) I can do nothing with the program (not even type, as that just puts characters in the terminal in the first screen), save for clicking on the buttons that are in the GUI.

  3. The mouse cursor is an x in the second screen (and sometimes in the first screen if I try to do too much interaction with the second screen). Which isn't that bad, but it seems kind of weird.

  4. If I lock my screen (via ctrl + alt + L) or if the screen times out and locks itself, if I try to get back in, the screens come on but remain completely blank.

So I was wondering, is this how separate x screens are supposed to work (sort of a stupid question I guess)? I'm guessing not, but, since I don't know how they are supposed to work, I can't really tell when they are working correctly. If they are functioning improperly, does anyone know of a way to fix it (as I would like separate x screens far more than TwinView at the moment [if they work the way I think they do])? Thanks!

  • Okay, installing and using Gnome-classic (instead of Unity) seems to work better with separate x screens, as I can now interact (open and use applications) with the second screen, and the mouse cursor is no longer an x. However, all the other problems are still present, and there is no longer a tool bar in either screen. Any ideas...? – Wolf Jun 1 '12 at 23:59
  • The problem you're experiencing sounds like Compiz. metacity --replace & disown will give you better control of the windows in your secondary display, but won't fix the Nautilus desktop bug. – earthmeLon Mar 12 '13 at 20:07
  • Just an FYI, you can set DISPLAY=:0.0 and DISPLAY=:0.1 to determine which screen to load a program if it doesn't support it on it's own. – earthmeLon Mar 12 '13 at 20:08

I've got the same problem! Just installed Ubuntu 12.04 onto an old Acer Travelmate with Nvidia graphics, and same problem.

After reading what you said about Nautilus, tried loading a few diferent window managers. Follow this link to find out how:


(Tried Gnome, Unity 2D, and lxde - all flicked the wallpaper up, then went white like yours).

However xfce worked! I think I did this:

sudo apt-get install xfce4

Xfce fixed it, and works a treat!

I really like the way xfce is uncluttered - it takes 1/2 hour to get your head around it, but is well worth it.

See: http://docs.xfce.org/xfce/getting-started

Different windows being run on each monitor, can independently set the backgrounds on each monitor! :-) They each have their own workspace too. Fantastic!

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  • Cool! I just came on here though to say that I came across a patch that fixes the white screen problem (it appears the problem was with nautilus): ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1865113 This only leaves the tool bar and lock screen problems... – Wolf Jun 3 '12 at 0:35
  • Well, yesterday, I brought my computer into a place that has high-speed internet and I downloaded and installed Xfce (the command you gave me was all that was needed)... and it works beautifully (praise the Lord)! Thanks! – Wolf Jun 9 '12 at 15:52

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