I have to install Ubuntu on a two-screen setup. How should I do that and what are some specific things that I should keep in mind while doing it. Will it break anything?

I use an ATI graphics card

  • 1
    Could you please rephrase your question? You say you have a two screen setup, but you're asking how to setup two screens? Also please include what Video Drivers you are using - or you graphics card, and some more clarity to your question. Aug 13, 2010 at 18:36
  • karman: This question is far too open-ended to have a useful answer. Try installing, then come back with a more specific question if something is not working. Aug 13, 2010 at 18:44
  • @Marco I am asking how to setup Ubuntu on a two-screen setup...
    – User
    Aug 13, 2010 at 18:46
  • @Marco I want to use an ATI graphics card...
    – User
    Aug 13, 2010 at 19:07

3 Answers 3


System -> Preferences -> Monitors gives you a useful graphical interface to easily set this up. This works very well for me using the open source ATI drivers. I doubt you will encounter any great problems (using a fairly mainstream graphics card). If you're using proprietary drivers you may need to use the vender's own tool, e.g. the Nvidia config utility.

It shouldn't 'break' anything, the worst case scenario is you end up with the same thing on both screens.

Screenshot of Ubuntu Monitor Preferences

  • How do you acces System in Ubuntu? Aug 23, 2016 at 10:59

Depends on your video drivers. For nvidia you need to use the nivida configure tool. However to make it premenent, you need to run it from command line sudo nvidia-settings and save to x-config after you set it up.

I didn't notice the ATI comment. I am unfamiliar with ATI's flags, I tend to avoid ATI cards because of their shitty linux drivers, I fought with them enough for a lifetime.

  • ATI's free drivers seem quite good now. I expect it depends a lot on the individual card.
    – 8128
    Aug 13, 2010 at 20:37

I had difficulty getting my ATI card to work in anything other than mirror mode until I settled on the steps at https://askubuntu.com/a/104265/19802

Apart from that - things to keep in mind

  • drivers may not install first time (never have for me with ATI)
  • get familiar with gui recovery; one attempt had it doing something horrible after I tried extending the desktop (either not starting the gui, or black screens; perhaps it crashed after I hit ok into a corrupt xorg state). Best to have a second computer handy with your favourite search engine ;)
  • Will it break anything? Quite possibly. The variations are far and wide.

One useful item I just discovered was Alt+Ctrl+F2 to get to a terminal screen and then unity &disown to relaunch the desktop (without closing applications - yay!) Alt+Ctrl+F7 will get you back to the new desktop - complete with shortcut keys (like Alt+Tab). Ok, so I was clicking on everything in compiz to test out my new speed,but still...

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