A guide to Video on Dell PCs with an Ubuntu Operating System

A guide to Video on Dell PCs with an Ubuntu Operating System



This article will provide information about video as it applies to Dell PCs using the Ubuntu operating system.


Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Video Types
  3. Video Issues
  4. Video Solutions

1. Introduction

This article takes you through the various video types and how they work in a Dell system using an Ubuntu operating system. It'll cover common issues and fixes and will link to further articles that deal with some of the topics in greater detail.

This article is provided more as a reference than a troubleshooting guide and sometimes point elsewhere for further support. Please remember that Dell supports the Hardware that ships with the unit and the reinstall or recovery of the Operating system that came with the unit. I hope you find the following information useful.


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2. Video Types

There are are 4 basic types of video used on both Dell PCs and on the Ubuntu Operating System.

Check your PCs hardware list to see which modes you need to configure :

Integrated Video

Integrated Video is the GPU built into your Motherboard. (Most commonly Intel.) This can also include Add-on cards in Desktops as the BIOS is setup to disable the Integrated GPU when a Card is fitted and it becomes the default video GPU.

Hybrid Graphics

Hybrid Graphics is where there is an additional GPU in addition to the Integrated GPU. (Most commonly either Radeon or Nvidia on Notebooks and AIO (All in One) systems.)

Nvidia Optimus Technology

Nvidia Optimus is technology developed by Nvidia, where the integrated and discrete GPUs are linked so that you can use both GPUs for separate applications - saving power and battery life.

Webcam Video

Notebook and AIO systems come with integrated Webcams and there are a variety of external ones available. They are used for video capture, video streaming and Chat.


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3. Video Issues

There are a number of common video issues that can be seen on any GPU and operating system over time. I've listed some below :

Please check out the section below for some common troubleshooting to resolve the kind of issues listed above.


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4. Video Solutions

Note: Dell only supports the hardware they ship with the PC and the factory installed version of the Ubuntu Operating system. If the hardware checks out OK and an OS reinstall from the recovery partition doesn't resolve the issue, then you could be directed to contact Canonical for further Software support. If the hardware in question is a third party device, you may be directed to contact the manufacturer of the device for further help. If you're looking for a specific driver that isn't commonly available, then you may be directed to contact the Ubuntu community forums with the information about your hardware for further support. I will give some general troubleshooting steps in the section below, but this information is used at your own risk.

No Display (i.e. nothing seen on screen.)

Are you experiencing the issue outside of the Ubuntu operating system?

  1. If you are seeing the issue outside the operating system then please go to either this article for an External Screen or this article for an Internal Screen to troubleshoot further.

  2. If you aren't seeing the issue outside the operating system then:

    1. In the Grub bootloader menu - select boot your computer into recovery mode

    2. Choose resume normal boot from the recovery menu (This will attempt a normal boot with failsafe video settings.)

    3. If the normal boot doesn't resolve the issue, then you can go back into recovery mode and select the run in failsafe graphic mode option.

    4. If you still have no video then you may be looking at an operating system reinstall or you can drop to the root shell prompt if you have the experience or a guide to troubleshoot further using Terminal.

Distorted Display (i.e. you can see something on the screen, but not make it out.)

Are you experiencing the issue outside of the Ubuntu operating system?

  1. If you are seeing the issue outside the operating system then please go to either this article for an External Screen or this article for an Internal Screen to troubleshoot further.

  2. If you aren't seeing the issue outside the operating system then:

    1. Performance Issues and Video Stability can be helped by disabling the visual effects. (This involves changing to the 2D desktop environment.)

    2. Open Terminal (CTRL + ALT + T) and install compiz settigns manager:

      sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
    3. On Ubuntu Dash, search for compiz settings manager and open the application and disable/uncheck:

      • Effects > Animations, Fading Windows, Windows Decoration

    4. If you still have distorted video then you may be looking at an operating system reinstall to resolve.

Resolution Issues (i.e. the screen is too big or too small.)

The default resolution for Ubuntu 16.04 is 640x480 at the low end and 1024x768 at the top.

If you have an additional discrete GPU, please refer to the Hybrid Graphics article for further information.

If you are using the default video GPU and only see the low end of 640x480 then it's recommended that you run Xdiagnose and tick all 3 Debug options, as this has been known to restore the screen to the upper default 1024x768.

To get resolutions above 1024x768 you will need to use the xrandr command in Terminal to add a new mode with the new resolution. (This isn't usually kept past a Reboot.)

If you are an experienced Ubuntu user and are looking to keep the changes past a reboot then you can look to add the xrandr newmode and addmode commands into /etc/gdm/Init/Default just before "initctl ..."

It should look similar to the code below:

xrandr --newmode "1280x1024_60_new" 138.54 1280 1368 1504 1728 1024 1025 1028 1069 -HSynch +V
xrandr --addmode VGA-0 1280x1024_60_new

Settings issues (i.e. Brightness.)

If the Fn shortcut keys for adjusting the brightness aren't working or you are looking for more control than they provide, then there are applets you can install that will give you a GUI (Graphical User Interface) window with various display settings. If you are an experienced Ubuntu user there are Terminal commands such as gksu and leafpad that will let you create a file to resolve the Fn shortcuts, you can even use xrandr to affect the brightness output. (I would recommend you be sure about the hardware of your machine and are confident in whichever guide you find to use, before doing too much in Terminal with the sudo command.)


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Additional Information :

Note:
Software support is provided by Canonical through the following methods:
Technical Support is provided by Dell:


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Quick Tips content is self-published by the Dell Support Professionals who resolve issues daily. In order to achieve a speedy publication, Quick Tips may represent only partial solutions or work-arounds that are still in development or pending further proof of successfully resolving an issue. As such Quick Tips have not been reviewed, validated or approved by Dell and should be used with appropriate caution. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in the Quick Tips.

Article ID: SLN49706

Last Date Modified: 03/15/2018 07:25 AM


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