Dell Widescreen Monitor + Linux: Utter & Complete Frustration

I just wasted an entire day trying to get a new Dell 2007WFP working with my 3-year-old Dell GX270 desktop, which runs Debian. The result: total failure. It works at 1280×1024 (and looks all stretched out), but flatly refuses to work at the monitor’s optimal resolution of 1680×1050.

In the xorg.config file, first I tried just adding a new “Screen” resolution for 1680×1050. This failed with “no such mode” or somesuch. After much head scratching and googling around, I learned that I needed to patch my video BIOS (Intel 810 series) to add the new mode. I did this via a utility called 915resolution. This seems to work.

With 1680×1050 programmed into the BIOS, I then tried several different ModeLine entries in the config file, with varying different modes of failure. At certain settings, X would refuse to use the mode, complaining about “vrefresh out of range” or something. At other settings, when I started X, the monitor would go into power-save mode as if it wasn’t receiving a signal. At other settings, the monitor would display a message stating that the signal was out of range and it couldn’t use it. I fiddled with turning DDC on and off, to no effect. Everything I tried resulted in one of these three failure modes. I’m pretty sure I’ve got good ModeLine numbers, as they match what’s reported by DDC in the log.

I’m pretty much at my wit’s end here, so I’ve given up for now and am back to using my old dual-monitor xinerama setup. Needless to say, I’m not too high on the whole Linux/X desktop scene right now. I’m ready to punt the thing and go to a Mac.

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