Fedora 10 and the Evolution of Xorg

Jack Wallen
Jan 14, 2009
Updated • Nov 28, 2012

This is a rant. This is only a rant. If this were a real review you would be notified by your local emergency broadcast station...Now that I have your attention, I want to direct you to what is happening with the latest version of Fedora and X configuration. If you have installed Fedora 10 and have had no problems you're in luck. If you have installed Fedora 10 and have noticed X Windows not looking as good as it did with 9 (or another distribution) welcome to the new world order of xorg.conf.

With the advent of Fedora 10 xorg.conf does not, by default, install an xorg.conf configuration file. In fact, I had Fedora 10 up and running with an NVidia GeForce 6600 card, with no xorg.conf file. Problem was, I couldn't get the installation to run in 1200x1024 resolution. Not until I jumped through a few hoops.

One of the first things you should do, when you finish an installation of Fedora 10 is check in /etc/X11 to see if there is an xorg.conf file. If there is not you need to issue the command Xorg -configure :1. What this will do is generate a default xorg.conf file based on your hardware.

Your next step can be tackled in a couple of ways. You can edit the xorg.conf file by hand (for advanced users) or you can install the system-config-display application with the command yum install system-config-display. Once you get that installed you can run the application (as root) with the command system-config-display. From that point the GUI tool should be pretty straight foward to use.

Of course, if you are using an NVidia card, you might have to install some proprietary drivers. Open up the Add/Remove Software tool and do a search for nvidia. Select the applicable drivers for your system if you need them. Once you install the drivers you should have the nvidia-settings tool. This will offer you some help in configuring your NVidia card with Fedora 10.

You will notice the default xorg.conf file generated is very bare-bones. And I understand that Xorg is going in a direction that doesn't require an xorg.conf file. But there are chipsests out there, such as NVidia, who's drivers still require an xorg.conf file. This, to me, seems as if Xorg is getting a bit ahead of itself.

UPDATE: I can't confirm this but the above statement about Xorg going in an xorg.conf'less direction seems to only be applying to Fedora. If anyone has any information that would indicate other distributions are following suite, let us know. Thanks all!

Now I can't complain too much...X Windows does work out of the box and does a fairly admiriable job. But when you want higher resolutions than the default, you might find yourself jumping through some hoops. I have to admit Linux will find itself in much greener pastures once Xorg no longer requires a configuration file. But I do hope the developers of the various chipsets can get on the same page as the Xorg developer team. If they can't Linux is going to find itself with a limited selection of video cards it can work with.


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  1. Someone said on October 31, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Firstly I have to admit that I am a Windows user.

    It seems this (among a dozen other niggles) gives me the impression Linux is going backwards.

    I have been through a few versions of Redhat and tried a couple of other distributions going from the text based installer and having to do all sorts of things to get everything going to the GUI based installers that gave you options to do everything.

    My impressions where that each version was making everything more available up till Redhat 9 (last distribution I used) but in fedora 11 it seems that the OS provides nice, easy to use GUI options that hide everything I want access to.

    Until Linux can be installed, used and maintained by idiots then stop treating me like one.

  2. DJ said on April 30, 2009 at 10:56 am

    As yet I haven’t fixed this on my Fedora 10 system but I am running a 64-bit non-fedora kernel (latest sable from kernel.org) with an nVidia supplied driver. Both system-config-display and rhpx are installed and the former does not run giving the following error:l
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/usr/share/system-config-display/xconf.py”, line 312, in
    hardware_state = XF86HardwareState(xconfig)
    File “/usr/lib64/python2.5/site-packages/rhpxl/xhwstate.py”, line 174, in __init__
    File “/usr/lib64/python2.5/site-packages/rhpxl/xhwstate.py”, line 293, in init_from_xconfig
    self.all_resolutions.sort (compare_resolution)
    File “/usr/lib64/python2.5/site-packages/rhpxl/xhwstate.py”, line 57, in compare_resolution
    (w1, h1) = resolution_from_string(res1)
    File “/usr/lib64/python2.5/site-packages/rhpxl/xhwstate.py”, line 47, in resolution_from_string
    return (int(tokens[0]), int(tokens[1]))
    IndexError: list index out of range

    Anyway, my xorf.conf (yes, I do have one) gets the driver section of the device section overwritten with “vesa” on reboot. So I login, edit the file as follows and the restart the X server:
    Section “Device”
    Identifier “Videocard0”
    Driver “nvidia”

    I merely add this here in case anyone else is having as futile a search as me for a solution to this proble, My colleagues machine which is, allegedly, identical and on which I put the same kernel and graphics driver does not have this problem!

  3. Andreas said on April 17, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Ok, just to round it up and let you know how I managed to increase the resolution in my virtual machine (VirtualBox), here is what I did.

    Go to a download mirror and access the [Fedora 9] repository. In the Packages directory you need to find two files.

    – rhpxl-1.9-1.fc9.i386.rpm
    – system-config-display-1.0.51-9.fc9.noarch.rpm

    Download these two.

    You won’t be able to install them using [yum] due to their digital signature. Hence you’ll have to use [rpm] to do the job.

    – Open a terminal.
    – SU to root in the download directory
    – Run the following commands
    rpm -i rhpxl-1.9-1.fc9.i386.rpm
    rpm -i system-config-display-1.0.51-9.fc9.noarch.rpm

    This will install the two packages. In case you aren’t familiar with command lines, you don’t have to type the full file name. Just type enough to make it obvious, then hit TAB to auto-complete.

    – Run system-config-display (still as root)

    It will open a configuration window that allows you to change graphics adapter and, in my case more importantly, select a specific monitor for the desired resolution.

    – Restart your computer or X server.
    – Change resolution using the standard utility to the desired one.
    – DONE

  4. Andreas said on April 17, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    The guide is kind of useful BUT it doesn’t work with the current version of Fedora 10. The file ‘system-config-display’ is no longer available in the official Fedora 10 repository. As a consequence, yum can’t install it. This rather annoying mostly because there doesn’t appear to be any way to adjust your display settings beyond the very limited options the GUI tool provides. A very disappointing experience.

  5. George said on March 9, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    It appears that xorg.conf is needed in order for any persistent customization of the Xorg server to work.

    For example, I followed the instructions in /etc/fonts/fonts.conf to modify the font path. (“DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE. IT WILL BE REPLACED WHEN FONTCONFIG IS UPDATED. LOCAL CHANGES BELONG IN ‘local.conf’.”) I learned from a Google search that ‘local.conf’ belongs in /etc/fonts/ and that it’s an XML file with the same DTD as fonts.conf. When installing it on Fedora 10 didn’t have the desired effect, I googled on “Fedora 10 local.conf” and found this page. Thanks for the hints that (1) xorg.conf is missing from Fedora 10, and (2) this might account for the failure of the (poorly) documented procedure for changing the font path.

    (I wanted to modify the font path because Fedora 10 omits the Lucida fonts that XView apps expect; there are kludgy workarounds, but that’s another story.)

    Can anyone point me to documentation on a way to customize the behavior of the Xorg server that persists across reboots without xorg.conf?

  6. Dotan Cohen said on January 16, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    This is a technology called bulletproof X. I can only suppose that Jack is new (relatively) to Fedora as Fedora usually adopts new, broken technologies with the intent of having users use them to get the bugs out. That’s why I had to jump ship at about Fedora 6: it is _not_ a stable distro meant to be used as a daily driver. It is called the bleeding edge for a reason. That said, Ubuntu is also using bulletproof X, which is utter stupidity. I do not understand why Ubuntu has been shipping software not meant for end users recently, specifically Firefox 3 RC1, KDE 4.1, and now bulletproof X.

  7. RogueSpear said on January 15, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    One of the main draws to Linux is that it runs great on older hardware. Yet older hardware always seems to be where I need to fiddle around the most if there is an nVidia or ATI adapter in the mix. For the life of me I don’t understand why nVidia can’t open source all of their hardware that is, let’s say, two generations behind the current product line. What sort of industry trade secrets would they be giving up at that point?

    This to me is what will hamper Linux on the desktop for quite a while to come. It’s one thing for me to be poking around in configuration files – annoying as it can be, but it’s entirely another matter when it’s my parent’s computer and they’re 1,500 miles away.

  8. rupert said on January 14, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I ran into exactly the same problem with Ubuntu Hardy and Intrepid. A normal install is ok, it uses a very basic xorg.conf file – but if you try to install it headless, OH DEAR. Xorg totally freaks out. It seems they are trying to make Xorg more noobie friendly, but by doing so, they are removing advanced options. For instance, you can no longer do dpkg reconfigure xorg to change anything over than keyboard and mouse configuration. You can’t use it to change your video driver. Pretty stupid really.

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