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1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2 <!DOCTYPE guide SYSTEM "/dtd/guide.dtd">
3 <!-- $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo/xml/htdocs/doc/en/xorg-config.xml,v 1.25 2007/10/18 18:20:10 nightmorph Exp $ -->
5 <guide link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">
6 <title>The X Server Configuration HOWTO</title>
8 <author title="Author">
9 <mail link="swift@gentoo.org">Sven Vermeulen</mail>
10 </author>
12 <abstract>
13 Xorg is the X Window server which allows users to have a graphical
14 environment at their fingertips. This HOWTO explains what Xorg is, how to
15 install it and what the various configuration options are.
16 </abstract>
18 <!-- The content of this document is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license -->
19 <!-- See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 -->
20 <license/>
22 <version>1.17</version>
23 <date>2007-06-20</date>
25 <chapter>
26 <title>What is the X Window Server?</title>
27 <section>
28 <title>Graphical vs Command-Line</title>
29 <body>
31 <p>
32 The average user may be frightened at the thought of having to type in commands.
33 Why wouldn't he be able to point and click his way through the freedom provided
34 by Gentoo (and Linux in general)? Well, *big smile*, of course you are able to
35 do this. :-) Linux offers a wide variety of flashy user interfaces and
36 environments which you can install on top of your existing installation.
37 </p>
39 <p>
40 This is one of the biggest surprises new users come across: a graphical user
41 interface is nothing more than an application which runs on your system. It is
42 <e>not</e> part of the Linux kernel or any other internals of the system. It is
43 a powerful tool that fully enables the graphical abilities of your workstation.
44 </p>
46 <p>
47 As standards are important, a standard for drawing and moving windows on a
48 screen, interacting with the user through mouse, keyboard and other basic, yet
49 important aspects has been created and named the <e>X Window System</e>,
50 commonly abbreviated as <e>X11</e> or just <e>X</e>. It is used on Unix, Linux
51 and Unix-like operating systems throughout the world.
52 </p>
54 <p>
55 The application that provides Linux users with the ability to run graphical
56 user interfaces and that uses the X11 standard is Xorg-X11, a fork of
57 the XFree86 project. XFree86 has decided to use a license that might not be
58 compatible with the GPL license; the use of Xorg is therefore recommended.
59 The official Portage tree does not provide an XFree86 package anymore.
60 </p>
62 </body>
63 </section>
64 <section>
65 <title>The X.org Project</title>
66 <body>
68 <p>
69 The <uri link="http://www.x.org">X.org</uri> project created and
70 maintains a freely redistributable, open-source implementation of the X11
71 system. It is an open source X11-based desktop infrastructure.
72 </p>
74 <p>
75 Xorg provides an interface between your hardware and the graphical software
76 you want to run. Besides that, Xorg is also fully network-aware, meaning you
77 are able to run an application on one system while viewing it on a different
78 one.
79 </p>
81 </body>
82 </section>
83 </chapter>
85 <chapter>
86 <title>Installing Xorg</title>
87 <section>
88 <title>Using emerge</title>
89 <body>
91 <p>
92 Enough chitchat, let's get to business shall we? To install Xorg, you just
93 need to run <c>emerge xorg-x11</c>. Installing Xorg does take a while
94 though, so you might want to grab a snack while you are waiting.
95 </p>
97 <p>
98 Before installing Xorg you have to configure two important variables in the
99 <path>/etc/make.conf</path> file.
100 </p>
102 <p>
103 The first one is <c>VIDEO_CARDS</c>. This is used to set the video drivers that
104 you intend to use and is usually based on the kind and brand of card you have.
105 The most common settings are <c>nvidia</c> for Nvidia cards or <c>fglrx</c> for
106 ATI Radeon cards. Those are the proprietary drivers from Nvidia and ATI
107 respectively. If you would like to use the open source versions, use <c>nv</c>
108 rather than <c>nvidia</c> in the variable, but bear in mind that using this
109 driver means no 3d acceleration at all. The free <c>radeon</c> driver for ATI
110 cards supports full 3D acceleration on older Radeons but doesn't work at all
111 with the newer ones. <c>VIDEO_CARDS</c> may contain more than one driver, in
112 this case list of them should be separated with spaces.
113 </p>
115 <p>
116 The second variable is <c>INPUT_DEVICES</c> and is used to determine which
117 drivers are to be built for input devices. In most cases setting it to
118 <c>keyboard mouse</c> should work just fine.
119 </p>
121 <p>
122 Now you should decide which drivers you will use and add necessary settings to
123 the <path>/etc/make.conf</path> file:
124 </p>
126 <pre caption="Sample make.conf entries">
127 <comment>(For mouse and keyboard support)</comment>
128 INPUT_DEVICES="keyboard mouse"
129 <comment>(For Nvidia cards)</comment>
130 VIDEO_CARDS="nvidia"
131 <comment>(OR, for ATI Radeon cards)</comment>
132 VIDEO_CARDS="fglrx"
133 </pre>
135 <p>
136 More instructions on how to configure Nvidia and ATI cards can be found in
137 <uri link="/doc/en/nvidia-guide.xml">Gentoo Linux nVidia Guide</uri> and in
138 <uri link="/doc/en/ati-faq.xml">Gentoo Linux ATI FAQ</uri>. If you don't know
139 which drivers you should choose, refer to these guides for more information.
140 </p>
142 <note>
143 If the suggested settings don't work for you, you should run <c>emerge -pv
144 xorg-server</c>, check all the options available and choose those which apply to
145 your system. The example is for the amd64 architecture and
146 <c>xorg-server-1.2</c>.
147 </note>
149 <pre caption="Displaying all the driver options available">
150 # <i>emerge -pv xorg-server</i>
152 These are the packages that would be merged, in order:
154 Calculating dependencies... done!
155 [ebuild R ] x11-base/xorg-server-1.2.0-r3 USE="dri nptl xorg (-3dfx) -debug
156 -dmx -ipv6 -kdrive -minimal -sdl -xprint" INPUT_DEVICES="keyboard mouse -acecad
157 -aiptek -calcomp -citron -digitaledge -dmc -dynapro -elo2300 -elographics -evdev
158 -fpit -hyperpen -jamstudio -joystick -magellan -microtouch -mutouch -palmax
159 -penmount -spaceorb -summa -synaptics -tek4957 -ur98 -vmmouse -void -wacom"
160 VIDEO_CARDS="nvidia -apm -ark -chips -cirrus -cyrix -dummy -epson -fbdev -fglrx
161 -glint -i128 (-i740) -i810 (-impact) (-imstt) -mach64 -mga -neomagic (-newport)
162 (-nsc) -nv -r128 -radeon -rendition -s3 -s3virge -savage -siliconmotion -sis
163 -sisusb (-sunbw2) (-suncg14) (-suncg3) (-suncg6) (-sunffb) (-sunleo) (-suntcx)
164 -tdfx -tga -trident -tseng -v4l -vesa -vga -via -vmware -voodoo" 0 kB
165 </pre>
167 <p>
168 After setting all the necessary variables you can install the Xorg package.
169 </p>
171 <pre caption="Installing Xorg">
172 # <i>emerge xorg-x11</i>
173 </pre>
175 <p>
176 When the installation is finished, you might need to re-initialise some
177 environment variables before you continue. Just run <c>env-update</c> followed
178 by <c>source /etc/profile</c> and you're all set.
179 </p>
181 <pre caption="Re-initialising the environment variables">
182 # <i>env-update</i>
183 # <i>source /etc/profile</i>
184 </pre>
186 </body>
187 </section>
188 </chapter>
189 <chapter>
190 <title>Configuring Xorg</title>
191 <section>
192 <title>The xorg.conf File</title>
193 <body>
195 <p>
196 The configuration file of Xorg is called <path>xorg.conf</path> and it
197 resides in <path>/etc/X11</path>. The Xorg-X11 package provides an example
198 configuration as <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf.example</path> which you can use to
199 create your own configuration. It is heavily commented, but if you are in need
200 of more documentation regarding the syntax, don't hesitate to read the man page:
201 </p>
203 <pre caption="Reading the xorg.conf man page">
204 # <i>man 5 xorg.conf</i>
205 </pre>
207 <p>
208 Happy reading for those of you willing to. We surely don't so we'll continue
209 with checking out how we can create the file automatically.
210 </p>
212 </body>
213 </section>
214 <section>
215 <title>Default: Automatic Generation of xorg.conf</title>
216 <body>
218 <p>
219 Xorg itself is able to guess most parameters for you. In most cases, you
220 will only have to change some lines to get the resolution you want up and
221 running. If you are interested in more in-depth tweaking, be sure to check the
222 resources at the end of this chapter. But first, let us generate a (hopefully
223 working) Xorg configuration file.
224 </p>
226 <pre caption="Generating an xorg.conf file">
227 # <i>Xorg -configure</i>
228 </pre>
230 <p>
231 Be sure to read the last lines printed on your screen when Xorg has finished
232 probing your hardware. If it tells you it failed at some point, you're forced to
233 manually write an <path>xorg.conf</path> file. Assuming that it didn't fail, it
234 will have told you that it has written <path>/root/xorg.conf.new</path> ready
235 for you to test. So let's test. :)
236 </p>
238 <pre caption="Testing the xorg.conf.new file">
239 # <i>X -config /root/xorg.conf.new</i>
240 </pre>
242 <p>
243 If all goes well, you should see a simple black and white pattern. Verify if
244 your mouse works correctly and if the resolution is good. If you received errors
245 about "/dev/mouse", try changing your mouse device to <c>/dev/input/mice</c> in
246 the "InputDevice" section of <path>xorg.conf</path>. You might not be able to
247 deduce the exact resolution, but you should be able to see if it's too low. You
248 can exit any time by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace.
249 </p>
251 </body>
252 </section>
253 <section>
254 <title>Alternative: Semi-Automatic Generation of xorg.conf</title>
255 <body>
257 <p>
258 Xorg provides a tool called <c>xorgconfig</c> which will ask you for various
259 information regarding your system (graphical adapter, keyboard, ...). Based on
260 your input it will create a <path>xorg.conf</path> file.
261 </p>
263 <pre caption="Semi-Automatic Generation of xorg.conf">
264 # <i>xorgconfig</i>
265 </pre>
267 <p>
268 Another tool, also provided by Xorg, is <c>xorgcfg</c>, which will first
269 attempt to run <c>Xorg -configure</c> and then start the X server for more
270 final tweaking.
271 </p>
273 <pre caption="Using xorgcfg">
274 # <i>xorgcfg</i>
275 <comment>(In case X crashes or the configuration fails, try:)</comment>
276 # <i>xorgcfg -textmode</i>
277 </pre>
279 </body>
280 </section>
281 <section>
282 <title>Copying over xorg.conf</title>
283 <body>
285 <p>
286 Let us copy over the <path>xorg.conf.new</path> to
287 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> now, so we won't have to continuously run
288 <c>X -config</c> -- typing just <c>X</c> or <c>startx</c> is easier. :)
289 </p>
291 <pre caption="Copying over xorg.conf">
292 # <i>cp /root/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf</i>
293 </pre>
295 </body>
296 </section>
297 <section id="using_startx">
298 <title>Using startx</title>
299 <body>
301 <p>
302 Now try <c>startx</c> to start up your X server. <c>startx</c> is a script
303 that executes an <e>X session</e>, that is, it starts the X servers and some
304 graphical applications on top of it. It decides which applications to run
305 using the following logic:
306 </p>
308 <ul>
309 <li>
310 If a file named <path>.xinitrc</path> exists in the home directory, it will
311 execute the commands listed there.
312 </li>
313 <li>
314 Otherwise, it will read the value of the XSESSION variable and will execute
315 one of the sessions available in <path>/etc/X11/Sessions/</path>
316 accordingly (you can set the value of XSESSION in <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>
317 to make it a default for all the users on the system).
318 </li>
319 <li>
320 If all of the above fail, it will fall back to a simple window manager,
321 usually <c>twm</c>.
322 </li>
323 </ul>
325 <pre caption="Starting X">
326 # <i>startx</i>
327 </pre>
329 <p>
330 If you see an ugly, loathsome, repulsive, deformed window manager, that's
331 <c>twm</c>. To finish the twm session, type in <c>exit</c> or Ctrl-D in the
332 upcoming xterms. You can also kill the X session using the Ctrl-Alt-Backspace
333 combination. This will however make X exit disgracefully -- something that you
334 might not always want. It doesn't hurt though. :)
335 </p>
337 </body>
338 </section>
339 </chapter>
340 <chapter>
341 <title>Tweaking xorg.conf</title>
342 <section>
343 <title>Setting your Resolution</title>
344 <body>
346 <p>
347 If you feel that the screen resolution is wrong, you will need to check two
348 sections in your configuration. First of all, you have the <e>Screen</e> section
349 which lists the resolutions, if any that your X server will run at. By
350 default, this section might not list any resolutions at all. If this is the
351 case, Xorg will estimate the resolutions based on the information in the
352 second section, <e>Monitor</e>.
353 </p>
355 <p>
356 What happens is that Xorg checks the settings of <c>HorizSync</c> and
357 <c>VertRefresh</c> in the <e>Monitor</e> section to compute valid resolutions.
358 For now, leave these settings as-is. Only when the changes to the <e>Screen</e>
359 section (which we will describe in a minute) don't work, then you will need to
360 look up the specs for your monitor and fill in the correct values. You can also
361 use a tool that searches for your monitor's specs, such as
362 <c>sys-apps/ddcxinfo-knoppix</c>.
363 </p>
365 <warn>
366 Do <b>not</b> "just" change the values of these two monitor related variables
367 without consulting the technical specifications of your monitor. Setting
368 incorrect values lead to out-of-sync errors at best and smoked up screens at
369 worst.
370 </warn>
372 <p>
373 Now let us change the resolutions. In the next example from
374 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> we add the <c>Modes</c> lines and the
375 <c>DefaultDepth</c> so that our X server starts with 24 bits at 1024x768 by
376 default. Don't mind the given strings -- they are examples and will most likely
377 differ from the settings on your system.
378 </p>
380 <pre caption="Changing the Screen section in /etc/X11/xorg.conf">
381 Section "Screen"
382 Identifier "Default Screen"
383 Device "S3 Inc. ProSavage KN133 [Twister K]"
384 Monitor "Generic Monitor"
385 <i>DefaultDepth 24</i>
386 <comment># Skipping some text to improve readability</comment>
387 SubSection "Display"
388 Depth 24
389 <i>Modes "1024x768"</i>
390 EndSubSection
391 EndSection
392 </pre>
394 <p>
395 Run X (<c>startx</c>) to discover it uses the resolution you want. :)
396 </p>
398 </body>
399 </section>
400 <section>
401 <title>Configuring your Keyboard</title>
402 <body>
404 <p>
405 To setup X to use an international keyboard, search for the <e>InputDevice</e>
406 section that configures the keyboard and add the <c>XkbLayout</c> option to
407 point to the keyboard layout you want. As an example, we show you how to apply
408 for the Belgian layout. Just substitute the country-keycode with yours:
409 </p>
411 <pre caption="Changing the keyboard layout">
412 Section "InputDevice"
413 Identifier "Generic Keyboard"
414 Driver "keyboard"
415 Option "CoreKeyboard"
416 Option "XkbRules" "xorg"
417 Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
418 <i>Option "XkbLayout" "be"</i>
419 EndSection
420 </pre>
422 </body>
423 </section>
424 <section>
425 <title>Configuring your Mouse</title>
426 <body>
428 <p>
429 If your mouse isn't working, you will first need to find out if it is detected
430 by the kernel at all. Mice are (device-wise) seen as
431 <path>/dev/input/mouse0</path> (or <path>/dev/input/mice</path> if you want to
432 use several mice). In some cases <path>/dev/psaux</path> is used. In either
433 case you can check if the devices do represent
434 your mouse by checking the output of those files when you move your mouse. You
435 will usually see some junk on your screen. To end the session press
436 <c>Ctrl-C</c>.
437 </p>
439 <pre caption="Checking the device files">
440 # <i>cat /dev/input/mouse0</i>
441 <comment>(Don't forget to press Ctrl-C to end this)</comment>
442 </pre>
444 <p>
445 If your mouse isn't detected, verify if all the necessary modules are loaded.
446 </p>
448 <p>
449 If your mouse is detected, fill in the device in the appropriate
450 <e>InputDevice</e> section. In the next example you'll see we also set two other
451 options: <c>Protocol</c> (which lists the mouse protocol to be used -- most
452 users will use PS/2 or IMPS/2) and <c>ZAxisMapping</c> (which allows for the
453 mousewheel (if applicable) to be used).
454 </p>
456 <pre caption="Changing the mouse settings in Xorg">
457 Section "InputDevice"
458 Identifier "TouchPad Mouse"
459 Driver "mouse"
460 Option "CorePointer"
461 <i>Option "Device" "/dev/input/mouse0"</i>
462 <i>Option "Protocol" "IMPS/2"</i>
463 <i>Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"</i>
464 EndSection
465 </pre>
467 <p>
468 Run <c>startx</c> and be happy about the result. :) Congratulations, you now
469 (hopefully) have a working Xorg on your system. The next step is to remove this
470 ugly lightweight window manager and use a high-feature one (or even a desktop
471 environment) such as KDE or GNOME, but that's not part of this guide. :)
472 </p>
474 </body>
475 </section>
476 </chapter>
477 <chapter>
478 <title>Resources</title>
479 <section>
480 <title>Creating and Tweaking xorg.conf</title>
481 <body>
483 <p>
484 First of all, <c>man 5 xorg.conf</c> provides a quick yet complete reference
485 about the syntaxis used by the configuration file. Be sure to have it open on a
486 terminal near you when you edit your configuration file!
487 </p>
489 <p>
490 A second point of resources on your system is the
491 <path>/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/doc</path> directory with various <path>README</path>s
492 for individual graphical chipsets.
493 </p>
495 <p>
496 There are also many online resources on editing <path>xorg.conf</path>. We only
497 list few of them here, be sure to <uri link="http://www.google.com">Google</uri>
498 for more. :) As <path>xorg.conf</path> and <path>XF86Config</path> (the
499 configuration file for the XFree86 project) use the
500 same syntax for most configuration options and more information about
501 <path>XF86Config</path> is available, we'll list those resources as well.
502 </p>
504 <ul>
505 <li>
506 <uri link="http://tldp.org/HOWTO/XFree-Local-multi-user-HOWTO/">The XFree
507 Local Multi-User HOWTO</uri>
508 </li>
509 <li>
510 <uri
511 link="http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/edu/os-dw-linuxxwin-i.html">An
512 Introduction to XFree 4.x</uri> by Chris Houser
513 </li>
514 </ul>
516 </body>
517 </section>
518 <section>
519 <title>Other resources</title>
520 <body>
522 <p>
523 If you want to update your system from the old monolithic Xorg to the newer,
524 modular Xorg 7, you should refer to the <uri
525 link="/proj/en/desktop/x/x11/modular-x-howto.xml">Migrating to Modular X
526 HOWTO</uri>.
527 </p>
529 <p>
530 More information about configuring different packages to work in X environment
531 can be found in the <uri link="/doc/en/?catid=desktop">Gentoo Desktop
532 Documentation Resources</uri> section of our documentation.
533 </p>
535 </body>
536 </section>
537 </chapter>
538 </guide>

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