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recommend xorg-server, not xorg-x11, as the more recent versions that will be stabilized bring in a spamload of international alphabets and fonts. totally useless for a working desktop.

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 1.29 2009/04/15 06:48:50 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>
11 <author title="Editor">
12 <mail link="nightmorph"/>
13 </author>
15 <abstract>
16 Xorg is the X Window server which allows users to have a graphical
17 environment at their fingertips. This HOWTO explains what Xorg is, how to
18 install it and what the various configuration options are.
19 </abstract>
21 <!-- The content of this document is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license -->
22 <!-- See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 -->
23 <license/>
25 <version>1.21</version>
26 <date>2009-06-10</date>
28 <chapter>
29 <title>What is the X Window Server?</title>
30 <section>
31 <title>Graphical vs Command-Line</title>
32 <body>
34 <p>
35 The average user may be frightened at the thought of having to type in commands.
36 Why wouldn't he be able to point and click his way through the freedom provided
37 by Gentoo (and Linux in general)? Well, *big smile*, of course you are able to
38 do this. :-) Linux offers a wide variety of flashy user interfaces and
39 environments which you can install on top of your existing installation.
40 </p>
42 <p>
43 This is one of the biggest surprises new users come across: a graphical user
44 interface is nothing more than an application which runs on your system. It is
45 <e>not</e> part of the Linux kernel or any other internals of the system. It is
46 a powerful tool that fully enables the graphical abilities of your workstation.
47 </p>
49 <p>
50 As standards are important, a standard for drawing and moving windows on a
51 screen, interacting with the user through mouse, keyboard and other basic, yet
52 important aspects has been created and named the <e>X Window System</e>,
53 commonly abbreviated as <e>X11</e> or just <e>X</e>. It is used on Unix, Linux
54 and Unix-like operating systems throughout the world.
55 </p>
57 <p>
58 The application that provides Linux users with the ability to run graphical
59 user interfaces and that uses the X11 standard is Xorg-X11, a fork of
60 the XFree86 project. XFree86 has decided to use a license that might not be
61 compatible with the GPL license; the use of Xorg is therefore recommended.
62 The official Portage tree does not provide an XFree86 package anymore.
63 </p>
65 </body>
66 </section>
67 <section>
68 <title>The X.org Project</title>
69 <body>
71 <p>
72 The <uri link="http://www.x.org">X.org</uri> project created and
73 maintains a freely redistributable, open-source implementation of the X11
74 system. It is an open source X11-based desktop infrastructure.
75 </p>
77 <p>
78 Xorg provides an interface between your hardware and the graphical software
79 you want to run. Besides that, Xorg is also fully network-aware, meaning you
80 are able to run an application on one system while viewing it on a different
81 one.
82 </p>
84 </body>
85 </section>
86 </chapter>
88 <chapter>
89 <title>Installing Xorg</title>
90 <section>
91 <body>
93 <p>
94 Before installing Xorg you have to configure two important variables in the
95 <path>/etc/make.conf</path> file.
96 </p>
98 <p>
99 The first one is <c>VIDEO_CARDS</c>. This is used to set the video drivers that
100 you intend to use and is usually based on the kind and brand of card you have.
101 The most common settings are <c>nvidia</c> for Nvidia cards or <c>fglrx</c> for
102 ATI Radeon cards. Those are the proprietary drivers from Nvidia and ATI
103 respectively. If you would like to use the open source versions, use <c>nv</c>
104 rather than <c>nvidia</c> in the variable, but bear in mind that using this
105 driver means no 3D acceleration at all. The free <c>radeon</c> and
106 <c>radeonhd</c> drivers for ATI cards support 3D acceleration on older Radeons
107 but don't yet support all the features of the newer ones. <c>VIDEO_CARDS</c> may
108 contain more than one driver, in this case list of them should be separated with
109 spaces.
110 </p>
112 <p>
113 The second variable is <c>INPUT_DEVICES</c> and is used to determine which
114 drivers are to be built for input devices. In most cases setting it to
115 <c>keyboard mouse</c> should work just fine. If you use alternative input
116 devices, such as a Synaptics touchpad for a laptop, be sure to add it to
117 <c>INPUT_DEVICES</c>.
118 </p>
120 <p>
121 Now you should decide which drivers you will use and add necessary settings to
122 the <path>/etc/make.conf</path> file:
123 </p>
125 <pre caption="Sample make.conf entries">
126 <comment>(For mouse and keyboard support)</comment>
127 INPUT_DEVICES="keyboard mouse"
128 <comment>(For Nvidia cards)</comment>
129 VIDEO_CARDS="nvidia"
130 <comment>(OR, for ATI Radeon cards)</comment>
131 VIDEO_CARDS="fglrx"
132 </pre>
134 <p>
135 More instructions on how to configure nVidia and ATI cards can be found in
136 <uri link="/doc/en/nvidia-guide.xml">Gentoo Linux nVidia Guide</uri> and in
137 <uri link="/doc/en/ati-faq.xml">Gentoo Linux ATI FAQ</uri>. If you don't know
138 which drivers you should choose, refer to these guides for more information.
139 </p>
141 <note>
142 If the suggested settings don't work for you, you should run <c>emerge -pv
143 xorg-server</c>, check all the options available and choose those which apply to
144 your system. The example is for the amd64 architecture and
145 <c>xorg-server-1.2</c>.
146 </note>
148 <pre caption="Displaying all the driver options available">
149 # <i>emerge -pv xorg-server</i>
151 These are the packages that would be merged, in order:
153 Calculating dependencies... done!
154 [ebuild R ] x11-base/xorg-server-1.2.0-r3 USE="dri nptl xorg (-3dfx) -debug
155 -dmx -ipv6 -kdrive -minimal -sdl -xprint" INPUT_DEVICES="keyboard mouse -acecad
156 -aiptek -calcomp -citron -digitaledge -dmc -dynapro -elo2300 -elographics -evdev
157 -fpit -hyperpen -jamstudio -joystick -magellan -microtouch -mutouch -palmax
158 -penmount -spaceorb -summa -synaptics -tek4957 -ur98 -vmmouse -void -wacom"
159 VIDEO_CARDS="nvidia -apm -ark -chips -cirrus -cyrix -dummy -epson -fbdev -fglrx
160 -glint -i128 (-i740) -i810 (-impact) (-imstt) -mach64 -mga -neomagic (-newport)
161 (-nsc) -nv -r128 -radeon -rendition -s3 -s3virge -savage -siliconmotion -sis
162 -sisusb (-sunbw2) (-suncg14) (-suncg3) (-suncg6) (-sunffb) (-sunleo) (-suntcx)
163 -tdfx -tga -trident -tseng -v4l -vesa -vga -via -vmware -voodoo" 0 kB
164 </pre>
166 <p>
167 After setting all the necessary variables you can install the Xorg package.
168 </p>
170 <pre caption="Installing Xorg">
171 # <i>emerge xorg-server</i>
172 </pre>
174 <note>
175 You could install the <c>xorg-x11</c> metapackage instead of the more
176 lightweight xorg-server. Functionally, <c>xorg-x11</c> and <c>xorg-server</c>
177 are the same. However, <c>xorg-x11</c> brings in many more packages that
178 you probably don't need, such as a huge assortment of fonts in many different
179 languages. They're not necessary for a working desktop.
180 </note>
182 <p>
183 When the installation is finished, you might need to re-initialise some
184 environment variables before you continue. Just run <c>env-update</c> followed
185 by <c>source /etc/profile</c> and you're all set.
186 </p>
188 <pre caption="Re-initialising the environment variables">
189 # <i>env-update</i>
190 # <i>source /etc/profile</i>
191 </pre>
193 </body>
194 </section>
195 </chapter>
196 <chapter>
197 <title>Configuring Xorg</title>
198 <section>
199 <title>The xorg.conf File</title>
200 <body>
202 <p>
203 The configuration file of Xorg is called <path>xorg.conf</path> and it resides
204 in <path>/etc/X11</path>. Xorg provides an example configuration as
205 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf.example</path> which you can use to create your own
206 configuration. It is heavily commented, but if you are in need of more
207 documentation regarding the syntax, don't hesitate to read the man page:
208 </p>
210 <pre caption="Reading the xorg.conf man page">
211 # <i>man 5 xorg.conf</i>
212 </pre>
214 <p>
215 Happy reading for those of you willing to. We surely don't so we'll continue
216 with checking out how we can create the file automatically.
217 </p>
219 </body>
220 </section>
221 <section>
222 <title>Default: Automatic Generation of xorg.conf</title>
223 <body>
225 <p>
226 Xorg itself is able to guess most parameters for you. In most cases, you
227 will only have to change some lines to get the resolution you want up and
228 running. If you are interested in more in-depth tweaking, be sure to check the
229 resources at the end of this chapter. But first, let us generate a (hopefully
230 working) Xorg configuration file.
231 </p>
233 <pre caption="Generating an xorg.conf file">
234 # <i>Xorg -configure</i>
235 </pre>
237 <p>
238 Be sure to read the last lines printed on your screen when Xorg has finished
239 probing your hardware. If it tells you it failed at some point, you're forced to
240 manually write an <path>xorg.conf</path> file. Assuming that it didn't fail, it
241 will have told you that it has written <path>/root/xorg.conf.new</path> ready
242 for you to test. So let's test. :)
243 </p>
245 <pre caption="Testing the xorg.conf.new file">
246 # <i>X -config /root/xorg.conf.new</i>
247 </pre>
249 <p>
250 If all goes well, you should see a simple black and white pattern. Verify if
251 your mouse works correctly and if the resolution is good. If you received errors
252 about "/dev/mouse", try changing your mouse device to <c>/dev/input/mice</c> in
253 the "InputDevice" section of <path>xorg.conf</path>. You might not be able to
254 deduce the exact resolution, but you should be able to see if it's too low. You
255 can exit any time by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace.
256 </p>
258 </body>
259 </section>
260 <section>
261 <title>Alternative: Semi-Automatic Generation of xorg.conf</title>
262 <body>
264 <p>
265 Xorg provides a tool called <c>xorgconfig</c> which will ask you for various
266 information regarding your system (graphical adapter, keyboard, ...). Based on
267 your input it will create a <path>xorg.conf</path> file.
268 </p>
270 <pre caption="Semi-Automatic Generation of xorg.conf">
271 # <i>xorgconfig</i>
272 </pre>
274 <p>
275 Another tool, also provided by Xorg, is <c>xorgcfg</c>, which will first
276 attempt to run <c>Xorg -configure</c> and then start the X server for more
277 final tweaking.
278 </p>
280 <pre caption="Using xorgcfg">
281 # <i>xorgcfg</i>
282 <comment>(In case X crashes or the configuration fails, try:)</comment>
283 # <i>xorgcfg -textmode</i>
284 </pre>
286 </body>
287 </section>
288 <section>
289 <title>Copying over xorg.conf</title>
290 <body>
292 <p>
293 Let us copy over the <path>xorg.conf.new</path> to
294 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> now, so we won't have to continuously run
295 <c>X -config</c> -- typing just <c>X</c> or <c>startx</c> is easier. :)
296 </p>
298 <pre caption="Copying over xorg.conf">
299 # <i>cp /root/xorg.conf.new /etc/X11/xorg.conf</i>
300 </pre>
302 </body>
303 </section>
304 <section id="using_startx">
305 <title>Using startx</title>
306 <body>
308 <p>
309 Now try <c>startx</c> to start up your X server. <c>startx</c> is a script
310 that executes an <e>X session</e>, that is, it starts the X servers and some
311 graphical applications on top of it. It decides which applications to run
312 using the following logic:
313 </p>
315 <ul>
316 <li>
317 If a file named <path>.xinitrc</path> exists in the home directory, it will
318 execute the commands listed there.
319 </li>
320 <li>
321 Otherwise, it will read the value of the XSESSION variable and will execute
322 one of the sessions available in <path>/etc/X11/Sessions/</path>
323 accordingly (you can set the value of XSESSION in <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>
324 to make it a default for all the users on the system).
325 </li>
326 <li>
327 If all of the above fail, it will fall back to a simple window manager,
328 usually <c>twm</c>.
329 </li>
330 </ul>
332 <pre caption="Starting X">
333 # <i>startx</i>
334 </pre>
336 <p>
337 If you see an ugly, loathsome, repulsive, deformed window manager, that's
338 <c>twm</c>. To finish the twm session, type in <c>exit</c> or Ctrl-D in the
339 upcoming xterms. You can also kill the X session using the Ctrl-Alt-Backspace
340 combination. This will however make X exit disgracefully -- something that you
341 might not always want. It doesn't hurt though. :)
342 </p>
344 </body>
345 </section>
346 </chapter>
347 <chapter>
348 <title>Tweaking xorg.conf</title>
349 <section>
350 <title>Setting your Resolution</title>
351 <body>
353 <p>
354 If you feel that the screen resolution is wrong, you will need to check two
355 sections in your configuration. First of all, you have the <e>Screen</e> section
356 which lists the resolutions, if any that your X server will run at. By
357 default, this section might not list any resolutions at all. If this is the
358 case, Xorg will estimate the resolutions based on the information in the
359 second section, <e>Monitor</e>.
360 </p>
362 <p>
363 What happens is that Xorg checks the settings of <c>HorizSync</c> and
364 <c>VertRefresh</c> in the <e>Monitor</e> section to compute valid resolutions.
365 For now, leave these settings as-is. Only when the changes to the <e>Screen</e>
366 section (which we will describe in a minute) don't work, then you will need to
367 look up the specs for your monitor and fill in the correct values. You can also
368 use a tool that searches for your monitor's specs, such as
369 <c>sys-apps/ddcxinfo-knoppix</c>.
370 </p>
372 <warn>
373 Do <b>not</b> "just" change the values of these two monitor related variables
374 without consulting the technical specifications of your monitor. Setting
375 incorrect values lead to out-of-sync errors at best and smoked up screens at
376 worst.
377 </warn>
379 <p>
380 Now let us change the resolutions. In the next example from
381 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> we add the <c>Modes</c> lines and the
382 <c>DefaultDepth</c> so that our X server starts with 24 bits at 1024x768 by
383 default. Don't mind the given strings -- they are examples and will most likely
384 differ from the settings on your system.
385 </p>
387 <pre caption="Changing the Screen section in /etc/X11/xorg.conf">
388 Section "Screen"
389 Identifier "Default Screen"
390 Device "S3 Inc. ProSavage KN133 [Twister K]"
391 Monitor "Generic Monitor"
392 <i>DefaultDepth 24</i>
393 <comment># Skipping some text to improve readability</comment>
394 SubSection "Display"
395 Depth 24
396 <i>Modes "1024x768"</i>
397 EndSubSection
398 EndSection
399 </pre>
401 <p>
402 Run X (<c>startx</c>) to discover it uses the resolution you want. :)
403 </p>
405 </body>
406 </section>
407 <section>
408 <title>Configuring your Keyboard</title>
409 <body>
411 <p>
412 To setup X to use an international keyboard, search for the <e>InputDevice</e>
413 section that configures the keyboard and add the <c>XkbLayout</c> option to
414 point to the keyboard layout you want. As an example, we show you how to apply
415 for the Belgian layout. Just substitute the country-keycode with yours:
416 </p>
418 <pre caption="Changing the keyboard layout">
419 Section "InputDevice"
420 Identifier "Generic Keyboard"
421 Driver "keyboard"
422 Option "CoreKeyboard"
423 Option "XkbRules" "xorg"
424 Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
425 <i>Option "XkbLayout" "be"</i>
426 EndSection
427 </pre>
429 </body>
430 </section>
431 <section>
432 <title>Configuring your Mouse</title>
433 <body>
435 <p>
436 If your mouse isn't working, you will first need to find out if it is detected
437 by the kernel at all. Mice are (device-wise) seen as
438 <path>/dev/input/mouse0</path> (or <path>/dev/input/mice</path> if you want to
439 use several mice). In some cases <path>/dev/psaux</path> is used. In either
440 case you can check if the devices do represent
441 your mouse by checking the output of those files when you move your mouse. You
442 will usually see some junk on your screen. To end the session press
443 <c>Ctrl-C</c>.
444 </p>
446 <pre caption="Checking the device files">
447 # <i>cat /dev/input/mouse0</i>
448 <comment>(Don't forget to press Ctrl-C to end this)</comment>
449 </pre>
451 <p>
452 If your mouse isn't detected, verify if all the necessary modules are loaded.
453 </p>
455 <p>
456 If your mouse is detected, fill in the device in the appropriate
457 <e>InputDevice</e> section. In the next example you'll see we also set two other
458 options: <c>Protocol</c> (which lists the mouse protocol to be used -- most
459 users will use PS/2 or IMPS/2) and <c>ZAxisMapping</c> (which allows for the
460 mousewheel (if applicable) to be used).
461 </p>
463 <pre caption="Changing the mouse settings in Xorg">
464 Section "InputDevice"
465 Identifier "TouchPad Mouse"
466 Driver "mouse"
467 Option "CorePointer"
468 <i>Option "Device" "/dev/input/mouse0"</i>
469 <i>Option "Protocol" "IMPS/2"</i>
470 <i>Option "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"</i>
471 EndSection
472 </pre>
474 <p>
475 Run <c>startx</c> and be happy about the result. :) Congratulations, you now
476 (hopefully) have a working Xorg on your system. The next step is to remove this
477 ugly lightweight window manager and use a high-feature one (or even a desktop
478 environment) such as KDE or GNOME, but that's not part of this guide. :)
479 </p>
481 </body>
482 </section>
483 </chapter>
484 <chapter>
485 <title>Resources</title>
486 <section>
487 <title>Creating and Tweaking xorg.conf</title>
488 <body>
490 <p>
491 First of all, <c>man xorg.conf</c> provides a quick yet complete reference
492 about the syntax used by the configuration file. Be sure to have it open on a
493 terminal near you when you edit your configuration file!
494 </p>
496 <p>
497 Also, be sure to look at <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf.example</path>; you may wish
498 to copy this and use it as a foundation for writing your own
499 <path>xorg.conf</path>.
500 </p>
502 <p>
503 You may find the X.org <uri link="http://www.x.org/wiki/FAQ">FAQ</uri> provided
504 on their website, in addition to their other documentation.
505 </p>
507 <p>
508 There are also many online resources on editing <path>xorg.conf</path>. We only
509 list few of them here, be sure to <uri link="http://www.google.com">Google</uri>
510 for more. :) As <path>xorg.conf</path> and <path>XF86Config</path> (the
511 configuration file for the XFree86 project) use the
512 same syntax for most configuration options and more information about
513 <path>XF86Config</path> is available, we'll list those resources as well.
514 </p>
516 <ul>
517 <li>
518 <uri link="http://tldp.org/HOWTO/XFree-Local-multi-user-HOWTO/">The XFree
519 Local Multi-User HOWTO</uri>
520 </li>
521 <li>
522 <uri
523 link="http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/edu/os-dw-linuxxwin-i.html">An
524 Introduction to XFree 4.x</uri> by Chris Houser
525 </li>
526 </ul>
528 </body>
529 </section>
530 <section>
531 <title>Other resources</title>
532 <body>
534 <p>
535 More information about installing and configuring various graphical desktop
536 environments and applications can be found in the <uri
537 link="/doc/en/?catid=desktop">Gentoo Desktop Documentation Resources</uri>
538 section of our documentation.
539 </p>
541 <p>
542 If you're upgrading to xorg-server-1.5 from an earlier version, then be sure to
543 read the <uri
544 link="/proj/en/desktop/x/x11/xorg-server-1.5-upgrade-guide.xml">migration
545 guide</uri>.
546 </p>
548 </body>
549 </section>
550 </chapter>
551 </guide>

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