How to increase the screen resolutions available to Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) while running in Parallels Desktop

by Ross McKillop on May 29, 2008

Linux Mac

This brief tutorial will explain how to increase the number of screen resolutions available to you when using Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) in Parallels Desktop 6.0 for MacParallels Desktop for Mac.

Thanks in large part go to Simple Help readers Fau and Jim for this fix. Using the method outlined below, you’ll be able to get screen resolutions much higher than the default maximum of 1024×768 (my MacBook Pro maxes out at 1440×900, but a Mac Pro with a better video card can probably go higher).

  1. First up – copy and paste the following into a text file in Ubuntu. Name that text file xorg.conf and put it in your home folder
  2. # xorg.conf (X.Org X Window System server configuration file)
    #
    # This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
    # values from the debconf database.
    #
    # Edit this file with caution, and see the xorg.conf manual page.
    # (Type "man xorg.conf" at the shell prompt.)
    #
    # This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
    # if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
    # package.
    #
    # If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
    # again, run the following command:
    # sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

    Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier "Generic Keyboard"
    Driver "kbd"
    Option "XkbRules" "xorg"
    Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
    Option "XkbLayout" "us"
    EndSection

    Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier "Configured Mouse"
    Driver "mouse"
    Option "CorePointer"
    EndSection

    Section "Device"
    Identifier "Configured Video Device"
    EndSection

    Section "Monitor"
    Identifier "Configured Monitor"
    HorizSync 28-40
    VertRefresh 43-60
    modeline "800×600@56" 36.0 800 824 896 1024 600 601 603 625
    modeline "800×600@72" 50.0 800 856 976 1040 600 637 643 666
    modeline "800×600@75" 49.5 800 816 896 1056 600 601 604 625
    modeline "800×600@60" 40.0 800 840 968 1056 600 601 605 628
    Modeline "1024×768@60" 64.56 1024 1056 1296 1328 768 783 791 807
    Modeline "1152×720@60" 66.75 1152 1184 1432 1464 720 735 742 757
    modeline "1152×768@54" 64.995 1152 1178 1314 1472 768 771 777 806
    Modeline "1280×800@60" 83.91 1280 1312 1624 1656 800 816 824 841
    modeline "1280×854" 80.0 1280 1309 1460 1636 854 857 864 896
    modeline "1280×768@60" 80.14 1280 1344 1480 1680 768 769 772 795
    modeline "1280×720@60" 74.48 1280 1336 1472 1664 720 721 724 746
    modeline "1280×800@75" 107.21 1280 1360 1496 1712 800 801 804 835
    modeline "1280×768@75" 102.98 1280 1360 1496 1712 768 769 772 802
    modeline "1280×720@50" 60.47 1280 1328 1456 1632 720 721 724 741
    modeline "1280×800@60" 83.46 1280 1344 1480 1680 800 801 804 828
    modeline "1440×900@75" 136.49 1440 1536 1688 1936 900 901 904 940
    modeline "1440×900@60" 106.47 1440 1520 1672 1904 900 901 904 932
    modeline "1600×1024@60" 136.36 1600 1704 1872 2144 1024 1025 1028 1060
    modeline "1680×1050@60" 147.14 1680 1784 1968 2256 1050 1051 1054 1087
    modeline "1680×1050@75" 188.07 1680 1800 1984 2288 1050 1051 1054 1096
    modeline "1920×1200@60" 193.16 1920 2048 2256 2592 1200 1201 1204 1242

    EndSection

    Section "Screen"
    Identifier "Default Screen"
    Device "Configured Video Device"
    Monitor "Configured Monitor"
    DefaultDepth 24
    SubSection "Display"
    Depth 24
    Modes "1440×900@60" "1600×1024@60" "1440×900@75" "1680×1050@60" "1280×800@60" "1680×1050@75" "1280×720@50" "1920×1200@60" "1280×768@75" "1280×800@75" "1280×720@60" "1280×768@60" "1280×800@60" "1280×854" "1152×720@60" "1152×768@54" "1024×768@60" "800×600@60" "800×600@75" "800×600@72" "800×600@56"
    EndSubSection
    EndSection

    Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier "Default Layout"
    Screen "Default Screen"
    EndSection

  3. Now open a Terminal (select Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) and enter the following commands:

    sudo mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.old
    (you’ll be prompted to enter your password, do so)
    sudo mv /home/your-user-name/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf

  4. ubuntu terminal

  5. If the worst happens and something goes horribly wrong (which is unlikely) – you’ll have a backup of your xorg.conf. Just rename xorg.conf.old back to xorg.conf and you’ll be using the default system file.
  6. Now sign out of Ubuntu by hitting ctrl-alt-delete on your keyboard
  7. Sign back in again, and select System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution
  8. navigate to the screen resolution section of ubuntu
    click to enlarge

  9. And select whatever resolution you want to work with
  10. selecting a screen resolution section in ubuntu

  11. Click Apply and you should be good to go. If not, continue reading.
  12. Once again sign out of Ubuntu by hitting ctrl-alt-delete on your keyboard
  13. This time, select Options from the bottom right corner of your screen, and then Select Session… from the list
  14. startup options in ubuntu

  15. Select Failsafe Terminal and then click Change Session.
  16. change the ubuntu session

  17. Sign into Ubuntu, and you’ll be presented with a message. Give it a read and then click OK.
  18. ubuntu failsafe terminal message

  19. In the small Terminal window in the bottom right corner of your screen, type gnome-control-center and hit enter.
  20. failsafe terminal in ubuntu

  21. From the Hardware section, select Screen Resolution
  22. gnome control center

  23. And now select the resolution you want to work with. Click Apply.
  24. changing ubuntu screen resolution

  25. Sign out yet again (ctrl-alt-delete) and sign in as normal. You should be running at the screen resolution you selected in the previous step.
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  • http://www.psionmark.com Mark Avey

    This is one of the reasons I prefer VMWare Fusion. Simply hit “Full screen” and you’ve got it – whatever the native resolution of your screen.

    For even finer control, just install the supplied VMWare Tools and it’ll give you virtually every resolution under the sun.

    I actually purchased Parallels initially, but, due to a number of problems, gave Fusion a try and haven’t looked back.

  • Armando

    Hi Ross, thank you for the information. I have just installed ubuntu 8.04 yesterday and i think its a really cool OS but i have problem whit the step 2 while trying o move xorg.conf to /etc/x11/ it tells me that the file or directory doesn’t exists:
    lanumbertbuo@lanumbertbuo-desktop:~$ sudo mv /home/lanumbertbuo/xorg.conf /etc/x11/xorg.conf
    [sudo] password for lanumbertbuo:
    mv: no se puede mover `/home/lanumbertbuo/xorg.conf’ a `/etc/x11/xorg.conf’: No existe el fichero ó directorio…could you help me please i will appreciate it. Thank you

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    @Armando:

    Everything in linux is case sensitive – so it has to be X11, not x11. If you try again w/ a capital X, you should be good to go :)

  • Armando

    Ok, now it’s done but only appear one resolution more 1280 x 720, 50 hz…i’m using an old 3dfx voodoo4 32 mb graphic card, thanks Ross for your response.

  • Andreas

    After doing all mentioned above (really was helpful, thanks!) I found myself wondering why I can’t use the resolution 1920×1200@60… then I noticed it’s missing from the
    ‘Modes “1440×900@60″ “1600×1024@60″ “1440×900@75″ “1680×1050@60″ “1280×800@60″ “1680×1050@75″ “1280×720@50″ “1920×1200@60″ “1280×768@75″ “1280×800@75″ “1280×720@60″ “1280×768@60″ “1280×800@60″ “1280×854″ “1152×720@60″ “1152×768@54″ “1024×768@60″ “800×600@60″ “800×600@75″ “800×600@72″ “800×600@56″ -list.
    What am I to do now? :O Need 1920×1200.

  • Beazst

    Thank you so much for posting this directions. They worked like a charm and resolved some of the frustration I was experiencing with Ubuntu under Parallels on my Macbook. Now I can get back to doing productive things…

    -Beazst

  • MattN

    Hi Ross

    Many thanks, I have been having trouble with this for a while.

    running sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg
    gave me an error FATAL: error inserting battery …..

    And I had tried manually adding the resolution to the xorg.conf, but without any joy.

    Thanks for the solution.

  • Knix

    I had hoped this would work as well if the VM was VirtualBox (running on Windows or Linux) but this doesn’t seem to fix that.

    Thanks for an interesting but ultimately fruitless read for vbox users :-)

  • Witti

    Hi,

    i do all steps above and everythink works fine. I get the right resolution automatically. (i use xubuntu 8.04 on an Intel Core2Duo MacBook whith Parallels 3).

    But: when i start the terminal, the hole terminal window is unusable. The colors are wrong and the vertikal lines are delayed in each other.

    I can’t change the screen resolution in the way above, i get no choices.
    Can anybody help me???

    Thanks and greatings

    Witti

  • http://www.futureforecast.com Dan

    Thanks for these instructions! I tried it and I still can’t select a resolution above 800 x 600. My native Mac OSX resolution is at 1440 x 900 so I’m not sure why this is the case.

    I’m new to Linux. Is there something akin to a video driver that I need to install with Ubuntu to recognize all of the resolutions available from my MacBook Pro’s video card?

  • Alain

    Hey! Great instructions. You fixed my screen resolution problem :-) Now I’m off to search the web for help on getting Hardy Heron to shut down in Parallels properly.

    Thanks again!

    Alain

  • Scott Thompson

    Working xorg.conf for Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) Macbook Pro HD (Penryn)

    I incorporated the change suggested by Andreas above. I also had to change the HorizSync to 28-60. When I restarted X the first time I also had to use the terminal procedure with gnome-control-center to set the resolution to 1920 x 1200. Anyway it works now full screen. There may be cruft in the attached file but it works for me.

    # xorg.conf (X.Org X Window System server configuration file)
    #
    # This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
    # values from the debconf database.
    #
    # Edit this file with caution, and see the xorg.conf manual page.
    # (Type “man xorg.conf” at the shell prompt.)
    #
    # This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
    # if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
    # package.
    #
    # If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
    # again, run the following command:
    # sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

    Section “InputDevice”
    Identifier “Generic Keyboard”
    Driver “kbd”
    Option “XkbRules” “xorg”
    Option “XkbModel” “pc105″
    Option “XkbLayout” “us”
    EndSection

    Section “InputDevice”
    Identifier “Configured Mouse”
    Driver “mouse”
    Option “CorePointer”
    EndSection

    Section “Device”
    Identifier “Configured Video Device”
    EndSection

    Section “Monitor”
    Identifier “Configured Monitor”
    HorizSync 28-60
    VertRefresh 43-60
    modeline “800×600@56″ 36.0 800 824 896 1024 600 601 603 625
    modeline “800×600@72″ 50.0 800 856 976 1040 600 637 643 666
    modeline “800×600@75″ 49.5 800 816 896 1056 600 601 604 625
    modeline “800×600@60″ 40.0 800 840 968 1056 600 601 605 628
    Modeline “1024×768@60″ 64.56 1024 1056 1296 1328 768 783 791 807
    Modeline “1152×720@60″ 66.75 1152 1184 1432 1464 720 735 742 757
    modeline “1152×768@54″ 64.995 1152 1178 1314 1472 768 771 777 806
    Modeline “1280×800@60″ 83.91 1280 1312 1624 1656 800 816 824 841
    modeline “1280×854″ 80.0 1280 1309 1460 1636 854 857 864 896
    modeline “1280×768@60″ 80.14 1280 1344 1480 1680 768 769 772 795
    modeline “1280×720@60″ 74.48 1280 1336 1472 1664 720 721 724 746
    modeline “1280×800@75″ 107.21 1280 1360 1496 1712 800 801 804 835
    modeline “1280×768@75″ 102.98 1280 1360 1496 1712 768 769 772 802
    modeline “1280×720@50″ 60.47 1280 1328 1456 1632 720 721 724 741
    modeline “1280×800@60″ 83.46 1280 1344 1480 1680 800 801 804 828
    modeline “1440×900@75″ 136.49 1440 1536 1688 1936 900 901 904 940
    modeline “1440×900@60″ 106.47 1440 1520 1672 1904 900 901 904 932
    modeline “1600×1024@60″ 136.36 1600 1704 1872 2144 1024 1025 1028 1060
    modeline “1680×1050@60″ 147.14 1680 1784 1968 2256 1050 1051 1054 1087
    modeline “1680×1050@75″ 188.07 1680 1800 1984 2288 1050 1051 1054 1096
    modeline “1920×1200@60″ 193.16 1920 2048 2256 2592 1200 1201 1204 1242

    EndSection

    Section “Screen”
    Identifier “Default Screen”
    Device “Configured Video Device”
    Monitor “Configured Monitor”
    DefaultDepth 24
    SubSection “Display”
    Depth 24
    Modes “1920×1200@60″ “1440×900@60″ “1600×1024@60″ “1440×900@75″ “1680×1050@60″ “1280×800@60″ “1680×1050@75″ “1280×720@50″ “1920×1200@60″ “1280×768@75″ “1280×800@75″ “1280×720@60″ “1280×768@60″ “1280×800@60″ “1280×854″ “1152×720@60″ “1152×768@54″ “1024×768@60″ “800×600@60″ “800×600@75″ “800×600@72″ “800×600@56″
    EndSubSection
    EndSection

    Section “ServerLayout”
    Identifier “Default Layout”
    Screen “Default Screen”
    EndSection

  • evangw

    Wow, thank you Scott and Ross. I spent like 3 hours trying to figure out a solution to this. (Ross: Yours gave me a max resolution of like 1340×900 or so — which is odd, because it’s not a resolution that’s declared in your conf file.) Scott’s update worked perfectly for me (24” iMac, Parallels 5608, Ubuntu 8.04)

  • Daniel

    “Could not save the file /home/xorg.conf.

    You do not have the permissions necessary to save the file.
    Please check that you typed the location correctly and try again.”

    This is what I get when i try and complete the first step. It won’t let me save the file named “xorg.conf” to the home folder. How do Igive it permission?

  • Scott

    Your “home folder” is the one with the house beside it in the finder. Mine is named scott for example. Check this url for a definition.

    http://guides.macrumors.com/Home_folder

    This may be a little tricky if you are brand new to Unix.

    Good luck

  • nahkiainen

    These doesn’t work with my MBP. Parallels 3.0 (5608).

  • Dez

    Thanks so much, worked like a charm on my Benq LCD mintor

    your a legend

  • Tom

    I have tried this multiple times with no luck. Below is my setup:
    -MacBook Pro 17″
    -Max Resolution 1920×1200
    -Parallels 3.x
    -Ubuntu 8

    -I have tried the original conf file that was posted, this got me up to 1024×768.
    -I have tried the gnome controller option.
    -I tried the reconfigured conf file posted in the comments, this seems to break everything and my max resolution is 800×600.

    I’m really hoping someone has some ideas for help. I am excited to try Ubuntu but am getting to frustrated.

    Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

  • http://doitrohansway.blogspot.com rohan golwalkar

    Brilliant superb rocking — it fixed the issue i get the right resolution
    Thanks a ton
    Rohan

  • http://www.setsolid.net Brad

    I tried this on my iMac forever and couldn’t get any results, until I installed Build 5624 and Parallels-Tools. (Parallels-Tools will give you an error when trying to install on Build 5608).. Here’s the link.

    http://download.parallels.com/stuff/Parallels-Desktop-5624-Mac-en.dmg

  • Ap

    This is exactly why Ubuntu is useless for a normal user.

    in XP you can always change screen resolution easily.
    Why is this option blocked in Ubuntu.

    After installing Ubuntu the screem image is half out of yhe frame.
    So completely useless…

  • http://www.simplehelp.net Ross McKillop

    @Ap

    To be fair, this is more of a Parallels issue than it is an Ubuntu issue. If you install Ubuntu directly onto a machine, rather than via Parallels, VMware, Virtualbox etc, changing desktop resolutions is as easy as it is w/ Windows/Mac.

  • http://doitrohansway.blogpsot.com rohan

    Well true it might be issue with parallels.
    In Ubuntu after installing restricted drivers at command line type
    gksu displayconfig -gtk
    enter your password
    choose your monitor model and resolution from plug and play
    and then log off — there you go fixed resolution — easy as XP .

  • jim

    Can we plz get an update to this page? Ubuntu 8.10 is out now. This procedure does not work with it. THanks.

    PS – this procedure did work for me for Ubuntu 8.04. But the same xorg.conf file does not work for 8.10. So this needs to be updates as was done in the past.

  • jim

    ATTENTION MACBOOK PRO USERS: Here is the Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex xorg.conf file you can use! I am not talking out of my ass here, it is working right now (parallels 5124). The text listed on the above page is old and no longer works with the new release of Ubuntu, in my Macbook esperience.

    Here goes: THIS WORKS FOR ME, I AM NOT ACTING COOL AND PRETENDING I KNOW WITHOUT TRYING:
    # xorg.conf (X.Org X Window System server configuration file)
    #
    # This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
    # values from the debconf database.
    #
    # Edit this file with caution, and see the xorg.conf manual page.
    # (Type “man xorg.conf” at the shell prompt.)
    #
    # This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
    # if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
    # package.
    #
    # If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
    # again, run the following command:
    # sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

    Section “InputDevice”
    Identifier “Generic Keyboard”
    Driver “kbd”
    Option “XkbRules” “xorg”
    Option “XkbModel” “pc105″
    Option “XkbLayout” “us”
    EndSection

    Section “InputDevice”
    Identifier “Configured Mouse”
    Driver “mouse”
    Option “CorePointer”
    EndSection

    Section “Device”
    Identifier “Parallels”
    Driver “vesa”
    EndSection

    Section “Monitor”
    Identifier “MacbookPro”
    HorizSync 31.5 – 100
    VertRefresh 59.0 – 75.0
    Modeline “1440x900_60.0″ 106.47 1440 1520 1672 1904 900 901 904 932 -HSync +Vsync
    EndSection

    Section “Screen”
    Identifier “Screen 1″
    Device “Parallels”
    Monitor “MacbookPro”
    DefaultDepth 16
    Subsection “Display”
    Depth 16
    Modes “1440×900″
    ViewPort 0 0
    EndSubsection
    EndSection

  • Kamal Shah

    I have Parallels build 3214. I don’t want to upgrade. I have Ubuntu 8.10. None of the above solutions work for me. Any ideas anyone?

  • Marty

    Thanks for this guide. I’d looked round various sites to resolve the problem to no avail until I followed your guide here. It all worked! Good stuff

    Marty

  • Ari

    Great instructions… Thank you very much..
    God bless you…

  • Hey

    Hi,
    I’m not an expert, but I’m trying this on my 9.04 Ubuntu in Virtualbox on an iMac 24″.
    I’d like the 1920×1200 res. but with this method it only goes to 1152×864… (it was max 800×600 before!)
    Could anyone help? Thanks a lot

  • Sandwich Stealer

    I’m using Ubuntu 9.04, an ibm pc and an older monitor that can’t be recognized. To get it off the default 800×600 setting I did the following:

    - used the text from the original post
    - deleted the resolutions i didn’t need, that is i only wanted 1024×768 in the Monitor and Screen sections
    - increased HorizSync 28-40 to 28-100 and VertRefresh 43-60 to 43-75 so it would appear in the Display setting drop down menu

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  • tanmay

    worked for me exactly..
    in step 2..first copy and paste the xorg.conf file in /home/username/ folder..
    and then use the commnad (w/o )