Removed Feature Impact Quality of Ubuntu

Michael Haney thezorch at
Wed May 19 01:59:12 UTC 2010

There is an issue with Ubuntu that started in version 7.10 and
persists all the way to 10.04.  In previous versions before 7.10 users
were able to change the make and model of their monitors from the
Hardware tab in the screen resolution window in the System =>
Preferences.window.  This was removed in 7.10 and all later versions
of Ubuntu.  The removal of this feature has had undesirable
consequences which need to be addressed immediately.

It was decided to let auto-detect video hardware starting with
Ubuntu 7.10.  Unfortunately, the auto-detection procedure does not
always work correctly.  Some monitors are not Plug & Play, which is
needed for this to work properly.  The resulting problem that occurs
is one which I have had and struggled with for some time, which
eventually forced me to make a switch to different Linux distribution
just to correct the issue.  Getting Ubuntu to detect the correct video
card and getting the video card to work is not the problem.  Detection
of the monitor hardware and no longer being able to manually change
those settings is what is the problem.

After Ubuntu is installed, detects the monitor as just "default
monitor".  The maximum available screen resolution is 800x600.  Being
visually impaired I'm dependent on the Enhanced Desktop Zoom feature
of Compiz Fusion, which requires that I install the drivers for my
Nvidia graphics card.  After these drivers are installed my maximum
screen resolution is 640x480.  Ubuntu is unusable at that resolution
because many windows do not scale nor do they let you scroll down to
portions which are hidden off screen.  This is a problem that is
impacting many users.

Prior to Ubuntu 10.04 I have been copying & pasting the monitor
settings from the xorg.conf generated by 7.04 into the xorg.conf files
of each new release.  This has been a workaround, but it invariably
breaks something in the process.  The Nvidia X Server Configuration
Tool for instance cannot save settings to xorg.conf anymore, is a
prime example.  Another is the login screen is set to 6040x480 but the
screen area pans at 1024x786.  When I login the desktop changes
resolutions to 1024x768 which is large enough to give me a lot of work
space but not too small for me to read.  This is particularly helpful
with web pages, which are usually made for screens at 1024x768.  Plus,
if something is far too small I have the Enchance Desktop Zoom of
Compiz Fusion to help.

Using this copy & paste workaround does not work in Ubuntu 10.04,
however. will not start.  In fact the system hangs.  Apparently
fundamental changes in the format in which information is stored
and/or read in the xorg.conf file appears to have changed, and now the
old settings text from my xorg.conf file from version 7.04 no longer
works.  This has prompted me to switch to Mandria for the time being,
which allows me to have a Compiz Fusion glx enabled desktop at
1024x768.  While Mandriva is indeed a user friendly Linux distribution
its not nearly as polished as Ubuntu, and also not as many
applications are available as RPMs are compared to Debian.

The main problem is the lack of a feature to manually change the
monitor settings in Ubuntu.  If something similar to the Hardware tab
were available in a separate window in the System => Administration
menu then this wouldn't be an issue.  However, there is no easy or
clear-cut way to correct this problem at this current time unless
something changes.

In the spirit of improving Ubuntu's accessibility I believe a
Preferences window should be made that allows users to manually change
the monitor type just like we were able to do in Ubuntu 7.04 in the
Hardware tab of the Screen Resolution window.  This feature should not
have been removed originally.

Speaking as a Visually Impaired Linux User this has seriously impaired
my ability to use Ubuntu.  It is my hope that this message prompts the
development community to take action and correct this problem as soon
as possible.

Michael "TheZorch" Haney
"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking
of morality by religion." ~ Arthur C. Clarke
"The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and
politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there is no place
for it in the endeavor of science. " ~ Carl Sagan

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