[ubuntu-uk] Setting console VGA mode

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Mon Jul 20 16:33:52 BST 2009

2009/7/20 Rob Beard <rob at esdelle.co.uk>:
> Liam Proven wrote:
>> 2009/7/19 William Anderson <neuro at well.com>:
>>> Liam Proven wrote:
>>>> [snip]
>>>> #4 Being green involves re-using old kit that still works. Typically
>>>> half or more of the energy used in the lifetime of a piece of IT
>>>> equipment is spent making it, not running it. By making its working
>>>> life as long as possible, you save energy; by replacing working kit
>>>> with something newer, you waste energy.
>>> Or you could recycle the old displays and use a KVM switch instead,
>>> which would save using the energy required for the extra display in the
>>> first place :)
>> It *is* connected to a KVM & it is already serving 2 servers, on top
>> of which it neatly sits. If I can find a 3-way KVM I plan for it to be
>> the main display of my Mac OS X Server box, too.
> Okay having a further play, removing splash quiet from the kernel line
> in menu.lst and replacing it with vga=791 does actually set the screen
> to 1024x768 in 16-Bit colour, it stays like this all the way through to
> the console login prompt (okay it starts X and I have to manually switch
> to the 1st console but it is running in 1024x768 rather than switching
> back to a non framebuffer console).
> fbset doesn't seem to do anything though, not sure if it's to do with
> the fact I have an Intel video chipset in my notebook.
> If it helps I'm running the 32-bit server kernel (2.6.28-13-server)on
> the desktop release of Ubuntu 9.04.

Thanks for that!

The trouble is, that's changing /graphics/ mode. I do use that myself,
mainly on my notebook machines so that the console mode matches the
native resolution of the LCD. My desktop machines all run CRT
monitors, not LCDs, so they don't /have/ a native resolution.

On my server, though, I don't have that option - my screen does not
display colour at all, just black & white & shades of grey, and
640x480 is its maximum resolution.

But in text mode, VGA supports the following /character/ resolutions:


I think there might also be 40x43 and 40x50 modes and possibly others besides.

You can select these by passing the kernel vga=1/2/3/4/5 or 6.

That's the type of mode I need, and that's what init setting the
console font resets.

Liam Proven • Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/liamproven
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