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Catalyst 9.6 + 3 monitors in SurroundView

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  • #16
    Subject : Setting up multiple monitors . . . Here be Dragons!!

    Thanks for the reply.
    Point taken on advanced tinkering, sorry for my 'Scattergun Approach'.

    My experimental nature and desire to try all the options available could one day result in irreversible lock out, loss of functionality or hardware damage.
    It is best to stick with the Main User Interface.

    On that topic the latest ATI Catayst Control Center is very user friendly.
    To change relative positioning of all screens with respect to each other is easy.
    I connected a fourth screen (1440x900) to my 780G motherboard VGA socket (please see my previous post) and tried an inverted T configuration whereby the new screen is bottom row right on my grid of monitors.
    It all works perfectly, the Catalyst Display Manager has a template for positioning monitors, not unlike a Java Jigsaw Puzzle.

    I created an ATI Catalyst Launch Icon on my Xubuntu 8.10 panel.
    Though could not find a stunning high resolution ATI Catalyst icon anywhere, only a low res. 48 x 48 pixels.
    The command for the launcher was gksudo amdcccle.

    To get into Display Manager mode you need to uncheck Xinerama.
    Go to Display Options and uncheck the box Xinerama.
    Restart PC (logout and login is quicker and seems to do the trick).

    In Display Manager you can position your main login screen.
    It is always on monitor 1, so position that first.
    When finished positioning monitors Restart (or logout then login) to check the configuration.

    If you have a removable usb drive mounted, or there is a CD in the CD drive, then an icon will appear top left on EVERY monitor screen.

    This is nothing to be concerned about, as the mounted removable device icon will revert to appearing on one screen only, when you go back to Xinerama mode.

    When you are happy with all the settings and positioning, go to Display Options and check the box Xinerama.

    Restart (or logout then login).
    You will now be in Xinerama mode.
    Except for one little thing.
    There is a slight-slight-slight 'choppy snail trail effect' when I drag windows across the screen, but I put this down to my budget choice of basic CPU and only 2GB of memory and possibly my antics with advanced tinkering at the beginning. It really is not an issue at the moment.

    I hope this encourages others to try.
    A few words of caution though.
    A lot of Motherboards switch off their onboard graphics sockets when a graphics card is plugged in (which has always really annoyed me).
    Check first that your Motherboard can work in this setup with the Graphics Card you intend using.
    My Sapphire Pure Hybrid Crossfire PI-AM2RS780G (780G chipset) works perfectly with an HD3450 in this setup, all sockets are functional, motherboard and plugin card.
    The onboard graphics chipset and plugin graphics chipset need to be from the same series - so be sure to check all details from manufacturers of both boards.

    Kevin Dixon


    • #17
      Please read my previous 2 posts before continuing.

      In the interests of getting the best possible performance out of my system,
      to make sure my previous tinkering had not downgraded anything and for learning reinforcement purposes,
      I decided to do a clean install of Xubuntu 8.10 and ATI Catalyst.

      I am listing the steps so other novices are not unduly alarmed when hitting a show stopper like the $ prompt on reboot.

      On my particular motherboard (see my previous posts) I start here with the Surround View option DISABLED in the BIOS.

      You can proceed with a graphics card plugged into the motherboard (check compatibility).
      Make sure the BIOS is set to initially enable the plugin card and not the onboard graphics.

      Connect two screens to the plugin card.

      1. Install Xubuntu 8.10.
      2. Download and install from AMD/ATI.
      3. Become Root within the folder containing the .run file (by your favorite method, sudo su or whatever), then execute the file as shown in 4 and 5.
      4. # chmod +x
      5. # ./
      6. Alternatively you could simply double click the .run file and see if the Installer starts.
      6. A color GUI with a large TUX Penguin will appear. Accept all the defaults and very quickly it will install the file amdcccle in /usr/bin/.
      7. Create a launcher shortcut to amdcccle so it is quick and easy to access. In your new launcher (properties) type the command gksudo amdcccle.
      8. An icon for this launcher (ccc_large.xpm) can be found in usr/share/icons.
      9. Launch the ATI Catalyst application amdcccle.
      10. Setup your two screens so they work side by side (or above and below).
      11. Use this setup for a while, ie reboot a few times to check all is well.
      12. With everything working on TWO screens some people would be content with that.You are not and would like more.
      13. With the PC powered off connect one or two more screens (to the motherboard sockets).
      14. Boot the PC to BIOS and enable Surround View then continue with the reboot.
      15. Here is the show stopper you might encounter: console type messages and a login password prompt, also your serial ps2 keyboard and mouse might not work.
      16. Plug in a USB keyboard and mouse if you need to, they can be hotplugged.
      17. Get to a $ prompt and type sudo su. Type in your Root password.
      18. Then at the # prompt type: aticonfig --initial=dual-head -f --xinerama=on
      19. You should be rewarded with 'Uninitialised file found, configuring.'
      20. Then wait for 'Using /etc/x11/xorg.conf' then 'saved backup to /etc/x11/xorg.conf.fglrx-1'.
      21. When all that is done type 'reboot' and wait 30 seconds for a reboot to occur.
      22. Your newly connected 3rd and/or 4th screens will spring to life.
      23. Launch ATI Catalyst and from within Catalyst disable Xinerama to get into Display Manager.
      24. Position all the screens relative to each other as desired.
      25. At this point the mouse cursor will move across all screens freely, although application windows will not do so. You now need to enable Xinerama.
      26. Enable Xinerama and reboot (logout login may suffice) now Display Manager will be disabled.
      27. Any removable drive icons on the desktop will go from cloned on every screen back to only on one screen.
      28. There you have it. What I did from a clean install to multiple monitors.
      29. It was worth the trouble as I have found the slight snail trail when dragging windows, I had before, has now disappeared.
      30. Dragging sideways is snappy and responsive, scrolling windows never was a problem and is still perfect.
      31. All done with very inexpensive hardware (and free software, thanks ATI).

      Kevin Dixon
      Last edited by kjdixo; 09-18-2009, 05:12 PM.


      • #18
        Originally posted by bridgman View Post
        If you update the kernel you might need to uninstall and reinstall the driver unless you're on a distro where all the DKMS bits are working.
        Hey since you brought it up.. how does one go about installing fglrx with dkms support? I'm currently running fedora 10.


        • #19
          Further to my previous posts here, please note:

          Reinstalling a clean Xubuntu 8.10 (October 2008) means about 200Mb of updates (September 2009) either by download or AptonCD.

          Do UPDATES FIRST before proceeding with the ATI Catalyst install.


          Installing a huge update after installing ATI Catalyst could cause a conflict, resulting in a blank screen at reboot.
          Unless of course you are good at spotting and preventing potential conflicts from a list of updates.

          1. If you get a blank screen after updates and reboot, go back to the BIOS and disable Surround View.
          2. Boot in Low Graphics Mode (ie. boot normally and you should be prompted to choose Low Graphics Mode).
          3. Reinstall ATI Catalyst as in my previous post.
          4. Back in the BIOS re-enable Surround View and it should all work again.

          To avoid all this DO THE UPDATES FIRST before proceeding with the ATI Catalyst install.
          Everyday incremental updates using Update Manager should not affect ATI Catalyst, but always check the list of proposed updates first.


          A useful feature of Thunar is mentioned here.

          In Thunar: Edit
          Configure Custom Actions
          Appearance conditions : directory
          Command : gksudo thunar
          Name : Open Folder as Root

          That will give you a right click menu entry in Thunar called 'Open Folder as Root'.

          You can use it to become Root in the folder containing

          Kevin Dixon


          • #20
            More help for novices if everything seizes during installation of the ATI drivers.
            If you are left with a black unresponsive screen with a flashing cursor_ top left then do this:

            Press the three keys CTRL ALT F1 together to switch to console mode.
            Now proceed from the $ prompt.


            Changing the subject slightly, I recently made a Remastersys Live CD (with user data) of Xubuntu 8.10.
            Subsequently after reinstalling Xubuntu 8.10 from the Live CD, I then had to reinstall ATI Catalyst (amdcccle) afterwards.
            This was to be expected as Remastersys is known to blacklist certain display drivers.


            Also, I have built two computers identically from exactly the same hardware (see previous posts for hardware details).
            Both computers output to the same 3 screens, using ATI Catalyst.
            This is where screens with multiple input sockets (DVI, VGA, HDMI) are useful.

            I am able to restore both computers if I need to, from a SINGLE Remastersys Live CD.
            Installing a Remastersys Live CD (with User data), on two different computers is a bit of a no no, as there could be unforseen hardware issues.
            However with all hardware as identical as possible, I have tested this and so far it shows no problems.
            ATI Catalyst obviously has to be installed last of all.


            I am building a third PC, which (you guessed it) will also connect to the same 3 screens (via a DVI switch) and be restorable from the same Live CD.

            A USB extension lead from the rear of each PC gives me three USB sockets (taped together) that I can use for hotplugging my keyboard and mouse.
            A few inexpensive adapters convert my USB mouse and PS2 keyboard to one USB freeplug for easy hotplugging.

            With one keyboard, one mouse and three screens all working with 3 different (but identical) computers, integration is seamless.
            The hassle of having to do 3 different restores is removed as is worrying about the peculiarities of each PC.

            A 4 port ethernet adsl modem gets all 3 computers on the internet.
            SATA hard drives for extra storage can be swapped using trays accessible from the front panels.

            My setup has evolved from a complicated mess (each computer had different hardware and its own dedicated screen),
            into an integrated and easy to use 3 screen system.

            ATI hardware and ATI Catalyst smoothed the pathway to this ideal situation.

            Kevin Dixon


            • #21
              Catalyst 10.7 + 3 (or 4) monitors in SurroundView

              Catalyst 10.7 + 3 monitors in SurroundView
              This is my guide to setting up triple screens with Xubuntu 10.04 desktop i386 (I have also tested this with Mint 9 Isadora - Ubuntu Lucid 10.04).
              Please read all of my previous posts on this page regarding the now outdated Xubuntu Intrepid 8.10.
              The method is the same as before but updated here for 10.04 - so if you get stuck please refer to my previous posts (#17 is most relevant).

              1. Make sure you have the correct ATI hardware.
              Check that the onboard graphics chipset and the plugin-card graphics chipset are both from the same series (3200 for example).
              I use a Sapphire Pure Hybrid Crossfire PI-AM2RS780G motherboard and an HD3450 fanless graphics card. So this is 18 months old and budget range.
              You will be able to connect 4 screens to your computer, providing one big desktop, or any other configuration possible with ATI Catalyst.
              If you want to do gaming then use a faster more powerful motherboard and graphics card and an adequate power supply.

              2. Download and burn to cd and install xubuntu-10.04-desktop-i386.iso, then do the latest updates.
              I would advise at this stage, until the graphics is set up, not to start trimming and tweaking your distribution - so keep it pristine for now.

              If at this stage you have not been alerted by the Jockey (hardware drivers) prompt from your notification area (system tray) that new hardware drivers are available, then you need to go to (xfce menu) Applications, System, Hardware Drivers and Jockey will search for drivers and recommend ATI/AMD proprietary FGLRX graphics driver.

              At the time of writing July 28th 2010, the Jockey recommended driver did not work on my system with 3 screens.
              So I then tried reinstalling Xubuntu and this time I ignored the Jockey recommendation and went straight for the ati-driver-installer-10.7 available directly from AMD/ATI.
              In both cases there were all sorts of problems (which I solved below), these problems usually occured right at the finish after re-enabling surround view in the BIOS and after adding the 3rd or 4th monitors in Catalyst.

              The solution for the time being (until the Xubuntu repos are updated) is to do an Xubuntu pristine install, latest updates then install the Jockey recommended hardware drivers.
              Then go to Synaptic Package Manager and remove the installed packages fglrx and fglrx-amdcccle and only remove those two and no others.

              On my system it seems that doing the Jockey recommended install of fglrx paved the way for a trouble free install of the (see below).
              Failing to do the jockey recommended install first and then fglrx and fglrx-amdcccle removal in Synaptic always resulted in my failing.

              Having done the 'fglrx dance' described above, now download and install from AMD/ATI.
              Execute the file using a terminal (available from the xfce menu). become root user (sudo su), navigate to the folder containing the .run (cd ..) or open a root terminal in the containing folder.
              # chmod +x
              # ./
              Alternatively you could open the containing folder as 'root user' (thunar custom action, gksudo thunar, appearance condition 'Directories') and then simply double click the .run file and see if the Installer starts.
              Once Catalyst has installed you might need to create your own launcher (command gksudo amdcccle).
              Launch Catalyst and setup two screens.
              I don't want to repeat myself here so please refer to my previous posts #17, #19 and #20 for further information. #17 is the most relevant.
              Key points are:
              1. To get the 3rd and 4th screens re-enable surround view in the BIOS.
              2. Use aticonfig in console mode if your graphics fails to start.
              3. Use a hot pluggable USB keyboard and USB mouse (or cheaply adapt PS2 to become USB) which will recover from 'lockups' where PS2 stubbornly refuses to.

              Xubuntu + Lucid 10.04 + ATI/AMD Catalyst 10.7 + 3 (or 4) monitors in SurroundView.
              I am once again extremely happy with my setup of three 22inch screens.
              I did upgrade my 'single screen friends and family' to Lucid 10.04 back in April, but couldn't get 4 screens to work with the new release.
              That problem and an intensely annoying bug with Thunar, in which the file manager detailed view froze up (which is now fixed), prevented me from upgrading and I stayed with Jaunty 9.04 until yesterday.
              Thanks to all the developers who made this possible.
              The setup I described here is being used for web design tasks only and is fine for that.
              I use another identical computer with only one screen and Mint 9 for multimedia tasks such as viewing video files and on that I have noticed slight tearing of the video.
              That problem and very similar ones are being discussed on other internet threads.
              Looking to the near future - hopefully the 'fglrx dance' I described above will get fixed and won't be necessary.
              I am very impressed with my hardware, Lucid Lynx (Xubuntu) and ATI/AMD Catalyst 10.7 - everything I want (for daily routine productivity tasks) seems to work.

              Kevin Dixon