The "Monitor Resolution Settings" contains a Cairo-rendered preview area that shows the layout of the connected displays and the names on the display (if available). To enable a display and adjust the resolution, refresh rate, and rotation for a connected display, click on the display from the preview area. The resolution and refresh rate menus are automatically populated with information provided by the RandR extension. The rotation modes are normal, left, right, and upside down.
We had tested out this utility with a variety of different displays and graphics drivers that support the RandR 1.2 extension. The utility had worked as expected, but our complaints regarding it is that the display layout pane isn't updated in real-time when connecting a new display head and there is currently no cloning support. The first issue can be addressed by just restarting the program when adding a new display head.
Of course, this new utility is in addition to displayconfig-gtk, which first premiered in Ubuntu 7.10. At this point, displayconfig-gtk is catered more for the permanent setup of display configurations through the xorg.conf and has support for the various open and closed source X.Org video drivers. Ideally, we would like to see these two utilities merged together as they share many traits and it would simplify the user experience. Perhaps this will be improved in Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex.
If you're new to the world of Linux graphics, you may want to check out our Newbie's Guide To RandR 1.2, which goes into detail on the RandR 1.2 extension and controlling displays dynamically using the command-line xrandr utility. RandR 1.3 is also out on the horizon for X.Org 7.4/7.5. For those in need of additional support for dynamically configuring monitors in Linux, be sure to stop by the Phoronix Forums. For those using the proprietary ATI/AMD and NVIDIA binary drivers, they have their own Linux control panels.