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Display wizard can be used to configure your video driver and display settings.

To access the display wizard, go to Control PanelDisplay or reboot the system and select "6 Run the Display Wizard" from the boot menu. If you start the display wizard from Control Panel, you will receive the message shown in Figure 8.13a:

Figure 8.13a: Display Wizard Will Run at Next Boot

Select “Yes” which will prompt for your password. The next time the system is rebooted, it will prompt for you to confirm the resolution if it finds an optimal one. To select a different resolution, click “No” to access the display wizard, shown in Figure 8.13b.

Figure 8.13b: Display Settings Wizard

This screen can be used to select the desired screen resolution, color depth, and video driver. If you select the "vesa" driver, it will always work but will provide sub-optimal performance. Click on the drop-down menu to select the driver that most closely matches your video card name.

WARNING If you have an NVIDIA card, double-check that the NVIDIA driver is installed in Control PanelPackage ManagerHardware-Drivers and install it if it is not already installed.

You can also use the drop-down menus to change the screen resolution and color depth values. If the value you desire is not listed, it may be that the selected driver does not support that resolution or depth.

Advanced users can select their monitor's horizontal sync and vertical refresh rate in the "Advanced" tab, seen in Figure 8.13c:

Figure 8.13c: Advanced Tab of Display Settings

Use caution and refer to your monitor's documentation if you make any changes here. If you are not sure what you are doing, leave the default values as-is.

If your computer is connected to two monitors, check the box "Enable Dual-Head support".

When you are finished, click the "Apply" button for your settings to be tested. If anything goes wrong during testing, you should be taken back to the "Display Settings" screen so that you can try another setting. Once you are satisfied with the settings, click "Yes" when prompted to accept them.

Desktop Effects, Compiz, and Compositing

To prevent problems with video cards that do not support them, desktop effects (used by KDE) and compiz or compositing (used by other window managers) are disabled by default. You can change this default if your video card supports desktop effects.

To enable desktop effects while logged into KDE, click Control PanelSystem SettingsDesktop Effects to access the configuration screen shown in Figure 8.13d.

Figure 8.13d: Enabling Desktop Effects in KDE

Check the box "Enable desktop effects at startup". You can use the "All Effects" tab to get more information about each possible effect and to enable the effects that interest you.

If XFCE is installed, you can enable compositing from any logged in desktop. Go to Control Panel ➜ Window Manager Tweaks ➜ Compositor. If Window Manager Tweaks does not appear in the Control Panel menu, use the desktop selector drop-down menu to select "All" or "XFCE".

In the screen shown in Figure 8.13e, check the "Enable display compositing" box to enable the compositing options.

Figure 8.13e: Enabling Compositing in XFCE

If you do not use KDE or XFCE, install Compiz[1] instead using Control PanelPackage ManagerMiscCompiz. Once installed, you can configure Compiz by clicking SystemPreferencesCompizConfig Settings Manager while logged into GNOME or by typing ccsm from any desktop. This will open the screen shown in Figure 8.13f.

Figure 8.13f: Configuring Compiz


Until TTM is ported to PC-BSD®, ATI/Radeon video cards will not be fully supported. If the screen goes blank or otherwise does not work when you select the HD version of the driver, selecting the non-HD version should allow you to use the card. Radeon HD5xxx and higher GPUs have no support for acceleration, 2D or 3D. At this time, these video cards can only use the Vesa driver.

If you are having problems with your display settings and would like to manually edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf or run Xorg --config, first tell the PC-BSD® system to not automatically start X. You can temporarily stop your current X session and prevent additional sessions from starting by typing this command as the superuser:

/usr/local/etc/rc.d/gdm stop

This will drop you down to a console where you can try the instructions in the FreeBSD Handbook[2] to manually configure and test Xorg. Once you have a configuration that works for you, save it to /etc/X11/xorg.conf, and restart gdm to test the configuration:

/usr/local/etc/rc.d/gdm start

If your graphics white-out after a suspend or resume, try running this command as the superuser:

sysctl hw.acpi.reset_video=1

If that fixes the problem, carefully add this line to /etc/sysctl.conf:


If the monitor goes blank and does not come back, try running this command as your regular user account:

xset -dpms

If that fixes the problem, add that line to the .xprofile file in your home directory.


  1. http://www.compiz.org/
  2. http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/x-config.html
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