Enable XGA 1024×768 resolution in Ubuntu Linux for Compaq Presario 1800

[7.4.2009] I installed Linux flavor Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope on a very old Compaq Presario 1800, to make it into a small internet station. What I absolutely don’t like about the system is the fact that 64MB of the installed 256MB of RAM are wasted for the UMA (Unified Memory Architecture), that is are used on a videocard (ATI Rage Mobility M3) which is so dam old that you are not going to need it to play games, so the dedicated 8MB of video memory, as per specifications, are much more than enough for 2D display, and the added memory goes literally to waste. But what really startled me is the apparent impossibility to make the screen reach the XGA resolution it’s made for, 1024×768, no matter whatever lines I added to the xorg.conf file.

After half a day worth of fruitless searches, I found a page with a bug report on launchpad, regarding another display issue with a Presario 1800T, that incidentally let me enable XGA with a xorg.conf, so I decided to report the guide here for posterity, in a page easier, much easier, to find in a Google search.

Following you find the code to paste inside the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file overwriting whatever its content may be. If you have no idea how to do that (I am supposing you’re using the vanilla flavor of Ubuntu, with the Gnome desktop), press Alt-F2 from desktop, and in the dialogue write (respecting letter case):

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.backup

to create a backup copy of the configuration file (you’ll be asked your system password), as you never know, and after that once again Alt-F2 and:

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

a text editor will appear, and you have to delete the whole contents of it, and paste the code you find in this page.

# /etc/X11/xorg.conf (xorg X Window System server configuration file)
# This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
# values from the debconf database.
# Edit this file with caution, and see the /etc/X11/xorg.conf manual page.
# (Type "man /etc/X11/xorg.conf" at the shell prompt.)
# This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
# if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
# package.
# If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
# again, run the following commands:
#   cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.custom
#   sudo sh -c 'md5sum /etc/X11/xorg.conf >/var/lib/xfree86/xorg.conf.md5sum'
#   sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

Section "Files"
    RgbPath		"/usr/lib/X11/rgb.txt"
	FontPath	"unix/:7100"			# local font server
	# if the local font server has problems, we can fall back on these
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/misc"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/cyrillic"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/:unscaled"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/:unscaled"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/Type1"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/CID"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi"
	FontPath	"/usr/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi"
        # paths to defoma fonts
	FontPath	"/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/TrueType"
	FontPath	"/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/CID"

Section "Module"
    Load	"dbe"
    SubSection  "extmod"
      Option    "omit xorg-dga"   # don't initialise the DGA extension
	Load	"freetype"
	Load	"glx"
    Load	"type1"
    Load	"dri"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier	"Generic Keyboard"
	Driver		"keyboard"
	Option		"CoreKeyboard"
	Option		"XkbRules"	"xorg"
	Option		"XkbModel"	"pc104"
	Option		"XkbLayout"	"us"

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier	"Configured Mouse"
	Driver		"mouse"
	Option		"CorePointer"
	Option		"Device"		"/dev/input/mice"
	Option		"Protocol"		"ImPS/2"
	Option		"Emulate3Buttons"	"true"
	Option		"ZAxisMapping"		"4 5"
Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "Synaptics Touchpad"
        Driver          "synaptics"
        Option          "SendCoreEvents"        "true"
        Option          "Device"                "/dev/psaux"
        Option          "Protocol"              "auto-dev"
        Option		"HorizScrollDelta"	"0"

Section "Device"
    Identifier  "ati"
    Driver      "ati"

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier  "Generic Monitor"
    HorizSync   31.5 - 48.5
    VertRefresh 50-70

Section "Device"
    Identifier	"Standard VGA"
    VendorName	"Unknown"
    BoardName	"Unknown"
    Driver     "vga"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier  "Default Screen"
    Device      "ati"
	Monitor		"Generic Monitor"
	DefaultDepth	24
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		1
		Modes		"1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		4
		Modes		"1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		8
		Modes		"1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		15
		Modes		"1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		16
		Modes		"1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
	SubSection "Display"
		Depth		24
		Modes		"1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"

Section "ServerLayout"
	Identifier	"Default Layout"
	Screen		"Default Screen"
	InputDevice	"Generic Keyboard"
	InputDevice	"Configured Mouse"
	InputDevice	"Synaptics Touchpad"

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