this tutorial will show you how to set up a multi-head system in most linux distros, primarily ubuntu. please note, this is still largely unfinished.
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Step 1: Install your hardware.

the title explains it. i'm assuming you know how to open the case and install the cards. just make a note of which card is where and which monitor is on which card. FYI: my system uses one Nvidia riva tnt2, one nvidia riva tnt, and one 3dfx voodoo3. (in that order on the pci bus)

Step 2: Boot up and get x going

if X fails and drops to the terminal type in:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg
(if you're already root, don't use sudo)
use the wizard to set up drivers for whatever monitor the wizard is showing up on. (usually the first on the bus)
reboot to start x

Step 3: Check the order and find the addresses

by now you should be looking at your linux desktop on one boring screen.
open a terminal and type
you should now see a list of devices and their bus id. find the graphics cards and write down the bus id's you'll need them later.
DanielP43 months ago

Hello i am going to run a system with 10 monitors will it work or do need to make something diffrent

nerd74739 months ago

Can this work with a raspberry pi?

charlieb0003 years ago
when i tried, LeftOf was buggy (or i didnt use it properly) caused X to crash with cursor blinking between the screens. using SUSE 11.2/3
charlieb0004 years ago
i used to like PCI cards but they are getting harder to get and they happen to break down if you get an accelerator unless you like the 2mb's (most of which Ms dropped support for after W98). there is a even NEATER way to get triple multi monitor now a days (if you havnt got two long pcie slots) and that is get a soldering iron (if you havnt already got one), and another pcie video board and use the soldering iron to remove the end of the slot so the pcie card fits in (choose a place that has room behind the slot!) and it will work (make sure you have removed enough plastic else it will push the slot apart) and the PC will see it, my PC boots on the Pcie 1x slot tho.... however what i cant say will work (in linux) is if you have ATI and Nvidia cards as i do...... im seeing if i can migrate to linux with my setup.... X700 and GF7800GTX, and maybe choose my funny refresh rates etc.
cris11335 years ago
Linux mint has some support for multiple monitors with its workspaces.
joe57005 (author) 5 years ago
unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be displaying the way i intended it. These instructions are obsolete now anyway. version 9.04 and 9.10 both have built in support for multihead. (assuming the new xorg supports your hardware, which doesn't work for me)
Etdego5 years ago
no offence but this was more confusing than helpful it seems like you tried to take short-cuts in your explanation.
hackerlife6 years ago
So... I need multiple graphics cards for multiple screens? Is it like one card per screen? Either way, I'm guessing my ancient Dell Inspiron 2650 ain't gonna work, huh?
joe57005 (author)  hackerlife6 years ago
On mine, yes, one card per screen. but there are graphics cards with two, or more, 'heads', most newer laptops are dual head. I did this, at first on an old no-brand '486, so it should work on anything with enough open slots.
hg341 joe570055 years ago
i have a card with 3 heads vga dvi-i snd s/videoare there s-video to vga converters
Oh! right! I forgot, unless you have two cards or your card has two "heads" you can't plug in two screens cuz theres no input... duh! wasn't thinking, sorry! and thanks guys!
joe57005 (author)  hackerlife6 years ago
there is a really old, and extremely ghetto hack that splits one vga signal into three (monochrome) images to be viewed on old TVs. Basically it's a software hack, as the only hardware is a vga plug hooked in to 3 old TVs, it's all done by messing with the video card. (it's on somewhere)
The short answer's no. I am using an NVidia that has two heads, VGA and HDI. There is a monitor plugged into each, a HDI -> VGA converter on one. It was easy to do using the NVidia control panel that came with the linux drivers.
Koil_16 years ago
Great script! I have a bunch of identical NVidia cards laying around as well as the GeForce4 9600 that's in my AGP port. It was a little more tricky with AGP but not impossible. After installing a Matrix-like openGL screensaver it looked pretty sweet. Thanks for the info!
techgeek2766 years ago

pyroboy2126 years ago
can u do this on xp? if so can some one make Instructable. thanks.
Yes I can show you how to setup Multiple Monitors in XP. Here is a great tutorial:
joe57005 (author)  pyroboy2126 years ago
yes, i hate to say this, but it's easier in xp. just plug in the hardware. turn it on, install the drivers, then go to display properties and select the new monitor and check "extend my desktop on this display". then just set the resolution and your arrangement and hit apply. don't even need to reboot. (except after installing the drivers)
Not necessarily easier. At least when using nvidia cards/drivers, you can set it up trough the nvidia config tool in much the same way you would set it up in windows. No shell (command prompt) required.
i have had mixed luck with the nvidia tool for multiple screen configuration i find xorg.conf to work much more reliably but takes some more time and practice
On the other hand the trouble with windows is that it has not been able to use multiple graphics-cards, seriously limiting the number of screens. Perhaps this works nowadays.
awkrin omnibot6 years ago
really? so that's why I can't use my onboard too.. but my agp video card also has 7 pin s-video, so I can u my tv lol.
omnibot awkrin6 years ago
Yes, you should be able to set up your tv as a second monitor.
joe57005 (author)  omnibot6 years ago
that depends on your chipset. one of the cards on my computer has s-video out, but it is not a second head, so it will only use the lcd monitor OR tv, not both at the same time. (i wouldn't use a tv anyway, they usually have disgustingly low resolutions, like 480x480 on mine even though it's 27 inches)
I used to have my TV as a third monitor years ago (with XP). It would allow use of my normal dualview setup and the TV at the same time. Only used it for about a day 'cos the res was so crap.
Oh, yes. It's "one of those". No matter how much time passes some moron in the industry will figure out some non-standard way of screwing with us. I'm probably among the last to remember the trouble with standards regarding the TTL vs rs232 (today known as paralell- and serial-port). It must be a human thing (Omnibot flays his waldo-arms in despair)
TCPMeta6 years ago
Heres a link I found a few years back for multihead gaming in Linux and Windows.

Nice guide BTW.
joe57005 (author)  TCPMeta6 years ago
I've been there, but a long time ago, thanks for reminding me, i forgot it talked about linux!
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Cool! I don't even have one lcd! :(
it'll work with CRTs too, but the disadvantage there is their footprint (space) and weight.
I know it will work, but I don't have the space.
Outlander6 years ago
Nice instructable! But this is why Linux boxes will never catch on, just as with Unix, too much has to be configured to get anything to work, but still nice.
Once OS-X takes the market, Linux will be in far better standing than winslows.
Cool! Just what I was thinking about today! I am a new ubuntu user and I have dual monitors on my XP box but wanted to get it going on my linux box. Thanks.
Woah.. looks like a lot of hard work.
joe57005 (author)  GorillazMiko6 years ago
well, a lot of tweaking... ubuntu gutsy now has a utility that does it for you, but it just won't run on my hardware.