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Dealing with decTOP video

The decTOP is a "small form factor computer" (SFF) that provides a complete system in a small, low-cost, rugged box. The goal of our project is to see if it would make a good JMRI layout controller, suitable for e.g. driving a couple modules or a medium size layout.

decTop image
On the main page, we discuss installing Linux, Java and JMRI on the decTop. For many people, this apparently goes smoothly, but some have trouble getting a monitor working. This page talks about how to solve that problem.

If you have trouble with video, first try a more accepting monitor. LCD monitors are fussier than CRT monitors, so if you have an old CRT try that.

There are several different aspects to video support on Linux:

xorg.conf
This is a file that defines how the X Server (screen handler) will boot up. There are a number of things that can go wrong in this.
Applications -> Settings -> Display Settings
This might not let you actually select anything, as there might only be a "default" entry, but it seems to sometimes reset to useful refresh rates even if the xorg.conf file didn't get it right.
Applications -> Settings -> Screens and Graphics
This lets you change the default screen resolution and refresh rate used in "Display Settings".
read-edid
This is a package that is supposed to be able to read from the display itself and figure out what needs to be done. It doesn't work on the decTOP, at least not when we tried it. Just in case:
  1. sudo apt-get install read-edid
  2. get-edid | parse-edid
will install the package, followed by trying to invoke it. The parse-edid command is meant to format the results so they can be cut & pasted into xorg.conf.

Link for more info on modelines.