Integrated graphics card and PCI graphics card: the problem of dual output

My summer break is over and it is time to return to the awesome world of Unix systems. Today, I am going to talk about an annoying problem which I faced with the new UEFI Bios a while back: the problem of dual output.

Why is dual output a problem? Well if you happen to have a computer, which supports simultaneous outputs (meaning: bios lets you choose to use both graphics card outputs at same time) you will more than likely encounter a notorious Xserver crashing issue, which prevents you from getting to your desktop altogether.

Once dual output is enabled you can still start your computer but since the bios “multi-monitoring” is now enabled Linux is likely to crash. The previous is due to the fact that Xserver does not know to which display it should feed to image – and thus it crashes. If you happen to have a multi-monitoring capable bios then check that you have disabled the feature – so you can actually start your graphical desktop.

As I have both an integrated graphics card (Intel Haswell) and an external graphics card (Ati) here are some things I would recommend based on my experiences.

*If you use any modern Linux system you could try to disable any Ati card you might have. Ati generally works but the image is stretched and looks quite bad.

*With Nvidia cards the image should be good – thanks to Nouveau driver, which is by default installed on the majority of modern Linux distributions.

On Freebsd

Freebsd has currently no working support for Intel Haswell chips. When I use Freebsd I always disable my integrated graphics card and use my external Ati card instead. On Freebsd some Ati chips give very good results out of the box. When it comes to Nvidia cards the most preferred way to get things running without glitches is to install Nvidia binary driver from ports collection (Ports will be a topic of a futrure post).

If you are thinking about giving Freebsd a try remember the following: Linux distributions generally have all the new and shiny drivers; Freebsd (and BSD’s in general) concentrate on making sure that the system is ultra stable. The Freebsd “approach” means that driver support is lacking when it comes to WiFi and many modern chip drivers since the goal is to only accept drivers, which have been tested extremely well on almost every imaginable scenario.