How to change video driver to VGA driver

Getting your soundcard to work, using Debian on non-i386 hardware, etc

How to change video driver to VGA driver

Postby Guest » 2005-03-22 17:52


I’ve configured the wrong video driver for my computer whilst installing Debian. Could you please give me some advice on how to change this to the generic VGA driver? Thanks.


Postby malloc » 2005-03-22 18:05

just edit /etc/X11/XF86Config-4, look for the Driver part and change it to "vesa" (vesa beeing roughly the equivalent to a generic driver).
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Postby Guest » 2005-03-22 19:48

Malloc – thank you for your info. I edited the XF86Config-4 file using the Vi editor, changing the driver to vesa, rebooted and now the startx command works.

Obviously, I’m new to Debian and I’m working my way through the about Debian online tutorials which have been an excellent resource so far.

I guess that a number of different video drivers were installed during the installation process. If this is correct, is there a directory containing these drivers and if so, where about in the file system are they? Do you know of an on-line resource that describes each driver and it’s manufacturer? Thank you very much.


Postby malloc » 2005-03-22 21:49

You can try to do this to let XFree choose the "best" (as far as XFree can figure out for himself) config:
- Backup your current XF86Config-4 file.
- run (as root) XFree86 -config (this will generate a new config file called or something like that)
- copy the new XFree86 config file to /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 (overwrite the old file after you backed it up of course)

This should choose the correct settings for you.
In any case if you can shed a little light about your hardware config we might help you a little better.
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Postby lacek » 2005-03-23 10:35

Alternatively you can always choose to reconfigure a package by calling
dpkg-reconfigure <package>

Thus, if you need to reconfigure the X server, but don't want to edit the config file by hand, running
dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86
would reconfigure your X server.

Note, however, that this way you can do only the most basic changes, for example, you can't configure apache virtualhosts this way.
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Postby Guest » 2005-03-24 14:21

Hi Mallac,

Thanks again for your advice. I created the file and then replaced the XF86Config-4 with it. When I typed in startx it never worked, it reported that there was a problem with the mouse. This maybe because I’m using a KVM switch. Anyway I’ve replaced the XF86Config-4 file with the backup copy and it’s now working fine. I’m able to use Mozilla to browse the web. Cheers.


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