XFCE Resolution Resetting and Ignoring Xorg.conf

December 7, 2013

See bottom of post, for the TLDR problem/solution:

I have been using XFCE for some time now and overall really enjoy it. I switched to XFCE after giving Gnome 3 a go when it first came out and have been using it since. It has gotten a lot better since then too.

For instance immediately after switching, one of the only things I missed from Gnome2 was tabbed file browsing. Thunar, the default file manager for XFCE, got that awhile ago and has generally been improving a lot.

Another change to XFCE is the way it remembers your desktop settings, windows, and programs when you logout. I admittedly have not researched this as much as I should, but anecdotally I noticed some changes to how this works when I upgraded to a newer version of XFCE recently. I also noticed that there seems to have been a change with the way that XFCE deals with multiple monitors, as after upgrading certain programs starting using the entire width of two monitors when initially drawing their windows, rather then using a single monitor as they had in the past.

Onto the problem: After getting new monitor that supported a higher resolution(1920×1080) and updating my xorg.conf, my resolution would get reset to my old resolution(1680×1050) as soon as I logged back in to XFCE.

I use Nvidia drivers, as I have found them to offer a bit better performance and support for a multi-monitor setup, not to mention generally quite easy to configure. Its been awhile since I tried using it, but the built-in display manager for XFCE has not been well suited to using multiple monitors in the past, while using nvidia-settings provides a nice easy to use GUI for arranging and setting up displays.

I tried several different things with my xorg.conf and nvidia-settings, including removing it all together, as well as a variety of different configurations. However, no matter what I had in my xorg.conf, as soon as I logged in the resolution was reset to the old resolution. It seemed like XFCE was ignoring my xorg.conf settings or overriding them.

I was fairly confident that the xorg.conf was correct, so I began looking elsewhere. I grepped my ~/.config folder for my old resolution and did in fact find it listed the old resolution in: xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/displays.xml.

I tried changing it there to the new resolution, however it still reverted back to the old one. Finally, after being a bit fed up and fairly confident that the saved settings/sessions were to blame, I moved my config folder to a backup: mv ~/.config ~/.config_back

This unfortunately has the side effect of clearing all(or most) of your saved XFCE settings, but as soon as I did that, it started using the new resolution. I have in the past done some messing with xrandr settings in order to get multi-monitors working better, so it is possible this is my own doing, but there was definitely some xfce setting in my config that was reverting the resolution.

This is something that I should learn more about and rtfm a bit, but sometimes killing it with fire works and is the easiest/quickest solution…


Problem: After getting a new monitor, the resolution specified in Xorg.conf was ignored when logging in to XFCE. Instead, each time I logged in, it reverted to the old resolution.

Bad Solution: This is probably not the best way to address the problem. However, moving ~/.config to ~/.config_back cleared out whatever xfce setting was over-riding my xorg.conf and let me use the new resolution.

Caution: Again, this isn’t a good solution, but it worked. If you do the above, it WILL delete all of your XFCE settings, like panels! A better solution would be to learn why/where that setting that maintains old resolution is kept and changing it!


4 Responses to “XFCE Resolution Resetting and Ignoring Xorg.conf”

  1. Peter Says:

    I’m having the same problem, but this solution didn’t work for me.

    I have fglrx and XFCE installed, and no matter what changes I make in amdcccle, it reverts on reboot.

    Moving .config indeed deletes all my XFCE settings, but does not prevent xorg.conf from being overwritten on reboot. The one solution I’ve found which makes my computer usable is to boot it up, then ssh in or swap to a tty, copy a backup of the ‘good’ xorg.conf over the new one, run ‘ps -e | grep X’ to get the PID of X, then run ‘kill -9 ‘ to kill the X server, and when it restarts it will use the correct xorg.

    It’s a bit of a pain. Fortunately, I don’t have to reboot much.

  2. junger95 Says:

    Peter, I believe my case was a bit different, as my xorg.conf was just ignored by xfce, in preference for an xfce display setting. That is why the rather drastic measure of just nuking my xfce settings worked.

    In your case, you probably need to figure out what is over-writing the xorg.conf on boot. Possibly something to do with the AMD driver…

  3. Wes Says:

    This should be the file:

  4. Ralf Eichinger Says:

    My (workaround) solution worked:
    1. Fill wanted resolution into ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/displays.xml
    2. Make displays.xml only readable (sudo chmod 444 displays.xml)
    3. Make xfce4-display-settings binary not executable
    chmod -x /usr/bin/xfce4-display-settings
    (otherwise displays.xml will be overwritten every time you start the display config dialog)

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