Unable to configure external Dell E2210 Monitor


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Sep 15, 2023
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Hi all. So over the last few days have taken an oldish Toshiba Satellite L500 laptop, installed a new internal 500GB disk & installed/configured Mint 21(Vanessa), tweaking accordingly. Next step. head to the mancave, unplug the existing windows lappy from the external display (Dell E2210 24" monitor) & keyboard & replace with said newly configured mint variant.
So I plug in the display (VGA) & keyboard (USB) & boot.
As the system boots, I can see the boot sequence on both screens (external & laptop), replaced with the mint logo on both as the OS finishes loading & prepares for log-in.
Then - it gets quirky. Both screens are blank, with interval attempts to do something (assuming some form of sync/device check attempt), but nothing.
If I unplug the display, after a few seconds the laptop screen springs to life & I can use as normal (including the USB keyboard which was recognised automatically).

Updated drivers, nothing new found.
Checked display, of course it can only see the primary as no other is logged in.
The external monitor is fine as I have been successfully using it with my windows laptop.

Any obvious things I am missing or ideas?
Does Mint 21/Vanessa have any bugs related to this area?

I've played with the external display, adjusted where possible but nada. Completely flummoxed at this stage, so any help/ideas greatly appreciated.


Have you checked the settings, under display, in the mint menu?

Oh and welcome to the forums
Hey Rob - Cheers!

Yeah, kinda a catch-22 one - I have to disconnect the external monitor to activate the laptop screen, thus when you check display it only shows the 1 primary monitor with it's associated resolution & refresh rate.
As soon as I attempt to plug the external display, the screen greys/blanks & goes into "hiccup" mode. When I take it out, give it a few secs & Voila - the laptop screen is alive again.
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Ok hang in there, we have several members who use multiscreen set-ups [I only have the one screen] one of them may have a quick fix.
if you just want the second screen to be the same as the laptop
you can do this in the terminal using xrandr
open a terminal via keys Ctrl+Alt+t and then enter xrandr and run command. This will output the available screen ports, e.g. LVDS-1 is the laptop screen and VGA-1 is the port for external monitor (could be also HDMI-1, ...).

You can mirror the screen with command xrandr --output VGA-1 --same-as LVDS-1. This will mirror between Laptop screen and VGA output. Names and outputs are depending on your system.
ideally I'd like it to be a screen extension I can slide the mouse over into & use, but a mirrored secondary screen would be a step forward.

To qualify, do you mean modify the VGA entry to reflect a secondary screen, then plug it in and see if it livens up?

output from xrandr below:-

pierre@pierre-Satellite-L500:~$ xrandr
Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 1366 x 768, maximum 8192 x 8192
LVDS-1 connected primary 1366x768+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 344mm x 194mm
1366x768 59.97*+
1280x720 59.97
1024x768 59.97
960x720 59.97
928x696 59.97
896x672 59.97
1024x576 59.97
960x600 59.97
960x540 59.97
800x600 59.97
840x525 59.97
864x486 59.97
700x525 59.97
800x450 59.97
640x512 59.97
700x450 59.97
640x480 59.97
720x405 59.97
684x384 59.97
640x360 59.97
512x384 59.97
512x288 59.97
480x270 59.97
400x300 59.97
432x243 59.97
320x240 59.97
360x202 59.97
320x180 59.97
VGA-1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
HDMI-1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
DP-1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
DP-2 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)
SVIDEO-1 disconnected (normal left inverted right x axis y axis)

I have two of the Dell external displays so swapped over to the other just to double check
(both worked using windows laptop variants prior to this test).
Both do the same thing when I try to enable them with the mint 21 variation (when connected they do not recognise the external screen & both screens blank rendering the laptop unusable. They seem to 'pulse' (laptop screen attempts to liven itself every alternate second & external display tries this for 2-3 times & then states VGA dissconnected).

Happy to try anything - if it's a file revision can always rename orig & revert back as required.
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In the interim am looking to see if I have a VGA -> DisplayPort adaptor to see if this would fare better.
G'day Pierre, Welcome to Linux.org

I run LM21.2 with dual monitors...I also ran LM back as far as 17 withe same monitor setup...but have never encountered this problem.

Maybe a setting in the bios?, would be my first guess.
Howdy Condo
Thanks & nice to say hi.

So I checked BIOS. Only 2 settings for display - Autoselect & LCD.
By default it was set to Autoselect so adjusted to LCD, rebooted & sat back to watch the fireworks.

THIS time it got further - both screens showed boot sequence, then LM logo - & then we got to the log in screen/enter passwd prompt on both displays. Entered the password using the external display, which resulted in the same behaviour again. Back to before, as soon as I pull the external displays VGA connector the laptop screen livens up.

But it got further. It's quirky, it wants to - but then gets either interrupted or disassociated somehow.
Ok, so the Dell E2210 is an older display unit (I was given both when I left Blackberry in 2014) & they've always worked so never needed to change them.

Which leads into the possibility that the even older laptops (higher spec for the time, old lappy -2009) BIOS may need to be updated, so now looking into it.
Will post more once investigated.

Thank you both for the help - not used Linux before but it's a little wake up call for moi, used to be a Unix sysmgr in a different life so it's not completely alien.

Thanks again. Cheers Pierre
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