Damn Small Screen

I switched recently on my home server from OpenSuse 10.3 to Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.0.4. Main reason was the package management with zypper as backend. Each Distro use several Software Repositories with RPMs where you can search for new software to install on your machine. Normally between four to eight repo’s are configured independent which distro you use. OpenSuse become more and more a pain in my ass. Main reason was the more and more increasing time which yast needs to show me the available software packages. For a test drive is VMWare Server really nice. Just setup a new VM, install a distro inside and see if it fits your needs.

Under Ubuntu you must first decide if you want the desktop or server edition. On my notebook was the primary requirement to have a back end for application server like Archiva or Nexus. Both very comfortable maven proxies with a web frontend. So i decided to install the server edition. The server edition have no window manager and starts a linux just with a console login. So far so good. A little bit hidden is the possibility to change the default screen solution from 800×600 to a larger one. Scrolling log or config files is not that pretty under such conditions.

The solution is in the /etc/grub/menu.1st file. In the end of the file is a list of linux versions. Each runnable linux configuration has a title, root, kernel and initrd line. For a 1024×768 you can append to the kernel line


according to this howto. Ubuntu has in the last weeks published a new service pack called 8.04.1. Normal updated are installed with a “apt-get update” followed by “apt-get upgrade” to install updates for installed packages. I saw messages about retained packages after the availibity of this new service pack. A “apt-get dist-upgrade” forces to install the retained packages including a new kernel. Remember the line with the kernel paramater in the grub menu file. The update updates this file as well. Grateful it notice my changes and ask me what to do. My first intention was to say ok overwrite my changes and i add that vga parameter as well. That works but it can be handled much smarter. Linux kernel updates can be happen more often.

The solution is to add the vga parameter to defoptions line instead of the kernel line. This line is normally uncommented with a leading # character. So add this line


This 0x317 is the hex definition. Also possible is to write vga=719 with decimal notation.