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It's 2013 and Ubuntu can't automatically switch to HDMI.

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It really irks me that in this day and age, Ubuntu can't automatically switch to HDMI when I hook my laptop up to my tv as. Neither the sound switches on it's own (I have to use pavucontrol) nor the screen (I have to go into monitor settings and turn it on). Is there a way around this or am I just crazy to expect this kind of behaviour?

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Which graphics card do you have? Displays connected over HDMI have worked perfectly for me on machines with Intel HD and AMD Radeon HD graphics cards (using the open-source graphics drivers in both cases). Audio should also be automatically carried over HDMI as long as your graphics driver supports it. The open-source Intel graphics driver, proprietary AMD graphics driver, and proprietary NVIDIA graphics driver should each handled the necessary HDMI audio setup seamlessly. The open-source Radeon driver also supports audio over HDMI, but only with the most recent stable kernel release. The open-source Nouveau (NVIDIA) driver is far behind the others and will likely not support audio over HDMI for quite some time.
 

Although the kernel drivers (and udev) hint at the switching that needs to be done, userspace also has to be aware. Most full-featured, modern desktop environments have no problem with this, but automatic audio and display switching is likely to be less-than-automatic with some of ligher-weight alternatives. Recent versions of Unity, GNOME, KDE, XFCE, and MATE, at least, should have no problem handling the userland support so long as you are using a supported graphics driver, like I described above.

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It still helps to have a Linux compatible computer. Linux has great driver support, but it still doesn't support everything.

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It still helps to have a Linux compatible computer. Linux has great driver support, but it still doesn't support everything.

 

While that is true, I think it is fair to say that Linux has the best hardware support of any modern operating system. Linux 3.11, the current stable kernel release, supports a broader range of hardware devices - not to mention processor architectures - than Windows 8.1. (DISCLAIMER: I cannot substantiate this claim! It is an observation based on my personal experience.) No single operating system has perfect hardware support, but there are very few personal computers sold today with hardware that Linux absolutely does not support. Although if you do happen to have one of those devices with no Linux driver support, maybe System76 is worth looking into?

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While that is true, I think it is fair to say that Linux has the best hardware support of any modern operating system. Linux 3.11, the current stable kernel release, supports a broader range of hardware devices - not to mention processor architectures - than Windows 8.1. (DISCLAIMER: I cannot substantiate this claim! It is an observation based on my personal experience.) No single operating system has perfect hardware support, but there are very few personal computers sold today with hardware that Linux absolutely does not support. Although if you do happen to have one of those devices with no Linux driver support, maybe System76 is worth looking into?

 

I was thinking more in line with the proprietary drivers, especially from Nvidia and AMD. Those two certainly cause a lot of problems in the Linux world. I know also a lot of people have problems with wireless drivers. too. 

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I was thinking more in line with the proprietary drivers, especially from Nvidia and AMD. Those two certainly cause a lot of problems in the Linux world. I know also a lot of people have problems with wireless drivers. too. 

 

I use propietary drivers for my AMD HD6870, on Debian Wheezy and getting great performance out of it. So it's not all that bad. Had problems with it in Ubuntu, though. :huh:

 

Wireless drivers have longly progressed, though. It used to be that Broadcom was a headache. But now days, it does work a heck lot easier.

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I'm actually not 100% sure what the graphics card is but google says Intel HD3000. I have used the Intel repo to install the latest drivers. I'm using Kernel 3.8 with XFCE (Xubuntu 13.04).

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Based on your graphics card, distro release, and desktop environment, HDMI display switching should work flawlessly. Try Ubuntu 13.04 with Unity (even if it is just from a live CD), and see if your desktop is automatically extended to another display over HDMI as you expect. I suspect that your desktop environment is the culprit, but I'm not positive. However I'm much more confident that GNOME and Unity will react to a new display properly than I am that XFCE will do the same.

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God I can't stand to use Unity. I'll try Gnome3 though at some point. I'd rather not switch my DE for this. I'm gonna try upgrading the kernel first. And I've double checked to be sure I have the latest Intel driver.

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The kernel is the biggest factor with the Intel display driver. Obviously Mesa matters in userland, but its X driver is basically just a shim to pass the real processing through to the kernel driver. Therefore it's possible that upgrading the kernel will make a big difference, but I still think it's less likely to make a difference than your desktop environment. I was not suggesting Unity as a permanent solution, merely as a metric to test against (hence the live CD comment).

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Well there must be a new driver in use. The first thing I've noticed is all of the fonts on Firefox are smaller.   Although maybe I just shrunk it by accident haha. I won't be testing it right now though.

 

Edit:

 

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God I can't stand to use Unity. I'll try Gnome3 though at some point. I'd rather not switch my DE for this. I'm gonna try upgrading the kernel first. And I've double checked to be sure I have the latest Intel driver.

 

I don't blame you. I can't stand Unity either. 

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I don't blame you. I can't stand Unity either. 

I like Unity.  Even when it first came out.

The *boxes were always my favorite, but I have become less of a "tinkerer/tweaker" on my Linux PC, and more of a "user". 

#1. Openbox (or any of the other *box window managers)

#2. Unity or XFCE.  Both simple to use, and fairly clean without a lot of the baggage from full Desktop Environments.

#7. KDE or GNOME. Too much clutter! Too much code!

I left #3-#6 available for any other environments out there.  They are all better than KDE/GNOME.

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#2. Unity or XFCE.  Both simple to use, and fairly clean without a lot of the baggage from full Desktop Environments.

 

 

I love me one Xfce. Xubuntu rocks. I played with Ubuntu 13.10 beta 2 over the weekend and I still don't get Unity.

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I like Unity.  Even when it first came out.

 

#2. Unity or XFCE.  Both simple to use, and fairly clean without a lot of the baggage from full Desktop Environments.

Do you really find Unity to be significantly better than Gnome? I'm legitimately curious since I would think Unity and Gnome have more in common than Unity and Xfce.

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Do you really find Unity to be significantly better than Gnome? I'm legitimately curious since I would think Unity and Gnome have more in common than Unity and Xfce.

Purely for the simplicity.  A nice, clean interface is what draws me.

I actually started Linux with KDE (back when Windows called themselves 3.11 and '95, I believe).  I liked KDE because it felt comfortable to me in how I worked, while GNOME felt more awkward to me.   After a few years of Linux, I tried other desktops, and everything just felt peppier to me on these smaller desktop environments.  I developed an almost pathological loathing for desktop icons and fell into Openbox for years.

A few years ago, I tried Unity.  It met a good compromize for what I liked, and what the family preferred when using my computer.  I've stuck with it since.

I have a similar lenghty story for how I switched from being a Red Hat guy to a *buntu-er.  But it is equally dull, so I won't go into that.  Enough suffering has been had today. ;)

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I like Unity as well. I was using Gnome Shell (Debian Wheezy) for a few months there, and it's great, especially with the right extensions. I just had a problem with both LibreOffice and OpenOffice randomly locking up everything. It seemed others have had such problems, but not a lot of people, so they didn't take them all that seriously.

 

Anyway I am back with Unity and looking forward to 13.10 for my laptop.

 

I love XFCE too. I run Ubuntu Studio on my music production computer. I was very pleased they went with XFCE after Ubuntu switched to Unity. It just makes more sense.

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I agree with markjensen about Unity for the most part. While Unity is not my favorite desktop environment, I really like it. I think it compromises between minimalism and bells-and-whistles in all the right places.

 

I would almost choose it as my favorite desktop environment if I were more confident in its technical direction. As it stands at the moment, my biggest complaints against Unity are not with how it works, but with the extensive patches it requires to the third-party applications and frameworks it relies on. Not only is that not a sustainable strategy in the long-term, but it also virtually excludes distributions besides Ubuntu from packaging it, further limiting its potential community involvement. (Case-in-point: the hackery the Arch Unity maintainers employed to make Unity work on Arch Linux) While that might be the way Canonical wants it, it effectively prevents Unity from being developed like most community-supported open-source projects, and it simultaneously deincentivizes most upstreams from integrating patches to better support Unity because they are distribution-specific. I know my reasons are highly ideological, but as an open-source developer I think about sustainability of the implementation for every project I evaluate.

 

For the record, my top three list of desktop environments at the moment:

  1. MATE 1.6
  2. Unity 7.0
  3. Openbox 3.5

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I would almost choose it as my favorite desktop environment if I were more confident in its technical direction. As it stands at the moment, my biggest complaints against Unity are not with how it works, but with the extensive patches it requires to the third-party applications and frameworks it relies on. Not only is that not a sustainable strategy in the long-term, but it also virtually excludes distributions besides Ubuntu from packaging it, further limiting its potential community involvement. (Case-in-point: the hackery the Arch Unity maintainers employed to make Unity work on Arch Linux)

 

Will these objections change when Unity 8 is released in a year or so, being based on QT instead of Gnome? I would think that should make it more portable to other distros.

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Will these objections change when Unity 8 is released in a year or so, being based on QT instead of Gnome? I would think that should make it more portable to other distros.

 

No. In fact, Unity 8 will make it worse. Rather than merely patching components and frameworks to better suit Unity, Canonical are now developing their own display server too; a display server which is also not really a community project. Even more frameworks will need to be intrusively patched to support their display server, patches upstreams are not willing to carry for a single distribution. If anything, Canonical will exclusively own more of the stack with Unity 8 and Ubuntu 14.04, not less. I reserve the right to change my opinion if Canonical reveals new details or does a 180 - April 2014 is still a long ways off - but as it stands right now Unity 8 is contributing to my misgivings rather than dissuading them.

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The *boxes were always my favorite, but I have become less of a "tinkerer/tweaker" on my Linux PC, and more of a "user".

think o

I've become much of the same. I don't tinker much anymore, I want things to just work. I have my set customizations and that's it. For what it's worth, I think of XFCE as a lightweight Gnome. But I forgot that I've actually switched to LXDE er Lubuntu.

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For the record, my top three list of desktop environments at the moment:

  1. MATE 1.6
  2. Unity 7.0
  3. Openbox 3.5

 

 

I just can't find one that I really like. I think I'm going to try straight Gnome and see how I like that. 

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