X.org configuration is wrong - virtual screen size problems

Q I am having a very hard time with the new X.org, where I previously did not. I have installed Slackware 10 and BSD 5.3 with an NVIDIA card on the same machine and am having the same problems with both. One of these problems is with xvidtune. I started it up in a small X screen in a terminal and adjusted the screen sizes, but it wouldn't write the changes anywhere that I could find them. I finally got the modes and screen sizes right by writing them down and editing the xorg.conf file. For some reason the xvidtune changes work but the resolution starts up wrong, and I have to change it once KDE is up and running to get rid of that blasted virtual screen size. startx still doesn't work in either system. I can start kdm in BSD and select a few different desktops but Slackware only goes to a pre-chosen default.

In my older Slackware I could choose which desktop I wanted right from startx. Right now with Slackware - installed from the store-bought disks - the KDE splash screen and a few announcements about 'no sound' come up - but no tool bar or anything that works. I got Gnome up but the file manager doesn't work in it. I installed everything to a disk which had plenty of space available, and it seemed to go OK. So where are all the possible configuration files for X.org, and what should they look like? How do I get xvidtune to work, and is there any way to get rid of that irritating sliding screen and pointer thing so I can change resolutions and keep the whole desktop on the monitor?

A Your X.org configuration should live in /etc/X11/xorg.conf, and will include a section defining how to handle your screen. Within this, there will be a list of possible resolutions that your monitor and video card can handle. X will set the root window to be as large as the maximum resolution, but will use the first one in the list, which may be smaller. You can use Ctrl+Alt+(number pad)+ and Ctrl+Alt+(number pad)- to switch the resolutions without restarting X. By changing the order of the resolutions, or simply taking out the ones you don't want, you should be able to end up with a desktop that doesn't scroll around anymore. If startx fails, you will see a dump of all the log output from the X server this should give you a clue as to what is going on, and in turn give a good indicator of what your problem is. Slackware is a good distribution, but for a newer Linux user, something like Mandriva or Fedora would be a preferred option. These should install and get everything up and running for you without having to fuss around with manually editing your X configuration.

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