I have an older machine that I recently converted into an Ubuntu 9.04 server for various needs. One of those needs is to play television shows or movies onto a TV via an S-video output. I did not want dual output or anything like that — I simply wanted a TV hooked into my machine. Unfortunately, unlike Windows XP/Vista, Ubuntu doesn’t automatically detect S-video output. To make the matter worse, I have an older ATI Radeon 9200 video card, which caused some drivers issues.
After doing an extensive search for a solution, I played around with the /etc/X11/xorg.conf configuration with the open-source ati drivers, the actual ATI drivers, the atitvout program, and a few other solutions. Nothing worked at all.
After nearly giving up, I decided to reinstall Ubuntu using only the TV, rather than installing with a monitor and then moving over to the TV. I hit “F4” at the initial Ubuntu installation screen to install in VGA compatibility mode, completed the entire installation, and now everything worked perfectly. Upon examination of the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file (below), it looks like the only change from a default configuration is that it is using the Driver “VESA” within the Device section.
Identifier “Configured Video Device”
Identifier “Configured Monitor”
Identifier “Default Screen”
Monitor “Configured Monitor”
Device “Configured Video Device”
I’m not sure whether VESA alone would have fixed the problem or if an entirely new installation was necessary, but at this point, it doesn’t matter to me.