Changing screen resolutions in a Linux guest operating system
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Changing screen resolutions in a Linux guest operating system


Article ID: 338613


Updated On:


VMware VMware Desktop Hypervisor


How do I switch the resolution of the X server in my Linux guest operating system?


The X server provided by the VMware application does not allow you to use Ctrl-Alt with - or + to change the resolution of your guest operating system. In order to switch resolutions, you need to manually change the resolution in your guest operating system's configuration file for the X server. Complete the following steps:

For Linux Distros using XF86config:

  1. Find out which configuration file your guest operating system is using.

    Look at /var/log/XFree.0.log; the configuration file is typically one of the following:
    /etc/X11/XF86Config /etc/X11/XF86Config-4  /etc/X11/xorg.conf
    For example:
    admin@localhost$ more /var/log/XFree86.0.log ... (==) Log file: "var/log/Xfree86.0.log", Time: Mon Apr 18 10:36:19 2005 (==) Using config file: "/etc/X11/XF86Config"
  2. Edit your X configuration file. Ensure you create a backup of the file before making edits.

    In the "Screen" section, change the depth and modes of the "Display" subsection as follows:

    1. Depth - The color depth your host operating system uses.

    2. Modes - If multiple screen resolutions appear here, delete the screen resolutions that you do not want to use. The highest screen resolution remaining on the Modes line becomes the virtual machine's screen resolution for the host's color depth.
    Section "Screen"         ...     DefaultDepth    24     SubSection "Display"         Depth   24         Modes   "1200x1600"     EndSubsection EndSection
  3. Restart X after you have saved your changes to the configuration file.

Note: Only resolutions that the host operating system supports can be supported in the guest. This can lead to problems if you change the running X server on a Linux host machine, after you install VMware Tools in the guest. If you do change your host's X server and experience problems with your virtual machine's display resolution, try reinstalling VMware Tools.

For Linux Distros using RandR X:

  1. From a terminal session, execute:


    This calls the xrandr tool, which shows a screen name, the current resolution, and the list of possible resolutions similar to:

    # xrandr
    SZ: Pixels Physical Refresh:
    *0 800x600 ( 271mm x 203mm ) *60 56
    1 640x480 ( 216mm x 162mm ) 60

  2. From the output, you can toggle to a different screen resolution using this command:

    xrandr -s SZ

    Where SZ is the SZ from Step 1.

    For example:

    xrandr -s 1

    This changes the resolution of the screen to 640x480 without having to restart X.

    For additional options, run this command:

    xrandr -help

Additional Information

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