X screen and desktop not the same size

So, my dad says to me, this computer you set up for me? I can’t read the text in any of it; it’s too small. After a certain amount of righteous wragging because he’s clearly getting old, I thought, OK, I’ll jack up the screen resolution. It’s running Morphix Gnome, and was at 1280×1024. After some fiddling around, and setting the modes in the “Screen” section to have “800×600” first, I got to the stage where the screen seemed to be 640×480 and the desktop was 800×600. So the screen scrolled around on top of the desktop when you moused to the edge. Who wants this behaviour? Lots of people seem to run into this with X, and I have never, not once come across anyone who finds this behaviour useful. If you set the size of something to be 800×600, the bloody screen should be that big. The X log (/var/log/XFree86.0.log) complained that it was using the default hsync and vsync settings, despite me having HorizSync and VertRefresh directives in XF86Config-4. Googling around for the problem, I finally came across the recommendation to use “CloneHSync” and friends (his card’s a Radeon). So, I read the Radeon module man page, and set ‘Option “CloneHSync” “x-y“’ and similarly for ‘Option “CloneVRefresh” “a-b“’ for the hsync and vsync ranges of his monitor, and ‘Option “CloneMode” “800×600“‘, and it worked. The man page says that there are setting stuff for the “secondary head“, which to my mind means that it should make no difference to his one single monitor. Yet it did. I don’t get it. And X configuration is still a black art, despite all our advances. Having your distro, or Knoppix, or XFree86 -configure do it for you is easy, but if it fails or you want to change it then it’s still a black art. I note that Morphix now has a thing called xconf, and it’s “in their apt repository“http://www.morphix.org/debian/, so maybe this will get fixed too.

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