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This chapter is a courtesy of Cedric Adjih
, though I have changed some minor parts. Please note: Another method to
achieve a better resolution in text mode is the use of the framebuffer
driver (as explained in the X-Windows chapter above). This method
requires kernel reconfiguration (some Linux distributions include an
appropriate kernel already) and a new entry (vga=NNN) in
/etc/lilo.conf. In text mode it works even with
VESA BIOSes before version 2.0, at least on the models I could test it.
Though the SVGATextMode method could be faster (couldn't check this
An apparently little known fact about the Neomagic chipset NM20xx is that you can run text mode in 100x37 (i.e. 800x600). This text mode is very nice (as opposed to the 80x25 which is ugly). I tried this with a HP OmniBook 800 and suppose it might work with other laptops using the NeoMagic chip, too.
The main problem is that is a bit difficult to set up, and if you're going wrong with the commands SVGATextMode or restoretextmode some results on the LCD might be frightening. Although I didn't manage to break my LCD with many attempts going wrong, DISCLAMER: THIS MIGHT DAMAGE YOUR HARDWARE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. FOLLOW THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS AT YOUR OWN RISKS. I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE IF SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS.
You need to do three main steps:
Enable Linux to boot in 800x600 textmode. The problem is that you won't see any text before the following two steps aren't done.
Automatically run restoretextmode with correct register data.
Automatically run SVGATextMode.
All the files I have modified, are available for now on my pages
Recent kernels (2.2.x) need to be compiled with CONFIG_VIDEO_GFX_HACK
defined. Default is off. (look in
This is done by passing the parameter vga=770 to
older kernels or vga=7 to 2.2.x kernels. Example with
image=/boot/bzImage-modif label=22 append="svgatextmode=100x37x8_SVGA" #explained later vga=7 read-only
Running restoretextmode and SVGATextMode at Boot Time. You must arrange to run restoretextmode <name of some textreg.dat file> and SVGATextMode 100x37x8_SVGA at boot time.
textreg.dat for restoretextmode
(obtained using savetextmode) is in my tar archive in
tmp/, and an example
Since I'm lazy, I've simply put SVGATextMode and
restoretextmode in the
/etc/rc.boot/kbd file from my Debian/GNU Linux
which get executed at boot time (also available in the tar archive).
Annoying things will be displayed if you don't use the right
SVGATextMode in the right video text mode: this is why I also pass the
environmental variable "svgatextmode=100x37x8_SVGA"
(arbitrary name) to the kernel (using append=xxx in lilo.conf) when I
also set vga=7: the script
/etc/rc.boot/kbd tests this variable and calls
restoretextmode and SVGATextMode
IF AND ONLY IF.
Recompile the kernel 2.2.x with CONFIG_VIDEO_GFX_HACK
Insert the restoretextmode with the correct parameter in the initialisation script, with no other changes.
Boot with normal text mode (80x25) but restoretextmode: you should see the screen going to 100x37, but with only 80x25 usable. Don't use SVGATextMode yet.
It is much better to conditionnalize your initialize code as I did, to keep the possibility of booting in both modes: you may test this now with some reboots (starting restoretextmode or not).
Boot with 100x37 text mode using parameter vga=7 (lilo.conf), you should see white background at some point, but the characters will be black on black. This is ok. You'll have to reboot blindly now.
Insert the <path>/SVGATextMode 100x37x8_SVGA after the restoretextmode in initialization scripts.
Reboot with vga=7 (lilo.conf)
Should be OK now. Enjoy.