Thursday, 5 January 2012

Setting up a second monitor as the primary one in Gnome 3 (Ubuntu 11.10))

Gnome 3 (at least under Ubuntu 11.10) seems to have been shipped with a number of features missing. For example:

  1. No easy way to change the screensaver (follow this:
  2. No out-of-the-box way to change the system fonts (you have to use gnome-tweak-tool)
  3. No out-of-the-box way to change the theme settings (follow this:
For me, the most annoying one is the lack of a user-friendly way to set any second/external monitor as your primary one (i.e. where the Gnome bar/task bar will appear). 

You can set the orientation of the monitors in the settings, and how you want them aligned but that's about it. Here is a screenshot of the Display settings dialogue: 

Long story short, open a terminal and enter the following:

$xrandr --output VGA-0 --primary

Root is not needed. 
If you don't know how your external port is called (VGA-0 in my case), you can press Tab after the "--output" to see the list of interfaces X recognises. Simply replace VGA-0 with what you see fit.


  1. This post saved me a lot of time and grief. Thank you tremendously!

  2. Still works for Ubuntu-Gnome Remix 13.10


  3. You could just drag the black bar displayed in the "Displays" settings window from one monitor square to the other monitor square.

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