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Debugging and Other Issues

You may have no trouble installing, configuring, and using your multi-monitor solution.

Or it may not go smoothly.

Mine sure didn’t. It worked fine at first. Then the second monitor worked fine through boot-up but the primary monitor went blank. I used the window-fishing technique discussed earlier to change which monitor was primary, but now my second monitor was blank. And then my computer wouldn’t boot beyond the BIOS splash screen. After I reloaded the drivers, it was working fine for a while. Now it isn’t again. Sigh.

Dealing with a KVM Switch

As I found out, one source of problems can be using a Keyboard Video Mouse (KVM) switch, which may not pass the signals through properly. I think I may need to learn and use the keyboard commands for computer-switching. Or that may not be the answer. (See this Realtime Soft Forum page for one user’s solution.)

Most KVM switches support one display, which has an interesting effect: You can have the second screen on the two-display system showing things while you’re working from the other computer. Some newer KVM switches are twin-head, so if you have multiple computers with two-video outputs, you can switch both monitors.

For initial debugging, follow these steps:

  • Bypass the KVM switch, plugging the keyboard, mouse, and primary video directly into the computer.
  • Make sure that your cables are plugged in properly.
  • Make sure that both monitors work.
  • Try reloading the video card drivers.
  • Even if both displays seem to be working, you may have to fiddle around and do some research to obtain optimum performance.

Other Possible Problems

You may also have other problems. Realtime notes, "When using some applications (for example, a video player) on your secondary monitor(s), you might get distorted sound. This seems to be an issue with PCI bus bandwidth."

Even when you have everything running, you may want to do more tweaking to the display or for usability, because large and multiple monitors can lead to new issues. For instance, according to a Microsoft report, the Taskbar and Start menu location may be far from you, making it hard to invoke things. You may lose the cursor or experience "missile mouse."

To deal with these problems, Microsoft developed Start Anywhere, which "lets users invoke the Start menu from wherever the cursor is currently located. To invoke it, they can use the Windows key or a designated mouse or keyboard key; no mouse movement is required." Other large/multi-monitor utilities described in the report include Drag-and-Pop, which "stretches the object to the target location using a rubber-band-like visualization"; Tablecloth, which adapts the window scrolling motion to the entire desktop; and GroupBar, which "extends the current Windows Taskbar metaphor." See Patrick Baudisch’s projects page to find some of these tools. (Some may not have been posted yet.)

There’s also software to help tweak the settings on multiple monitor setups, such as VTBook’s VT MultiDisplay.

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