Thank you for your response. I have tried adding GRUB_GFXMODE=1280x1024x32 to the startup command thing you can edit. I'll try with various other settings and see how it goes. Is this what you're referring to? I'm not sure what other options are available to me, and not really sure what documentation I should be looking at to find this out. Trying to find it but not seeing anything relevant and new.
I've seen people adding things like @75 after this, but I don't know what that means (is it a percentage?) and I'm not seeing it in the Grub2/Setup documentation.
I don't know if it's notable, but when I use nomodeset or i915.modeset=0, I get display (though distorted) only on the laptop's screen (external monitor is still in standby as if it wasn't even connected). When I use modeset=1 or the default startup, I get display only on the external monitor (the laptop monitor shuts off)
The native resolution of the laptop screen is 1600x900.
Okay, I tried another distro (most recent version of Fedora).
It does the same things pretty much -- if I run default or certain settings, will only load the wallpaper on the external monitor. If I do certain settings like i915.modeset=0 or whatever, instead of tiny distorted screens, it just runs through the text log for a while and eventually just... stops. The disc stops reading and it never proceeds to the GUI.
When running with default settings, using an external monitor, I can move the mouse like normal. However, now I can also right click and access the settings menu! It automatically opens the display settings when I do this. I'm able to choose to duplicate the display (it recognizes that I'm using an ext monitor and that I have a laptop monitor). If I choose to turn off the external monitor, I think have no display at all (nothing on the laptop Generic PnP, still as if it were turned off). I tried all kinds of settings and most things either make the display look horrible (everything is huge and going off the screen) or I lose display completely.
The one thing that works -- albeit dubiously -- is to choose to duplicate the display on both monitors. It will first do nothing, except slightly change the look of the external monitor's display (laptop pnp will still be as if it were off, like always), and then ask me if I want to keep the settings. If I choose NO and return to the previous settings however, I now have display on both screens!
This new display setup is very strange. The basic desktop (wallpaper and menu bar across top) is displayed on the laptop screen, while the plain wallpaper (with no menu bar or anything) is displayed on the ext monitor. The display settings menu is still open on the ext monitor (but not on the laptop screen).
The mouse cursor is now only on the laptop screen and will not display on the ext monitor. I can play around in the OS -- tried opening pictures and videos and various things. I can detect my wifi router but connection does not work. Can't do much because I need codecs or this or that to use most files, and can't get them because I have no internet connection (didn't try wired connection yet, mostly just want to find a fix to the display thing).
Most things I do only affect the laptop screen. Most applications, directory navigation, etc. seem to open on the laptop screen and nothing ever happens on the ext monitor.
If I choose "Settings" from the menu bar at the top, it will open the settings menu on the laptop screen, but now have two menus on the ext monitor -- the left side of the screen still shows the display settings, and the right side now has the welcome menu (where it asks me to choose to try Fedora or install it to disc).
Various things will slightly change the display on the ext monitor this way. If I choose the display settings, it will just do nothing on the laptop screen. Perhaps because it's already being shown on the ext monitor. I can navigate the content on the ext monitor using the keyboard, but there is no graphical indication of what I'm doing (I just have to count how many times I've pressed the tab key, for example, to guess which field I am currently interacting with). No matter how I change the display settings, I either lose display completely (neither monitor is getting a signal) or end up with the ext monitor display only (still not showing any of the GUI except the wallpaper, mouse cursor, and display settings.)
I feel like I'm getting close, and it has to be something with the default display settings not working properly with my hardware, but I'm not sure what to change. I've tried adding various things to the code you can edit before boot, like
and various combinations of those above. Both in UEFI and Legacy mode (I don't think this is related, though?) And using all the options given at the GRUB menu (like how Mint had a regular boot and a boot in compatibility mode; both did the same thing. Fedora's two boot options were the same result, too, it just performed some kind of check before one boot)
Every combination of them results in either of these two things:
* some kind of distorted display on the laptop screen with no signal to the ext monitor, completely unusable
* improperly functioning OS appearing only on ext monitor with no signal to the laptop screen (this is also what happens by default settings)
And then from that second result, I can do what I described above.
I have had very similar problems with Ubuntu, Mint, and Fedora. The exact display distortions are a little different between each, but it's the same essential result. In Fedora I was able to right click and do all the stuff I described above, but couldn't figure out how to fix it on my own.
I've tried searching many forums and documentation for a solution but I'm really lost as to why it's even doing this. Any self-troubleshooting I'm doing just further confuses me lol.
Here's some pictures. I get the distorted screens using Ubuntu or Mint, but using Fedora, if I do nomodeset or pretty much anything to mess with the display settings, and it doesn't go to the ext monitor, this happens:
(when booting the installed version from HDD, slowly adds those messages like at the bottom over time... doesn't seem to go forward at all)
(when booting from the LiveDVD, gets to this point and disc stops reading and never starts again)
Also, some new info: after trying to install Fedora to the HDD, now when I load with default settings, it still activates the ext monitor, but the screen stays black forever (the backlight is on, but nothing is being displayed... after a while, the backlight becomes a little brighter but there is no display)
Perhaps something in those could be a clue? I have a feeling I just need to type the right command or something somewhere to make sure it understands my screen and can display to it properly... but all of the ones I'm finding as supposed solutions to this type of problem do not work.
Upon even more research, it seems like there might be a problem with a clash between the Intel HD Graphics 4000 card and the kernel. Apparently there are issues with 3.2 and 3.4 kernel and that card. However, a uname -r command shows me I have 3.9.something kernel.
I have no idea how to change the kernel when I can't even access the OS to begin with. I can only press CTRL+ALT+F4 to get to command prompt from the black screen when it boots into the ext monitor using default boot settings.
I also noticed that after going to the command prompt, I occasionally will see one of these pop up:
brcmsmac bcma0:0: phyerr 0x20, rate 0xa
Which I get a ton of those if I use nomodeset or whatever to get a laptop display (which doesn't even end up at a black screen, just hangs during boot giving me a bunch of the above messages)