5. Using XFree86 on an external VGA monitor

As mentioned before, it is possible to run XFree86 on the built-in VGA chip of the SunPCi card. All of the steps below should be conducted while having an external monitor attached to the VGA plug of the SunPCi card.

This chapter was donated by Ulli Wölfel, see the Thanks section for his contact information.

5.1. Configuring gpm

As a first step, the "general purpose mouse" software (gpm) needs to be configured by editing the /etc/gpm.conf file. You should set the following options in the file:

device=/dev/ttyS1  # yes - the SunPCi-II mouse is on the second serial port
repeat_type=raw    # Much better peformance than the default ms3
type=ms            # The protocol used is ms (=Microsoft)
Restart gpm with the following command:

# /etc/init.d/gpm restart

5.2. Configuring the X server

The Graphics chip is a SiS630 +3D and it is supported under Linux (by the sis driver), the mouse uses the information of the /dev/gpmdata device and the keyboard should be a standard PC-Keyboard. Here are the important sections of the XF86Config-4 file:

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier  "Keyboard0"
        Driver      "keyboard"

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier  "Mouse0"
        Driver      "mouse"
        Option      "Protocol" "Microsoft"  # Microsoft Protocol again...
        Option      "Device" "/dev/gpmdata" # access the data from gpm
        Option      "Emulate3Buttons"   "true"
        Option      "ZAxisMapping"      "4 5"

Section "Device"
        Identifier  "Card0"
        Driver      "sis"               # this driver supports our SiS630
        VendorName  "SiS"
        BoardName   "630"
        BusID       "PCI:1:0:0"
        Option      "hw cursor"  "off"  # fixes problems with mouse cursor
        Option      "no_accel"  "on"    # fixes display problems
Another setting of interest is the DefaultDepth option in the Screen section. By setting this to 16 instead of the default of 24, a resolution of 1024x768 can be achieved.
Alternatively, if you have enough memory on the SunPCi card you can increase the memory available for the video chip using the BIOS when booting up the SunPCi card. When in the BIOS, select Integrated Peripherals and then System Share Memory Size. Change the default of 2MB to 4MB for 1152x900 or 8MB for 1280x1024 in 24 bit color.

For display sizes over 1024x768 it is recommended to install the advanced sis630 driver from http://www.webit.at/~twinny/linuxsis630.shtml. Follow the instuctions on that page, or simply:

You can now modify your configuration like this:
Section "Device"
        Identifier "Card 0"
        Driver     "sis"
        VendorName "SiS"
        BoardName  "630"
        BusID      "PCI:1:0:0"
        VideoRam   8192   # needed for 1280x1024
This new driver gives you a much better Windowing and 1280x1024 without any artifacts (present in the standard XFree86 sis driver).

That's it! The other sections sould be pretty much standard and in the case of your monitor depend on what you've got. After installing a Windowmanager (I use Windowmaker) you should now be able to work in your normal X-Environment with the SunPCi-II. I have provided my complete XF86Config-4 file for reference sake.