Using the D-Link USB KVM-Switch DKVM-20 with Ubuntu 7.04

I’ve just installed Ubuntu on a couple of boxes so I can learn more about Linux, especially about networking. I had one display and moved the cables between the boxes during the install. While looking for some cable in my basement I came across a DKVM-20 KVM Switch from D-Link that I had bought many months back.

By way of background, I had previously used a Zonet KVM switch between the Windows XP laptop that I use for work and a box I had built that ran Suse. This switch uses PS/2 style connectors for the mouse and keyboard and I found the mouse wouldn’t switch properly so I used two different mice,switching only the display and keyboard. That worked fine, though I eventually stopped using the switch after I installed a Leadtek TV Tuner card on the Suse Linux box so I could watch Mets games on TV whilst working on Windows. The D-Link switch used USB connectors and I was curious to see how it would work.

I decided to try the D-Link switch so I wouldn’t have to move the cables. After I installed the switch I ran into a problem. Both boxes were running Ubuntu 7.04 but the result was they were displaying at different resolutions, one box at 1280×1024, the other at 640×480.

Curious to see if I could make it work correctly with both Ubuntu boxes I did a little investigation via the web.

I paid a visit to newegg. Though they don’t stock this model, a search of the customer comments for comparable models showed some users had been able to use the switch with Ubuntu Linux but there were some reported problems. One reviewer wrote

Server 2003 on one side and Ubuntu Linux on the other. The hot key works fine, setup was cake but the
Linux box only offers 640×480 when used with the KVM. Haven’t found the fix or work around for this yet.

As it happens, my previous blog post was about an issue with limited resolution of 640×480 when installing Ubuntu. See Configuring Intel 845G video chipset on Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn desktop. This piqued my interest. Reading on, I found the comment:

Cons: Didn’t handle Linux immediately, but after one or two tries — then fine thereafter.

Other Thoughts: Need to start each machine with keyboard, video, mouse present — can’t start both simultaneously. As always, appreciated Newegg’s quick service!

and also

I don’t actually own the product, but I wanted to help out those using linux (specifically ubuntu) and having display issues. The problem is that at startup, X will probe your monitor for available resolutions. If it can’t get that data from your monitor, it defaults to 640×480. I had the same problem starting X over VNC. Here’s a link explaining how to fix it:

That made sense. Indeed, it probably explained what was going on in the fixes mentioned in the Intel 845g post. They had the effect of enabling the probe of the monitor so it could use the higher resolution.

It was easy to confirm this guess. I just adjusted the switch to select the box which was displaying at low resolution, and restarted that machine. When it came up it displayed this time at the higher-resolution. The other box didn’t know I had restarted this one, so it continued to display at the higher resolution.

Problem solved. Thanks to all the people who had taken the time to share their experiences I was able to fix my problem.

Indeed, I have found a new hobby lately — trying to solve technical problems with the help of the web. I’ve become am amateur detective.

So it’s only fair I share that knowledge in the form of my own post, and I have just done.

Now I can say, “Case closed.”

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One Comment

  1. andrea
    Posted May 15, 2009 at 13:00 | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t know if anyone would ever have the same problem or if ever read this post and comments, after such amount of time since publication, but if it can be of interest:

    At the beginning I tried to solve the problem adopting the solution proposed in this post, and it worked….well, more or less half of the time…..
    for casualties (not easy to find it googling nor i remember the right link) after further searches I found another solution:

    Once you login in to your linux box and once all of the services starts, instead or rebooting the whole machine since the beginning you could type just

    CTRL+ALT+BACKSPACE

    it provokes your linux box to log-out (without rebooting) and, at the same time, to restart the x-org in order to let it “read” a better display resolution.
    Well I’m a newbie, maybe I commit some error in describing the effects that the combination provokes, but practically IT WORKS TO ME….

    good luck! 😉

    PS: …and sorry for my bad english!

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